Open Letter to **STUDENTS** in Chicago Public Schools; Some Wisdom from A FOUR-TIME Champ!

Hi kids,

I thought I would use my time wisely to throw a little wisdom directly into the heart of students of the Chicago Public School system. To start, I was not only a product of a single teacher strike, I was the product of NOT TWO….

NOT THREE….

FOUR!! FOUR fuckin’ teacher strikes, and I still endured old, torn textbooks, oversized classrooms, and teachers with attitudes by the time I graduated.

Indeed, I am a FOUR-TIME relic of the hubris that is the Chicago Teachers Union, ergo, this post is highly warranted. More often than not, I was simply happy for not having to go to school. I hated school. Not only did I have to deal with bullies that followed me home, but I also had to deal with oblivious teachers who acted as though they were doing ME the favor being in the classroom in the first place.

By the time the fourth and most infamous strike happened in 1987, I was old enough to be keenly aware of the politics of teacher strikes. These were my formative years, and the adults at that time had everything to do with shaping my observations that exist today. The bottom line coming from my father and my peers alike was that teachers wanted more money. PERIOD. In truth, the teacher demands of yesteryear never trickled down to me or my peers. By the time everyone returned to class, it felt like an extended vacation, and nothing more. Keep that in mind.

Social media was non-existent. Nobody was privy to the worldwide rhetoric, propaganda, publicity stunts, and smear campaigns because it wasn’t in plain view like it is today (if you had a cell phone, you were living your totally tubular, bratty, spoiled life somewhere in southern California). Conversations were limited and information came exclusively from what we have seen and heard (e.g., parents and tv news) and remained within the confines of our circle. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed similarities with strikes and teacher demands throughout CTU history, such as class size. Allow me to elaborate: I have NEVER been in a classroom with less than 30 students. NEVER. EVER!! All my schooling was spent in Chicago, K-12, except for college. For my research needs, I went to the Chicago Public Library. As I’ve gotten older, I can see patterns from those desperate to remain relevant. In the information and internet age, these patterns are easily noticeable.

You may not give a shit about this strike. I’m genuinely interested what your thoughts would be 25 years from now, or once you have kids of your own. Case in point.

Back to the strike of ‘87: when my father scolded me to turn my radio down to tell me there is still NO SCHOOL on day 18, I just nodded my head in excitement, and phoned my friend to make plans for the following day. 

Strike ends! Back to school, and guess what? I don’t recall one single teacher inviting discussion from students in terms of that particular strike. If they had, it wasn’t memorable (obviously) or they kept it extremely brief, along with their hasty demands of taking a pop quiz. 

Once your classes resume, your teacher will welcome you back to class. Some will shrug off the strike in haste, requesting you to turn to page 132. Or, your teacher might give you the PR version of recent events. As the queen of the “bullshit police,” allow me to provide this bit of wisdom: if you sense ANYTHING not quite right in their explanations, if you sense they might be lying to cover their ass, you are most likely CORRECT as long as your presumptions are coming from a gut instinct(s) ie NOT COMING FROM OTHER PEOPLE (including myself!) Use YOUR BRAIN. What is your inner voice telling you?

Always, always, ALWAYS trust your gut!

If you’d rather not turn back the clock via conversation, then please focus on your studies. 

HOWEVER…..

In the spirit of “transparency” you might be invited to classroom discussion about the recent teacher strike. If that happens, here are some things to consider. Ask your teacher(s) the following:

  •  Will we expect to be out of school in the years to come? If so, how will it impact my studies (ACT, SAT’s, athletics, scholarships)?

– Why did the CTU feel the need to place additional pressure on the Mayor (she’s only been in office six months)?

(Side note: Please note the caps. Anyone can “phone in” and pledge support. In this day and age, if you PERSONALLY didn’t see/hear it, all the more reason to be skeptical).

  • True or false: According to the Chicago Teacher’s Union rules, teachers who choose not to picket are known as “Scabs” while teachers who participate are considered “picketers.” Is this true? If true, wouldn’t this be considered bullying? If not, please explain. 

(Kids, ask yourself: what do YOU think of the term, “scab?” Also, look up this word in the dictionary. Do ANY of those definitions invoke warm and fuzzy imagery? Here’s a video to get an adult perspective and enable all your ad blockers!) 

I can list more questions, but I’m going to refrain because there is a teacher reading this and is composing a well rehearsed, thought out answers. Do not fall for this. Listen to your gut!

As it’s been said: you are the “future leaders of tomorrow.” That involves change. One of the many things young leaders can do is invoke change thru conversations. Conversations such as this tend to make people uncomfortable. THAT IS THE POINT. 

Don’t be combative, but by no means shy away from your gut feeling either. 

We are living in an angry world. That’s party because there is so much injustice and so many organizations and corporations that are built on a system of LIES. YOU CAN begin the demolition process. ONE voice can make all the difference. Most importantly…..STAY IN SCHOOL, as long as your teachers permit it.

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