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NEA President Van Roekel Statement on Chicago Strike


WASHINGTON - September 10, 2012 -

The following statement was made today by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

 “Although the members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) are not members of the National Education Association (NEA), our three million members stand proudly behind CTU.

“For more than a year, the teachers and education support professionals who serve Chicago’s children have been working toward an agreement that would improve learning conditions in Chicago’s public schools. This is a good thing—we need more, not fewer, adults who care so deeply about our nation’s children.

“I know from my 23 years in the classroom that the decision to strike does not come easily. In fact, the last time Chicago’s teachers were on strike was more than a quarter-century ago.

 “But as educators we also know that it is our responsibility to ensure that every child has the most committed, caring, and qualified educators in their schools. We cannot continue to stand by and weather budget cut after budget cut—our children deserve better.

“We are encouraged to learn that both sides have come back to the table. Collective bargaining is a process that works.  In states where collective bargaining is protected, there are fewer strikes and more districts with higher-performing schools. The truth is students do better when we all work together.

“For those of us who are committed to putting students at the center of education reform, it’s time to shift our focus. Currently, conditions in our schools are so difficult that almost half of all new teachers leave the profession in the first five years. We need to get our priorities in order—higher standards for those entering the field, more support and mentoring for new teachers, and more relevant, ongoing, and well-funded training for all teachers. This is what’s best not only for educators but also for students.

“Most importantly, we need to trust educators with the big decisions, and involve them in the important discussions—parental involvement, curriculum, evaluation, and salary. Educators—not politicians, CEOs, or movie producers—know what our children need to succeed. In Chicago, the members of the Chicago Teachers Union are the experts on what the students of Chicago need. 

“Educators are our friends, family, and neighbors, they spend their days teaching our children, and they need the tools and resources to get the job done. They deserve our respect and support.”  

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel Gonzalez, mgonzalez@nea.org