Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chicago Teachers' Strike Day 3--Books & Sites To Explain Strikes To Kids of All Ages

Strike a Pose!   Teachers, kids and parents band together in solidarity on the first day of the Chicago Teachers' Strike    

The first day of the strike, our 9 & 11 year olds were awakened at 7:30am by a nasal voice on a computer calling to tell us school was cancelled until further notice.   Did they go back to bed and sleep in?  Nooooooooo.   They promptly pounced on us and wedged in.   I took the snuggle time to ask them what they understood about the strike and what had been been explained to them.

Our younger daughter's teacher is a union rep, and both kids had been given a pretty good overview of the main sticking points--smaller classes (not 55 per class in high school if Rahm gets his way), basic libraries, playgrounds, support staff like nurses and counselors, fair pay for longer work days, and not selling our schools to for profit charters.

Since this is a great learning opportunity and so directly impacts the kids, I wanted to make sure they knew the meaning and intent and impact of the strike and didn't just see it as an extra bonus vacation.

We've compiled resources from an on line group and our school activist parent friends on how to explain strikes and the labor movement to a variety of ages. 

All Ages:
Wear red in support of the teachers.

Rallies are happening daily until the strike is resolved at 6am and 3:30pm outside of the Board of Ed 125 S. Clark Street

Come to the picket lines and walk with teachers or bring them some snacks.
Honk support when you pass picket lines in the car and tell your kids why.

Our Mama friend, Sabrina says: 

In looking for resources to talk to my child about the strike, I came across several excellent websites with projects, stories, games and songs about the history of labor in America for kids of all ages:
Short animated video "Brief History of Labor Unions."
Excellent simple explanation of labor history geared to grades 3-5, with games, songs and activities.
Extensive collection of resources including downloadable books, coloring books, puppet shows and activities for K-12.
Crafts and activities for the younger set about labor and history, with lots of stories.
How Labor Unions Work - a simple intro for older kids (and their parents) to how a union works.

Little Ones:

Read  Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type!   by Betsy Lewin.   

Amazon Says:
Farmer Brown has a problem. His cows like to type. All day long he hears
Click, clack, moo.
Click, clack, moo.
Click, clack, moo.
But Farmer Brown's problems REALLY begin when his cows start leaving him notes...Come join the fun as a bunch of literate cows turn Farmer Brown's farm upside-down! This package includes a paperback book along with a CD of country music star Randy Travis reading this New York Times bestseller!

Our Mama friend, Sarah says:   We LOVE Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type! The cows and hens go on strike (no milk! no eggs!) because Farmer Brown will not honor their request of electric blankets (it's so cold in the barn in the winter). It's hysterical, and simple, and I'd highly recommend it to all (even 2 year olds!).

Sarah also has opinions and insight on the issues:

This is the most amazing lesson in civic engagement, and political science. I want to teach my daughter about labor history, too, how little children used to have to work, etc.

Don’t forget: spread the word: the media is BASHING…and there was a LACK OF PARENTS at the two schools I went to, and the rally. PLEASE WEAR RED, and PLEASE support this strike!

REDUCE CLASS SIZE – The mayor has threatened to put as many as 55 children in one classroom!

PROVIDE SOCIAL SERVICES CHILDREN NEED – The school board refuses to hire more social workers, nurses
and other clinicians at a time when youth violence is skyrocketing.

INVEST IN ALL SCHOOLS – The school board denies funds to schools in low-income neighborhoods. Our students need equal access to high-quality learning opportunities in every neighborhood school!

SUPPORT TEACHERS AS PROFESSIONALS – The school board so far refuses to give your school’s teachers, paraprofessionals, and others a fair contract.

STOP CHARTER EXPANSIONS, turn-arounds, and school closings.

The Union leaflet says: smaller class sizes or at least enforceable limits, more social workers, counselors, nurses and school psychologists, more art/music/PE/world language teachers and playgrounds, a functioning recall policy, air conditioning and recess facilities for ALL students, an end to arbitrary school closings and appropriate supports for special education teachers and their students.

It's about way more than teachers salaries and benefits. This strike is about teachers standing up for children. I know Ash's Penny's Kindergarten currently has 36 kids! That's INSANE!!!!!! Seriously? This is SERIOUS SERIOUS SERIOUS. Rahm is BAD for children and education...not just for teachers.

Our Mama friend, Kit suggests:    For younger kids, I really like Si Se Peude Yes We Can!. and These Hands 

Mama Danielle says to check out:Animals Strike at the Zoo! It's True

Older Kids:

Our Mama friend, Kit suggests: 
For older kids, I really like Which Side Are You On?

We also played some labor songs. Ella Jenkins has a great collection of labor songs for little kids. Dan Zane's recording of "I Don't Want Your Millions Mister" is great, and of course we played "Bread and Roses" though I couldn't find a recording by a children's artist so we used Utah Phillips. 

Here at ChiIL Mama, we adore Ella Jenkins and Dane Zanes and have shot both of them in concert.    Check back with ChiIL Mama like we vote in Chi, IL....early and often for strike updates--personal, political, poignant and fun.

Please feel free to add your own strike related book, song and action suggestions in the comments section below.

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