Woke parents—I LOVE you guys! Over the past week, there have been a number of you who have publicly voiced your concerns over the impending teacher’s strike. And I, for one, am especially elated that there are more of you who are becoming more aware of the disparities in education in Chicago, inserting yourselves into the conversation, making you more engaged in your child’s education. However, I have also seen comments where you have been attacked on every level from your intelligence, parenting skills, to the validity of your opinion based on presumed socioeconomic status. And my question to the critics is, how dare you?
This is what we know: there always has and will always be an underlying power struggle between these bureaucracies in Chicago in which the best interests of families are often pushed to the backburner. Secondly, within this power struggle, certain stakeholders –specifically parents- have limited or no representation in the conversation or decision making process. Thirdly and as a result of this, the parents and students end up getting the short end of the stick–particularly those in high need communities.
Now these parents may not be college professors, political strategists or well versed in union business. But, what does qualify them to have an opinion AND say-so is that they are, first and foremost, people who care about their child’s education and secondly, taxpayers—which makes their voice just as, if not more important than, yours, the CTU President’s, and the Mayor’s.
So here’s what I suggest to the critics: instead of attacking parents, making unfounded generalizations, disempowering them, and throwing your unsubstantiated expertise in their faces, try listening with empathy, educate when given the opportunity, and most importantly, support them. These parents have been beaten down enough AND are trying to raise children in a city that frankly, doesn’t put them first. At the end of the day, we are all passionate about and enduring an uphill battle in education and we cannot win when half of our battalion doesn’t feel strong enough to or are discouraged in the fight. Uplift, elevate, and excel.
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