As an 18-year Chicago Public School teacher, I am insulted by your suggestion that teachers are being put above kids. Apparently you haven’t spent any time in a West Side classroom: First day of school, 96 degrees with 36 second-graders in a third-floor classroom; a nurse and social worker one day a week in a poor, high-violence, high-drug-trafficking community; closing schools has damaged neighborhoods and caused students to be forced to cross cultural and gang boundaries, resulting in students’ death; students without qualified teachers the first day of school; schools without libraries, music, art, PE, things we take for granted in Oak Park.

We are fighting the privatization of education. There is now a plan to privatize early childhood, taking it out of the public schools where the neediest children need service.

The teachers are there for the students. We’re the ones they turn to when there is a crisis. Sometimes they react emotionally and/or violently, and it’s up to us to figure out what, why and how to help them. Our special ed students are getting shortchanged in services, if they get them at all.

I applaud Karen Lewis and her team for forcing the issues into the public eye. We want better schools, we want quality curriculum, we want less emphasis on teaching to the test and more focus on student learning.

The decision to strike was not an easy one. CPS had 10 months to negotiate a reasonable agreement that would benefit the students. They chose not to do so. Based on all the time I spent at various West Side schools during the strike and as a teacher, I know the parents support their teachers and want the best for their children.

Unfortunately, Rahm and his 1% cronies are more interested in destroying public education then helping the students.

Kati Gilson, NBCT

Oak Park

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