Opinions Fly on Possible Teachers Strike
Nerves are brittle as students and parents wait to see if there really is a work stoppage.
As the possibility of a teacher’s strike Lake Forest High School is less than a day away and the pictures of what such a labor stoppage would look like emerge from Chicago, opinions are flying on the matter from concerned parents, students and residents.
On a near weather perfect Monday afternoon, the people caught directly in the middle of a possible labor stoppage, the students, were obviously worried about their academic future.
“We’re upset that we won’t get to play Wednesday against New Trier and Oak Park Thursday,” Amanda McMahon, a member of the field hockey team, said. “We have been working hard in these games and it can determine how we place in the State Tournament.”Athletes are going to be on edge, and so are the parents.
Patch learned late today the Illinois High School Association (IHSA, the statewide prep sports governing body, said its board does not have the authority to change its bylaws and allow sports competition during a strike.
The IHSA ruling pertained to Chicago Public Schools, which went on strike Monday, but Lake Forest Community High School District 115 Board of Education President Sharon Golan said it applied to Scout teams as well.
Students walking to school Monday along the bicycle path had mixes feelings. “We’re here for an education,” said one student. “They should be for education. They shouldn’t strike.”
Another student took a different view. “I hope they do,” she said. “They deserve more money.”
Teachers Have Some Support
Meanwhile, one such parent backing the teachers is Fiona Jackson, whose child is a freshman. “It’s ridiculous,” she said. “The teachers work hard and want to be there. The school year has started so we don’t want to interrupt the flow. The School Board is throwing out too many little details; let’s just look for the big picture.”
But that was not a universal sentiment among parents. Far from it. “It’s just tragic for the students,” said Kevin Conroy, the parent of a sophomore who described his job status as ‘in transition.’ “The teachers should be grateful they have jobs.”
A woman dropping her child off at school Monday morning does not discriminate. She just wants school to continue. “They should make a deal,” she said. “They (the union and the Board) are both to blame.”
Then there was the perspective of one parent who was afraid to give her name fearing teacher retribution against her son, who is a senior. This particular parent said she had been working since she was 15 and would love to have the situation she perceives the Lake Forest teachers to have.
“I think it is ridiculous that they are asking for more money,” the woman said. “They work in a safe environment; there are no metal detectors or gang issues. They have no reason for fear and they only work nine months out of the year.”
That same parent said she would be more sympathetic for teachers if Lake Forest High School was the top high school in the country. “Maybe they would deserve a bigger raise,” she said. “But that is not the case.”
Finally, there is the perspective of people who don’t have a direct stake in the situation anymore, but at the same time, do not want to see the community hurt.
“It’s always so sad because nobody wins and the kids always suffer because of the extracurricular activities they can’t participate in,” noted Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander, a longtime Lake Forest resident who had four children go through LFHS.
He said the financial issues facing the District are a result of the housing crisis that has caused so much damage throughout the country. “I know because of the real estate meltdown of 2007, this is a ripple effect. The money from old times just isn’t there.”
Patch Editor Steve Sadin contributed to this story.