Hello there. Many of you may already know this but I am a Chicago Teacher's Union delegate. I work with students who have special needs and disabilities and over the past 12 years at this job, I have seen my caseload steadily increase to over 60 students. In other school districts, Occupational and Physical Therapists have a caseload cap. of 32. That is what those school districts have decided is reasonable. I am willing to work extra time and in the evenings and on weekends but I am not able to see all of my students and meet their needs as only one person. The Board of Ed. still refuses to limit our caseloads and that is the major reason I am striking.
Many people have been only listening to the media and have been wondering why teachers are so "greedy" because they think all we want are raises. If you're going to parrot the media, I don't need your comments. However, if you're going to listen to what I have to say as someone who knows what it's like to work in Chicago Public Schools, please keep reading.
Some major reasons we are striking-NONE of which have to do with pay.
1. Chicago Public Schools wants to close another 100 schools and further corporatize America's children. This is sickening. Charter schools have not proven themselves to be overall any better than public schools and they have taken our most promising students from us. The Tea Partiers and corporations getting into education continue to try to get Illinois state legislature changes so that they get equal funding as public schools from YOUR tax dollars. However, did you know that not all teachers that work in charter schools have to be certified? This is eventually merely a way for corporations to get more of your tax dollars and pay teachers half as much so that they pocket the rest. Aren't you tired of that? I know I am.
2. The Chicago Public Schools want to put in the "contract" a clause called the "Management Clause" which basically states that at any time they can change their minds about anything in the contract for any reason. I'm pretty sure Brizard and Rahm Emanuel need to go back to their basic Language Arts classes and look up the word "Contract" as they would find this clause pretty much makes the whole idea of a promise or an agreement completely useless.
3. We want smaller classrooms. As someone who works with kids that have disabilities, I've seen the kid with Muscular Dystrophy who is depending on a wheelchair for transportation struggle because his regular education classroom does not have enough space for him. All of us Occupational and Physical Therapists have seen this. It's ILLEGAL. It goes against everything the Americans with Disabilities Act stand for and yet it is a reality.
4. We want to end the class warfare disparity. In Chicago right now, Rahm and the media completely ignore the fact that there is a huge amount of violence especially on the South side and our homicide rate has risen dramatically. One reason for this is that people are getting desperate in this economy and they don't have the skills to pursue other non violent measures. At this crucial time, Rahm has decided to cut technology classes. Schools on the North side also have way more access to Music and Art and even things like Foreign Languages whereas the South side kids literally (and I mean LITERALLY) have to bring their own soap and toilet paper to school.
5. At a time of rising violence as well as more premature babies being saved during delivery, there are more and more students in need of clinicians including: Occupational and Physical Therapists, Social Workers, Psychologists, and Speech Therapists. The Chicago Public Schools Board of Ed. would like to forget these kids even exist. I've seen the mayor and administrators at schools. They go visit the gifted classrooms. They don't take a look into the classrooms for students with Severe/Profound disabilities, that's for sure.
Please support your local school and your local teacher. Give your local teacher a hug. Call your alderman and Brizard and tell them to support teachers.
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