September 10th, 2012
06:08 PM ET

Comments: Union teachers striking when other people can't even find work?

Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. Here's some comments we noticed today.

In a tight economy, the sight of striking teachers in Chicago has many readers seeing red. On CNN iReport, we're seeing photos from the picket lines. Should teachers be asking for more when people have less? Sam Chaltain writes in an education opinion piece that the issues in this situation apply well beyond the heartland.

My View: The whole world is watching Chicago, once again

Some readers who posted comments wondered if teachers see themselves as above the standards of other professions, while others wondered how performance should be measured.

Chris: " 'Teachers want job security.' – That says it all. Why should teachers get job security while the rest of the working world has to *perform* to achieve job security? And sometimes performance isnt even enough... Sometimes the way a system works is just ineffective, and it takes a dislocation of employees onb the journey to make it right, regardless of how effective those employees are individually. I've seen this happen in the business world- fantastically effective colleagues have lost their positions, and it's broken my heart to watch it happen- but then I've watched the business gets stronger and more effective as a result. 'Job security' is a figment of the past. Get over it, and work to make yourself relevent assuming you lose your job tomorrow."

Shelly: "No one debates accountability and evaluation. It is the terms of what does it mean to be an effective teacher? If we hold teachers accountable to student performance on a standardized assessment given on one day, shouldn't we also hold doctors accountable to patient wellness rate on a checkup day, regardless of if the patient took the advice to lose weight or exercise or take their medications? Shouldn't we blame farmers' poor yields in a drought on the farmers' incompetence? People hate teachers lately. If teaching is such a cake-walk job, please go to college and earn your degree so you can join in!"

daveyoung: "When you work for the taxpayers, you have no right to unionize. End of story."

This commenter applauded the efforts of teachers. CNN iReport is asking educators to share why they teach.

aflarend: "Great job, Chicago Teachers! You are standing up for what is right in the classroom. You know that tests are narrowing the curriculum and that they only measure a small part of what a child learns academically in school. As a graduate of a Chicago Public school in the 1980s and one on the far South Side, I know first hand the challenges that you face. And I know your successes since I earned advanced degrees in engineering, thanks in part to several inspiring teachers. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication. And thank you for standing up for students and teachers."

Some said the schools are poorly managed, and parents need to step up and do their jobs.

Barbra & Jack Donachy: "By and large, Chicago's public schools have been a mess for a very long time as one reform after another has ultimately gone nowhere. Like his friend President Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems to be taking a tack that puts too much emphasis on standardized test scores and places too much blame on teachers for the failure many of Chicago's schools. It is frustrating that, like Mr. Obama, the mayor has given up attempts to get to the root of the problems in our education system (horrible leadership from school and district administrators and the school boards that supposedly oversee that leadership) and is instead desperately hacking at the leaves around the fringes of meaningful school reform while pointing a wrongly accusatorial finger at teachers. No company, no team, no military unit, no group of teachers can rise above the level of their leadership for any length of time, and until we make positive changes in terms of getting better superintendents, better principals, and better school boards our public schools will continue to founder.

J: " 'The real problem' are parents, not district administrators, not school boards, and not teachers, when it comes to test scores. Parents are a child's real teacher and most are no where involved in their children's academic life. Stop making excuses that other people are responsible for educating our children. PARENTS PARENTS PARENTS. I am so tired of people making excuses on this subject – get involved with your children's education and recognize that you, the parent, are ultimately responsible and you only have yourself to blame."

The main story about the strike got thousands of comments from readers angry about the news.

Chicago teachers strike; students and parents scramble

This reader said union members need to think about the source of the money they're asking for, and referred to them as "union thugs."

hulsey76: "Teachers love to blubber about how they aren't in it for the money, it's about the kids ... until it's time to negotiate a new contract. Cities are broke, parents are broke, people are out of work and property values are in the gutter - just where do these union thugs think the money is going to come from? I guess we are all in this together, unless you're in a union; then the economy and suffering of other middle class people is of no concern to you."

madhatter91: "I made more bartending just a few nights a week then these people make educating our children full time. Oh yes, Mrs. Jensen with her fourth grade biology class is clearly a 'thug.' Christ, give them enough money to live on and think before typing."

This person suggested having school board members try being teachers.

bestamerican: "I agree with the teachers when it comes to those evaluations ... So the kids in wealthy areas have family support, people who care about them and teach them along the road of life, while in the worst neighborhoods the children are not taught anything from the parents. that's a big question on the plural there. Most often the child lives with his or her mother who is a total loser and doesn't care about anyone except themselves. No way would I want my job to be on the spot because I end up teaching the worst of the worst and the school system wants to hold me accountable for this child who has no chance at all. Get a grip Chicago school system. How about we do it this way, for every teacher you let go, let a school board member take over the class room, and if they can't change it then the teacher is reinstated with full pay ... How about that Chicago?"

This person claims to have a teacher for a wife, and says he opposes the teachers' strike.

