Today is an historic day for Chicago’s public schoolteachers. The city’s teachers are striking today for the first time since 1987 after negotiations for a new contract for Chicago Public School’s 25,000 schoolteachers ended. The strike will affect hundreds of thousands of students and their family. It’s just the second week of school for the nation’s third largest school district.
For all the city and union politics at play, the exact reasons that compelled teachers to strike can quickly get lost in the fray. Chicago schoolteacher Xian Barrett took to his blog to explain to CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard why he’s headed to the picket line today:
When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.
When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.
When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.
When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.
When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a “full school day” and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.
Barrett’s blog post can be full of confusing technicalities and coded language so pervasive throughout the wonky world of education reform, but his bottom line remains clear: Many Chicago teachers are striking because they aren’t just upset about the conditions of their workplace, they’re also angry about the conditions that Chicago’s schoolkids must endure to get their education.