A friend and colleague I respect enormously asked, on the Facebook TEACHED page (in response to an article posted about the Chicago Teachers' Strike), the following:

A system that can't keep and retain the best teachers hurts children (and society) far more than a few lost days of school. Whatever you think about Chicago in particular (every battle is nuanced), strikes are a tool workers use to ensure fair wages and working conditions. What other leverage do you think teachers have to do this besides leaving the field?

My response was:

The question is: are teachers "workers" that need this type of protection/unionization, or has this heavy unionization of teaching (a few decades old) actually led to where we are now, a situation where it is so hard to get and keep great teachers because they want "professional" jobs, in a professional environment, that holds them--and their colleagues--accountable?

"Workers" usually bring to mind low-paid, low-skill jobs in which people can be very easily replaced. (Teachers are paid very well relative to factory or farm workers, and shouldn't be easily replaceable). "Workers" need group-level (union) protection because they can be taken advantage of (and are) by profit-seeking corporations. 
Teachers are college graduates with content knowledge and skill. And when they strike, they aren't postponing profits or production of things, the impact is on children and families. So no, I don't think teachers should be allowed to strike, because the entire construct of the treating the profession like an industrial, factory-level job is wrong. 



Posted on September 17, 2012 .