The Chicago Teachers Strike… I know, not the craziest most original topic but it has been a loooong day and my creative juices are about as empty as Ke$has brain right now.
Tomorrow, the children of Chicago will experience what they consider to be a day as important as a snow day in September- notable but confusing. And 30,000 staff members from 70 schools will be hitting the streets in what they consider to be one of the most important moves of their career. And my roomates will go to Mo Jeaux like they always do on a Wednesday. blasting Taylor Swift while they pregame. I asked them their opinion on the strike, and they had no clue what I was talking about.
More than talking about the validity of the strike, and what the teachers are rah rah rahing for, and what unions want, and what the public thinks of this, I instead want to focus on the fact that this is playing out like one of those “This is what _______ thinks I do” posters. The kids have little idea, the teachers think they are making a giant statement, and a lot of the public (like my well meaning T-Swift blasting roomies) will have no or little idea of what is happening and why it is signifigant.
But with something like education, how is this possible? And why should teachers have to strike in the first place? Education is the foundation for literally everything. I know that sounds so cliche to say, but it is. How does a doctor/lawyer/whatever get to where they are without school and a well meaning teacher behind them? Why do schools continue to be poorly funded and under resourced? Why don’t teachers make a hundred million dollars a year? (Kidding. Kind of.)
The political candidates are getting all fired up about this (read Romney rip Obama a new one here)…all fired up about what the opposition is not doing to make things better, because the opposition doesn’t care enough, and blah blah blah…. and eventually it stops being about education at all. It stops being about the teachers who aren’t getting what they deserve. And it starts being about politics, and red tape, and everything but the school system itself.
And this is why I get overwhelmed. Will the strike really change anything? Will a different politician make a difference? Are unions bad? Should I even bother being a teacher? AHHHH!
….and this is when I take a deep breath, and relax, and think about the fact that the reason I loved my favorite teacher in high school wasn’t because of something like the fact that she wrote on a smartboard and gave us all ipads (she didn’t, and we didn’t have those), or because of the fact that I walked into school knowing that the president of the united states himself knew what was going in our school (obviously, no.), or because the teachers were all so well rested and balanced (again, no. they were overworked and underpaid.)…The reason I loved my favorite teacher was because she loved teaching us, and she loved our school despite all its flaws, and beyond that, because every Thursday my favorite teacher let my friend Hillary and I sit in during block lunch period, eat lean cuisines and “study what we didn’t understand” (gossip to Ms. G and vent about our love lives and parents and worries and whatever). She always was there for us, and it wasn’t because of her salary or the president, it was simply from the heart.
Don’t get me wrong, I want our lives as teachers to be as plush as possible, and I want as little red tape as possible when doing it. But no matter what teaching looks like, I’m not gonna be in it for the salary. I’m gonna be in it because I had a teacher that went above and beyond for me, and I want to be that teacher, the teacher who actually gives a….crap…. for their students.
So cheers to hoping that I will someday also have dramatic, ridiculous students who want to sit in my under-bugeted office eating cheap meals in the middle of the four walls of the bureaucracy that doesn’t support teachers, simply because they can tell that my heart is fully invested in caring about every facet of their lives, not just the part that the government wants to grade them on in standardized testing.