September 13, 2012

Chicago Teachers Strike

There's more at stake for Chicago students than just academics.

“If I don’t go to school, I’m not going to get the knowledge to grow up to be smart, and to do what I want.”

Maggie: The Alexander siblings are just two of the 350,000 students missing school this week because of the Chicago teacher strike.

But education inside the classroom isn’t all these students are missing. Because of the strike, the Illinois High School Association won’t let the Chicago public schools compete in sports, or even practice.

That’s a big worry for thousands of young athletes like Anderson Lee Potts. Anderson has a good chance of getting a college athletic scholarship for football, but he needs video of him competing. He says after-school sports may be his best opportunity for the future.

“This is a big deal for me to really make it, my chance to make it out of here as far away from Illinois as possible.”

There’s been little progress in talks between the teachers’ union and public school officials. The sticking points are compensation, benefits, job security, and most of all, a new and controversial teacher evaluation system, called Reach Students.

Reach Students would judge teachers’ performance, in part, based on the standardized test scores of their students.

The teachers union says these evaluations don’t account for external factors on performance, like poverty and homelessness; aren’t linked to improvement in student achievement; and could result in the firing of 6,000 teachers who don’t meet these standards.

City officials say these evaluations provide real assessment of a teacher’s ability; were created with input from the teachers union; and they’re not sure where the union got that number of 6,000 teachers.

Many Chicago students aren’t waiting around for the teachers and the city to work it all out. The Anderson family has decided to hold class at home, to make sure they don’t fall behind in their studies. And those student athletes? Well, more than a half dozen neighboring schools have decided to put aside their football rivalries and practice together.

Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.


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