As Chicago teachers prepared to vote on a tentative agreement to end their weeklong strike, a British journalist appearing on Up With Chris Hayes Sunday said the issues at hand — not only teachers’ pay but evaluation standards, working conditions and government investment — are not just in play in their city.
“This conversation is taking place all over America and actually pretty much all over the western world,” said Gary Younge, a columnist for The Guardian. “There’s a similar conversation going on in my home country of Britain, which is, a withdrawal of education as a public good, something that is free at the point of service, which is good for the public. Instead, [we're seeing] the introduction of for-profit privatization and rote testing, particularly for poor kids. The rich kids get their art, they get their libraries, they get all of that.”
During the discussion, guest host Sam Seder referred to a blog post by one of the teachers taking part in the strike, Xian Barrett, written as a letter toward Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.
“When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids,” Barrett wrote. “When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids. When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.”
The discussion was aired Sunday on MSNBC, and can be seen below.