Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
CHICAGO As the Chicago teachers' strike continues into Day Three, thousands of urban American Indian children living in Chicago are out of school.
Education has always been a major road out of hopelessness.
Let's fully fund that road.
As of Tuesday evening, there were 49 points on the negotiating table between the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education and the striking teachers. The two sides have only come to agreement on six of the points.
One point is the school system seeks to increase the school day by 20 percent. The teachers want more pay for the increased school day.
“With the understanding that Chicago Public Schools wanted to implement a longer school day, a strike from the teachers should have be expected,”
commented Lisa Bernal, Dakota, who has two sons in the school system.
That being said, the Board of Education should've come to some agreement over the summer to prevent the disruption so many students are having in their education. I have two boys that started two new schools this year. While they were so excited to start, we are not serving our future youth justice by keeping them out of the classroom to enjoy an extended summer break. I take pride in the wonderful, dedicated teachers I hope Chicago Public Schools does right by them.
Another major point in contention is teacher evaluations. Teachers argue the school system is attempting to eliminate teachers through the evaluation system.
During the 2011 - 2012 school year, there were 404,151 students enrolled in the Chicago Public Schools, the nation's third largest city. Of that number .4 percent or 16,166 identified as American Indian, according the Chicago Public Schools website.
“The kids are welcome as always, but most have found families to go with,”
commented Joe Podlasek, executive director of the American Indian Center of Chicago, on the organization providing a place to go during the strike. He cited the lack of funding for the Indian Center for cut back in hours of operation and wishes he could provide more services to school children.
The Chicago Transit Authority has announced it will provide free rides to students during the strike.
“Chicago is a tough town. It is full of children who live in poverty, homelessness and crime,”
commented Dr. Dorene Wiese, Ojibwe, president of the American Indian Association of Illinois, who has been involved been in American Indian education for the past four decades.
While a teachers' agreement is important, Dr. Wiese sees the lack of federal and state funding as a contributing factor in the quality of education to Chicago's school children.
“Chicago Public Schools do great job with the resources they have, but those resources are limited, due to continued cut backs from federal and state sources,”
Dr. Wiese commented to the Native News Network.
The students, teachers and parents need more help than they are getting in the schools. My hope is that the current Chicago Public Schools teacher's strike illuminates the major needs present, from rundown buildings to the lack of social workers. Education has always been a major road out of hopelessness. Let's fully fund that road.
posted September 12, 2012 2:10 pm edt