In the midst of the Chicago Teachers’ Union fight for better quality education for ALL students, a ratios lesson plan has emerged. It so happens that many forces–teachers, students, Chicago Police, nurses, national and international labor unions, a variety of local unions, numerous teachers’ unions, professors of education–have joined in support of Chicago teachers to protest the corporate model for education being pushed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his hand-picked Board of Education (which consists of no teachers and no parents with children in the public schools). In response to the swelling voice of protest and the clear understanding that teachers’ working conditions equal students’ learning conditions, and the clear understanding that it’s wrong to deprive resources to schools in impoverished neighborhoods and then close down those very same (“failing”) schools in order to open corporate charter schools. . . the mayor and board of ed have been trying to “control the message” in the media.
Of course Emanuel and board of ed have relied on the well worn message that appears every time teachers are forced to strike for better learning conditions, the message that goes something like this: “If they really cared about the kids they would be in school”…which translates: don’t try to bring attention to swelling class sizes or sweltering hot classrooms or lack of text books or lack of art or music teachers or lack of AP classes or lack of counselors or nurses (or the fact that most of these “lacks” exist in impoverished neighborhoods) or the fact that taxpayer TIF dollars are going right around schools into the pockets of wealthy corporations; just shut up and do as you’re told.
Among attempts by the mayor and board of ed to grab headlines with sharp soundbites, there came a hastily formed message that would cause most reasonable people to scratch their head and say, “Hmm, maybe they should have thought more about that one.” The headline reads: Principals To Union: We Decide Teacher Hiring. The short article, which includes a quote from Mayor Emanuel, indicates that 31 principals have signed a letter to Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis that basically says they should be able to hire any teacher they want to—they should not be required to consider teachers from a pool of those who have been layed off because of budget cuts or school closings.
Ratio Lesson Plan
This brings us to our ratio lesson plan. There are 681 schools in Chicago. Principals from 31 of those schools criticized the Chicago Teachers’ Union. To put it gently. . .that’s not very many. In fact, as a ratio, it’s a mere 31:681.
That means the ratio of principals who denounce the CTU to the total number of principals is 31 to 681.
You may find it expedient to express the ratio as a fraction in order to make it more portable. As a fraction the ratio is expressed as 31/681.
The fraction 31/681 is portable as-is, but it will look more familiar as a percentage.
You can easily convert the fraction into a percentage by setting up a simple cross multiplication equation. It goes like this:
This reads: 31 over 681 equals X over 100. To solve for X, simply cross multiply, and you end up with 3100 = 681X.
Now divide both sides by 681 and you get: X = 3100/681
And finally: X= 4.5
So…31/681 = 4.5/100 (which is the same as 4.5%)
Now, how is that “portable?” It’s portable because as a fraction (4.5/100) you can cross multiply it with anything under the sun in order to expand a conceptual grasp of ratios. (If you have the liberty of pursuing a rich, inquiry based curriculum the lesson can veer in ways that are fostered by student curiosity and input.)
Here are some examples:
1. What does the ratio of principals critical of the CTU look like in terms of a ten minute shower? It looks like this:
When you solve for X you end up with only .45 minutes. You mean .45 minutes as in less than half a minute? Yes, X is equal to less than a thirty second shower!
2. What does the ratio of principals critical of the CTU look like in terms of milk in a pancake recipe? Well, assuming 1 cup of milk in the recipe, and 8oz for 1 cup, it looks like this:
When you solve for X you end up with .36 ounces. That’s only about 2 teaspoons of milk for your pancake recipe.
3. What does the ratio of principals critical of the CTU look like in terms of books kids read for pleasure in one year? Assuming kids read, say, three books a month for pleasure, or thirty six books a year, it looks like this:
When you solve for X you end up with only 1.62 books per year. That’s not much reading.
It’s unfortunate the Chicago Teachers’ Union was forced to strike for better learning conditions. That’s what happens when the voice of teaching professionals is ignored. One positive outcome in addition to the gains that are achieved on behalf of ALL students in Chicago Public Schools is that the coalition of support that has joined the Chicago Teachers’ Union has shown that striking as well as organizing protests are effective tools to turn back the agenda of those determined to erode public resources.
– (Video) Overview of Chicago Teacher strikes dating back to 1969:
CTU Strikes: 1969-1987
– (Video) CTU gives overview of current issues in Chicago Public Schools:
The TRUTH in Black & White
– (Audio) Chicago students demonstrate support for their teachers in song: