By Rachel Oswalt
I cannot imagine working for Chicago Public Schools. I can’t imagine the conditions teachers work in, having to deal with the students they teach or the strain of being employed by a city under such tiresome leadership.
I don’t doubt that there were many good reasons for Chicago teachers to go on strike. However, I do doubt that they care about the students the way they say they do, considering the students were kept out of school for seven days.
As a future educator, I can tell you that few teachers go into education for the money. No teacher thinks, “I can’t wait to make millions off this profession,” because there is barely any money in education. Then why have nearly 3.7 million people picked teaching as their life’s work? Any good teacher can tell you it is for the kids.
Influencing a child’s life is one of the most rewarding and exciting life experiences. I’m sure there are thousands of children in Chicago that need teachers to be a positive influence in their lives. For some of those kids, school is the safest place they will be all day and teachers are their only positive role models.
These teachers are not just random people off the street. They are highly educated, intelligent, qualified individuals that can help their students be something great. However, I’m not sure that these teachers understand the power in their position, because if they did I’m sure they would not be demanding a 30% pay increase, among other things.
No one is forcing Chicago teachers to stay at their jobs. They could go to a different school district where the conditions are not so rough or the pay is much higher. And with 12.5 million Americans out of work, I’m sure there are others who would be willing to take their jobs for a lot less money. But I have a feeling that Chicago teachers may have just lost sight of the ultimate goal of their profession: to change the lives of Chicago kids.
The Chicago Public School District and the Chicago Teacher’s Union reached a decision that seems to hold victories for both sides, meaning that 350,000 students returned to school after seven days off. The decision includes lengthening the school day and evaluating teachers based on student’s test scores, which the Chicago Public School District is in favor of. And in turn, teachers will receive a 17.6 percent pay raise over the next four years.
While both sides received at least some of what they wanted, I do not think that it should have been an issue in the first place. The teachers and the school district should have been able to reach an agreement before keeping students out of school for nearly a week and a half.
Teaching is unlike any job. Teachers are expected to do so much with very little and a lot of the conditions they work in are unfair. I may be biased because in a few short years I will be a teacher, but I think it is one of the hardest jobs to have.
As sappy as it sounds, changing a child’s life is worth way more than any amount of money, and I think these teachers need to remember that.