Updated: September 13, 2012 3:59PM
The rhetoric in the media surrounding the motives behind the Chicago Teachers’ Union strike has been malicious, misguided and misrepresentative.
Many a journalist has said that the teachers are striking against students and that their actions are doing more harm than good. This assertion could not be more wrong. In reality, the Chicago Public Schools teachers are striking on behalf of us, the students, who support them wholeheartedly in their endeavor for better schools.
The notion that teachers are ignoring our needs is absurd. The entire motive behind the strike is to create better schools and learning environments for Chicago students. Teachers have only our best interests in mind.
Many have said the CTU teachers’ strike has deprived students of meaningful educational experiences; the truth is students have learned more from the strike than they ever will in a classroom. Teachers are showing students that when an unfair system is exploitative they should stand up for their rights and the rights of others. We personally feel empowered by our teachers’ fight for our rights as students and for the rights of students across the nation.
We as students are being underrepresented and misrepresented. An article headlined “15 Students Who are Psyched About the Chicago Teachers’ Strike” was published on buzzfeed.com singling out students who publicly displayed their excitement for some time off of school. In truth, the majority of us are excited by the strike not because we get a few days off of school, but because we are motivated by the beginning of a national movement that will set a precedent for all other labor unions. The article selectively chose these students to paint a dark picture of student involvement.
There is evidence that contradicts this image. The magnitude of student involvement has been overwhelming. Students from Northside College Prep have lined up morning after morning of the strike in solidarity with their teachers, many with baked goods in hand. We have never seen such a show of unity. Our community has been so strengthened by this. Lots of us feel that supporting our teachers is a responsibility; after all they’ve stood by us for so long and continue to do so with this strike.
We will be picketing in support of our teachers, along with many other students at select picketing locations throughout the duration of the strike.
Emma Leff is a student at Northside College Prep. Katya Mazon is a student at Walter Payton College Prep.