Michelle Gunderson has taught in the Chicago public schools for 29 years; she teaches first grade.


In this post, she describes why the Chicago Teachers Union decided to strike on April 1. The House of Delegates’ vote to strike was overwhelming, but it was not unanimous. It was 486-124. Some teachers wanted a longer strike. Others had other reasons to dissent. Some Chicagoans predict that the strike will be joined by other unions, to protest Mayor Emanuel’s failure to fund the public schools, by his open hostility to public schools and their teachers, and by his clear favoritism toward charter schools opened by his friends and funders. Some think it may be close to a general strike. We will see. In the meanwhile, those of us who do not live in Chicago send our love and support to our allies who are fighting for the equitable treatment of the children they teach.


Gunderson writes:


In many schools around Chicago teachers experienced losing their colleagues through the recent cuts. When a teacher leaves a job they do not simply pack their personal effects into a banker’s box and walk out the door. Most teachers need a U-Haul to pack up all the materials they have personally brought into the school. And they leave behind them grieving children (losing your teacher is akin to losing a parent) and colleagues who must take up the additional workload.


In these schools which were cut to the bone, the argument to strike for revenue was easy. It is not a coincidence that the argument is harder at schools on the north and northwest side where race and class divide us on lines that were construed by injustice in the first place.


You will hear stories of teachers and parents who disagree with the strike. You will read news articles that amplify this message and comment sections in our Chicago papers that promote this injustice and often pure hate of teachers and children.


The facts remain – our city is divided, our children are suffering, and the Chicago Teachers Union has a vision of the world that makes this not so.


Join the strike on April first.