September 13th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

My view: From the picket lines

Courtesy NAMEBy Xian Barrett, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Xian Barrett teaches law and Chicago history at Gage Park High School in Chicago. In 2010 he was selected one of 10 Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellows by the U.S. Department of Education. He can be found on Twitter at @xianb8.

Sunday night, as Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis announced the first Chicago teachers’ strike in 25 years, I posted a short piece explaining why I felt striking was the right decision.

I understood, especially in these tough economic times, that striking can be an unpopular choice, but I wrote it with some rage at the lack of empathy and understanding I felt as an educator. I wrote it with the hope people would understand that we made this tough choice in the interests of our students.

As I reflect back on the first day of the Chicago Teachers Union strike, I know many are still angry. I hope that those who are angry with us would put aside their party affiliation and personal opinions on unions. Some critics reminded me that this needs to be about the students. They are 100% correct. So I ask you to think of your own son or daughter or sister or brother sitting in a Chicago Public Schools classroom.

You wouldn’t want your kids in 96-degree classrooms. You wouldn’t want them without books or teachers for the first month of the year. You wouldn’t want them tested over and over again instead of taught. You would want their teachers evaluated, but you wouldn’t want their favorite teacher bullied or fired due to an inaccurately measured test.

In my blog post, I was replicating how many of my students feel every day. They are trying their hardest and they are angry at feeling judgment for their learning conditions rather than love and support for the honest effort they are putting in.

The same way that students lash out demanding that love and support with their actions in the classroom, the 10 minutes I spent writing my blog were a call for affirmation - a call of faith into the void hoping to get an affirming response.

And boy, did I ever. By midnight, my friends had reposted it. By 3 a.m. it had gone viral, and by 10 a.m. the next day major media outlets began calling. A day later, more than 20,000 people have read it on my blog and hundreds of thousands more have read its mirrors across the web.

In the meantime, thousands of people across the country have posted solidarity photos of themselves or their schools wearing red, thousands have marched in Chicago or elsewhere in support and more than 600 school communities have come together and marched in Chicago.

More than that, I spent the day with my Gage Park High School community. Our entire CTU staff came out to the picket line, wearing red. At 7:45 a.m., when students were supposed to report to school and be assigned to one of the Chicago Board of Education’s student strike holding sites, they began to join the picket line instead. Dozens of students marched and reached out to the community. I didn’t see any students enter the building or leave for the holding sites. Other students messaged or texted from home, saying that they were following the news. Some wrote their own pieces reflecting on the strike in their own voice that I’ll post on my blog as the week progresses.

As I took media calls, my students also spoke with the media. Whenever education becomes the major news story, too often we silence student voices and we hear adults - and often ones who have very limited interactions with students - speculate how students feel. I think our students need to be seen and heard more. As they took calls, I listened at a distance to make sure they were learning but far enough away that they could speak freely and not be influenced by me. I am very proud of them.

Later in the afternoon, we headed downtown and met with thousands of other teachers, students and parents. It was a festive atmosphere; one that fully acknowledged the gravity of the situation but with pride that we are taking back our education system.

In the evening, I continued to take calls and read the thousands of messages and well wishes I received throughout the day. Some of the comments were still quite critical - anti-union, anti-teacher and even anti-student.

I believe that the first day showed that this is how both the teachers and the parents are thinking about the Chicago strike. All across the city, parents and students voted with their feet. For weeks, we have heard about Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Children First” centers that he intended as substitutes for our students’ regular classes. For the first time, the mayor’s team has the opportunity to show how they would take care of students without the troublesome teachers butting in. Now they have their chance. But parents and students simply don’t trust the district.

As reports have returned on the centers, we have heard that only dozens of the thousands assigned to each center have showed, and most of them have a ratio of one or more adults for every child who attends. At our school, the 50 students who arrived immediately joined our picket line. These are their teachers and they know which side they are on.

Opinion polls in Chicago show that parents trust their teachers to run their child’s schools, not the district. By striking, we hope to honor that trust by fighting for policies to address the deep problems in our district. Schools need more social workers and other resources for students under stress due to violence, poverty and family problems; reasonably sized classes that will allow teachers to work effectively with our students and provide them with safe learning environments; and air conditioning for over-crowded, stifling classrooms.

One of my students wrote the following: “I have been watching the mayor’s live press conferences and he keeps saying he doesn’t want us to fail, but that’s exactly what he’s causing. He talks about charters and selective schools a lot, but never mentions anything about schools like Gage Park. How can we make him care about our schools?”

By striking, we are trying to get the mayor and our school board to face the problems in our neighborhood schools and provide us with the support we need to help our students.

At the start of day one, I felt angry and alone. On day two, I feel like our city and nation have wrapped themselves around educators, and I am ready for the next day of fighting for the schools Chicago and the nation’s students deserve.

See you on the picket line.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Xian Barrett.

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Filed under: On air • Policy • Politics • teacher unions • Teachers • video • Voices
soundoff (212 Responses)
  1. David

    Unions offer no value to students... Give every teacher a Yelp ratings, then pay them according to there score. Period.

    September 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  2. jyves

    >> You wouldn’t want your kids in 96-degree classrooms. You wouldn’t want them without books or teachers for the first month of the year

    That might explain why they were arguing about wages.. Pay more.. Give more benefits to the teachers and.. temperature will decrease or books will be on the table. What a liar!!!!
    teachers should not get more that the people who pay for school. What benefits have those poor families who can barely afford to buy food?

    So yes !! Please support our selfish teachers... They can't do anything for the children, right now, such as teaching while negotiations are in progress. It just show how really important children are for them.

    September 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Erich Snider

      So after the teachers blackmailing is achieved,all of a sudden air conditioners will arrive at all the schools that need it,and test scores will rise to incredible heights. Give more huge raises to fat greedy teachers as the kids fail again and again..What a dumb state!

      September 20, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
      • Erich Snider

        The moral thing to do is for the teacher to give up 10% of their bloated salaries and pay 50% of their insurance benefits, then strike for a better administration to help them teach the children more effectively,
        then all of us would stand behind you cause it would be for the kids. .Strikes are always for money! Greedy teachers and Unions suck!

        September 20, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  3. Stendahl

    Step 1: Get unions out of public education. Improvement will be immediate. After a few years, so much progress will have been made that it will be possible to move on to Step 2, which is to get government out of the business of delivering education. The only role government can capably play in education is that of funding.

    September 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Meldona

      You are out of your mind. Do you want teachers with low pay, no benefits or job security? What you will have then is a revolving door where teachers are constantly coming and going. The schools will be chaos. I've seen it happen and I have worked in schools for 15 years. In Canada, teachers are a highly paid profession BECAUSE they want to attract and keep bright people.

      September 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Siddhartha Guatama

      Take a look at states without teacher unions. They are not the problem with education.

      September 17, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  4. Nelba

    How many days of 96 degree weather did you have in justifcation of the strike this year? Sounds like a red herring.

    September 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  5. Eric

    The goal should be to make the public schools as good as the one Mayor Emanuel sends his kids to. A unionized system, bloated administration, and more money won't get you there. It's time to think outside the box and come into the 21st century.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Xian Barrett

      FWIW, the Mayor's kids go to a unionized school that has all of the resources we are asking for.

      September 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
      • brian

        as do 39% of Chicago's teachers children

        September 18, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  6. lean6

    The kids are objects of leverage in a labor dispute, pure and simple. Drop the nobility act.

    September 17, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  7. Shamoononon

    If this was about the students, how come you are asking for more money for yourself, making it even less likely the school system can afford to put AC in the classrooms? Your pension and increased pay and the desire to have virtually free medical care is for the students?

    September 17, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • Mark D

      My thoughts exactly. Perhaps the teachers should forgo a portion of their pay raise in order to have AC installed in some schools. This action would show goodwill and some credibility regarding the claims that it is all about the students. I find it interesting that the teachers continue to state it is all about the students, yet the Union Leadership is stating that the two issues are pay increases and evaluations. Who is right? Are they even on the same page?

      September 17, 2012 at 3:13 am |
      • Dave

        Mark D,

        Teachers are being asked to work longer hours. Why wouldn't they want to be paid more? You seem angry that teachers want more money than you are that the schools are so poorly operated. Did you know that tax dollars collected for schools are instead directed to businesses? Why don't you look up the TIF program:

        Get it? Money from hard working taxpayers that should be going to schools is being sent to companies.

        September 17, 2012 at 9:23 am |
      • KC

        And, of course, you willingly give up pay to improve YOUR work conditions too, don't you?

        September 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
      • shamoononon

        Dave, KC,

        They are not asking to give up art of their salary to buy things like AC. But this guy is complaining about how they are doing this for the teacher, then drones on about how the school doesn't have AC. How does demanding MORE pay MORE benefits MORE pension benefit the school and help with AC being installed? Asking for "More, more, more, more" doesn't solve that issue, it hinders it and makes it worse.

