We are now entering the second week of the Chicago teacher’s strike with the threat of litigation to force an end by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. Some of the issues that are on the table are job security, pay increase, and teacher’s evaluations. Let me first begin by stating that I am not taking a stance on unions and also realize that teaching is a tough job. I salute those teachers who are passionate about their profession and view it as a calling. Because of this is why this strike particularly so early in the school year makes me a little uneasy. The ones who can least afford to lose ground (poor minority children) are the most vulnerable as a result of it. This also includes the parents of these children who often have inflexible jobs where they can’t just take off to attend to their child.
What is happening in Chicago should bring to light the challenges we all face on our jobs and how we select our respective professions to begin with. Teachers deal with frustrations with uninvolved parents, compensation, school overcrowding, and numerous other issues. However this is no different from the sales professional who is forced to make his quota in an underperforming territory. It is no different than the doctor who is tasked with seeing 30-40 patients per day and feels guilty of burn out. The point is no matter what job we do there will be some challenges to try to overcome. There are times when work can be humiliating, overwhelming, and stressful.
When it gets to this point it is always best to reflect on the fact that God deeply cares about the work we do and desires our best effort. It doesn’t matter if you are the school janitor or the principal, it is all equally meaningful to him and he doesn’t ascribe job titles to personal worth like society often does. How much more productive would we all be as a society if we began to think like this or if we decided to choose jobs with the intent of helping those around us instead of looking solely at benefits, the pay, or the job title. My hope is that the teachers, the union, and the city come to the realization that they are ultimately there to serve their communities which includes the parents and students who are continuing to lose ground to their peers as this drags on.