We are at a crossroads in this country. There is a significant mismatch between where the jobs are and what our educational system is producing.
Teachers aren't suggesting they not be held accountable. What they're saying is that we acknowledge the realities of the classroom, that we not gloss over the real problems, formidable as they may be, and pretend that the flaws in our education system are the fault of the teachers.
The principals' job isn't to subjectively punish teachers who don't follow a prescribed path; it's to support the teacher so they can do what they do best. If you let the teachers do what they do best, most of them will do just that.
The current strike by Chicago's teachers has again brought to national attention the long-running debate about the role of standardized testing in the evaluation of the quality of teachers.
With all the hullabaloo, it's easy to overlook one of the most striking features of last week's strike: From park districts to libraries to not-for-profits to private homes -- almost every kid in this increasingly dangerous city had a safe place to ride out the strike.
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.
Union power is no longer sacrosanct. Unions can no longer phrase the debate as "us versus them" as leaders from Cory Booker in Newark to Antonio Villaraigosa in L.A. chafe against union interests in a push to reform large urban school systems.
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."
Unless you are a teacher you have no idea the pain, frustration and intrinsic anger we feel when some paid radio ad claims, that "teachers are walking out on students." We are trying to teach you about how your child's education is under attack.
This week a lot of Democrats and "liberals" are attacking Chicago teachers for what they tell us are their extravagant and "unreasonable" demands. It's funny: If they think teaching's such a gravy train, why have they all become bankers instead?
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.
As the Chicago Teachers Union begins their strike, I can empathize with some of their demands. However, I do not believe the solution is to abandon our responsbility to our children.
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.
Because I love teachers and respect unions, when NBC Chicago reported that more than 90 percent of teachers had given the OK to strike, my heart sank.
Teachers, paraprofessionals, and school clinicians: Keep your heads up. The public is behind educators even though the corporate education reform establishment continues to try to drive a wedge between teachers and the public they serve.