They often say that teachers are the “real heroes”. Real heroes dash into burning buildings, they risk their lives, and they get results. None of that applies to the public school education system. Well maybe risking their lives, not because of COVID, but teenage inner-city crime.
Now that teachers’ unions are actually trying to close schools yet again, there is one teacher who is a real hero by coming to work.
One teacher, Joseph Ocol, came to his school despite a vote by the Chicago Teachers Union to move to remote learning due to a COVID-19 surge – which prompted the Chicago Public Schools to close schools and claim the union was staging an illegal walkout.
He believes he was the only teacher at his school today, and he showed up to plan and organize.
“There were no students, and I was the only teacher there,” Ocol said. “I miss my students. It’s just that this is a different situation, and I feel sad about this.”
So of course the union recognized his heroism. After all the union claims that teachers coming to work are risking their lives.
Ocol was expelled from the union for crossing the picket line on a one-day walkout in 2016. He also came to school, and held interviews, during the 2019 Chicago teachers’ strike.
This is what a dedicated teacher looks like. Every single Chicago teacher who refused to come to work is what child exploiters and abusers look like.
He said his focus remains on the kids.
“It is my duty to be with my kids. I joined CPS as a teacher, not as a union member. So my role first and foremost is to be a teacher, to be with my students inside my classroom.”
“My loyalty to the union ends where my commitment to the students begins. There are a lot of ways to impose safety measures and changes. You don’t dangle the plight of the kids or sacrifice the kids, just for your demands. I made a promise that I will be in my classroom, and so I came into school today.”
Can you imagine the guts you need to defy a union strike in Chicago? Twice. I certainly hope he doesn’t end up buried in a parking lot. Though the union may be hoping he just dies on his own.
A Chicago schoolteacher showed up to his empty classroom, despite battling cancer and a union vote to not return to in-person learning amid surging COVID-19 cases.
“Despite my battling cancer, I still have a role to play right now,” Ocol told the outlet. “I just want to make my life relevant somehow, the thought that I can still be of service to my students and I can touch their lives and make a difference in their lives.”
Can you imagine a twenty-something social justice crybully who claims she’s risking her life when an older teacher with cancer keeps coming in? And defying attempts to weaponize his labor to hold students hostage because, unlike them, he actually cares about the kids.
“I’m working for CPS. I’m working for the kids,” he said. “I’m not working for the union…This is not about money. This is not also about politics. This is about the kids. This is about the children; their future. This is about the parents. We are inconveniencing the parents.”
“I’m just one teacher trying to do his job; trying to take responsibility to be the teacher, an effective teacher, for the students,” he said.
Ocol crossed the picket lines during the one-day strike in 2016.
“I joined CPS as a teacher, not as a union member,” he said.
“I am doing the right thing,” Ocol said.
He said he did the right thing when he crossed the picket line in 2016 too.
“We’re losing instructional time. Kids are losing. I don’t know if we will be able to recover this – the lost time and the lost opportunities of learning,” Ocol said.
Being a hero means a willingness to defy the mob.