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.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Cipolla's graph with the benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself and causes to others.

Have you ever known someone who was educated, well-spoken, and curious, but had a real knack for making terrible decisions and bringing others down with them? These people are perplexing because we're trained to see them as intelligent, but their lives are a total mess.

On the other hand, have you ever met someone who may not have a formal education or be the best with words, but they live wisely and their actions uplift themselves and others?

In 1976, Italian economist Carlo Cipolla wrote a tongue-and-cheek essay called "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" that provides a great framework for judging someone's real intelligence. Now, the term stupid isn't the most artful way of describing someone who lives unwisely, but in his essay Cipolla uses it in a lighthearted way.

Cipolla explains his theory of intelligence through five basic laws and a matrix that he belives applies to everyone.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."