Wartburg education majors said they were surprised that teachers chose to strike in Chicago to make their voices heard.
The Chicago Public School district, the third largest district in the nation, closed Sept. 10 and reopened Sept. 19 while teachers protested for smaller class sizes and pay raises. About 350,000 students were not able to attend school during the strike.
[pb_vidembed title=”Education students share concerns over Chicago strike” caption=”A look at how the Chicago strike is affecting education in Waverly” url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QSkYjLnSFk” type=”yt” w=”480″ h=”385″]
Education majors have been discussing in their classes the impact the strike made. Topics included the welfare of students, the use of unions and how Wartburg graduates might bring about change in Iowa school districts without a strike.
“As teachers, we couldn’t see ourselves doing that because we think of all the students who are missing out,” Jill Kuehnle said.
Allison Krehbiel said she was concerned about the welfare of the students during the strike.
“A lot of it revolves around the students and how they’re affected by it,” she said. “Is it benefiting the students?”
Even though students were not in class, the schools were open for lunch and many area churches opened their doors to keep the children out of trouble during the day, Krehbiel said.
“Striking is a little weird in education because you are leaving the kids out,” Stacey Knoll said.
Both Krehbiel and Knoll said, changes needed to be made in the Chicago school district. Krehbiel said class sizes and case loads, particularly in special education classrooms, were growing too large for teachers to provide quality education.
Knoll also said teacher quality was at stake, but the strike may not have been the most effective strategy.
“I think being in the classroom and doing other things to reach out for your students and get those benefits without actually striking would be a better option,” she said. Knoll said she did not know what that option was, but knows unions are an option in Iowa.
“There’s a place for unions, there’s also other ways to go about getting your voice heard,” Kathy Book, an education professor, said.
Kuehnle is still researching the effectiveness of unions. She said the recent strike made her more interested in the role of unions and she is eager to learn more both in and out of class. Unions are discussed during class, but not in-depth, she said.
“I think for our students going into a school district and being part of a union, they want to go about it tactfully. Listen, hear all sides before jumping on a bandwagon,” Book said.