Future Imperfect: An Education Report for Tense Times

Students protest tuition hikes. Source: CNN.

My mother was the oldest of 5 children, raised in a small apartment in the Bronx. Her immigrant parents had no opportunity to go to college, and were very proud of her when she graduated near the top of her class and got a full scholarship to study math at Mercy College.

Armed guard outside school. (Source: Steve Liss/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image)

It’s been a month since tragedy struck Newtown, CT: a small, wealthy suburb of New York. On a clear December morning, a regular day at the local elementary school exploded in gunfire, forever transforming that community. In a few short minutes, they lost six adults and twenty children to dumbfounding violence.

When this year’s third graders graduate from high school, the Baltimore City Schools Ten-Year-Plan will be in full effect. The plan, announced in late November amidst much fanfare, calls for a ground-up overhaul of the buildings and facilities where our children go every day to learn and grow.

Baltimore City school teachers rally in solidarity with striking Chicago teachers. (Photo by: Bill Bleich, source: City Paper)

Baltimore teachers are in the final year of the “landmark” contract we reluctantly ratified in 2010. Many teachers and education professionals reviled the contract for its attacks on seniority in the form of merit pay. As the BTU and BCPSS move into the contract negotiation season, it is important for the public to understand this concept.

Jerrell is a good guy. Smart and funny, he generally helped lighten the spirit of class. I taught Jerrell for two years, as a High School Junior and then again as a Senior. He was on my roster the next year, too. But only until he turned 21, and the school district's automated system dropped him from our roll when he “aged out” of the public school system.

Why would anyone get as far as senior year and then drop out? Why would he let all those years of hard work go to waste?

Chicago Teachers Union on strike. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Today marks one month after 80% of the Chicago Teachers Union's (CTU) rank and file members voted to accept a major victory, ending a week-long strike. The CTU has been fighting for better working conditions for teachers, and therefore better learning conditions for students. As part of her ongoing column, "Future Imperfect", Iris Kirsch gives us an analysis of why the CTU campaign was so effective, and why it's important to teachers' struggles across the US.`

An empty Baltimore City classroom. Photo by: Iris Kirsch.

Iris Kirsch is a Baltimore City Public School teacher. Ze* will be writing a bi-weekly column for the Indyreader. Because ze is both a reporter and an inside source, ze wanted to give a personal introduction in the interest of disclosure, and also so readers would have an idea where ze stands. This introductory essay also includes a lot of common acronyms.

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