Saturday, September 15, 2012

What Chicago (and other) teachers fight for....

Though the Chicago's teacher's strike has tentatively come to an end, getting the issues fairly addressed in the media as been a struggle.  Here is what they are fighting for int he words of a Chicago teacher.  Please pass it on.

"...the mainstream media is not covering all of the issues for which the teachers are striking.  It is unsettling, but that is where we come in.  It is our job to talk with friends, colleagues, and neighbors to illuminate the struggles that the students face in Chicago.  A school with 1000 students does not have a social worker.  Teachers use economic text books that are 12 years old.  Our curriculum has become more and more narrowed to teach finite skills on absurdly written tests, tests which close our neighborhood schools and unfairly evaluate us.  In CPS once test scores drop, the district begins to divest in the school and take away parent, teacher, and administrative voice, leaving the schools left to improve with fewer resources..."

If we care about children, we can do better.  Detractors paint teachers as selfish money-grubbers who work few hours for high pay.  That is not the issue.

The issues are:

Do we really want to assess teachers based on student test scores?  Not only has this been repeatedly proven to be unreliable, it means that students will have to sit for tests--all the time.

Try to imagine being a student who must take multiple tests in every grade.  Now try to imagine how teachers and systems might try to ensure that all students are read to take the tests.  Right.  More tests to make sure they are ready for THE test.  (This is already the way many students experience school right now.)  Now, try to imagine how an adult, who's livelihood depends on the test scores, might behave.  Getting a little ugly, isn't it?

Who, in this fight, is really thinking about the children?

Why is there NO money for air-conditioning or new texts but there IS money for charter schools and multiple tests?  (Both of which have been proven to have very poor track records for improving education.)

Who, in this fight, is really thinking about children?

Why is poverty an EXCUSE for teachers but not for public officials?  Children make up the majority of those who live in poverty, but that's okay?

Who, in this fight, is thinking about children?