Thursday, September 13, 2012


Nadirah’s Perspective:

This past Monday marked the first day of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Teachers’ Strike.  Even though I am very torn about my stance on this issue because I use to teach within this very same system, I always revert back to the horrible outcome of the children missing an unknown number of school days.  Last night, hubby and I were watching the news and we found ourselves becoming more and more frustrated with the cover piece.  They interviewed inner city children by asking them, “What have you been doing since the strike?” Their answers varied but included: watching TV, playing video games, playing basketball, riding my bike with my friends, and hanging out.  But wait a minute because it gets worse.  When they interviewed some of the parents on their personal feelings about the strike, they said that they were more concerned about their children getting shot while outside playing and walking the streets when they should be in school.  Can you see what direction I’m getting ready to go into right now?  I have a question!  If you are so fearful about the safety of your children while they are playing and hanging around outside, then why not make them stay in and do some math problems and/or reading projects that you as a parent can assign while the children are out of school? 

During my years of teaching, I noticed that many parents left all educational instruction to the responsibility of the teachers. To be fair about this, I would recognized that some of the parents were busy working multiple shift jobs and/or were ill-equipped themselves to understand and aid their children with homework assignments. However, there is no excuse to run to Dollar Tree, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. to buy academic workbooks, pull out the answer key page, and hand them four to five pages of work to do to stimulate their intellectual brain cells.  If money is a problem, another solution is to go to the local library, have them pick out three books of their choice, and make them write an age appropriate book report ranging from one to five paragraphs. If the library is too far or nonexistence in your neighborhood, another solution is to gather all the newspapers, magazines, and books in your house, pick out an article (more than likely you read) or chapter, and have them do a report about that article or chapter. For the teens, questions they could cover would be: what was it about, was there a protagonist/antagonist, when was it written, is it relatable to today’s society, who was your favorite character, and what did you learn from it?  For the little ones: what was it about, did you like/dislike it, did you like the pictures, can you draw one of the characters for me, etc.

On A Side Note:
There is a contest being held at Chicago’s Navy Pier on Saturday, November 17, 2012 called Young Inventor Challenge that children ranging from 6 – 18 years of age can participant.    All participants must submit an original and working prototype of a toy/game invention and an accompanying poster display.  There are prizes and acknowledgement earned by the winner. Here’s the link:

The point that I’m getting at is the fact that even if the teachers’ strike is active with an indefinite date of ending, there is no reason why our children should not be able to continue their education on their own with the guidance and resources of their parents.  


Troy’s Perspective:

Being the only child to parents that are both teachers and extremely involved in the educational system, I never had a summer where I was not challenged academically. As my wife mentioned, children are publicly speaking on the news about how they are wasting time at home and/or outside. My mother and father (CPS teachers) often struggled the first two months of the school year re-teaching their students what they learned the year before because of the lack of schooling during the summer months. Where does learning begin? As I look back, I thank my parents for investing their time in me and preparing me for my future. My parents were very strict; I had to complete several pages in both English and math workbooks before the idea of going outside was an option. If my workbooks were fully complete my father then made me read the newspaper out loud to him (I despised this exercise most of all). My father not only supervised while I completed these exercises, but also reviewed my homework daily. This commitment from parents doesn’t take place today.

PSA to All Parents:
Please invest in your children and take the time to ensure that their learning continues throughout the year despite any vacations. Learning is a continuous process and should never take a break. This will only better prepare our children for future achievement. Don’t leave the entire educational process up to teachers, which is not fair to teachers or your child. Once again, where does learning begin?  Your children reflect you and your household, not the teacher. The educational exercise that I once could not stand always gave me the leading edge once in the classroom; in spite of, being ridiculed by family members and friends. As I look back, the constant learning processes gave me the drive and influence to become the engineer that I am today. Thanks Mom & Dad. Many children are misguided and learn more from the television and the streets than their parents, which is truly sad.

Please understand the struggles that these teachers face and what they are fighting for. They are only trying to better the education of the youth of the Chicago Public School system that are sometimes troubled and misguided. Classrooms are over populated (35+ students (fire hazard)), under resourced (not enough books, no computers and other supplies) and unequipped with air-conditioning. It is truly amazing that this strike did not happen sooner.

While the teachers are fighting for your children, please invest in the time and efforts to ensure that your kids are learning at home. That is where the learning process both starts and ends.

 “Be the motivating influence that will lead your children to a promising future by giving the gift of not just a public education but a loving education.”


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