If CPS and CTU Can’t Get Their Act Together, Parents Should Get Their Money Back

The pandemic-related tensions between Chicago’s school district and teachers union are boiling over. 

Chicago Public Schools says the Chicago Teachers Union’s January 24 vote to not teach in-person classes until teachers are vaccinated is potentially “an illegal strike.”

“Our collective bargaining agreement includes a no-strike clause, and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has ruled a strike of this nature would be illegal,” the district said, according to NBC Chicago. “The decision by the union to remain out of schools and deny families access to in-person school is a decision to strike.”

The CTU’s members share health and safety concerns about in-classroom safety precautions, per the Chicago Sun-Times:

The key unresolved issues are: which teachers and staff who have a household member with a vulnerable medical condition are eligible for accommodations for remote work; the public health metrics that determine the reopening or closing of individual schools and the district as a whole; how vaccines factor in to requiring staff to work in person; and the scope of districtwide testing of staff and students.

But make no mistake, too many students are currently disengaged from learning because they lack proper devices, or internet connections, or training on how to use digital tools, or any number of other barriers. That’s the primary reasoning behind the district’s—and many frustrated parents’—push to get the kids back into schools, in person. 

But is locking teachers out of the (currently underwhelming) digital classroom over an “illegal strike” the right way to go? Brentano Elementary parent Jenny Ludwig was published in Chicago Unheard wondering about this very question

Parent Advocacy, another group of Chicago families hosted a press conference Monday afternoon on this topic. Check out the video below.

“My daughter is a preschooler. She’s 4 years old. She has been in the building for three weeks. We feel she is safe,” parent Willie Preston said at the presser

Parent Advocacy’s Natasha Dunn said families like hers will pursue whatever education options exist, inside or outside the CPS system.

“As parent activist, if CPS and CTU can’t get their act together, I believe parents should get their money back to be able to take their children to private schools,” she said.

Activist Tanesha Peeples had a message for how Mayor Lori Lightfoot could best help her constituents.

“We are calling on Mayor Lightfoot to create an equity commission that services the Black community,” she said

Be sure to follow Chicago Unheard on Twitter, give us a “like” on Facebook, and follow this space for more on how we can educate our kids better during this pandemic and beyond. 

Other Press Conference Highlights

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Rob Samuelson

Rob Samuelson is a digital media manager at brightbeam, based in his hometown of Chicago.