Friday, September 14, 2012

The Chicago Public School Strike, From The Teacher's Perspective

I wrote about the Chicago Public School strike, and from what I had read my sympathies did not lie with the teachers. However, I saw this link to a Chicago Sun-Times article with a series of letters to the editor- including one from a former CPS teacher- on a 'friend's' Facebook page. Her husband is a teacher in Chicago and agrees with everything said. Now I question who is right, so I thought I would present the other side of the story. There always is one, after all.

I worked for eight years with the Chicago Public Schools, and while I am beginning my first year of teaching with a district outside of Illinois, I thought it important to point out some of the reasons why these teachers are on strike, and why I chose to leave this difficult, dysfunctional district.
Things I did while a teacher with the Chicago Public Schools:
1. Bought 90 percent of students school supplies every year. With my own money. Every year.
2. Bought a projector with my own money.
3. Bought a document camera with my own money.
4. Bought a copy machine with my own money because the teachers at my school were not allowed to use the one in the office.
5. Went weeks without getting paid due to mistakes made by the board. Multiple times.
6. Dodged bullets. Literally. More than once.
7. Packed my belongings in plastic bins the minute I walked in the door of my class due to a bed bug infestation that was ignored by the administration.
8. Saw an attempted murder on the school’s security camera.
9. Had two cell phones, one iPod and an iPod dock stolen from my locked room.
10. Was “given the option” to purchase my own classroom key after a substitute walked off with mine. I was told the school could not afford to purchase one for me.
11. Taught a class with 41 seventh-grade students in it due to a teaching assistant principal’s decision to not teach that year.
12. Spent hours on the phone during peak times when CPS mistakenly dropped my newborn from my insurance plan.
13. Bought supplies and awards with my own money for an entire middle school’s science fair because the company who supplied awards refused to work with CPS due to unpaid bills.
14. Broke up a fight between two pregnant seventh graders.
15. Raised test scores every year. The Chicago Teacher’s Union fights not only for pay increases, but for fair working conditions and fair learning conditions. The teachers have made great gains in achievement over the past few years. Imagine what they could do if the above issues were a thing of the past.
Jen Knoblock, Edgerton, Kan.

Read the other letters here.

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