The Chicago Teachers Union strike is a big deal. This is what you should know.

Chicago teachers have had enough.

"We are frustrated; we are angry," Anna Stevens, a third-grade teacher on the city's north side, told Upworthy. "And our students deserve better."


Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Teachers in Chicago are striking for one day to send a strong message to city and state officials.

Stevens is one of the Windy City's roughly 27,000 public school teachers taking part in the April 1, 2016, strike — an "unprecedented" move by educators in the third-largest school district in America.


"We know that students need so much more than what we’re offering them," she said.

The Chicago Teachers Union's "day of action" is in direct response to abysmal state education funding and a local failure to manage what many would consider a school district in crisis.

Budget cuts have left schools grappling to make ends meet — particularly on the city's impoverished west and south sides — and teachers are fed up with seeing their students carry the brunt of the inequality.

The strike on April 1 included protests across the city, followed by a rally at City Hall, and a "shut it down" march in the bustling Chicago Loop area downtown intended to draw as much attention as possible to the education crisis.


Union representative Ed Dziedzic told DNA Info about a west-side school where students were forced to sit at desks with sharp edges that could have been from the 1930s. That school, like so many others in recent years, has since closed.

"What message are we sending to those kids?" he said. "That they are not worthy."

Art programs have been slashed, physical education curriculums have been tossed aside, and shrinking budgets have left educators like Gloria Fallon, a swimming instructor, teaching in unsafe conditions — there have been days where she's been in charge of 30 children in a pool all by herself, she explained to CBS News.

Teachers have been largely affected by budget cuts and labor disputes too.

They're currently working without a contract. After the previous one between the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel — not quite a hometown hero amongst Chicago's teachers — expired last summer, a new agreement has yet to be reached, leaving educators working with little security as the 2016-2017 school year looms ahead.

There have been unfair changes to rules regarding teacher salary pay increases, and teachers have been forced to take multiple furlough days in order for the district to save money.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The situation facing Chicago's students and teachers is tough. But it's part of a much larger problem when it comes to public education in America.

School districts across the country are "fundamentally separate and unequal," former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said last March — a reality that disproportionately affects communities of color.


Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

The stats back up the former secretary's claim. Across the U.S., districts in more affluent areas are funded by state and local governments at substantially higher rates than in impoverished communities. This funding gap is the worst in Pennsylvania, where the wealthiest districts receive, on average, 33% more funding than the poorest.

Disparities in Chicago are not the exception.

We should all be rallying around Chicago's educators right now because this is a problem that goes far beyond the Windy City.

And the good news is, it sounds like Chicagoans have their teachers' backs.

Stevens, who rallied alongside dozens of other teachers and parents, told Upworthy that it's been wonderful hearing input from community members outside the system.

"It was lovely," she said of the passing honking cars and outspoken supporters who want what's best for students and teachers. "Almost everyone was very supportive."

Bravo, Chicago teachers, for standing up for kids who deserve better.

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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