PhilTheDrill: "As a husband of a teacher, I know full well that it is my responsibility to be the breadwinner in our household. My wife's income alone, on top of her student loan debt, would be just enough to support her on her own. It would be tough, but it isn't exactly minimum wage, and she gets better benefits that most workers in this country. Together, however, we do more than well enough. My wife is a brilliant teacher. She knew that a career in education is not a high-paying career without the prospect of moving up the ladder to higher-paying positions. She could have pursued any other career, but she chose to be a teacher. She is making a sacrifice because she cares about the future of the children that she teaches. Being a teacher is a noble profession. It isn't a career to pursue for material reasons. These Chicago teachers should be ashamed. To strike over pay raises and benefits not being sufficient when millions are unemployed or live on minimum wage is abhorrent."

Several readers mentioned the 1981 strike by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association, which led to a confrontation with then-President Ronald Reagan.

deb0155: "Rahm Emanuel should do with the teachers as Reagan did with the air traffic controllers in the '80s. If you don't show up for work - you're fired! Believe me, there would be thousands of people in line just licking their chops for teaching jobs. The City of Chicago is broke - you can't get money out of a stone. They are fortunate they have jobs, pensions, health care and holidays and the summers off. Many people have student loans - and they are not out there picketing - they are out working or looking for jobs!"

Dolph: "The Chicago school district should pull a Reagan and fire all the teachers that don't come back to work and replace them with the scores of teachers still looking for jobs."

One reader, who claims to be a teacher, wrote a lengthy description of challenges they face.

FishOnLegs: "The cries coming from people in society who complain about how greedy we are as teachers, makes me cringe. I've read hundreds of comments on various websites telling us to change careers if we don't like it. I've often yelled back at the screen in support of people who say, 'If you think teaching is easy then you do it.' It's so true."

Private school was the answer for this reader.

bfkohl: "This morning I watched an interview with a Chicago teacher's union representative and she stated that they didn't foresee any problems for parents in securing daycare for their children. She further said that a city the size of Chicago was full of resources and kids she spoke with this morning were outside school 'for something to do,' not because they had no place to go or anyone to care for them. This exemplifies that they haven't a clue, and furthermore, don't care. They claim it is all about the children, but everyone knows they have a sense of entitlement regardless of how the rest of the population is faring. If you're lucky enough to have a job, you would jump at a 4% raise. As far as contributing more to their benefits, welcome to the world. The rest of us have been doing it for years, and many have gone without them altogether. Myself, I sent my kids to private school and it was worth every dime. Not only were they better educated, but there were no strikes to contend with. Maybe that's why most Chicago public school teachers also send their kids to private schools."

What do you think about the Chicago teacher strike? What can be done about education? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on Or share your photos and video commentary via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Comments • Economy • Education • Illinois • Taxes • U.S.
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. jgibson

    I have taught for over 35 years. I have never been so dismayed at the way teachers have been treated over this time period.
    To have to go through the many, many classes and hoops and getting a masters degree, it is a DISGRACE to all teachers.
    Until YOU have been a teacher you have NO IDEA AT ALL what all goes into teaching. Especially the politicians trying to tell educators how and what they need to do in their jobs. REALLY ?????
    Until you "walk a mile in their shoes" you really can't pass judgement.

    And remember, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I was a teacher. Worked part time...9 months a great benefits....only had to teach 4 actual periods a day. Its rather cushy, my friend. Switched careers...its not the same. YOU HAVE IT EASY EASY

      September 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Richard

    Just because YOU don't have a job (or YOUR JOB is not paying you a decent salary) - does that mean that NO ONE should enjoy a decent job at a decent salary? Come on, folks, this is not only stupid - it's jealousy at its lowest common denominator!

    September 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    Enough with the damn unions! Get back tyo work like the rest of us. You work PART TIME with HUGE benefits. You just want more and more. Give me a break. You all look like NUTS on TV.

    September 17, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LMAO

    Bob, you is a lyin troll la la la!

    September 17, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rick

    I'm not for or against Unions, they are good in their own way and the way business' and companies are this day in time you just about need unions. I can see both sides on this teacher strike, but lean more toward the teachers because, how can you fire or pay teachers by their performance when one may have a full class of students that are excellent and go to the top and another may have up to a third of their class being from broken homes, lower income, trouble makers and their class does not perform as well. Is it fair to get rid of that teacher?

    September 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • csparish

      No, it isn't fair. Maybe, if some parents did their job better, this wouldn't be necessary.

      September 18, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jacobsart

    If test scores reflect how good a teacher is, why don't all of the teacher's kids get the same score on the test?

    September 19, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Alger Dave

    Blaming the school board for the problems at the school is insane. Most schools could be 'lead' by a computer. The school board as an important part of what happens in most districts is a thing of the past. There is only so much money, so it needs to be divvied up between the teachers, buildings and sundry costs. While this might be political, it's not rocket science. What happens in the classroom has very little to do with what happened in the school board room beforehand.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. icons pack

    Unequivocally, a prompt reply 🙂

    October 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
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