A strike is not the same as picking up a spare

Simon bowling a spare in 2010
Simon bowling a spare in 2010

Yesterday I made a fascinating revelation: running on a treadmill is not the same as running in a real neighborhood. The pavement doesn’t feel squishy and bouncy under my stride, it’s a lot hotter without the air conditioning, and there are a lot more cars.  Plus there’s no handy resting place for my phone and water bottle.  My prep at the gym, while it feels good, isn’t quite setting me up to run a 5k as well as I thought it was.

Which reminds me of a funny parallel.

Substitute teachers are not the same as full-time teachers.  Especially when it comes to filling in during a teacher strike.  Now, before the complaining and attack begin, please don’t think I’m busting on substitute teachers.  And long term subs who do a month or half year or whatever else don’t count either.  I’m specifically talking about teachers’ strikes and substitutes.

And I know what I’m talking about.  Many a year ago, when I was at the bastion of totally crappy education, Columbia High School, there was a teacher strike.  We, the students, were told that if we didn’t go, we would get “chargeable absences” (which, ironically, is what made me drop out, but that’s another story for another blog).  Anyway because of the intelligent decision of the administration, we wound up in classes that weren’t classes.  We did word searches and crossword puzzles.  We took standardized tests, sort of.  You know the kind, the good old-fashioned “read this passage and then answer these multiple-choice questions.”  Boring.  Waste of time.

Sure, maybe those substitutes had something to offer, but they didn’t offer it to us, and there was no certainty when the strike would end or when we’d actually do something for course credit that was related to the course.  The strike in Chicago schools just reminds me that while it’s okay to offer students substitutes, there is value in teachers.  Teachers are worth what they’re asking.  You can’t just give students substitutes and expect them to learn, anymore than I can practice jogging on a treadmill and expect to run a 5k on actual roads.

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