Chicago teachers went on strike this morning, but many say they aren’t doing it for the money or the benefits. They did it for “the kids.”
John Houlihan, a teacher in the Chicago district, told reporters:
“We’re not fighting for paychecks and healthcare. It’s the kids… It’s ridiculous to say that you can put these kids who are dealing with profound poverty and profound homelessness in classes of 30-40 kids.”
How can children learn in an environment where there is very little, if any, one-on-one contact with a teacher?
The strike, which involved 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union and 7,000 support staffers, canceled classes across the board in Chicago. District officials kept school doors open for the 300,000 displaced students, attempting to keep them occupied and productive.
To those of us outside of Chicago, this strike may seem sudden, but it is only occurring after months of failed negotiations between the Teachers’ Union and Public Schools. Some things under discussion include money, staffing, class sizes, and affordable housing.
While some of the school’s pay offers are close to the union’s demands, the teachers don’t want to sign a new contract until some of the needs for smaller classrooms and increased staffing are met. As there are legal restrictions on the union striking solely for the benefit of their students, they need to see changes to the situation before they can accept any of the school district’s offers. Like Houlihan implied, it really does seem to be about the kiddos.