Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rahm's quickie guide for non-teachers

At Peet's this morning, I'm practically choking on my coffee while reading, "CPS’s How To Guide for workers at strike contingency school" in  the Sun-Times.

The guide is supposed to be a quickie preparation handbook (are you watching, TFA?)  for the gaggle of principals, assistant principals, Central Office Staff and non-CTU employees, as well as yet-to-be-approved scab vendors. Also, anyone else Brizard can scrape up to man his 144 (don't-call-them-schools) "holding centers". I call them scab schools. CTU Pres. Karen Lewis calls them, "a train wreck" waiting to happen.

Among the suggestions on “how to prepare” for classroom duties:

• “Wear a watch — your room may not have a functioning clock.’’

• Dress comfortably as “many schools are NOT air-conditioned.’’

• “You will need to bring your own breakfast and lunch. Please note that you cannot rely on access to refrigerators or microwaves.’’

• “Keep personal items to a minimum.’’

• Sessions for kids run from 8:30 to 12:30 but “you should arrive as early as possible” and be prepared to stay late.

• Bring 30 sharpened pencils, 30 pens and a personal pencil sharpener.

• Bring “stickers or other small inexpensive incentive items.’’

• Bring old magazines and newspapers, puzzles and games.

There's one other tip the guide could have included: Don't drink too much coffee or water before school and be prepared to hold it in because there won't be anyone to relieve you (pun intended).

I can't imagine these poor suits from Clark Street still favoring a longer school day after this experience. But maybe they will gain a little respect for teachers once this is over.

A panicky Brizard sent Lewis a letter Friday, asking the union to voluntarily forgo picketing the 144 “Children First’’scab sites. He claims that he has “deep concerns’’ about forcing “impressionable” kids to “walk through a picket line with their parents.’’ He's also going to have to find a way to slip his forced-labor principals and A.P.s in through the back door to keep them from crossing picket lines. Remember, at some point they will have to go back and work with their teachers again and try to rebuild the trust that Rahm has shattered.

Of the 144 school sites offering half-day sessions, Lewis said, “They are going to be a mess. I wouldn’t send my children [there].’’ So if Brizard wanted to avoid picketers, she said, “I think he should shut them down.’’


  1. Oh, thank you for posting this, Mike! I choked on my coffee too.
    You need to include the part about how Pre-K and K students might need help with lunch. I want to see the Clark Street crew running around opening milk cartons the whole twenty minute lunch period!
    Another great one is the bathroom notation: "You may need to bring toilet paper and soap from your classroom". I wonder often they have to do that on Clark Street?
    Lastly, most sadly and eerily funny, is the idea that my students with emotional disorders would line up nicely, pay attention to hand signals for silence in the classroom/lunchroom, journal write independently, and play math games without assisstance.
    If it were all so easy as this quick guide, we wouldn't be striking would we?

  2. I find the points in this article extremely telling on classroom conditions.

    Point #1. "Wear a watch, there may not be a functioning clock in your classroom". Teachers have to deal with this kind of annoyance everyday and obviously the Board knows about it if they published this, but how about getting these kinds of minor repairs fixed so kids can have a decent classroom. Oh yeah, they're too busy funding the charter schools which are not performing any better than CPS neighborhood schools.

    Point #3. Lunch must be pretty important those who cross the picket line as point # 3 lets them know they may not have access to a refrigerator or microwave. Teachers have to deal with this everyday and plan accordingly for their 20 minute lunch break, if they get one, but that's not in our employee handbook.

    Point #4 "Keep personal items to a minimum". Since you won't know the kids in the school and they won't know you, it will probably be a free for all. Watch your back.

    Point #5: "Be prepared to arrive early and stay late". Experienced teachers know that parents do not always arrive to pick up their kids on time, this happens on a daily basis. It's fun to sit around and watch others' children while yours are at home waiting for you. I hope the scabs are prepared to do the same.

    Point # 6,7,8: "Bring pencils, incentives, supplies" The children will arrive with nothing. This is not unlike many classrooms across the city. Some children do not come with folders, notebooks or pencils on a daily basis. Teachers give them out to some kids everyday with no questions asked. In some schools, the principal doesn't even give you money for supplies. How much money are the scabs prepared to fork over to keep kids entertained?

    As both a CPS teacher and a parent, there is no way I would ever allow my child to be a part of that mayhem.

  3. One thing I wonder though is if these kids really do need a place to get breakfast and lunch?

    1. Yes. Many of these children do not get meals regularly. It is very deliberate to that we have discount and free programs for breakfast and lunch.

  4. Anon,

    Of course they do and they need a lot more of the things the union is fighting for. They need art, music, physical education, counseling, libraries, smaller class size, experienced teachers in the neediest schools, stability in their lives instead of their schools being closed and thousands of their teachers being fired.

    This is what the struggle is all about.

  5. I was in a holding location today and only 25 students showed up... with over 100 staff... Who knows if the numbers will change but I feel that pretty soon the SEIU local 73 employees will be on the line with CTU.


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