I'm not a teacher. I'm not a student, either. This wasn't my battle, so I tried to distance myself from it. But there was no escaping the matter. Teachers swarmed the downtown area, causing massive inconveniences to business there. I have all sorts of teacher friends on Facebook who felt the need to post about their level of support...Every. Damn. Day. I have coworkers and friends who have school aged children, and even my two baby girls are in the system (though only one, the younger, was affected).
Being unable to completely escape the matter, I tried to do my due diligence so I could at least be armed with knowledge should a confrontation arise. But I couldn't get a straight answer from anyone. One day, the teachers were fighting for quality of education. The next, they're fighting over wages. They said it was to protect students, but they sure weren't teaching, and besides, they were fighting to not be graded on progress. What?
The administration, on the other hand, said the teachers were being greedy, that they had been offered plenty of fair contracts but would not compromise. They said they didn't have the money to give them what they wanted, but that the children's education was most important and at the forefront of the fight.
Hold the phone.
Teachers said it had nothing to do with money, but all I could hear was "we want our raises!" and "we have to pay for our own books and it isn't fair!" and "you want us to work longer work days, but you don't want to pay us!" Uhh.....money.
Administrators (and Rahm Emanuel) said they didn't have money to support a raise. But, we're planting flowers all over the city? We're tearing up the streets everywhere? Property taxes, which pay for schools, went up? But we don't have the money?!
Worst of all, all I heard from parents was "my kids just want to go to school". The first few days, they said, were like a vacation, but by the end of the first week of striking, they were tired of the shenanigans and wanted to return to their place of learning. This is what broke my heart - and made me angry.
On Sunday, we found out the teachers would continue to strike for a second week. On Monday, Mayor Emanuel filed a lawsuit to force the teachers to teach again. By Tuesday a deal was reached.
Look. If you're going to fight about money, fine. Adults do it all the time, that's why you see people striking all over the place, that's why people get killed. I get it. Just don't throw kids in the middle of the battlefield and hide behind them like sissies! Jesus Christ, what is wrong with you people?
Like it or not, kids were still learning during that week and a half. Not about the "power of democracy", as the teachers would have believed, or the "power of compromise", as the administrators say to the press. They learned that it's okay to have a "play my way or I take my ball and go home" attitude about adult affairs. They learned that it's an all or nothing world, that they can fight for everything they want (consequences and casualties, be damned!) and not back down until every single one of their desires is fulfilled. They learned it's okay to be selfish, especially when you have so many scapegoats to hide behind. People complain that kids these days have no manners....where do you think they learned it from?!
This COULD have been a powerful lesson in synergy. It could have been a serious win for both sides. Rather, everyone lost (most drastically, the kids).
**Sidenote: I have no idea why this "Text Enhance" crap is all over my blog. But I HATE it. Do not click anything underlined and colored unless it is properly used in context. Text Enhance: Stop it. Stop it now.**