        But despite how I feel about them asking for way too much, the biggest insult of all is to claim they're doing it for the children. THEY AREN'T!!! This is a selfish pursuit and it makes me sick to hear that they are doing it for the children. What the heck do the kids get out of it? Less money towards them? More taxes their parents must pay? How the heck does it benefit the kids?

        September 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
      • KarenK

        Really? Would you ask a doctor to pay for the tools she needs to operate? Do bankers have to pay for their air conditioning? It amazes me that people expect teachers to accept lower pay just because they teach the children. If you want the best teaching our children, you need to pay for the best. I had a student who would be the most amazing teacher. She is gifted and talented, and she wants to teach, but she knows it does not pay enough to be self supportive. These people are college educated and they work hard. Their salaries should not suffer because they chose to help shape our future. I know teachers who have forgone surgery because they couldn't afford it. Is this really fair. So yes, better pay can help the children in the long run. Because if you want the best in the classroom, they deserve to be fairly compensated. It's what all businesses do.

        September 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Heather Johnson

      Shanoononon, would you work more hours for less pay? By the way you are venting, you would delightfully work for less. What about not receiving a raise for 7 years? Not even a cost of living increase. How happy would you be to take money from your own pocket to provide supplies to the students that you believe in and who you want to grow and thive? How happy would you be to see your students education suffer because the district cannot fulfill the requirements necessary to even provide the most basic of items for that education?

      Or perhaps you just view the teachers as money hungry babysitters that are also expected to teach your children the skills necessary to grow into a productive member of society?

      Most of these teachers who sacrifice their time and energy to educate these young children, do it because they believe in the kids. They believe they can make a difference. But it clearly comes at an enormous price.

      September 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  8. MEd

    I have taught. I was in an educattors union and stand against them. Teachers striking horrifies me. I believe classes should be smaller, students cannot learn if not ready to learn no matter what our teachers do, and that good teachers deserve more money. That said, let's have an honest conversation. What professional field works less than 55-60 hrs/wk? A teachers retirement,benefits and time off are, on average, better than those professional fields teachers ask to be compared to (doctor, lawyer for example). A teacher brings work home but also has a schedule flexible enough to allow added income is tutoring, coaching and summer work. Professional development courses are neither all summer nor an anomaly to the teaching profession. I firmly believe more accountability is essential but hat test scores are not the answer. My biggest issue is the lack of honesty on BOTH sides of this debate.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Howard

      To chime in here, $67,000 a year is a lot of money for under 200 days a year. Figure up per hour worked including work taken home and they are one of highest paid state employees there are. I agree that much of a students score on based on the home environment. I believe that teachers should take tests every year on the subjects they teach. This is certainly fair,
      I have known over the hill dedicated teachers left on to teach for several years after they have become incompetent. Link raises to tests scores, I think you will find a pretty strong correlation between their scores and their performances as teacher. This will help to weed out incompetent teachers and give teachers incentive to stay current in their field.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:23 am |
      • cherryberrygi

        As the mother of 2 teenagers, I realized after a few years that teachers are like every other bell curve – a few great teachers, a few awful teachers and everyone else is somewhere in the bell curve meaning for most, teaching has nothing to do with the students. Howard – you're exactly right – the per hour rate is more than fair for the job performed. WISH I WORKED ONLY 7-7.5 HOURS/DAY! As a small business owner, that's what I call half a day on Saturday. First-hand experience, I had to tutor education majors in college so they could pass a basic math and english test (California Achievement Test, 35th percentile) to continue to their Junior year in college. They could re-take it till they passed. I imagine this is why they don't performance tied to scores . . .

        September 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • reader426

      MEd: Considering you are unable to correctly spell "educator," it was probably not the best profession for you. Glad you're out of the classroom.

      September 17, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
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  10. Chris

    The "it's about the children" argument is transparent, old, and tired just ask the New Jersey teachers union. Taxpayers are on to your game of using our children as an excuse to enrich yoursslef and your union!!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Iris

      Yes Chris this is our master plan to enrich our union. We are going to use our students to gain public sympathy. It's why we walked out of our classrooms, move furniture around 100 times to accommodate 38 kids in a classroom, spend endless hours writing useless curriculum maps for curriculum units for lesson plans for kids who are constantly late, absent, disrespectful, sad, tired, hungry, don't speak English, have no support at home and are reading at a 2nd grade level in 8th grade. But I guess that proves I'm not doing my job because when I became a teacher my community expected me to fix everything that's broken at home and in school. Thank God for my union, I shudder to think where we'd be without it. For everyone whose never been in a classroom it's easy to see what's broken and even easier to see how to fix it.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
      • Veteran Educator

        If your students are constantly late, absent, disrespectful, sad, tired, hungry, don't speak English, have no support at home and are reading at a 2nd grade level in 8th grade, what are YOU proposing to meet them where they are, AND proposing to be held accountable for their progress once they reach YOUR classroom?
        I have 22 years in the public school classroom, and this is the standard I hold myself to: "Never blame the students."
        The difference between "teacher" and "educator" is that teachers are only concerned with their classrooms, and educators are concerned about children.

        September 16, 2012 at 3:15 am |
      • Tina

        Yes, Iris, I recognize teachers' contributions; but this is the career you chose. In the career I chose, there are problems also but I still service the people who need me the most. That's is my true reward in a field that I chose for myself.

        September 16, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
      • Lakeview mom

        Iris sounds like the kind of bitter teacher that likes to blame the system and kids. That's not the teacher I want teaching my children. And from the weariness of her message it sounds like the wrong career path for her. And those are the types of teachers the union protects from being fired. Scary thought!!

        September 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
      • Jenny

        I am a public school teacher, and I say it emphatically to all parents... UNIONS ARE NOT NECESSARILY ADVOCATING FOR STUDENTS. THEY ADVOCATE FOR TEACHERS. The logic is that if you advocate for teachers, it helps students... which works if the teacher are for students and are GOOD at what they do, but that's not always the case.

        Furthermore, am I missing something? I thought you guys were striking over the closing of schools AND not wanting your antiquated evaluation system changed. Why is it nobody is talking about enrollment? Enrollment is down, which means there isn't a need for as many schools (and teachers). If a company has less of a demand because there are fewer consumers, you have no choice but to lay off workers... If enrollment is down, what's the problem with closing schools, and re-allocating that money so that there is more money for each student?

        Your evaluation system is hasn't changed in decades. If you can't keep up, you should get laid off. What's the problem with that? I don't understand why you are striking.

        September 16, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
      • cherryberrygi

        Shame on you for complaining about a profession you chose. So you move around chairs to accomodate 38 students – how about the real world where for years professionals have been asked to do twice as much with no increses, lost benefits, pay cuts to keep their jobs and all come with annual performance reviews. The downfall of all of this is the very things you complain about are the very reasons without a union to hide behind you wouldn't have a job. Teachers need unions like students need the strike!

        September 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Tamara

      To all of you who feel obligated to reply disrespectfully toward teachers–when was the last time you yourself actually taught in a public school? Have you ever begun to try to imagine, REALLY IMAGINE what life is like outside of your little white-bread world? I think not. In fact, your remarks alone prove that you haven't. To those of you who went to Jesuit or private schools–you cannot even begin to compare those to public schools. Your parents had 'buy-in'–they were making direct payments to schools. In other words–you had better not have blown it or they would have known immediately where to place blame. You succeeded because they wanted they're money's worth. Apples to oranges, no comparison. Wake up and smell the coffee, people. Stop trying to place blame on someone else and look at yourselves. Take a good hard look before you think about what you say next, because to someone as educated and dedicated to my profession as I am, if you speak too soon, once again I'll have to hand my napkin to you so that you'll be able to wipe that egg off your filthy face.

      September 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
      • A parent

        Dear Tamara,

        Just read the veteran educator's remarks. It answers most of your concerns, and apparently she/he has been in the classroom. I only hope my kids never get exposed to teachers like you and would be greatful if they find an educator like him/her. My dad was a teacher as well, I do have empathy against them but what is happening today is NOT for the benefit of our kids. Using them as a tool to negotiate is shameul.

        September 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
      • Nina

        Tamara, I have taught in public schools and recognized early that it was not the career choice for me. I did not then, nor do I now, have the patience and dedication to educate.

        I attended public schools as a child in both semi-rural and central urban locations. I never attended a school that was air-conditioned. (I attended school in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.) My high school had no gym, no stage, certainly no computers. What we did have, and maybe I am just fortunate, were educators. I remember the names of every elementary school teacher I ever had. Mrs. Harvick, my fourth grade teacher, remains one of most influential people in my life.

        I'm not saying that teachers today don't have challenges; of course they do. But it's still a profession that demands dedication – to the students, to the learning process, and to the community at large. If you can't contribute positively, then perhaps, you too, should be in a another profession.

        September 17, 2012 at 2:40 am |
      • Howard

        There are schools and there are schools. You couldn't pay me enough to work in an inner city school with the disrespectful culture of black kids, gang violence culture of Mexicans kids, so there I said it. They are not going to test well regardless of how you teach because they are no there to learn. Their roll models in life drug pushers and thugs. Best thing to do is, test the kids, if they are below a certain score send them to a trade school an get them out of the class room with other kids who want to learn and possibly go on to college.

