Daniaja is a senior and Kasey is a sophomore at Whitney Young Magnet School. Both are student reporters for The Mash, a weekly teen publication distributed to Chicagoland high schools.
For the strike:
Being a senior in high school is no easy task. There are college applications, grades to maintain and fighting seemingly contagious senioritis can seem nearly impossible. So much time is consumed between college and scholarship applications, school itself and extracurricular activities, that there’s barely enough time in a day. This applies to almost all high school students; there really is no time for anything extra.
That’s why I don’t agree with the longer school days, and I support the Chicago Teachers Union and our Chicago Public Schools teachers. CPS has added more time to the school day, and is not fairly compensating teachers for the added time in class. I think this is unfair to both students and teachers. I know that there are other things that the CTU is fighting for, such as smaller class sizes and to change the policy on teacher evaluations, but the longer school day is what I see affecting everyone the most. I think it’s wrong that teachers have been pushed to the point of having to strike in order to achieve what they want. It’s unfortunate for the students attending CPS schools, in particular athletes and seniors, but I believe that teachers are doing what’s right in order to improve our schools in the long run.
Some people argue that CPS teachers are some of the highest paid teachers in the nation, and so striking is both greedy and inconsiderate. Regardless of how much teachers are paid, there are some schools struggling just to get by. If there’s not enough funding for books and supplies and our class sizes are increased, how are we supposed to learn and get the support we need?
Yes, the school year may be pushed back for every day of the strike, students are going without classroom instruction and some families are inconvenienced by child care issues. But why not make this sacrifice for an improved school system for the next generation of students?
Against the strike:
The Chicago Teacher’s Union strike is not what students need, and it’s not what students want —at least not this student.
This strike has the potential of pushing back graduation dates, cutting into ACT prep time and putting AP students behind in studying for their tests in May. Between school days lost, summer days taken away and the fact that current students will be hurt by a break from the classroom, it’s hard to see how students might benefit from the strike in the future when we’re only seeing the negative effects from it right now.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said this is a “strike of choice,” and that there are two issues to settle: teacher evaluations and principals’ ability to hire the teachers they want. I think if those are the only remaining issues, then this strike is unnecessary; these issues can be solved during the school year and shouldn’t take away from our right to learn inside the classroom, especially since we’ve already started school.
Don’t get me wrong—I love teachers—but the strike isn’t the best way to solve the situation. I understand the frustration that negotiations have been going on since November of last year and not much has been accomplished, but at this point it seems neither side is doing what’s best for CPS students.
This should be settled outside of school hours, when learning time is not being compromised so students won’t have to feel the sting of lost school hours.
The teachers are fighting for some issues that will help students, such as providing air conditioning in schools and better textbooks, but it’s gotten far beyond that. The final unresolved points that it has come down to are not about the well-being of students.
Both sides need to remember why they began caring about these issues in the first place: the students.
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