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Parent Bloggers Weigh In On Strike, Criticize Teachers On Picket Lines

Chicago teachers are demanding a new contract. They walked off the job on Monday. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Chicago teachers are demanding a new contract. They walked off the job on Monday. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Two parent bloggers weighed in on the Chicago teachers’ strike Tuesday, taking issue with what they called the “name-calling” and hostile tone of the striking teachers.

Chicago Public Schools chief education advisor Barbara Byrd-Bennett participated in a conference call Tuesday morning with parent bloggers across the city. Two of them – Dwana de la Cerna and Wendy Widom – blogged about the issues afterward.

On the site “The Chicago Moms,” de la Cerna said she supports negotiations and fair wages and benefits, being a union member in her capacity as a law enforcement officer. But she characterize the teachers’ strike as interfering with children’s “natural born right” to be educated.

“Children belong in the classroom, not on the Chicago streets as target practice,” she wrote. “Has everyone forgotten we are in the throws of a horrible spike in gun violence?”

De la Cerna also took issue with the antagonistic tone of the signs and words directed at Mayor Rahm Emanuel by the teachers, which she called” juvenile” and said “points directly to what is wrong in our violent city. Where is the professionalism?”

“The Chicago Public Schools is not a homecoming game or a Superbowl. There are real consequences here,” she wrote. “Seniors who might be late turning in final transcripts, missing scholarships opportunities or worse, not being prepared for ACT/SAT, playing games and missing scouts, stats, and offers!”

She said Byrd-Bennett told the parent bloggers that teachers will be compensated as the budget allows, and emphasized that the evaluations that remain an issue for teachers are required by law.

“Do children have to be out of school as this mandate plays out?” she wrote.

She urged teachers to “pipe down the rhetoric, the name-calling and street mentality that some are using to showcase their anger and frustration about what is going on in our education system. Do it for our kids.”

Meanwhile, Widom wrote on her Families in the Loop blog on Chicago Now also emphasized that the teacher evaluations are legally mandated, and that CPS officials said they spent 90 hours in meetings with teachers to ensure their input.

“They agreed upon a five-year plan. Year one would be a trial, where no tenured teacher would have to worry about a negative performance review. For year five, CPS proposed creating a joint task force with teachers to finalize the evaluation system. Sounds simple, right?” she wrote “So why are the teachers in such an uproar?”

She also said she found it hard to believe that teachers were calling for laid-off teachers to be recalled before “a better teacher who happens to be outside of CPS. At the end of the day, isn’t it about what’s best for our kids?”

Widom wrote that principals need better training and are not always providing the leadership the teachers should have. Like de la Cerna, she also took issue with what she called teachers acting unprofessionally on the picket line.

“Please teachers: parents want to support you, but it’s hard to do so when we hear about name-calling, yelling, and a whole lot of nastiness,” she wrote. “You set the standard for our children, especially now, as they learn how honorable it can be to stand up for what you believe in.”

Widom criticized both sides for saying the teachers are too demanding and CPS is too unsupportive, “when the real issue is that overall our education system is not meeting the needs of our kids.”

Teacher and CPS officials are back at the bargaining table Tuesday. The union said Tuesday afternoon that no deal has been reached, and the strike continues.