If you were following the CTU strike, you might have been dismayed by the union's failure to suspend the strike last Sunday night. We have an inside perspective from UIC Professor Steven Ashby, who helped organize the contract campaign.
The takeaway from the Chicago strike is that true leadership in education requires partnership -- an approach that supports what is working in our schools and creates a collaborative effort among teachers, school officials, and policymakers.
Although Chicago has a Democratic Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, it's the Republicans who have made the strike a national political issue by criticizing the Chicago public school teachers and their union.
Instead of privatized education for Chicago, I hope for a future with strong neighborhood schools where teachers work together with CPS to create safe environments and strong learning communities.
The battle in the Windy City is essentially about one thing: education for the best of us and then for the rest of us. This isn't just a clever phrase, however. There are drastic inequalities between the best and the rest.
Eliot Spitzer and Kellyanne Conway are asked: a) why did Obama got a 5 point "bounce" after both Conventions -- personality? policy? Michelle-Bill?; b) was Romney's attack on Obama during a foreign crisis a blip or blunder? Then: Are we "better off?" Are Chicago teachers and kids?
The point is, these conditions are not conducive to a healthy learning environment. And they are not conducive to a healthy teaching environment. And it's why supporting the striking teachers in Chicago is imperative. So, what are they fighting for?
Teachers want to teach. They want the tools, conditions and support necessary to help all their students succeed. The issues Chicago's educators have raised are legitimate and need to be resolved as soon as possible in order to get kids back to school.
Do we want to keep heading down the same road of more testing, more data slicing, more reforms based on a business model? Or do we want our schools to aspire to something different, something better, something more?
What are the teachers worried about, to the point where they are risking not only their jobs, but their reputations? A host of popular but troubling policies -- and underlying assumptions -- that might finally get the in-depth public discussion that has been too long neglected.
Too much is at stake not to stand up. I know what it might mean if students are out of school for another week. I also know what it will mean to continue denying them the resources needed to provide the education they deserve.
I believe the Chicago teachers strike is an important stand in the battle to improve, even save, public education in the United States. As Karen Lewis said, "This fight is for the very soul of public education, not just only Chicago but everywhere."
The seemingly out-of-the-blue Chicago teachers strike is deeply complicated, very important, and a potential political game-changer. Every question about American education and the presidential race is part of the strike.
The timing of the strike couldn't be worse for the Democrats, and therefore packs a potent punch nationally because it lays bare how toxic the relationship between teachers and Democratic Party leaders has become in recent years.
If Chicagoans fail to recognize the deeper systemic issues underlying their failing schools, the teachers' strike may play right into the hands of Emanuel, who stands to profit politically, and the charter school corporations, which stand to profit financially.