Thursday, October 30, 2014

A couple things to think about from _Catalyst Chicago_

Catalyst Chicago had some food for thought recently--as it often does. 

Waukegan teachers and district are at an impasse in regards to pay and benefits, and have been for almost a month. (Update: They have reached an agreement and the hope is that school will start on Monday.)

Teachers need better pay and resources and to be treated like adults; legislators' policies and local/state funding priorities persist in not acknowledging this. It's maddening that we have not adjusted as a culture to a healthier education ecosystem.

However, kids have been out of school almost a month. The strike has been a big strain on libraries and other already strapped community resources, and on working parents. And think about the consequences for students, not only for learning, but in many cases for nutrition and safety.

Catalyst quoted an area principal that pretty much sums up not only the current consequences of the strike but the whole tragic frustrating mess of a dysfunctional education-policy/funding system. “It doesn’t matter whose side you’re on, it’s really obvious who’s getting hurt.” 

The other story that caught my eye goes in the Who Could Have Expected Anything Different file. Catalyst reports that enrollment in teacher-prep programs has declined. Poor working conditions, policies based on mistrust and micromanagement, unearned blame, low pay, little support, never-ending conflict...well, of course many young people don't wish to enter the profession. 

And also this: one person opted out of teaching because, while still in his teacher-prep program, he felt (quoting Catalyst here) “in the middle of an ideological war that surfaced in everything from state-level education policy on down to his course textbook, which had a distinct anti-standardized-testing bent.”

This really hit me, because...ugh. Because war, even ideological war, claims many unintended innocents.

Let's hope we emerge from this time of ideological conflict with a better, stronger, set of solutions for K-12 education.

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