By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog
Duncan, who served as superintendent of Chicago Public Schools from 2001 to 2009, and said he’s hopeful both sides can reach an agreement Tuesday and end the strike, which has brought Chicago schools to a grinding halt over the past two weeks.
Duncan’s optimism was well-founded; Delegates for the Chicago Teachers Union voted Tuesday afternoon to call off the strike, which began Sept. 10. Teachers and students will be back in the classroom beginning Wednesday, according to the latest news reports.
“I think we need to continue to work together, and we need to get past the egos and the politics and the ideology, and the union and the management and everyone need to work together to create world-class school systems. I think there’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of districts around the country that are doing this in a thoughtful and, frankly, courageous way,” Duncan said.
Duncan also said he wishes there was less focus on the tension and drama between opposing factions.
“I’d love a lot more attention where folks are doing the hard work and showing the quiet courage, which is really taking education to the next level,” he said.
Duncan took the stage at ESU alongside National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. The two spoke for just under an hour before a standing-room-only audience of students, faculty and media, and fielded questions from a crowd of education students.
Questions spanned a range of topics, from concerns about inadequate funding and standardized assessments to retaining talented teachers and the future of education in the United States. Duncan and Roekel championed a need to increase pay for teachers and overall education funding.
“We think of education as an investment; other folks think of it as an expense,” Duncan said. “The fact of the matter is most public education is underfunded.
“I think this is the civil rights issue of our generation. I think the dividing line in our country today is less around race and class than it is around opportunity.”