More Chicago teacher strike context

Why the U.S. is not Finland with regard to education policy:

Disconnect from wealthy funders of anti-teacher union candidates and largely low-income public school students:

Culture of “teacher bashing”:

Infographic on growth of charter schools:

New metrics

A friend posted an image on Facebook related to the Chicago Teacher Strike that said:

Legislators want teachers to be paid according to their effectiveness as evaluated by student test scores.

How about paying legislators according to their effectiveness — as evaluated by job creation and economic growth?

To unpack this a little, I’d say that job creation and economic growth suck as metrics for whether governance is working as much as test scores work as metrics for thriving schools. The problem with the debate over teacher evaluation is both in tying pay to performance in a really punitive way, but in a larger sense, the very metrics used to gauge performance.

I like things working well. I like accountability for the foundational institutions of our culture. What I don’t like is a data-driven world where the metrics most directly reflect the needs of corporations and not working and middle class people. When we talk about test scores or jobs or GDP, we’re talking about numbers, not the livable reality that we actually want.

A job or economic growth could look like a private prison, or a deregulated industry devastating the environment where its workers live, or a crazy tax deal (at the expense of worker rights) for a corporation to attract them to a state. These are the moves that legislators are making now either in an earnest failure or a cynical charade to be accountable to their constituents.

I’m not anti-metric, but as people most affected by public schools or job creation, we need to think about the metrics we really want and not just accept the ones being offered to us. Off the top of my head, these are some ones that reflect measurable outcomes in a world I’d like to live in:

  • Number of high school students who vote or otherwise engage in some civic process
  • Average number of paid family sick days and vacation
  • Number of people with health insurance or other access to health care
  • Number of years a household is able to stay in the same dwelling
  • Racial and income dissimilarity index for a neighborhood

Chicago Teachers Strike Context

I’m trying to compile articles that describe why the teachers are striking because CPS and the mayor’s talking points tend to collapse those reasons and miss a lot of important reasons. As much as teachers are fighting to be able to make a living practicing their profession, they’re also fighting for a vision of education that’s a civic good and not controlled by corporations.

  • Training Teachers to Embrace Reform
    Other trajectories for relationships with unions than what we’re seeing in Chicago.
  • Teacher X: Why I’m striking, JCB

    When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.

    When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

    When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a “full school day” and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.

    When you support Mayor Emanuel’s TIF program in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of school funds into to the pockets of wealthy developers like billionaire member of your school board, Penny Pritzker so she can build more hotels, that not only hurts kids, but somebody should be going to jail.

    When you close and turnaround schools disrupting thousands of kids’ lives and educations and often plunging them into violence and have no data to support your practice, that hurts our kids.

  • Chicago teachers strike: In ’31, school board just stopped paying teachersI feel strongly that teachers feel like they need to stand their ground because of being undervalued in Chicago, and in the United States in general. This goes way back, apparently.

    If the Chicago teachers strike, now in its second day, seems contentious, perhaps it’s worth looking back to the summer of 1931.

    That’s when the school board stopped paying teachers in cash, defaulted on 24 payrolls and offered to pay teachers in scrip instead.