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Chicago Public Schools Tue Mar 11 2014

What It Means to Love Your Students

By David Stieber

We teachers teach, because we love the kids we work with. Yes, we may complain about the kids at times, but they are the reason we stay late, bring work home and get up early. Thousands of teachers in Chicago put up with bad administrators or broken copy machines, because we love the students that we work with so much that we try to block out all the things that "leadership" of Chicago Public Schools does wrong.

It doesn't matter where in the city you teach or the "types" of kids that you work with, teachers come to school to enrich the lives of our city's children.

It is with this love at the absolute forefront, that what the teachers at Saucedo, Drummond, and many other schools are doing truly proves the love teachers have for their students.
The teachers that are refusing to give the ISAT have been threatened to have their Illinois Teaching Licenses revoked. There is no worse threat than that. The threat of taking away the thing we have dedicated our lives to....the ability to teach our students.

Yet, the love that these elementary teachers have for their students is so deep that they realize their refusal to give a pointless test, used for nothing, counting for nothing, and wasting ten days of real teaching and learning is worth that risk.

In your profession how often do you just do things because you are told you have to do, even though you don't agree with the directive? Why do you do it? Likely because you have bills to pay, a family to support, want a promotion one day and want a job now. So you follow this directive because even though it is a waste of time and pointless you don't want to rock the boat. You want the "American Dream" so you most often do what you are told.

Teachers in Chicago have realized for years that the "American Dream" is not a reality for most of our students to reach. This inability to reach the "American Dream" is because of the barriers put in place by this city, such as an appointed rather than elected school board, mayoral control over our schools, the stealing of TIF funds from our schools and neighborhoods that really need them amongst a litany of other reasons.

The "American Dream" is much tougher to acquire if you are a person of color living on the South or West sides.

So teachers at Saucedo and Drummond have stood up, not for themselves, but for their students. They want to remake a new Chicago. They want to remake a new educational system in this city. They want their children to question, reflect, and think. They don't want ten lost days of mindless bubbling for their students. They want ten days to continue the amazing curriculums they have created and put in place for their students.

They want these same students 20-30 years from now to not have to do something because they are told to. They want these students to be people who lead, not follow. In this country we talk about children being the future of our country, yet we know that by "children being the future" those children really mean the elite, often times rich, often times white children whose families have led this country in some way or another since its founding.

Teachers believe and demand that ALL children are the future of this country; it just takes brave teachers to really show us what making that possible really looks like.

Thank you Saucedo and Drummond teachers for doing what you do best....Teaching!


David Stieber is a father, husband, CPS teacher of History. Dave is passionately committed to promoting and improving urban public education, while simultaneously improving the lives of his students. He earned his masters in Urban Education Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. You can follow Dave on Twitter at D_Stieber.


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