“No, it wasn’t greed or money. The compensation piece was more or less settled before the strike. Pundits and talk-show hosts who take home hundreds of thousands a year will express outrage that teachers–teachers!–might make $80,000. I ask you, who adds more social value–a first grade teacher in Chicago or a talk show host on national radio or TV?
“Why did they strike? After 17 years of reform and disrespect, they were fed up with the bullying. They were tired of the non-educators and politicians telling them how to teach and imposing their remedies. Reform after reform and children in Chicago still don’t have the rich curriculum, the facilities, and the social services they need.
“They were sick of the incessant school closings. They were sick of seeing charter schools open that get wildly uneven results yet are praised to the skies by Arne Duncan and now Rahm Emanuel. They knew that the charter schools are non-union and that the Mayor will use them to break the union.
“In the end, the union pitted itself against Rahm Emanuel, Arne Duncan, Chicago’s business and civic leadership, and the Race to the Top. It took on the most powerful forces in the city, and yes, even President Obama, who remained neutral.
“And by taking a stand, by uniting to resist the power elite, these teachers discovered they were strong. They had been downtrodden and disrespected, but no longer. They put on their red T-shirts and commanded the attention of the nation and the admiration of millions of teachers. Powerless no more, they showed that unity made them strong. 98% voted to authorize the strike, and 98% voted to end it…”
Important school issues are ‘off the table’ by JesseJackson
“No one likes teachers’ strikes. But teachers are on the front line. In a time of spreading poverty and rising hunger, with harsh exploitation of the poor by landlords and payday lenders, poor children too often come to impoverished schools.
“Teachers take the rap for poor student performance without having the power to change what gets in the way of learning. Grading teachers on the basis of a machine-graded test cannot substitute for schools with playgrounds and social workers, classes with manageable numbers, or roofs that don’t leak. Poverty, inequality, violence, race and investment matter. They must be a part of any long-term solution.”