Yetley: Teachers strike against demands that impair ability to educate

Claire Yetley

As everyone toyed with the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” as they were going through childhood and through college as well, I knew I could rule out two occupations, doctor and teacher. I just don’t have the stomach for anything medical. And teaching seemed like an exhausting pain. However, without either profession our society would crumble to exist.

The general public recognizes the importance of doctors without really questioning it. Of course when anyone gets sick, it is his or her most prevalent challenge, nothing else becomes more important than his or her health. Teachers are not generally so emotionally demanding. No one runs into the street screaming for the need of a teacher like they would for a doctor or paramedic.

However, accidental deaths are the fifth highest ranking cause of death, a large portion of those deaths are motor vehicle or poison accidents. One can’t help but wonder if those deaths could have been prevented or at least a portion of them if people were a little bit more informed.

The teachers strike in Chicago over the past few days is not a selfish strike for teachers to get paid more. Granted, I do agree teachers are seriously underpaid for the emotional issues kids bring to class. The strike is about creating an accessible environment for education.

The Chicago Public Schools lawyers are asking for changes to be made in class size, the length of the work and school year, the academic calendar and the class staffing and assignments.

However the Chicago Teachers Union prohibits teachers to strike on these issues: Decisions to layoff or reduce in force employees; decisions to determine class size, class staffing and assignment, class schedules, academic calendar, length of the work and school day and year, hours and places of instruction, and pupil assessment policies.

We all have our specific study habits. I need to be at a table that is not at my house. Some people need to listen to music, some chew gum. Imagine going to class and not having a desk to sit at. Would you pay attention, or would you just leave? If your classes were so crowded in high school your teacher didn’t have time to talk to you about problems you were having in class, would you feel like it was worth your time to learn the material or just ditch? These are the issues the teachers in Chicago are facing right now.

I would argue education is probably just as important to life as learning the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise. An education provides people with a more enriched understanding of life, more opportunities to grow as an individual and the ability to connect with people about more meaningful things than the weather. How do we know the importance of diet and exercise? We have to learn it, and somebody has to teach us, someone like a teacher.

Unfortunately, too many times this is their only meal each day.

The uneducated have had a rough go of it in the past several years during the recession.

Unemployment rate for the uneducated has been as high as three times the national average. This just stress the point of education. Not just the need to have school in our country but to have accessible education.

Education can be selfish. You can’t learn for anyone else other than yourself, but it’s what you do with your education that is selfless. What some people choose to do is go back and teach. They help to generate new citizens in our society.

Citizenship doesn’t mean this is where you live and the government classifies you as that. It means you must be involved in our community, society and government.

Teachers understand this need for education as do a lot of people, but they are generally acting upon this need. The general mass of our society should recognize their initiative. Lack of education is not something that is going to cause physical pain to anyone like a broken bone. It may be irritating to not understand common concepts or even worst taken advantage of based on lack of knowledge. But the overall consequence of being uneducated is a disadvantage economically, socially and politically.

The 400,000 kids wrapped up in the Chicago Public School system are now suffering because of this strike, but they were suffering the whole time because of the conditions they were in. One can not blame the teachers for wanting to be able to educate the youth of Chicago.