I have lived in Geneva for over 13 years. After growing up in Chicago we moved to St. Charles when I was 16. There I graduated from St. Charles High School and married my High School sweetheart. We stayed in town and lived in St. Charles for a few years until finally moving to Geneva. Although there are always debates about which town is better and for which reasons, we have always loved Geneva. If life allowed, we would live here forever. Our three children are getting a wonderful education and the environment they are surrounded by is far and away better than what I had growing up.
So why the quick biography? Well, I am not trying to complete any "about me" pages nor am I trying to campaign for local government. I just wanted to express my feelings for the city that I call home. We have raised three children in Geneva and are very proud of the schools they attend and we always have been. Recently, however, our wonderful town has been divided by an issue that honestly, I never thought would show up in the same sentence as "we live in a town called Geneva." The Geneva school district is in open negotiations trying to either avoid or initiate a teachers strike.
As a matter of fact, it was only a couple months ago that the city of Chicago went through a similar situation. It was a citywide strike which caught many by surprise and angered even more. Then again, growing up in Chicago I am very familiar with teachers strikes. In the city's history there have been quite a few. It kind of makes sense. Chicago is a large metropolitan area with an overall lack of consistency across the board when it comes to the Board of Education. But here in Geneva, we are supposed to be protected from such things. Or at least that is what I assumed all these years.
So just what is it that brings such a "disconnect" to arise between the Geneva Teachers and our local Board of Education? Well, that is easy. It is the same thing that it always is when situations like this come up... money! I am not going to get into the details and specifics of the raging debate between the two sides. Doing so would only serve to alienate those who might read this article or at the very least anger some folks. I do not aim to do this. Not to mention there is plenty of specifics to be found on Geneva Patch. What I want to bring to the attention of my fellow Genevans is what is at stake here and what we stand to lose. And again, just like the cause of the possible strike is a common sticking point, so too are the people who will get hurt should this move into full scale war. The children.
Any time there is a strike in any industry it means that people refuse to occupy their posts. They plan to show those in power that if demands are not met the business will suffer due to the lack of productivity. It is a power struggle. The employees are trying to take the power back from the employers and vice-versa. They do this by ceasing all activities that create the product the company profits from. In the case of a teachers strike, that product is the students. Make no mistake here, sure the teachers teach but that is an intangible thing. They teach the kids and therefore it is the kids who are the product. If they do not have that education then the end result is a product that is missing some very important parts. Just like on an assembly line at Compaq for example. If the hard drive or network card is not installed in one of their computers, the end result is a product that is incomplete and will not work as promised. The same can be said about our kids in the event of a strike.
Now the strike has a date of Nov. 9th should a resolution not be attained before then. At least we are being given some warning about what will take place. I must also applaud the school district for their efforts to keep the schools open should a strike occur. If you ask me, and I know you're not, this says a lot about who we are and who we have running our schools. This is clearly the district acknowledging that it is not only the students who will suffer should a strike take place. I have not heard of many other places going through a strike and still maintaining a staff to ensure that the overall effects of the strike do not spill over into the economy of the community. I believe the district deserves a big "pat on the back" for making this decision.
So where do we go from here? Any time there is an emotional topic being discussed it is very hard for people to remain calm while expressing their opinions. This is understandable. I have likewise seen many comments from residents of Geneva (myself included) that are attempting to rally both sides and express their thoughts and opinions on the matter. Open discussion is great and I also applaud the Patch for providing a forum for these discussions to take place.
We must always remember, however, that we all live in Geneva and we all must continue to work and live together. Often times I am greeted during inclimate weather by someone that I would consider a "very incompetent operator of motor vehicles". When this happens my immediate knee-jerk reaction is to either shout an obscenity or to use some choice sign language to express my feelings at being cut off or worse. Thing is, something always stops me. What prevents me from turning into a road rage wannabe is the fact that I might have to deal with this person in the near future. When things like this happen it is usually easy to see the face of the other person, and they you.
So what happens when a verbal or non-verbal argument ensues and then two days later you are at the register paying for your coffee and the cashier is your vehicular adversary? See my point—we all have to live here ... together.
This is why we all must try and remain somewhat calm, civil, and make our best attempt to keep our common sense. We must remember that the children and their futures are what's at stake here and that nobody really wants this strike to take place. I know it is really easy to lose control when emotional subjects are the topic of conversation, but we are all reasonably intelligent adults and anyone who is involved in the conversation should be able to understand the consequences of it.
Teachers strikes are serious matters and so too are the reasons for it or against it. Hopefully we can try to educate our neighbors on the points of both sides and remain supportive. Not blindly, mind you, but supportive with a purpose. Whether you are supporting the teachers or the board we ALL must remember that we are neighbors and someday you might just need to borrow that rake from one of your neighbors.