Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Accuses Teachers’ Union of Holding Students ‘Hostage’

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JUNE 07: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks to guests at an event held to celebrate Pride Month at the Center on Halstead, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community center, on June 07, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. Lightfoot is the first openly gay mayor of the city …
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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said Wednesday evening the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) is holding students “hostage” by refusing to allow teachers to show up for work on Thursday morning for in-person learning with claims of fears of the spread of coronavirus infection.

“I will not allow [the Chicago Teachers Union] to take our children hostage,” Lightfoot said during a press conference, according to Fox News. “I will not allow them to compromise the future of this generation of CPS students. That is not going to happen.”

According to the report, Lightfoot denied a demand from CTU that the district require all “staff, students, vendors, and volunteers” to produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test before returning to in-person learning.

“We are not going to rob parents of their right and their obligation to tell us if they want testing or not on their children,” Lightfoot said. “It’s not going to happen. It’s morally wrong.”

In an interview with WBEZ Wednesday as well, Lightfoot said:

We love our teachers. We appreciate them. But the CTU leadership is a whole different matter. And we cannot allow them to blow up the school system because they decide that they want to engage in disruptive, chaotic conduct.

Pedro Martinez, CEO of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the third largest public school district in the nation, announced during a press conference Wednesday in-person learning would be cancelled on Thursday.

The union voted on Tuesday, with 73 percent in favor of not showing up for in-person learning until their demands were met for greater health and safety conditions in schools, including more coronavirus testing and vaccination sites, and ventilation.

CTU voted to teach remotely and accused Lightfoot of locking them out of their online platforms.

CPS subsequently cancelled classes on Wednesday and also refused to allow remote learning for students.

In March 2021, CPS readied to receive another $1.8 billion in coronavirus taxpayer relief funds as part of a nearly $129 billion K-12 education spending bill that was part of President Joe Biden’s massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

The bill was described by many as having provided “historic” and “unprecedented” federal funding to K-12 schools.

This outlay to assist with coronavirus relief was the third infusion of federal funding for CPS since the start of the pandemic, reported the Chicago Sun Times, noting the district received a combined $925 million in 2020 from two initial grants.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Wednesday during an interview on CNN’s Don Lemon Tonight she was concerned a failure to continue in-person learning “could just keep going on here.”

“And we’ve got to, at some level, learn to live with COVID with the appropriate safety mitigations in place,” Arwady added, contrasting that image with the “negative consequences” of “almost 100,000 kids disconnected from learning with the extended remote period.”


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