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Teachers’ Strike Raises A Variety of Questions
By RAY HANANIA
Southwest News-Herald Newspaper Friday, September 14, 2012
When I was in school, if I didn’t do my homework or produce a good product from an assignment, I’d get a bad grade.
That’s what I learned from my years in the Chicago Public Schools. You have to work hard to get good grades. And if you don’t get good grades, you could get kicked out of school.
I always thought that was the system we all worked in. We’re all evaluated, assessed and even graded by someone.
So why are teachers not included? Why are teachers opposed to being evaluated? Why are teachers on strike because they don’t want anyone to evaluate them?
If students are evaluated, why not teachers? That’s not to knock our teachers. Teachers are amazing. They do so much, oftentimes for so little — well most of them anyway. A few are overpaid with eye-opening pension benefits.
Still, teachers deserve our support. Clearly Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has not been very supportive of the teachers and he could do more.
But these are tough economic times. Costs have increased for everyone, but very few people have received pay increases. Those that have received cost-of-living increases have been fortunate.
We are still experiencing an economic recession. With costs increasing for everyone, and with deficits increasing, is it fair to ask the public to shoulder more of a financial burden and not demand accountability from our teachers?
If it were up to me, I’d double the salary of teachers. But I am not sure taxpayers are willing to pay more without some form of improved accountability.
The public schools have a poor reputation for producing high quality across the board. Things have improved from when I was a child in the public schools in the 1960s. But not that much.
There are many great moments, like when my English teacher noticed that I was failing English Composition for the third time. She was smart and didn’t give up on me, as other teachers did. She asked me what I liked to do and I told her I played guitar.
She had me write a column on rock music for the high school newspaper in my junior year. The next year, I passed English Composition 101 and also became the editor of the school newspaper.
I guess, if you want, though, some politicians can be angry with her for steering me into a career in professional journalism, a career I never imagined for myself.
There are some very bright lights among teachers. And there are some that maybe don’t do enough, the “bad apples.” But isn’t that what evaluations are supposed to do? Hold people accountable. Separate the bad apples from the good ones, not to punish the “bad apples,” but to identify them so they can get more help and support.
In the end, what they do is help young people become better people by building character, an education and laying the foundation for future careers.
My teacher in high school sure changed my life. And there were a few that were very discouraging.
But overall, the real focus shouldn’t be the teachers, the mayor or the event. It should be on what’s best for the students.
I am not sure a teachers’ strike is what is best.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at http://www.TheMediaOasis.com.) — City & Suburban News-Herald
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Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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