        September 17, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  11. Jay Rehak

    Well said. The national discussion regarding urban education has been elevated. Hopefully, the strike has brought the issues of the student learning environment to the forefront. Having worked in both Catholic Schools and public schools, I know that there are many wonderful, dedicated instructors in the field who understand that a quality learning environment is a fundamental aspect of a quality education. Certainly extreme learning conditions can be overcome, but why, as a society, should we allow any of our students to have to battle such conditions to learn?

    In the end, we must, as a nation, reframe the argument: there is no reason that our schools should not have teachers who are compensated with affordable, adequate health care, a living wage, and a dignified retirement. All teachers, whether private, charter or public, should not have to fight for these as compensation for helping children to learn.

    It is unfortunate and frankly insulting that many bloggers challenge the motives of educators when those educators assert their right to earn a middle class existence.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:55 am |
  12. Jay

    LOL! What a joke. Yeah, like anybody believes this is "for the kids." Meanwhile the kids are at home and not being educated. Does this guy even believe the tripe he writes?

    September 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • mike

      Over my years I have met with great instruction, I was fortunate enough to be sent to Jesuit schools where teachers only made a fraction of a average Chicago public school teachers pay, don't mind the benefits package. Here you have encountered someone who almost always took the side of teachers in disputes over pay, responsibility, and the accountability of the entire system. However, the Jesuits graduated 99% of my high school graduating class to universities with the other 1% going into military service. And so I say to you, blame it on the weather and for Chicago being hot. Oh by the way – we were in evap cooled classrooms in Phoenix Arizona with a month and a half longer school year than you and it was 115 degrees some days. How did we do it? We did it because our teachers were qualified to teach the subjects they were teaching, they were dedicated to the students' best interests, and they were held accountable for their performance which equaled 99% + 1%. Your lack of accountability is juvenile at best and you are a disgrace to your profession. I would also challenge you to look at how many of the teachers in your district attended Jesuit schools and I would venture out to your colleagues to ask them of that which they have gotten. I am sure there aren't many, but I would also ask their opinion of how they got into teaching and what did the teachers at those schools have that you do not.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  13. Aurora

    Really? If it's true that it's really all about the students that's at the core of their frustrations then why did this all start with teachers complaining about their rescinded raise in 2011?? Looking at the timeline of events it seems this started on the issue of money, but as usual they try to tug at heart strings and pretend it's not.

    September 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  14. jay

    The US spends more on education than any other country and its average class size is less than most other countries, who also rank ahead of us in terms of quality of education. Class size isn't the problem.

    September 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Joseph Hamrick

      How about focusing on teaching children?

      September 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Iris

      Then perhaps it is our immigration policies, poverty, poor parenting, our elected officials or people like you.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
      • Lakeview mom

        There goes Iris with the blame game again!!!

        September 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
      • common man

        And while we are at the blame game, why not blame the weather, the climate change, China's foreign policy, the Taliban and the neighbor's dog too ?

        September 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  15. SteveM

    I haven't read all the previous posts.

    I'm really, really tired of hearing that the teachers are striking for the children. What a bunch of hooey!! I, for one, have never seen a teachers strike that wasn't related to salary, benefits, or job security. These are important items, but what do they do for the children??? What about the impact to the chidren who are not able to go to school because their teacher is on a strike line? How is that helping the student?

    September 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Aurora

      Totally agree! In June of last year they were complaining about the 4 percent raise they thought they'd get but didn't. That seemed to be the catalyst that starting this whole snowball. But of course they turn it in to no no it's not about the money it's about the students. A bunch of hooey is right. Because of the economy I haven't had, and don't expect, a raise in years. What makes them so special?

      September 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  16. Ted ward

    The Chicago system is too huge and impersonal to give a rats patootie about any individual child's education. It's all about the adults and their money, power and politics. Fire all the teachers close down the whole wasteful child abusing system and give the kids vouchers so they can go where their precious and irreplaceable learning years of youth are valued, appreciated and put to good use.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  17. little rhody

    Ok, here's a little different perspective. I am a high school math teacher. When my Juniors take their standardized tests in October, I have known the students for only about six weeks. How on earth is it reasonable to connect my evaluation with their test results??? I barely know them. They have been "learning" math for eleven years before I meet them and my certification/evaluation is dependent on the six weeks I have had them??? That's ludicrous!!!

    September 14, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • MdKnightR

      I wholeheartedly agree! Basing such a lion's share of teacher's performance evaluation on test scores would only make sense if the teacher had been instructing the same group of students for years.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
      • Trevor

        No, you still cannot hold a teacher accountable for what a student chooses to write down on a test. Maybe that students was not in school very much because he or she had to stay at home to watch a sick brother or sister while mom went to work. Maybe that student is tired the morning of the test because he or she stayed up playing video games or didn't get a chance to eat breakfast. Let's think about this for a second. People judge so easily.

        September 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  18. C'mon now

    Our Unions and their membership MUST remain strong. They are the first line of defense against CORPORATE GREED> Get rid of Unions and the corporations take over. Folks like Romney run the show and all they care about is the bottom line – PROFIT. Corps don't care about education or children – it's all about money.

    Save the middle class, save the unions, keep Romney out of the White House

    September 14, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Jim O'Reilly

      You teachers and your unions are nothing but blood sucking parasites that requires everything from anybody who will pay and no remorse for putting communities literally on the edge of insolvency. You could give a crap about those kids unless it is to find multiple ways to indoctrinate them to even more greedy lefty ways.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • jay

      The majority of pro union states are insolvent by comparison to right-to-work states or those states with less powerful unions. Just something to chew on

      September 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
      • Jon W

        Of course: states like Vermont and Massachusetts are "insolvent" despite high achieving schools, budget surplusses, and strong unions, but states like Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and West Virginia and Wyoming have next to no unions and take more money from the government than everybody. I can't believe anyone still believes the lie that "right to work" states are doing well. Have you looked at the numbers of the states with no worker protections? Higher infant mortality, higher adult mortality, lower rates of health care, lower standardized test scores, lower percentages of literate children and adults, and lower average income. The only "benefit" is lower taxes which also means worse roads, worse disaster prevention, and MORE federal funds. If the country were run more like the Northeast and New England, perhaps we'd actually be making progress.

        September 15, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  19. Steve R

    Get rid of unions & teachers make more.
    Until you rid the systems of waste, teachers will never receive their due amount.
    Until you have fair evaluations and get rid of tenure, you'll never have good teachers in every class room.
    That's why more and more parents are choosing homeschool where we don't have to put up with teacher's crap & we teach our way and they way best for our child. We as parents know better than any teacher or administrator and certainly far better than any politician what to teach our child.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • C'mon now

      Get rid of unions? If you do that the corporations take over. Folks like Romney run the show and all they care about is the bottom line – PROFIT. Corps don't care about education or children – it's all money.

      Save the middle class, save the unions, keep Romney out of the White House

      September 14, 2012 at 8:31 am |
      • Mike

        Even with unions the private sector is driving education. Common Core and PARCC are only going to make it worse. I see the standardized tests come into my school 3 times a year in sealed boxes which need to be sent back via UPS. Someone needs to score them – and I believe the company that does it is a PRIVATE testing company. Getting rid of the tests would save a whole lot of money and would improve education for students.

        September 14, 2012 at 10:14 am |
      • Steve R

        Surely you don't think school systems aren't about money. If you really want the middle class to be saved, vote the bafoon out of the white house and replace him with a proven leader, Romney.
        If you really want to make an interesting comparison on who cares about education, compare donations of corporations to schools vs what the cost of a typical high school athletic program is and how much you spend in taxes for those students to play a game rather than learn math.

        Profits are ALWAYS a good thing.

        September 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  20. Kevin-Ohio

    Instead of saying "i dont get this so why should union employees" try saying "i work hard also and deserve this too". Unions are a right to organize which was earned after years of worker suppression and by the sweat and blood of most of our ancestors. Antiunion Americans probably have dead relatives that would be ashamed to know that their kin are trying to reverse all they fought for.

    September 14, 2012 at 2:45 am |
    • C'mon now

      Bravo Kevin-Ohio. You're so right.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • jay

      Unions certainly had a place in history in improving working conditions and benefits. However, given today's workplace standards, regulations, and laws, unions are relics of the past that have also contributed to America's financial insolvency. If Unions are so wonderful and pay such great dividends then everyone would want to join them and states having to pass right-to-work laws would be unnecessary and pointless. Right now there are people picketing outside my building because they say a drywall company in this building doesn't pay standard wages... but it does, it is just that the union workers demand a higher pay rate... which is fine if you get higher quality with union labor but that is rarely, if ever, the case. More often than not hiring a union involves paying more and induring more annoyances. The only jobs the union guys get around here is when a development becomes political or its a union pension owned building.

