News Release

* Chicago Strike * Education “Reforms”

Today, the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike, as did the Chicago Public Schools support staff of SEIU (Local 73), shutting schools in the nation’s third largest school district. Dozens of scholars in the Chicago area, through CReATE (Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education) just released a statement in support of the CTU, arguing that the demands of the union are compellingly backed by research; they detailed some of that research in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune last week.

According to the statement, “The academic literature confirms what students, parents and teachers already know: students learn better when supported by smaller class sizes, in schools that are staffed with enough librarians, psychologists, nurses and social workers to create environments that enable all students to flourish. Teachers can focus on teaching and learning when schools have necessary support services for students and their families. Research also illustrates that restorative justice practices in schools are key interventions to stem the school to prison pipeline. With almost 80 percent of the students in CPS living at or below the federal poverty level, the need for consistent and quality support services is essential.”

KEVIN KUMASHIRO, kevin at kevinkumashiro.com, @kevinkumashiro
Kumashiro is former dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco, and was a founding member of CReATE. He said today, “Seven years ago, the CTU launched a historic strike that changed the face of labor unions, served as inspiration for recent teacher walkouts, and reverberates in today’s strike that demands that public schools offer the learning environment that Chicago’s children need to succeed. Good teaching conditions are good learning conditions, and the CTU is pushing to reprioritize the values, the policies, the roadmap for getting us there.”

The Washington Post reports that over 350 deans and leaders in colleges of education across the country are voicing deep concerns about current initiatives to “reform” how teachers are prepared. The statement, “Seven Trends to Reform U.S. Teacher Education, and the Need to Address Systemic Injustices,” was released by Education Deans for Justice and Equity (EDJE), in partnership with the National Education Policy Center.

KATHY SCHULTZ, Katherine.schultz at colorado.edu, @kathyschultz22
Schultz is dean of the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder, the previous vice president of the Teaching and Teacher Education Division of the American Educational Research Association, and co-founder and chair of EDJE.

Kumashiro is also co-founder and former chair of EDJE, and the statement’s lead author. He said today, “Our nation’s schools need the highest quality of teachers, and the programs that prepare the next generation of teachers must constantly strive to do better, no doubt. But the seven trends that characterize the landscape of so-called reforms are harming rather than helping such efforts. The proponents are varied (from federal and state governments, to advocacy organizations, to professional associations of teacher-educators themselves), but common across all are a faith in hyper-individualistic, market-based solutions, and an absence of any compelling body of research that such solutions will work. In fact, many of these reforms have already proven to weaken the capacity of programs to prepare teachers for the diversity and equity challenges in our schools and communities. These problematic trends exemplify what’s happening in the larger realm of K-12 schools, where blame-and-shame detracts from the deeper systemic injustices that lie at the root of the problem. Reforms, whether in teacher education or education in general, must address systemic injustices head on.”