Thoughts from a Chicago teacher on strike

Chicago teachers on strike

Photo via the New Yorker

A friend of mine from my college days is a Chicago teacher, and she posted this to Facebook yesterday evening. There has been a lot of debate among my teacher friends on social media regarding this Chicago strike – let us know what you think on the situation in the comments if you’d like.

This TRUE post is for all my CPS teachers who need all the support they can get – my second year of teaching in a Chicago Public School (in one of the better neighborhoods) during the state exam, one of my 32 4th Graders was shaking and teary eyed during testing. I did what any caring teacher would do and reassured her that I was there if she needed to talk about something. Thankfully, even though I had limited resources and a very crowded classroom, I had built a relationship with each of my students, including this very upset little girl. Later that day she shared that she had been sexually abused the previous day. Her mother who worked two jobs was not home and one of her older brother’s friends took advantage of her. Instead of worrying about the state exam, I worried about my student. I got her help and we cried together. She probably got the lowest score in the school for all I know. Now, under the plan that is being proposed, I would be poorly evaluated for that decision. My overall rating would go down for not forcing that student to sit and “do her best” on the state tests.

For anyone who has had a moment in their life that was greatly changed for the better because of a teacher (which I’m sure had nothing to do with a state test) – help a teacher today and support them in their fight to help children. Don’t listen with an indifferent ear when people and the media bash teachers – be proactive and stand with them!


2 Responses to Thoughts from a Chicago teacher on strike

  1. Bess Rose September 13, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Thanks Sean for posting this. It is a particularly striking story (no pun intended) and it accurately represents the myriad ways in which teachers support their students every day. I personally am very much in support of the Chicago teachers strike. They did everything they could to work with the administration and really had no choice but to strike to have their concerns heard. By the way, in terms of the issue of student test scores being part of teacher evaluations (which is one of the main sticking points of the negotiations), I strongly believe the teachers are right to question this system. Even the statisticians have publicly questioned the validity of these systems. It has been pushed forward as a policy by the feds, and states and districts, without nearly enough working out of the statistical details. It is very, very problematic. (I also should point out that all the testing procedures that I’m familiar with, at least here in Maryland, provide a way for a particular student’s test scores to be invalidated due to extenuating circumstances such as these. I can’t imagine such a procedure would not exist in Chicago. Then again, there is a lot of pressure on teachers to keep the “participation” rates high on testing because this is also a requirement under NCLB. I don’t know off the top of my head if Illinois has an NCLB waiver.) One last point, I have heard that the new testing system in Baltimore County Public Schools, instituted by the new superintendent Dr. Dance, is a computer adaptive test and allows proctors to “pause” or “suspend” a test for a particular child. It is not a timed test. (At least for middle schoolers which is what I’ve heard about.) This makes total sense to me.


  1. Discussion and Debate on yesterday’s ‘Chicago teacher’ post « - September 14, 2012

    […] teacher’ post By Sean Burns, on September 14, 2012, at 10:20 am After posting my friend’s comments on the Chicago teaching strike here yesterday, I posted the link of that post to social site’s Education […]

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