When the Channel 9 reporter asked this morning if I'd be interviewed on the school teachers strike I said no. If I'd given an interview, it might have gone like this.
We're moving later this month, I'm as busy with work as I've ever been in my life and after 25 years enduring their oppression gracefully, the Chicago teachers pick this meaningless moment to strike? Goddamn!
Those were the noble, broad-minded thoughts on my mind yesterday morning as I dropped my should-be third-grader at the YMCA, the minimum-security kid prison where she'd spend her day—and every subsequent school day after that for God knows how long.
My wife is a teacher, but she works at a charter school, so she's non-union and she went to work. When she worked for the CPS, she wasn't a big fan of the union. But by God, when your fellow professionals publicly declare they've had it up to here and they're not going to take it anymore—well, if the freelance writers walked off the job complaining about heavy-handed editors and slow-paying publishers, I'd wear the sandwich board.
So I understand why she got out the magic markers to write a sign for the car window, I support the CTU.
And I support her. And I'm starting to think that the larger purpose of this particular strike—or any number of other strikes—is not to win another 2% raise or a subtle change in the way teachers are evaluated.
Maybe it's a chance to remind the forgetful world that class sizes are indeed far too fucking large, that classrooms are ridiculously hot in the fall and spring, and that teaching is harder, on a daily basis than your fucking job is, because even the "laziest" teacher has to stand in front of 30 howling maniacs all day long. Meanwhile the administration, when they counter the teachers' claims, unwittingly remind us that they have not the foggiest idea how to delineate "good" teachers from "bad" teachers (what an asininely simplistic construct that is), and always reveal their true contempt for teachers by saying condescending things about how "dedicated" teachers are and how "respectful" they believe their final offer truly was.
Maybe this strike isn't going to get great concessions from the school board or great gains for teachers. Maybe it's just to remind the rest of us of some reality we'd prefer to forget.
If so … mission accomplished, folks.
Now get your asses back to work.