      September 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
      • Jim

        Jay, the reason why unions are no longer necessary is because all of those workers you expressed as working in comfortable environments are doing so at the expense of cheaper labor overseas that work in absolute deplorable conditions. We have lost our middle class jobs to billionaires that would rather move their labor overseas where they can work people literally to death and NOT have to worry about unions. So I do agree that unions are no longer necessary. We have very few jobs that could actually benefit from their representation. The billionaires have won – they beat the unions by working people to death that do not have unions.

        September 14, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
      • Lakeview mom

        Agreed. Unions served their time in history. But their time should be over. I'm a democrat and I support teachers, not their unions though!!! They have become a disgusting abuse of power and CTU proves that!

        September 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  21. john

    First of all as the husband of a teacher (not chicago public schools, but near rockford which has a bad public system as well) teacher is far more than an 8 month job. Second I get to hear of all the "lovely" jobs the administrations create while cutting support staff and school programs because of a lack of money. Should teachers put in more money towards their beneffits like the private sector, yes. But to suggest the average teacher salary is 71000 a yr is crazy. That must include administration jobs as well. Unions aren't. perfect, but administrations will drop good tenured teachers for cheaper inexperienced teachers in a heartbeat. Teachers do need evaluations, but test scores can't be the only factor as many students are so far behind before they even enter school because a lack of parental responsibility in education. Sadly it has become about money for both sides of the argument, and once again the kids suffer for it.

    September 14, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Alice in PA

      John do you mean that Rockford had a bad public school system or just poor public services. Education is directly related to socioeconomic status. Remember, if we compare our students internationally, our non-poverty stricken students are at the top! Our public schools work! We need to not keep repeating the failing school mantra. Our support of the schools and of families is what is failing.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Bob Barker

      John, according to the current contract a new teacher in the lowest rung and just a BA makes $50,000+; after 10years $74,000. So, the $71,000 average seems about right. And, that starting salary is $4-5000 higher than the median income for college graduates in Chicago.
      Here's the link to the contract; salaries are in schedule A:

      September 16, 2012 at 5:04 am |
  22. Yoshi89

    Guaranteed, if we get rid of No Child Left Behind and have it where teachers and administrators can find a fair way to evaluate the student achievement separate from the teacher's ability, this will solve the philosophy and back bone to this issue. Then comes the part of money which is second. If you were to pay teachers for the education and training that they had to attain along with the hours they put in to work then you would see that they actually are not really being paid fairly. Now if you believe teachers only work when students are there you are dead wrong, and this includes winter and summer breaks as teachers plan during these off times as well. Also due to schools and parents not providing supplies to teachers or to students then to help bridge this gap and to allow the teacher to perform their job then they need to supplement it with their own money. Either schools and parents need to provide needed supplies or teachers need to get raises, it's that simple. I actually graduated with a degree in education but I am not teaching at the moment as I have to figure out a way to pay 41 grand in school loans and to be honest, for my time I get paid better doing other jobs.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Trevor

      I agree, Yoshi89

      September 14, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  23. Josh

    Go teachers go!!

    September 14, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  24. Dante666

    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHICAGO FILES BANKRUPTCY? Given their current financial problems – this strike can only accelerate the failure – either more revenues (taxes) or a less efficient and effective education system. You can't wish more money for salaries and wages – you have to do something. Tax more or cut services and jobs.

    I think Chicago will bankrupt. It is a too liberal town.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  25. RobertC

    The greatest concern during the strike in Chicago is not whether the children learn anything, but where are they going to get their free meals. The main function of schools in Chicago is to feed children whose parents are unable or unwilling to perform the most basic function of parenting. This city used to have the best public schools in the country. Now they are just about the worst. $70,000 doesn't seem to get much these days.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  26. chris

    This is the same ol crap I've been hearing since my kids went through school. Any negative criticism of the school system and your against kids and teachers. Teachers...we love you...classrooms we support. The problem and it is becoming more difficult to hide is the public school system. This is an internal problem. The school system does not work, is bloated and sucks up most of every dollar that goes into it leaving almost nothing for teachers and the classroom. This strike has NOTHING to do with providing for kids. St. Louis public school system and the St. Louis archdiocese handle about the same number of kids yet the public school system has 552 management positions to handle those kids and the archdiocese does it with only 12. I can only assume Chicago is the same. I support teachers but I have lost patience with them taking it to the public when it is their own system screwing them. We're all getting tired of it teachers! Strike the right people. Only Religion gets more charity dollars in the USA than Education. There is so much money pouring into that system now that you need to stop casting guilt on us. I'm old enough to have been through it and the American people have been behind education from the beginning. So turn the strike to the right direction..the union and the system have got to change. Until then our kids will suffer not from us, from you!

    September 13, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  27. EKIA

    To correct public education we must:

    1) Outlaw all teachers' unions.
    2) Give all parents vouchers so that parents can send their children to the highest performing schools
    3) End all tenure.

    Teachers at schools that perform well will be in demand and will get paid more. When teachers compete as the private sector does, we will achieve excellence.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Meron

      I agree!!! If this strike was about the student I would say there should be no negotiation on the teachers benefits .. Unions are thing of the past.
      Unions are a danger to society

      September 13, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Lynn

      Regarding vouchers, in my state, only 4% of students exercise the voucher system. This 4% has to provide transportation for their child. It's not the at risk students who use the voucher system. It is parents who have the means to provide transportation for their children to and from school. Needy families rarely have the means to provide transportation and are the lease likely to exercise the voucher system.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • NyteShayde

      You're delusional. We need to improve and find answers to the existing system. Not start a new more expensive and ridiculous system only the elite have the resources to utilize. And h3[[ no to getting rid of unions. That's just one more way to put the screws to the people trying to make a livable wage. As soon as the "private sector" learns to play fair and remember who builds their profits, then the unions can go away.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • Jim

      Sheesh wake up. The public schools produce great outcomes for middle and upper class students – because they come to school ready to learn, just as in private schools. Our middle and upper class kids outscore the world on international tests when controlling for poverty. Our poor kids kill our scores and bring them down to the level of Mexico.

      It is so interesting to see how many people in the public are so mislead about the quality of our public schools.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
      • EKIA

        Why can't public schools educate poor kids?

        September 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  28. JUL675

    I was raised in a family of public and private school teachers, and as a teenager/college student, I always argued for higher teacher pay and benefits, since I felt my parents/aunts/uncles deserved it. I also thought at the time that all adults got off work at 3:30 pm, had weekends and holidays off, and had the entire summer free to hang out with their kids. By the way, neither of my parents had advanced degrees, and they did make FAR less than the median averages mentioned for CPS. Then, after receiving a bachelor's and master's degree and starting work in "the real world", I began to look at things differently. At my professional job, I work 60 hour weeks or so, and since I am salaried, I do not get paid overtime. I get 2 weeks paid time off, which includes sick days, vacation days, jury duty, and any other reason I might have to miss work, including natural disasters, as I found out recently. Generally, I use these days for doctor appointments, taking my kid to doctor appointments, going to the DMV, and meeting repairmen. We have minimal health benefits, I have no retirement plan, and mostly I just feel like my life is one continuous day with no break. I feel guilty because I have to put my child in before care, after care, and summer camp, due to my schedule. I agree that teachers are crucial, and I am thankful for the ones who are dedicated and talented individuals; however, I think evaluations should be performance based. In the private sector, regardless of mitigating factors or things beyond my control, I am held responsible for the success or failure of my work-related endeavors, and I believe teachers should be held to the same standards.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • ypw


      September 13, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • carolinabronze

      So you think everyone else should have the same rotten life you do? Instead of trying to pull all workers up to a reasonable standard, you think we should all be pulled down to yours? I' sorry. Maybe I'm just a lot older than you. But that is NOT my American dream and if it is yours then I feel for you.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • KarenK

      I am a public teacher. I work at least 60 hours a week. I work Sundays. I grade papers at home almost every night. I create lesson plans and reevaluate them constantly. I am constantly searching the internet for informational text and videos I can use to teach the kids so they can be college and career ready. I don' t know a single core teacher who is done with his or her work at 3:30. Do not assume you have any idea of the life of a teacher unless you are one.

      September 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  29. Darryl

    I bet most of America feels sorry for a teacher with a 76,000 plus benefit 7 hour a day job for 8 months 4 months off to work or play elsewhere. And the nerve that someone wants them accountable for performance. They haven't improved the education in the last 25 years since the last strike; yet they want more $$. They do need more money because they need to pay to educate their children in the private schools (where the teachers are accountable and usually make less $$)

    September 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • guest

      I am a special education high school teacher and I dont make any where near the 70000. I make 30000 a year thats 980 every two weeks if I choose to not have health insurance. With health insurance I make about 750 every two weeks. Now is that enough to live on? No, and the salary they are talking about is not for most teachers its the principals and higher district employees that make that much. Since I do teach special ed a lot of students families cannot afford supplies for their children so guess where that money comes from... out of my pocket because I want the students to be able to succeed. So then I make even less. And as for having all that time off, its not really time off. Most teachers have to hold 2nd jobs to make ends meet and as a teacher I am constantly meeting with my peers over the summer to discuss school matters and create lesson plans. For high school theres a bout 130 or so kids combined in all classes that takes a lot of time to grade and create lessons that benefit all those students. People who think teaching is easy are crazy. The only way teaching is easy is if a person chooses to just teach out of a book and not differentiate instruction to benefit all learning types.

