Pregnant and Picketing

Today is the first day of school but there is a cloud hanging over my head.  In six days we are set to go on strike.  The situation in Chicago has gone from bad to worse.  Everyone blames everyone for the failure of our low income students.  The board of education is making unreasonable demands, the union is forced to make equally unreasonable demands in return.  The news presents biased and over simplified information.  The public has more venom for teachers than I have ever seen.  I feel that I have to defend my profession at every turn.  It’s all anyone wants to talk about.

What I want is to be with my students.  I want to be treated like the professional that I am.  I want quality working conditions, because those are also my students’ learning conditions.  I want people who have never set foot in a classroom to stop telling me what will make a difference for my students.  Instead of the lawmakers focusing on a general union busting policy so that they can cut costs, I want them to realize where they money they give is already going, high stakes testing and prep materials for those tests.  I want anyone associated with these products to be a teacher for a year, just one year, and have to use the crap they are selling.  Tell me it makes a difference then.  Tell me your common core workbook is better than a literature rich environment.  I want these high paid suits in government to stop pretending that they really care about poor children other than keeping incarceration rates down, because I don’t buy it.

The last thing I want is to walk a picket line.  I suspect most teachers agree with me, but we will do it, because we’ve been forced to.  Amid insults that we are the selfish ones, people forget that we are the only ones that show up for these kids day after day.  Say what you want about unions protecting “bad” teachers, they protect the good ones too.

The saddest thing is the lasting damage this will leave.  What I call the culture of No.  When teachers stop saying yes and start saying no.  No to volunteering their time, no to teaching after school clubs, no to anything and everything because at some point they don’t feel like they can give anymore.   When people ask you to do more for less the reaction of most will be “no.”  Once you start saying no, it’s hard to stop.  What our students really need is a culture of Yes.  Yes from the teachers, administration, board, and politicians.  Yes from their parents and society.  How will we get from No to Yes?

Categories: Uncategorized | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Pregnant and Picketing

  1. Lynn

    Oh Katie your words are so right on!!! I so agree with everything you have said. The frustration… no the audacity of those who know nothing about being in a classroom making decisions as if it were a business of products instead of children makes me crazy. I feel for all of you and know you DO have people who understand and applaud you for being strong. You will definitely be in my thoughts.

  2. I totally want that culture to be YES also. We are a hair’s breath away from strike in the burbs as well. Testing….interventions that is so the verbage and it is annoying and exhausting. Our students are so much more than data points on a grid in an office. I’ve been out before and I’m one of the weird ones that believes it is unifying to everyone. We and I’m sure also you are fighting for what is best for students (lower class sizes and assessments that inform our instruction…ONLY). I feel like Rosa and the year is just 3 weeks old. You are fighting for your new child…for their future

  3. This is a no win situation for all. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I will be praying for an equitable resolution for you.

  4. My heart just breaks for you as I read this. We have gone through 2 almost strike situations in my District over the past 5 years. It is so troubling for all the reasons you mentioned. I read about all this in Chicago in the NEA email this morning and it seemed more personal to me because it had your face. We do get through these things with time. You are not alone. We, who teaches stand with you! Take care of yourself. There is joy in your life, a baby to prepare for, a future, and hope.

  5. Oh my, what a situation! We are going into our second year without a contract, and there are grumblings about taking some sort of job action. How very sad the whole situation has become…best of luck, Katie!

  6. Judy C.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and all teachers who are put in these difficult situations. I hope that this situation will be quickly resolved and that you will be able to teach the children some “yes” lessons. Take care of yourself and the baby you are carrying.

  7. You have said it so well, for so many teachers struggling with the same issues. Prayers for you!

  8. Katie, I am so sorry you are going through this. Your blog post is wonderful–perhaps you should send it in to the papers. You make so many great points. But the culture of no is the most important. No other jobs expect people do work outside of their hours for free. Here’s hoping settlements are made

  9. I especially love this: “Amid insults that we are the selfish ones, people forget that we are the only ones that show up for these kids day after day.” I wonder if anyone ever considers this one important thing? I agree with Deb, you should send it to the papers if you feel you can. I wish you well, & hope the resolution to ‘yes’ comes soon. Thank you for your strong voice, Katie!

  10. The culture of no to yes. I wonder how we get there now that the strike is under way.

    Thinking about you (and your students) Katie!

  11. M. Theriot

    thanks for your perspective. Helpful – you are the only ones showing up for these kids.

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