With our office in downtown Chicago, members of the Century staff are becoming used to the drifts of red-shirted teachers moving about the streets, some with placards, some with their families, most looking energized and purposeful—though that may well change if this strike continues. On the fourth day of the strike, the power play between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis is wearing thin on many Chicagoans as they weave their way around rallies to delayed and rerouted buses and trains.
Lewis says that 43 issues are keeping the strike unresolved; the school board claims that only two issues remain. One is the protocol for rehiring teachers who have been laid off. The knottier one is teacher evaluation.
Yesterday in Wisconsin, public-employee unions and their supporters failed to recall the aggressively anti-labor governor Scott Walker. Today in Chicago, public school teachers are voting on strike authorization as part of their ongoing struggle with mayor Rahm Emanuel and the school board.
To be clear, the teachers aren't striking. They're voting to authorize a hypothetical future strike, as a negotiating tactic. No one wants to see classroom learning grind to a halt and working parents stuck with unexpected child-care duties.
And, while I'm not one to defend the teachers unions' every single move, I'm tired of seeing public education set up to fail and then blamed for its own failure, with special blame always reserved for teachers.
Undefeated is a solid piece of filmmaking that is also too little
too late. The Oscar-winning documentary by Daniel Lindsay and T. J.
Martin concerns the travails of a high school football team in a poor
black neighborhood of North Memphis that overcomes years of futility
thanks in large part to a white volunteer coach who inspires them to
believe in themselves both on and off the field.
During my first year of teaching, I learned the hazards of asking college seniors their postgraduation plans. I had mistakenly thought that a good way of getting to know the senior students in my spring seminar would be to ask them about their future. Instead of hearing about plans, I received anxious and concerned looks combined with tentatively spoken hopes and uncertainties.
In the current culture wars, religious liberals tend to ally themselves with the educational establishment against those on the Religious Right who are attacking the public schools. In politics and theology, I line up with the left. Nonetheless, I believe with the right that public education is hostile to religion—not least to liberal religion. The problem isn't the absence of school prayers.
My generation--the tail-end
of X, or early Millennials--grew up in a time of soft racism and racial
inequality; we were also brought up to be tolerant and "color blind." Like most of
my peers, I wouldn't be caught dead using the n-word (despite being a bit of a