No “Fall Break” for Us – The Latin Perspective of the CPS Teachers’ Strike

Hedy Gutfreund Co-Editor-in-Chief On September 9, 2012, the entire city of Chicago seemed to be in a panic. Teachers marched all around Chicago in red shirts, students had nothing to do, and parents were panicked. At least, that’s what the experience was like starting September 9 and for the next six school days. For us, everything went on as usual. Or did it? What did the Chicago Public School teachers’ strike mean to us? People always say we’re in a Latin bubble, and the strike was a perfect example of this.  Perhaps a few elements of the strike pierced our bubble a little – a train was delayed because of protests, a CPS friend of ours came to visit us at school, or we formed an opinion on who we supported: Rahm or the teachers. The strike, however, should mean so much more to us. Even though we’re lucky enough to go to a private school where class sizes are enviable and teachers are incredible, the vast majority of our Chicago community depends on CPS to educate them. One day in the far-off future (Wait, less than two years? What?!) when each of us leaves Latin, we’ll be faced with a world who hasn’t been educated in the way we have. But maybe the strike will help students get a better education. At least, that’s what the point of it seemed to be for Emma Seslowsky, a junior in the IB Program at Lincoln Park High School, sees the irony in the strike, particularly for her, in such a crucial year of high school. She articulately notes, “The strike to me was somewhat ironic. The teachers were striking for us, but by doing so we were out of school.” Even though she says she was productive during part of the strike, she soon “became bored and unmotivated” as it droned on and found herself in a “summer mentality.” Emma’s also worried about what this means for her next summer.  “People who are planning on having a job this summer,” she says, “will be especially affected by this. A lot of jobs will begin during the week we need to make up, and we’ll still be in school – this is a clear conflict.” Latin junior Maria Cheadle understands as well as public school students do why the teachers went on strike. Maria came from Lincoln Middle School, “which was one of the best public schools.” She notes that “we didn’t have many problems with the class sizes, and our teachers were amazing.” But in the two short years that Maria’s been at Latin, she knows that things have changed. She’s kept in touch with some of her teachers, who have told her that “class sizes have increased and that it’s really hard to keep order in class and actually teach because of this.” Maria observes that the strike made her realize “how lucky [she is] for being in a private school where we don’t have to worry about the issues that made the teachers strike.”   So what should we get out of this? First, we should appreciate the true perks of private school (I’m not talking about air conditioning and boathouse jackets). But more importantly, we should be aware of what’s going on in the world around us. After the community service fair, maybe we can get inspired to help students after school who don’t get the same experience as us. If we can be aware, we can step out of our bubble once and for all.]]>