      Point being, teachers dont make enough for the time and energy they put in to their job. As for being evaluated, absolutly teachers need to be evaluated, but not only on standardized assessments...Since I teach special ed there is no way some of my students can pass that test, does that make me a bad teacher? No, teachers need to be evaluated on multiple systems not just one. Also think about high school if theres a teacher teaching music theres no STATE standardized test that evaluates students on electives of that sort. Standardized testing is not the answer for evaluations and good teachers work hard to help their students succeed they DESERVE to be compensated so they can afford to live...

      September 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
      • Bob Barker

        Guest,you obviously don't work as a Chicago teacher. According to the current contract a new teacher in the lowest rung and just a BA makes $50,000+; after 10years $74,000. So, the $71,000 average being reported seems about right. And, that starting salary is $4-5000 higher than the median income for college graduates in Chicago.
        Here's the link to the contract; salaries are in schedule A:

        September 16, 2012 at 5:07 am |
  30. JD

    As "Americans" we are so spoiled! All of our children are given a "free and appropriate public education" for thirteen years! That's amazing! At what point do we take a percentage out of our taxes and start paying for all of that education? Even if we only paid $5 dollars an hour for every hour our child is in school we would be paying over $70,000 dollars for all that education, and that's only for one child. Thank you teachers for all you've done for me and my children! I know you put in many, many, many more hours than you get paid for. I know you cared for me and you care for my children. I appreciate you and agree that you are worth more and deserve more! Continue the strike!!

    September 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • RobertC

      Obviously you don't own real estate. Those who do pay plenty for education. A nice middle-class family home in Chicago carries a tax burden of about $5000 a year, mostly for education. And the bill goes up every year, even though property values are dropping. Chicago teachers are amongst the highest paid and lowest performing in the country. People here are sick of it.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Bob Barker

      JD, a better way to think of costs is that, at a $17,000/per student cost, you could send your child to a great private school.

      September 16, 2012 at 5:15 am |
  31. EKIA

    Teachers deserve to be paid well, but they deserve to be compensated or fired based on their performance. No teacher deserves tenure based on working for a period of time. Once a teacher is no longer a benefit to their students they need to be fired. Raises should be based on performance, not seniority.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Becky

      On performance, yes, but not on the test scores ofthose they are teaching. How would you like your job to depend on the training of a person who speaks a dialect of swahili and can only afford to eat one meal a day and sleeps in a shelter at night with 500 other people? Your trainee is going to be hungry, tired, and confused, to say nothing of the fact they quite probably will not have the proper tools to do their job. Would you like your job to depend on what that person learns? The teachers performance is not always directly related to the childs ability to learn.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:24 am |
      • Jim

        Thank you Becky. I couldn't have said it better myself.

        September 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  32. Kgh

    Really. Where do some of you work. They should know with in the first 2 or 3 years if you are a bad teacher. If they teach dont allow them to get tenure.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Jim

      I humbly agree and would also like to add that we lose 50% of our new teachers within the first 5 years of teaching. What does that tell you about the job of a teacher?

      September 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  33. Bill

    Why does a strike have to be for the children's benefit? Teachers have the right to demand fair treatment. They are public employees, not public servants.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  34. Robert Davis

    Cancell school this year. See where the union is next year.

    September 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  35. MP24

    Food for thought. Let's not blame the teachers who are in most cases trying their best to teach our children. However, if things are not getting better after 20 or 30 years it might be time for some radical changes. They may or may not be better but who knows until we do something very different. I don't want to say anything bad about the teachers but I also think change is necessary and now is the time. If the message is that by doing this our children are spending all their time studying for and taking tests and there is not time for other activities and that is happening in the good schools then perhaps we can ask the question of what did this accomplish. If however, this is what it takes in the bad schools then I say so be it. Perhaps that is necessary for a while to bring the standards up to the good schools. Then maybe once the students improve they will have time for other activities. Maybe the other activities need to be set aside until improvement takes place. Just saying something needs to happen. Sitting on the fence neither makes things worse or better. However, moving in a direction will tell us we are going the right way or the wrong way, but if the wrong way then we now know to reverse our course. Food for thought.

    September 13, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  36. Bob Clarke

    This may be one of the most disingenuous blog posts I've read for a long time, even considering the liberal bias CNN's web site so often exhibits. This strike is about 4% pay increases for each of the next 4 years; Mr. Barrett doesn't mention that. The average salary, before benefits is $76,000 a year. The guaranteed pension – for life – is 60% of that. The CTU wants to stop teacher job evaluations (union-speak for absolute tenure); in every other job you have to, um, do the job or or get fired. The CTU and Mr. Barrett want smaller classrooms, fewer kids. Good idea as this helps kids learn better, but it also means the union has more "members" and therefore more money (all teachers have to contribute mandatory union dues). He fails to mention the cost of what the union wants ($700 million a year); this for a government enterprise that lost between $650 million to a billion last year (depending on sources). I think this guy mentioned air conditioning 6 times in his post – and I agree that classrooms should be air conditioned. My question is whether the CTU will make salary sacrifices to make that happen.

    September 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Becky

      Average salary sounds great, but that average includes the salary of the administration which is a 6 digit figure. A Teachers salary starting out is in the $30k range and usually does not exceed the $50K range. So the teachers salray average is probably closer to a $40k range, not the $76k as has been thrown out.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:19 am |
      • Bob Barker

        Becky, according to the actual current contract, a new teacher with a BA makes $50,000/year–and at 10 years makes $74,000. Someone is giving you phony numbers. If you don't believe me, look it up in Appendix A of the contract that you can easily Google as I did.

        September 16, 2012 at 5:20 am |
  37. Filly

    How come all the doctors come from India with 500 kids per room and dirt floors ?

    September 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • MP24

      Because they are motivated to learn, no matter what. That and the fact that they have a much larger population which means just by the numbers will will produce many more doctors than the US.

      September 13, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
      • Filly

        but dirt floors and teachers make 5 dollars a year ! My point it's not the teacher it's the students , and good parenting helps . These teaches get paid way to much to be daycare workers .

        September 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • rkotay

      Both India and China have more gifted students than we have total students. That may be how they get those good numbers.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
      • KarenK

        In India and China, if your kid can't pass the basic skills test by 6th grade, they are out of the schools and put into the factories. We on the other hand choose to educate everyone. If we only compared out top students with the students in India and China, (which would be a more fair comparison since India and China only keep and test their top students) we would see our scores are more comparable.

        September 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  38. Dostoyevsky23

    The primary issue is that No Child Left Behind is a crime against our education system. There is absolutely no incentive for students to take the tests seriously and yet experts such as Bennett want to use multiple-choice test results to dictate hiring, firing, and bonuses. The system is mediocre at best and truly stultifying at worst. We will not keep up with Brazil, Russia, India, and China in this century if this is the best we have to offer. Yes, we need to get rid of bad teachers who show no motivation to improve and aren’t willing to work with administrators. We need to make teacher training much more rigorous so people know how to control difficult classrooms and manage classroom time well. But we also need to focus on other things in our culture that have eroded educational attainment and standards. If a family has no books at home and there isn’t one second of quiet time there all day chances are that student will struggle.

    It is infuriating to hear politicians, talking heads, or members of the general public attack teachers when they have absolutely no clue the level of energy, effort, and enthusiasm to handle all of the challenges of this job. The average person would be reduced to a bowl of jelly after about six weeks.
    Bashing teachers will improve America the same way that bashing business will.

    No Child Left Behind is an easy answer for politicians and a disastrous one for teachers and students. It belongs on the scrap heap of history.

    September 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  39. Michelle

    I love all these people bashing teachers. Most of them probably couldn't even name a teacher their child has had. If you think things are so bad and you all have all the answers, get involved and do something. Sitting back behind the computer, posting and complaining about teachers to make yourselves feel better about your life isn't really helping the situation.

    September 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  40. ypw

    This country is losing ground in education –

    #1 Usually it is those bad graduates from high school who choose to teach. The smart ones usually choose to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, ...
    #2 The bad graduates (hence bad teachers) does not care or know how to teach;
    #3 The Teacher\'s Union protect bad teachers.
    #4 The tax system gives parent no rights to change the school system – parent can not get the tax back if they send their children to private school – usually better school.

    With American school failing, we must have more and more immigrants to take those high paying jobs.

    September 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Scoundrel

      Yeah, you're right. I have a 4.158 GPA from high school and three university degrees. I am CLEARLY a bumbling idiot, and I am a teacher. You know what, WORLD? I think that ALL TEACHERS EVERYWHERE should stop teaching. I think your fricking kids should just learn by going through life. Yeah, because absolutely ALL doctors are what they are because they did it all by themselves. Not one single FRICKING TEACHER positively influenced our country's doctors EVER IN THEIR LIVES. F YOU, WORLD! YOU DON'T RESPECT PASSIONNATE, EFFECTIVE TEACHERS? YOU DO IT YOURSELVES, THEN!

