For Parents Like Me, A CTU Strike Isn’t a Game

For parents like me, a CTU strike isn’t a game. 

My oldest son, Willie Jr., is in a big year in his life. We’re now about six weeks into his freshman year of high school. After  all the anxiety we had about how he would do in “big school,” I’m proud that he has gotten off to a pretty good start. But he is in the middle of truly finding his way, and there have been a few bumps in some of his classes. The last thing he needs right now is time off from school.

When my wife and I saw the temperature rising toward a CTU strike, we started paying a lot closer attention. Their reasoning just didn’t sit well with us, and as the saga rages on, it has only gotten worse.

CTU leaders say they are not striking about the money aspect of the contract. They say they are fighting for justice. That first part–not striking about the money– seems about right since Mayor Lori Lightfoot offered them a 16% pay increase, which would make our teachers some of the highest paid teachers in the nation

CTU Says Its Strike Is About Justice, But I’m Not Feeling It

On to this point about justice. Teachers have every right as citizens to fight for justice, but they are dead wrong to use a teachers strike to fight for their preferred affordable housing policy for the city of Chicago. They also contend they need more prep time and yet they have no real counter to the charge from CPS that that will result in less instruction time for students.

I even read a comment on social media from a prominent CTU delegate saying that they were “striking for the right to pee, a basic human right.” This sounds like a half-baked argument: unless they get more prep time, teachers cannot use the restroom. How is that justice? 

Kids across my neighborhood and many others like it across Chicago are already soldiering on through hazardous conditions. Outrageous and senseless gun violence continues to play out in real-time while our kids go to and come from school. 

Striking teachers in downtown Chicago.

Now they’re being used like tokens in a frivolous game of poker by the CTU. To be honest, this whole thing appears to be a case of sour grapes. 

CTU invested heavily in the recent Mayor’s race–to the tune of more than $290,000–and they have been bitter ever since Mayor Lightfoot soundly beat their candidate, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. 

News flash: CTU, the race for mayor is over. 

The children of CPS deserve teachers who are concerned as a union about the classroom. But these days, the CTU seems to care little about what goes on in the classroom. CTU leaders cannot stop fantasizing about what’s happening on the fifth floor of City Hall. 

Kids Across the City Need Teachers Teaching, Not Politicking

Like the majority of parents who send our kids to CPS schools, I support teachers. Yet I do not support this politically-motivated strike. My kids and kids across this city need adults making the right decisions. We need adults affecting kids’ lives in a positive fashion, and this political strike does the opposite. 

My message to CTU as an active and engaged parent of a CPS student: don’t lose me and thousands of parents like me. I supported the last CTU strike. I even took off work to walk the picket lines with you, because a Rahm Emmanuel-led CPS was not just. This time is different. I support teachers but not this phony political strike. Our kids need teachers doing less politicking and more teaching, at least during the school hours, please!

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
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Willie Preston

Willie Preston

Willie Preston is a Chicago Public Schools parent, a union carpenter and a community activist. In 2018 he ran for Illinois state representative in the 31st district, which includes portions of Chicago's South Side.
Willie Preston

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