Aftermath of Teachers Strike

The Strike is finally over. Parents can breath easy as their children go back to school in Chicago, but what really happened?

After a 7 day strike, the Chicago Teachers Union last Tuesday ended the much publicized and critisized teacher’s strike. The strike, which began when 90% of the Union’s delegates voted for a strike. Over 350,000 Chicago Public School students were left without an education for 7 days, as the teachers walked out of the classrooms. Despite drop-off sites being set up, few parents dropped their children off at these temporary places for students to be taken care of during the strike. Despite low attendance at these sites, parents were frustrated and complained that their kids should be in school and not at home, or inconveniencing them at work.

The Bad

The idea of packs of kids roaming around the city free of school was unsettling to Chicago, but to the country as well. Writers from across the U.S. criticized the strike as well as the teachers union, blaming them for sacrificing their students education. Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post wrote a great article, detailing how the nation reacted to the strike, but also what we can learn from it for the future, especially when it comes to standardized testing.

The Good

On the other hand, while many were critical of how long the teachers held out, many have focused on praising the teachers for standing up to authority. In another Washington Post article, Karen Lewis and Randi Weingarten congratulated the teachers for defying tradition top-down decision making, and acknowledge that what the teachers stood up for was not only good for the teachers, but good for the students. In fact, their article points out the key factors that the teachers successfully fought for:

  1. A longer school day should mean a better school day as well
  2. Don’t focus solely on testing when their are factors such as crime and poverty that affect these scores
  3. Don’t close struggling schools, instead try to fix them to improve a horrible child-poverty rate
  4. Support is required for the most hard-working teachers who face the most adversity

Teachers gained victories for themselves as well, earning a 15% pay increase over 4 years, as well as making sure that laid off teachers are hired before new teachers according to another Journal article.

The Aftermath

Chicago has long been a union town, and is considered one of the last cities that fights for unions, in a country that is only 8% unionized now. There was much distrust and back-and-forth between the Teachers Union and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, to the point where the two sides were taking shots at each other. In the end, the teachers union took two days to read over all the fine print in the new proposed deal, wanting to make sure that the mayor wasn’t trying to pull any tricks. While both sides were heavily criticized in Chicago’s first teachers strike in 25 years, everyone was happy to see it reach a resolution.

Emanuel called the deal a true concession by both sides, prideful in the fact that the new deal is considered to be fair. While the teachers agree that the new deal is much better than before, they acknowledge that it is not perfect and that their are still issues. Regardless, the teachers missed their students, and everyone is happy to see the students regain their education, and for the strike to be resolved in one of the largest public education systems in the country.