FIRST PERSON | CHICAGO -- I'm not sure when the people who smile every morning as kids pile into their classrooms, who decorate for Halloween and coax reticent teenagers into deep discussions became the enemy. Suddenly, they are milking the taxpayer through the elaborate scheme of educating their children. They are "harming" children by striking for the express purpose of educating children.
As the Chicago strike hits day two, it is remarkable how many people have low thoughts for the individuals who took on the cost of a college education simply so that they could pass their knowledge on to class after class. Individuals who understood, going into the profession, that their biggest rewards would not be monetary.
A friend, whose husband is a teacher in the suburbs, said it was as though people expect teachers to survive on generosity of spirit alone, and to be grateful for the honor.
Not one teacher, or administrator, or parent that I spoke with yesterday outside a neighborhood school is happy about this strike. In fact, teacher Michelle Gunderson told me her heart broke on Friday, knowing that she wouldn't be with her kids come Monday.
And another friend, seeing Gunderson named in the article, e-mailed me to tell me what a wonderful teacher she is, how her daughter loved having her, how she got so much from her students.
Make no mistake. These teachers are not the enemy of the children they've dedicated their lives to educating. And they're not the enemy of the parents who trust them to do so.
They are standing up against mandates borne of boardrooms over classrooms, "business" bottom lines over the wisdom of real education. There is morality at play, here, and the teachers are not the ones on the wrong side of it.