This post was written by Allan Fluharty, a VIVA Teacher Leader from Chicago, as his union, the Chicago Teachers Union, prepared to take a strike authorization vote. The Chicago Public Schools district has offered a five-year contract with a 2 percent pay raise in the first year while it launches a new school calendar that includes a longer school day. Allan teaches high school science.
By Allan Fluharty
VIVA Teacher Leader
It seems to me these “reformers” are forgetting a couple of things:
1. The teachers union is made up of teachers, the people who spend their days with your children and dedicate their careers to helping them learn.
2. The teachers who belong to the unions are the people who know what your children need to learn and succeed. However, we rarely get asked to share what we know.
There’s a better way, one that would work for all of us–teachers, unions, children, parents, administrators and, yes, even politicians. Listen to teachers. Ask us what we need to succeed. Ask us what we know would help children learn.
That’s what happened when VIVA Teachers came to town last year. The nonprofit asked Chicago Public School teachers for their ideas about how to use time in school in a way that would serve students better. I was a part of the group that wrote the report, “VIVA Chicago Project: Time, Teachers, and Tomorrow’s Schools.”
We came up with 49 recommendations–49!–based on ideas shared by 600 of our colleagues.
There’s another report, also written by CPS teachers, that was published by the CTU. It’s called, “The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve: Research-Based Proposals to Strengthen Elementary and Secondary Education in the Chicago Public Schools.”
Why are teachers taking the fall for public education’s failings? We are the solution, not the problem. Collaboration, not confrontation, is the way to real education reform that works for students, parents, the community and, yes, even teachers.