CFL News
September 13, 2012

Jorge Ramirez: Teachers passionate about teaching, improving Chicago's schools

Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez writes that Chicago's public school teachers are passionate about this strike because they're passionate about their profession

Walking the picket line outside of the Board of Education this week, I have seen how passionate the men and women of the Chicago Teachers Union are about their cause. They’re passionate about this strike because they’re passionate about their job as teachers and paraprofessionals.

For Chicago’s public school teachers, their work is more than an occupation—it’s a calling. It’s a vocation; a labor of love. They care deeply and passionately about our schools, the quality of education they provide and the future of the children they teach.

Any teacher on strike this week will say that he or she would rather be in the classroom doing what they love: teaching children. But unfortunately, they haven’t received the support, the resources or the respect from Chicago Public School leaders that they deserve. That is why this week teachers have been forced to take dramatic action to stand up for what is best for their students and Chicago’s public schools.

The lesson to be learned from this strike is that there is no bigger advocate for our public schools than our teachers. Chicago Public Schools should actively seek out their expertise, tap into their knowledge and experience in the classroom, and engage teachers in collaboration as full-fledged partners.  This should be the standard procedure during times of labor peace as well as conflict. Labor and management can solve more challenges when they work together than when they fight.

Chicagoans stand with our teachers because they respect them and the work they do every day in our communities to support our children. It’s time the Board of Education and CPS followed suit. The only way Chicago can address the challenges in our schools is in full partnership with our teachers, parents and community.

Jorge Ramirez, President
Chicago Federation of Labor