As a parent of a Chicago Public Schools student, active Local School Council and Parent Advisory Council member, I support the teachers’ main reasons for striking. I remember dealing with similar issues during my time as educator. I know firsthand the challenges of striving to successfully educate your students when you are outnumbered. I remember the impossible criteria for receiving a paraprofessional to assist is by having a class size that exceeds 28 students for a consecutive of 30 days.
CPS teachers are not just teachers; they are positive figures to many students, who provide pathways to academic success. No one makes the decision to become a teacher thinking they will be rich and live a lavish life. Most teachers choose the career because they would like to give back to society and make positive differences, or because a special teacher empowered them and left a long-lasting impression on them.
CPS teachers are striving to maintain a safe and positive learning environment in the midst of experiencing students with behavior issues. I feel many social and emotional behavior complications could be resolved if CPS was fully staffed with social workers and special education teachers to service students with special needs and social-emotional needs. Therefore, I completely understand CPS teachers concerns about having a lack of social workers, support staff and resources that can provide our children with a thriving learning environment.
To Get a Contract, We Need to Stay Focused and Stop the Blame Game
I most definitely feel the city could do a better job with disbursing resources with equity. When I visit schools up north contrast to the south and west side there is a significant difference in resources such as technology, programs, and safe building infrastructures. I never understood why some schools look different and offer more advanced programming than others, especially if schools are funded on the foundation of equity.
I support the main reasons for the CTU strike. But some of the issues raised do not belong in the contract. Affordable housing being included in the contract is extreme. Chicago is a very expensive city to live, sho, and survive in, not just for teachers, but for everyone that is not wealthy. Therefore, I do not feel that CTU continuing to be on strike because affordable housing is not included in the contract is unnecessary.
Also, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is being blamed and forced to take responsibility for the previous years of mismanagement of school funding. I feel Mayor Lightfoot desires what is best for CPS; however, she is in charge of more than just managing funding for CPS, but for the entire city.
In order for both sides to come to an agreement, there will have to be a compromise with both parties. Neither side may get exactly what they want, but everyone should remember that educating our students with the best resources and adequate support staff is essential for the academic growth of CPS students.