      September 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
      • ypw

        Then teachers like you should welcome changes - I know a few very good teachers, they all moved from Public school to Private school. They get better pay there and be more respected.

        When a system protects losers, you know the system is wrong. And this is what is happening right now with our PUBLIC school system and its union!

        September 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
      • Retired Firefighter/Medic

        Scoundrel, this is trend throughout the Country. Bash and belittle public employees. In all professions, there are good and below standard employees. You worked hard to get your education. And I can tell you must be a good educator or this topic would not upset you as much as it has. Whether you belong to a Union or not, fair wages and accountability for the jobs that we do are in order. But until all parties involved take responsibility for the education situation (Unions,School Boards, Teacher and Parents) and based on today's economic situation, this heated discussion will raise it's ugly head again and again. If you are truly a good Educator, walk holding your head high and quietly give the system your best teaching that you can do in your heart, you know you are/or were the best in your profession. Thank you for your dedication.

        September 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Jane

      "#1 Usually it is those bad graduates from high school who choose to teach. The smart ones usually choose to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, ...
      #2 The bad graduates (hence bad teachers) does not care or know how to teach;"?

      Nice, sweeping generalizations with no evidence to support your wild and unfair claims.

      September 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Becky

      Sometimes when you don't know what you are talking about, you should just shut the hell up.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:27 am |
      • ypw

        I am looking for that hole to shut - How many teachers that you know are actually top of the class? go to any high school, and do a survey, how top students are choosing teaching (other than college professors) as their career? How many good teachers moved to Private school?

        September 14, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  41. Simpsoneetal

    Then what do you propose to fix the failing schools problem?

    September 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • josh rogen

      abolish government run education and fund private schools

      September 13, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
      • Jim

        Yeah, lets do that. Let our public tax dollars go to private schools so the poor kids can attend there and ruin them to. Our public schools are the best in the world. Our middle and upper class kids outscore the world on international tests when controlling for poverty.

        As long as poor kids are around, and poor families, poor schools will exist. Right now we have the highest child poverty rate of any developed nation, so it stands to reason we should have as many schools failing.

        September 14, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Mike

      Get rid of the union, abolish tenure. The union is there to protect the teachers, not the students. They perform their job well, and protect lousy teachers, and cause the problem of overcrowded classrooms by continuing to drive up salaries and all of it to the detriment of the students.

      the union is the problem, and certainly not the solution.

      September 13, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
      • Jim

        Get a clue. The highest performing states on NAEP are unionized. Finland is highly unionized – they FORCE their teachers into the union, and they kick our butts on student achievement, all WITHOUT standardized tests, or making teachers responsible for the outcomes of their students.

        September 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
      • rkotay

        Unions do not protect "bad" teachers, and not everyone is the "cream of the crop." If you are a bad teacher, administrators have the means to let you go. There are some teachers who should not teach. I believe, however, that any teacher who gets through the day without harming a child (with sarcasm, an ill-timed glare, or failure to recognize a child's emotional and cognitive needs) is doing a great job.

        Not everyone's skill set enables them to: hit 60+ home runs/year, run 100 meters in less than 10 seconds, or send 99% of his/her class to college, but these people still get to play on the team.

        September 16, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  42. WCCT

    All the teachers do is complain about having to teach to the test. Guess what? Nobody ever taught the test to me and I could pass it. Why? Because I can read, write and do basic math.... If teachers were doing a good job in the first place teaching to the test would be irrelevant.

    September 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • josh rogen

      that's the problem with the test, we now spend 12 years teaching children how to pass a simple test instead of teaching them the skills they'll need to survive in a global workplace.

      September 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
      • ToughTimes

        Public school does neither, can't teach to take a test can't prepare them for a job, the worst of both worlds.

        September 14, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • rkotay

      Everyone teaches to the test, and they always have. Who the heck would assess something that was not taught?

      September 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  43. Ayala

    If the strike is all about the students, then when you go back, your union should not accept the 4% pay raise over the next four years and benefit increases, and just deal with those matters of importance to the students. Then we will really know from the Union/teachers what is really on the line here

    September 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  44. Steve-Illinois

    It's a teachers story all right........should have started this column off with "Once upon a time" since that's how fairy tales normally begin.

    September 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Scoundrel

      YOU need a teacher, Steve from Illinois. You need to learn about the wonders of that little beauty we call the apostrophe. It indicates possession, you dick. Apostrophe S, numbskull. "It's a teacheR'S story." Oh, that's right. You're up for firing the people that teach you that crap.

      September 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
      • ToughTimes

        Steve is proof the school system has failed, please take your 71K and retire. How about a two tier pay system were the older teachers sell out the younger teachers, see the UAW, and eventually the city escapes the yoke of union pensions.

        September 14, 2012 at 6:22 am |
  45. Steve-Illinois

    What a joke this column is. 40% of the 8th graders at CPS will drop out before graduating.
    This is one of the most underperforming schools in the nation, and these teachers go on strike?
    They should step in and fire them all!

    September 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Jim

      Oh and I'm sure the teachers are sending kids home to drop out. Or maybe their just more interested in spending more time with their fellow gang members. Goodness man, wake up.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  46. Vxper

    You may want better for you students, but your union only wants your dues. Why don't you bring this to the table, performance based pay instead of tenure based, No gauranteed salary increases and equal contribution to your benefits. Welcome to the woes of the private sector.

    September 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Ayala

      and the pension benefits are breaking the Illinois state government. You do not deserve guaranteed benefits of 80% of your pay after 30 years. Sounds like Greece! When your local school districts ask for approval for a school levy, don't forget to ask how much of the levy $$ goes to the teacher's pension? Don't vote for it unless they tell you first!

      September 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Jim

      Speaking of the "woes of the private sector", can you please name one private sector profession where 50% of the employees quit after the first 5 years of their employment?

      You and your friends wouldn't last one day in a CPS school, even one of the "good" ones. You'd go home crying like a baby.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  47. Laura (CPS Parent)

    Make no mistake, CTU is using my daughter as a pawn and for leverage, period. This is not about improving things "for the kids" but rather a horribly transparent grab by the union to maintain the status quo of failure while receiving generous pay, benefits, pensions and now guaranteed employment! I am also a former CPS student and can personally attest to 1 quality teacher for 50 inadequate teachers in the CPS system. Quality teachers are not at risk of losing their jobs and never will be. They are aggressively recruited and retained by principals and supported by parents. When the smoke clears and kids are back in school make sure all of you blind supporters note how many schools get A/C, supplemental staff and all the other items allegedly fought for by the union. Wanna bet CTU lets those items fall by the wayside once again? Karen Lewis personifies the bloated largesse of CTU and I support a longer strike to finally instill accountability and sanity for our children and taxpayers!!!!

    September 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Faye

      Unions are medieval and barbaric!

      September 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Lynn

      I agree people would like to think all or most teachers care about the children, in my experience I have come across care only about their paychecks. I heard it When I was in school and 30 years later I still hear it "I have mine, you have yours to. Get".

      September 14, 2012 at 6:21 am |
  48. George in Ohio

    Having teachers run the schools would be the same as having the inmates running the assylum. You teachers are terrified at being held accountable. You give education a bad name.

    I believe that Chicago should aboish public education and turn the per pupil allocation over to private and/or charter schools. Those schools can fire teachers without having to worry about a union grievance.

    Yes, I am a Democrat, but I am not on your side.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • lynn

      Really? That would be like letting the crooked bankers teach math classes, or a forklift driver with a 10th grade education teach reading. Stick to what you were educated to do. You sound like a union – hating gas station attendant.

      September 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
      • bob

        and you lynn, sound like a low-iq product of the chicago school system...

        September 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Simpsoneetal

      Thanks for your bold post! What are you teachers afraid of? Bad private sector employees are fired for poor performance, as you should be! You are no different, especially as `public servants'- what a joke you and your union are!

      September 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Michelle

      You are so ignorant. Can you please give me statistics of charter school success o' wise one? This is not the answer. If you think public schools are bad, charter schools are worse. Before you start blabbing your mouth on something you know nothing about, maybe you school set inside a school and education yourself.

      September 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
      • ToughTimes

        The proof is in the terrible test scores, why should the tax payers fund a system with terrible results?

        September 14, 2012 at 6:17 am |
    • Lakeview mom

      Completely agree with George in Ohio!

      September 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  49. Christopher - Salinas, CA

    You are wrong to strike. Get your butt back in class and be thankful for the 8 month a year job at very good money with great benefits.

    You are all very selfish. I can not stand Rahm Emanuel, but I hope he brings in retired teachers from across the US and puts them in your classroom. It will be very funny the day you hit the pavement looking for work with no real world skills. Good luck adapting to the real world. It moves fast and you will get tested every day-produce or get fired.


    September 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  50. Eric

    I don't know if you teachers have noticed but the world is exploding all around us. We are being attacked by muslim fanatics, diplomats killed (which is an act of war by the way). The economy is in the crapper, alot of people are out of work and you guys want more money and what else? You got to be kidding me. Get your buts back to work before someone else takes your job.

