‘If teachers aren’t going to school, why should we?’
By Denise Linke For The Beacon-News November 5, 2012 1:44PM
Students board buses after school on Monday, November 5, 2012, at Geneva High School. Should teachers strike on Nov. 9, school facilities will remain open and include "age-appropriate" activities, though attendance will not be mandatory. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 6, 2012 9:00AM
GENEVA — Would a strike by Geneva teachers extend the school year or delay graduation ceremonies?
That’s the question on many Geneva High School students’ minds as they consider whether to attend school during the possible strike, as the School Board has planned. Officials plan to keep all schools open during a strike, offering bus service, limited meal service and age-appropriate activities — but not actual classes — supervised by support staff.
“If attending school during a strike will affect whether I graduate on time, I will definitely be here,” said a senior, Marissa, who did not want her last name used. “If not, I don’t know. My parents are adamant about me staying in school, but they’re also worried about me having to cross picket lines. If I don’t go to school, maybe I can babysit some elementary school students whose parents don’t want to send them to school.”
Any strike days will not count toward the number of school days per year required by the Illinois State Board of Education, said Geneva High School Principal Tom Rogers. That means that if teachers strike for more than a few days, the district might have to add extra school days to the end of the spring semester, or possibly cut short winter or spring breaks to make up the lost days.
Rogers could not say if a strike could delay high school graduation ceremonies, which traditionally take place Memorial Day weekend.
That fact probably would keep many students home during a strike.
“I’d probably end up staying home,” said junior Stephan Hecht. “I don’t think my friends would come if there were no classes, and there’s no point if we’re just going to have to stay later at the end of the school year anyway.”
“Why would I bother to come here if I’m not going to get an education?” said another junior. “We’re too old to sit around being babysat. I’d rather stay home, sleep in and study for the ACTs.”
If a strike occurs, district administrators, nonunion instructional aides and secretaries would step in to supervise students, Rogers said. Bus drivers, custodians and food service workers would stay on the job, but would not supervise students, he added.
Some students said they’d probably go to school during a strike just to have some place to hang out with their friends.
“I’d stay home and sleep in for a couple of days, but after that I’d probably get bored and come back just because it’s somewhere to go,” said freshman Maddie Emma.
“I think I’d go to school and study from my textbooks, because if I didn’t my mom would probably make me do housework,” another freshman girl added.
And others said they’d stay home just to make a point.
“If the teachers aren’t going to school, why should we have to?” asked sophomore Ryan Ulin.
The next negotiating session between the teachers union and the school board is scheduled for today. For more information about the contract disputes, visit the district’s website at www.geneva304.org and the Geneva Education Association’s website at www.gea4students.org.