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Chicago teachers strike: Mom’s long view of city’s work stoppages

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(Read caption) Chicago teachers strike: A woman pushes a stroller past a group of public school teachers picketing outside Amundsen High School, Sept. 10, 2012. The school is one of more than 140 schools in the Chicago Public Schools' "Children First" contingency plan, which feeds and houses students for four hours during the teachers strike started by the Chicago Teachers Union Monday.

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In the 1980s I covered three Chicago teacher strikes as an education reporter for a community newspaper. Today, 25 years after the last strike I reported on, I am watching as a parent.  

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what is different about this strike, and I’m not sure that watching it from this parental angle is what makes it different. Two things have changed: In the 1990s, most of the issues were around salaries and benefits. And in those days parents were largely on the sidelines and the children were in the middle.

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Today, both the teachers and the Chicago Board of Education say that it’s no longer about the money. It’s about class size, standardized testing, charter schools, and teacher evaluation.  It’s about a steady stream of policies – from charter schools to more tests to abruptly shutting down schools without parent involvement. Parents understand gang boundaries; the suits downtown do not. 

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