    September 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm |

      Of course we have noticed. Does that mean that we should stop working to make things the best for the kids? Should we say "sorry kids, the world is imploding, deal with it."? If you think this is only about money, then perhaps you should go back to school.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
      • ToughTimes

        Public schools are terrible and it is the teachers and administrators fault. Keep on striking the students in Chicago will not miss anything, they still can not read, write or add. For years there has been no accountability for teachers and now they would like to hold them accountable like any other business. No wonder you are striking if I was selling a failing product I would fight tooth and nail to protect my job too. I would like to see a voucher system and allow parents a choice, no wonder home schooling is a growing trend.

        September 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
      • bob

        standard "it's for the kids" claptrap?? sorry, but "we the taxpayers" are fed up with all of you municipal union and teachers union stealing us blind in the "name of public safety" and "for the kids."

        September 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
      • farmerbrown

        Then do not accept the proposed pay raise and any benefit increases, and let's see you Chicago teachers who work 7 hrs a day180 days per year do for our students!

        September 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Remlik

      Great example of teacher greed. This is all about them, not the kids. These teachers get paid the highest salaries in the nation for teachers, get full healthcare and full pensions, while paying in nearly nothing to cover the costs. They were offered a 16% increase over the next four years and they are on strike. They are out of touch with reality.

      It is time to fire them all and start over. The results could not be any worse than they currently are.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
      • Remlik

        Final comment. 46% of the teachers in Chicago send their kids to private schools. What does that tell you?

        September 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
      • farmerbrown

        I'd plow them under and start a new crop!

        September 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
      • rkotay

        It may tell me that most of the white kids go to private school. It's the poverty, stupid.

        Let's do what Finland does, ranked in the top five in public education. All students get the same education–the rich and the poor. They use the same books and are taught the same curriculum. The wealthy do not have the choice of paying for a "better" education for their children; everybody gets the same education. Everybody gets the best education. If it takes smaller classes, pay for smaller classes; new books, pay for new books; healthy nutritious food, pay for healthy nutritious food. If I have to pay more in tax, I will–happily.

        We are going to pay for these children one way or another. I would rather pay up front, pay the dollars that give all of the children the best education available. The alternative is to pay for uneducated kids later, when we have to pay more money to build more prisons.

        September 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  51. Marci

    What am I missing here? The teacher is talking about making things better for the kids but the strike is about more money for the teachers. How does more money in the teacher's pocket put air conditioning in the classroom?

    September 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm |

      The strike is about more than money. That is just what is being reported by media outlets. That is what you are missing.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
      • james

        NO–It IS about money and the GREED of the Chicago teachers. It is also about how out of touch with reality they are. GET IN THE REAL WORLD!!

        By the way, I am a teacher of 26 years.

        September 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
      • bob

        who are you kidding? you don't support public education, you support being overpaid, non-accountable, and putting more money in your own pocket...

        September 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • practicesquadprobowler

      Hi Marci,

      Perhaps read on the situation a bit more. Chicago teachers can only strike over pay/benefit issues, but they have more issues unresolved with the district. Namely, air conditioning (Chicago has many year-round schools), lower classroom sizes (average depending on grade is from mid-30's to mid-40's students per class), libraries (160 schools don't have a library), art/music/world languages to be included in the curriculum and many other factors, including pay and evaulation. The teachers don't oppose evaluation, they just don't want it to rely 50% on high-stakes tests. One of the tests that they are suppose to be evaluated on is proctored a week after they start school.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
      • Christopher - Salinas, CA

        One way they could increase the budget for necessary classroom improvements is to modify the benefits. Like it or not, it will happen in Illinois and thankfully, here in CA.

        September 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  52. Barbara

    Almost forgot, our school superintendent in Denver sends his kids to Boulder public schools, while using ours as guinea pigs.

    September 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • bob

      and your point is?

      September 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Simpsoneetal

      Can you blame him?

      September 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Eric

      bitter much?

      September 17, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  53. Barbara

    Thank you Mr. Barrett. You have my support. The same thing is happening in Colorado, blaming the teachers for everything. And I so sick of standardized high stakes testing, I could scream.

    September 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • farmerbrown

      We'll mister teacher. What do you as teachers propose to fix the schools!

      September 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  54. Larry is KC

    It's obvious that if both sides seem they are right and the parents are for the teachers, there is only one answer – raise taxes to help cover the short fall.. Tell the parents, businesses and teachers of Chicago that in order ensure the kids get what "everyone" wants – that there is a price tag. Seeing as the public schools do not generate income or produce anything for sale – someone has to pick up the tab. That tab comes from the citizens in the form of taxes. Tell the district that they need to come right out and say that they will provide teachers what they want, they will put air conditioning in the schools, they will give free lunches – but the citizens will pay it with higher taxes. Then we'll see how compassionate the public is. Generate a city tax on income earned by people who work in Chicago but live elsewhere – including teachers – that goes to help support the public schools. We'll see how compassionate the public is then. Have the economics teachers explain how intertwined things are – how one action affects others. Let's educate the kids AND the teachers.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Matt

      The teachers union continues to say the strike is not about pay but the comfort of the children. I suspect that we will see an offer then to reduce pay by 10% across the board and have the money directed towards upgrading the schools.

      26,000 teachers x $71,000 average pay =$1,846,000,000. Ten percent or $184 million would do alot to upgrade the schools and leave teachers with a healthy paycheck.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
      • chris

        71 cents of every City of Chicago education dollar goes to fund the teacher's pensions. That doesn't leave much for current teacher salary/raises, AC and books for the classrooms.

        September 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Simpsoneetal

      Do not give into domestic terrorism!

      September 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  55. May

    I hate it when a politician claims that they want what's best for the students. Until you walk in my shoes, you don't understand a thing about what is best for the students. Schools needs to be kept up to technology so the student can compete in this ever fast changing environment. Teachers do deserve to get raises just like people working in the private sector. I'm a sales rep and if I work hard and close a few contracts, you bet ya life, I want a nice raise. . It's the same with the teachers. I know there are a few bad apples out there but the majorities are good teachers. Each and every student is different and they learn differently so you can't apply the students test scores to how well the teacher teaches. I can be out making great presentations and know my products but if the company does not need my product, they will not sign a contact with me. Does this mean that I didn't do my job...NO... I did do my job but I have no control over the final decision.
    Most importantly, we need to stop wasting money in areas where it's not important, and put our tax dollars into our schools. When we moved over the summer, my kids went to a newer school... more green. My 8 year old right away said when we enter the school... wow, this place has air condition, now I won't fall asleep and I can concentrate to my teacher. I didn't realize that she was struggling due to the heat in her older school. These stuff are very important to kids. We need to look at the source of the problem... not blame the teachers.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  56. enscriptchun

    Rahm Emanuel's kids don't even attend public school... they attend private school at U of Chicago's Lab Schools. That should tell you all you need to know about the Emanuel"s lack of commitment to fixing education as mayor of Chicago.

    I support Teacher X and the students, teachers, and families of Chicago on strike!

    September 13, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Bob Barker

      That's where Obama sent his kids, too.

      September 16, 2012 at 5:30 am |
    • Eric

      Maybe it's time for public schools to emulate the private school system, then.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  57. *carol

    Xian is a passionate educator who always believes students are #1. Thank you for your tireless efforts and support for kids and teachers.

    September 13, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  58. Hmmm

    Teacher X appears to have some passion about his role as a teacher. But to tie the issues he outlines to the teacher's strike is more than a bit disingenuous. I don"t think many people are happy with the state of our public schools and had the teachers walked out in protest of the conditions Teacher X describes, one might be able to make a plausible case that the strike is about the kids. They didn't and it isn"t.

    The teachers walked out over testing, wages and benefits. Apparently, the real "last straw" was over issues that affect their livelihood and not, in fact, the kids. If Chicago teachers want to build empathy and support while bringing about substantive change, they should leverage the union's strength and spend more time and do a better job advocating for the changes Teacher X suggests are necessary.

    The kids would benefit and so would the teachers.

    It might then be easier to buy the case that this strike is about the kids and it might also make it easier for the average working joe to feel sympathy for people who work eight months a year while making a salary on par with what the rest of the nation makes working 12 months, contribute a disproportionately low amount toward health coverage than their neighbors who foot the bill for teachers' coverage, and forcibly resist any effort to objectively evaluate and reward performance.

    September 13, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Steve

      They may make salaries that are comparable to those of us that work 12 months a year, but we also have paper, pencils, pens, office supplies all given to us by our employers. These teachers have to buy all of these for themselves, and other things that they need to help bring home the day's lesson plans. These teachers buy almost everything that they need, these things are not given to them, because the schools budget is tighter than your belt could ever get.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:02 am |
      • max3333444555

        you really want to call buying a few boxes of pencils a hardship? there are many people in the private sector who buy supplies rather than go through a corporate process.

