Dear Commons Community,
Nicholas Kristof’s comments today’s in his New York Times column examines the Chicago teachers strike. While sympathetic to teachers, he concludes that the students who need education the most to help lift them out of urban poverty are the victims in this strike. Here is an excerpt:
“Those students often don’t get a solid education, any more than blacks received in their separate schools before Brown v. Board of Education. Chicago’s high school graduation rates have been improving but are still about 60 percent. Just 3 percent of black boys in the ninth grade end up earning a degree from a four-year college, according to the Consortium on Chicago School Research.
America’s education system has become less a ladder of opportunity than a structure to transmit inequity from one generation to the next.
That’s why school reform is so critical. This is an issue of equality, opportunity and national conscience. It’s not just about education, but about poverty and justice — and while the Chicago teachers’ union claims to be striking on behalf of students, I don’t see it…
This isn’t a battle between garment workers and greedy corporate barons. The central figures in the Chicago schools strike are neither strikers nor managers but 350,000 children. Protecting elements of a broken and unaccountable school system — the union demand — sacrifices those students, in effect turning a blind eye to a “separate but equal” education system.”
His comments are fair and tempered but there is one aspect of this strike that he fails to mention and that is its symbolism as a response to a national agenda of teacher-bashing that has been promulgated by corporate, political and ideological interests. The CTU is saying loudly and clearly that enough is enough and is fighting for “educators” to take back the education of children in this country.