A note to teachers: Please use the first 2:09 of this broadcast for the classroom activity.
For the first time in 25 years the members of the Chicago Teachers' Union went on strike, marking the failure of the union and the city government to come to an agreement in new contract negotiations. The issues at stake include teacher pay and health benefits, and tying teacher performance to student results on standardized tests.
The strike, which involves 25,000 Chicago public school teachers and support staff, has left nearly 400,000 students out of school while the dispute is resolved. In order to provide for kids who rely on free breakfast and lunch to eat, officials have planned to open 140 schools for half-days. However, many students are still left out, causing parents to scramble to figure out a plan B.
"I'm a parent myself. And we recognize how hard this is for parents. And we're working as hard as we can to solve the issues of the schools, so that school can open," said Jesse Sharkey of the Chicago Teachers Union.
While the Teachers' Union claims that the strike was a hard necessity that they had hoped to avoid, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has shot back, calling the protest "a strike of choice." President Obama has attempted to stay above the fray by urging a quick settlement between the two parties.
"This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could have avoided. We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve." - Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers' Union.
"How dare you guys stop school in session? How dare you do that to our children? What are you thinking about? Not about them." - Gladys Hampton, parent.
1. What is a union and how does it function?
2. What does a strike hope to achieve?
3. Can you name some major unions in the United States?
1. Do you think that the teachers should have struck? Why or why not?
2. Who besides teachers are affected by this strike? Discuss and give examples.
2. Should unions be able to shut down public services like school and public transportation? Why or why not?