In solidarity with the teachers from the Chicago Public Schools who officially went on strike this morning, I think about my own parents and their diligence within the CPS system. For many years, they both went to work with smiles on their faces, purchased school materials and goods out of pocket because "no budget" was allocated, dealt with 1st generation Americans, students with limited English capacity, and those in special education.
While my father is now a community liaison, businessman, and activist, he still stands in solidarity with my mother, a current educator, and fervid believer in social justice. Monday through Friday, she is the wonderful teacher with a variety of cute outfits who introduces concepts in English and Spanish while serving as a role model for our future generations.
My mother, a role model for the community and myself, is nothing short of someone I admire because of the heart she places into her work. With a compassionate heart and a sharp mind, mom regularly strives to foster a strong sense of self and community among her elementary school students. Whether it is learning the importance of the 4th of July or debating whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, she is a passionate educator who sees her job as more than a profession. Her role as an educator, as my mom sees it, is really about giving back. As mom likes to put it, "social responsibility will change the world". I wholeheartedly believe her.
The hundreds of educators currently on strike in Chicago reflect more than a system gone wrong: it is a sign of the times. With a changing student population and a new decade 2 years young, the strike is a symbol of so many of the changes our society hopes to implement. Whether we are talking about the type of education our children need or the importance of the Spanish-language in public schools (and society), we are living in a time of change and it is our duty as citizens to facilitate this transition.
What's more, our own mayor, Rahm Emanuel, is regularly making our educators' lives more challenging. While there are many positive things Emanuel has done for Chicago, if you haven't walked in a teacher's warm, fuzzy shoes you don't have the right to make policy when you've not done the work.
As our current president speaks of "going forward, not backward", let's keep this in mind as we commute to work, school, or place of recreation. Give a helping hand to the teacher next door, offer an ear and receive wisdom. Like Sandy Cakes of Panaderia Azucar in Chicago, one can donate generous gifts of food and beverages to sooth our fellow (wo)man's constitutional right to protest.
Let's do this, friends, community members, and advocates of social change. Support the teacher next door - the agent of change for your child's future . I support our Chicago Public School teachers' right to protest and seek their rights as professionals, educators, and public figures in our communities.
Si se puede: Yes we can.