Since I work in the schools in Chicago, I think it might be timely to trace the history of labor movements in Chicago. The current teacher strike is part of a larger picture and long history of Chicagoans being at the heart of movements that have led to better working and learning conditions for everyone. I’ve included web links that are student-friendly to grades 4-12, essential questions and transferable concepts (vocabulary) that can be used during discussions, and relevant Common Core Standards.
- In 1867, tired of 12 to 14 hour days at work, six days a week, workers shut the city down for a week, striking and demanding an eight-hour work day. See http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/417.html.
- In the early 20th century, Jane Addams and other activists connected to the Hull House were leading advocates in the movement to end child labor and to ensure the education of children. See http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/279.html.
- Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle about working conditions and sanitation at meat packinghouses in Chicago led to a quicker passage of 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act. See http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/679.html.
- In 1963, thousands of students boycotted CPS schools – protesting segregation and poor learning conditions for minority students. See http://facingfreedom.org/public-protest/school-boycott.
Essential questions that could be posed during discussions of these events might include:
- What are the similarities between these events and the current CPS strike or other current labor movements around the world? What important questions do these similarities pose for us to consider? Why?
- From whose perspective are the informational texts on these topics written? Why does this make a difference? Whose voices should we also listen to regarding these events? Why?
- What does it take to make change happen in society? What is evidence from history that supports this theory?
Transferable concepts (key vocabulary, too) that could be introduced & tapped:
Strategic thinking Ethics
Common Core connections – Reading Standards for Informational Text –
- Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas or concepts in a historical text based on specific information in the text. (5th grade)
- Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories). (8th grade)
Just a final note – the content of this blog was inspired by a blog by Xian Barrett, a CPS educator, on why he’s striking – http://chiteacherx.blogspot.com/2012/09/why-im-striking-jcb.html. Thank you, Xian.