It was circa 1982 when Joliet's District 86 teachers went on strike. I was in junior high, and our teachers told us, no, no, they would not strike.
They were out three weeks.
I couldn't tell you what the details were or who won. But I can recall the names of the two teachers who crossed the picket line.
That was a difficult time for my family. My divorced mother worked full time and I had no where to go during the day. At 10, I was home alone.
By and large, teachers are undervalued in this country. They deserve combat pay for some of the districts they work in. My close friends are Chicago teachers. If I had a magic wand I would easily triple their salaries, benefits and give them anything else they wanted. Schools should be palaces!
With that said, Chicago Teacher Union President Karen Lewis is a thoroughly unimpressive person. After listening to her sarcasm and rants these past months, I have little faith in her ability to properly represent the union. More importantly, it is hard to see her dedication to students through the egotistical media personae.
The unfortunate reality is that Illinois is broken—and broken bad. There quite simply is no money to do what rightfully should be done. It must be difficult for the school board to negotiate with nothing but lint in its pockets.
The bottom line is these children are in danger, real imminent danger. Suddenly, we have 350,000-plus grade schoolers with no place to go. We can expect emergencies to be up. Gang activity will be up. Parents' jobs will be in jeopardy if they lose too much work. The costs to society will be far reaching.
Whatever the sticking points, this is a high-stakes tug of war. No matter what, the children will lose. They have already lost. Both sides need a kick in the pants, the school board and the teachers. You are both at fault. Get this strike over.
It's a plague on both your houses.