        September 13, 2012 at 11:33 am |
      • Dan

        I completely agree with you Steve. As for Max's comment, teachers have to spend so much more than that. Its not just a couple boxes of pencils, a lot of the time, in the less well-off schools, if a teacher wants to take the class on an educational field trip they have to pay for it or most of it. Nearly all of the supplies for a classroom comes from the teacher. Yes they get paid as if they work 12 months a year but when they work, I guarantee you they work harder than anyone else making the same pay. Consistently putting in over 12 hours a day just to set up for the next day and grading papers.

        September 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
      • KatieO

        Just to clarify, teachers are only paid for the time they work. In Chicago, teachers are forced to defer some pay each paycheck for the summer months. Basically, the teachers give the ditrict an interest-free loan. Also, check out this analysis of teacher pay in the Chicago area. CPS is quite average.

        The numbers they are reporting on television are skewed since they include many high-paid administrators. Also, as in many urban districts, the CPS workforce is becoming younger and more inexperienced as the district pushes out great veteran teachers and hires new, many poorly-trained emergency certified novices. This move has a terrible impact on children who are in need of experienced educators.

        Lastly, keep in mind that in Chicago schools, such as the one where I worked on Chicago's southside, that teachers supply their own books (160 schools have NO libraries), there own soap/hand sanitizer, toilet paper, pencils. markers, glue, printers, ink, and even make their own copies at Kinkos. Teachers who left CPS and have moved to the suburbs are shocked to learn that schools are supposed to supply these items, as it is so commonplace. I spent well over $3000 my first year of teaching since the only supplies I was given were two garbage bags full of old tattered readers and a white board.

        Nothing ever changes because people who are not in education have no idea about the conditions in our schools. Hoepfully, this strike will help change that!

        September 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
      • Alex

        It should be noted that teachers can deduct those expenses from their taxes (up to $350 I believe), and no administrator would force them to make such a purchase. Office workers cannot make such deductions when they buy new equipment (for instance, I bought a new monitor. I didn't NEED a new one, but I wanted a new one because the old one was very small. that cost me over $200 dollars, but I won't get a penny back for it.)

        I know some teachers who spend a lot, and some who spend nothing. Point being it is a CHOICE, to enhance your classroom, not forced on you.

        Parents are and should be responsible with supplying their children with paper, pencils, and other school materials, not the school system. This has been the case for decades, nothing new here.

        September 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
      • Simpsoneetal

        Chicago schools could afford these expenses by cutting your benefits!

        September 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
      • Paul

        Alex, you are absolutely right. No administrator on Earth would require their teachers to spend their own money on supplies, teaching materials, pens/pencils for students, notebooks for students, textbooks for students, or any other item that would make them a better teacher. Teachers make the decision to spend this money on their own. Why? Because teachers are always trying to be better. They are always seeking out new ways to teach content, build skill, and keep students focused on a task. Available supplies, even as small as a pencil, may sound meaningless but they could mean the difference between a great lesson and a mediocre one. Teachers spend their own time and money because they care about the profession, their reputation as an educator, the lessons they teach, and the future of their students. There are no performance incentives as a teacher, yet you have millions of dedicated people who devote their lives to being better. And, it's all these peole's fault for our societies problems? I don't think so, folks. Point your vitriol elsewhere.

        September 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
      • Becky

        To Alex, it is $250. And it is a credit that reduces tax liability, which translates into a tax deduction of approximately $2 for the money spent. So, congrats teachers, make sure you get your $2 every year as a thank you for the money you invest in your students. (sense the sarcasm!)

        September 14, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • KatieO

      Illinois State law was changed last year in a piece of legislation known as Senate Bill 7 or SB7. SB7 was pushed heavily by outside billionaire-backed groups like Stand for Children and Mayor Rahm Emanuel himself. Part of the law stipulates that ONLY wages and benefits will be considered stikeable and that all other concerns–class size, learning conditions, support staff– would be considered "permissive". Rahm Emaunel and friends PURPOSEFULY rigged the law so that if and when teachers walked out, they would appear selfish. I assure you, sir, as someone who has spent a great deal of time on the front lines with the teachers in Chicago, they are fighting for great schools for their students. They are people like Xian, trying to spotlight the poor conditions in schools in order to support their kids. It is inspirational and powerful! And I thank the Chicago Teachers Union for their social justice stand!

      September 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • bokuda

      Teachers are among the lowest paid professionals in a field that, in most districts. requires a masters degree. They are paid for the time they actually spend in front of classes, not for all the extra time spent after hours at school or home grading papers, classes and completing administrative paperwork. They work TEN months a year and are not paid for the time off nor do they have any paid holidays. Granted, if their pay is prorated over 12 months, it not too bad, but still low for the requirements and demands of the job.

      There are some perks for the job including having every holiday and weekend off, as well as the summer, but again this is not paid time. Working with kids who have a genuine desire to learn and are well behaved and respectful is a true joy. Seeing them succeed and learn is very satisfying.

      However, the negatives of the job are many and those who put up with them and do a good job deserve a great deal of respect and the pay they receive. Unfortunately the negatives greatly outweigh the positives:
      – administrators who make continual, petty demands on teachers detracting from time spent preparing for classes
      – shocking, unacceptable lack of discipline in many schools with negative impacts on the learning environment
      – lack of respect from almost everyone in society, including, in many cases, administrators and school boards
      – administrators and school boards who have no classroom experience making important decisions
      – ignoring teacher recommendations and opinions when making important decisions affecting the classroom, despite the fact that most teachers now have masters degrees in education
      – the expectation that teachers will put in almost unlimited time outside the classroom for educational work
      – unfunded rectification mandates that require teachers to take professional development classes and seminars to maintain their credentials (how many other professions require this?)
      – dealing with parents who blame teachers for their children's bad behavior and lack of progress
      – dealing with parents who defend their children's bad behavior, cheating and lack of progress.
      – being evaluated on the test scores of students who will not learn, refuse to pay attention in class, will not do their work and otherwise blow off their education
      – being expected by parents, administrators, school boards and the public that they should have enough dedication to willingly and happily put up with the above for the relatively low pay and lack of respect for the job (how many of you are willing to put in almost as much time outside your working hours as you do in them working for your employer for no extra pay?)

      The list goes on and on, but I'm sure you get the idea.

      Take an objective look at what these teachers are demanding and what they have accepted in the past. I'll bet the vast majority of them would give up most or all of their raise demand in favor of improving classroom conditions.

      I challenge anyone who has no experience in a classroom, especially middle/high school, to volunteer to teach for a weak or two. Then decide what you think of teachers.

      If classroom and working conditions do not improve for educators soon, it will become increasingly difficult to find people to do the job, especially in science and math where are far more lucrative jobs available. In my 20 years of experience, nearly all new, young teachers leave after one or two years when they see what the job entails.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
      • KLM357

        Hope you do not teach English: "I challenge anyone who has no experience in a classroom, especially middle/high school, to volunteer to teach for a weak or two". I believe the correct spelling is week.

        September 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
      • Becky

        yes, KLM, being perfect so some jerk doesn't call you out on a tiny mistake needs to be added to that list too. Apparently you need to be a teacher and show them how it is done since you are the personification of perfection.

        September 14, 2012 at 11:54 am |
      • Nelba

        Those underpaid teachers should come to the NY City suburbs, where teacher salaries are excellent. Median salary for the 2009-2010 school year was $90,914. For one average district, Lindenhurst, the lowest 5% are paid $59,000 and top 5% $107,999. And how about those inner city areas of Brooklyn: lowest 5% =$48434, median 50%= 72194, top 95%= 100,049. Need to check it out yourself? Just google this: "New York" "Salary Percentiles for Full-Time Classroom Teachers"

        September 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  59. Alice in PA

    Thank you CTU for standing up for all students and teachers. This teacher evaluation tied to test scores is just another ploy to further the rhetoric of failing schools. What other profession has high stakes evaluation tied to factors beyond their control? For example and as I have posted before, next year I will be evaluated using test scores from a 10th grade biology exam. However, I teach 12th grade physics!!!
    We do our best with the kids we have in whatever shape they come to us and whatever days they come to us. We are teachers not miracle workers. Despite the horrific effect of childhood poverty, internationally we rank among nations with much lower childhood poverty. If you do the math and only look at students not in poverty, we are in the top three countries. But that is only based on test scores. In the US we do so much more like critical thinking and creativity which are not measured by those tests. Teachers are all for an honest evaluation, but not one rigged for failure.

    September 13, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • JamesR

      Agreed. I wish the major news networks would talk more about how our government is changing the face of education. People should check out information on the Common Core standards and methods and the PARCC assessment that will determine a lot of where our field is heading. and I have not yet read in any of these articles information about the money states and towns have to spend on these assessments and curriculum changes instead of improving our schools and providing better education for our children. This is just another way the private sector makes money from public education.

      I also like your comment about teacher evaluation. In Mass. it was argued that in the current assessment system only 16% of our teachers are tied to a yearly assessment. The rest are evaluated by proxy. That sounds pretty fair to me! And people wonder why the teacher retention rate in this country for new teachers is dropping like a stone...

      September 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm |