Chicago Teachers Union to Strike Against In-Person Learning

Students in fifth grade wear masks as they wait for their teacher in the classroom at Oak Terrace Elementary School in Highwood, Ill., part of the North Shore school district, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. An analysis conducted by The Associated Press and Chalkbeat shows that race is a strong …
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Teachers have quickly become the one American profession in which they strike not to return to work, as is the case in Chicago, where their union has voted against in-person learning.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted 73 percent in favor of not returning to in-person learning until the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) met their demands for safer coronavirus conditions such as more testing, on-site vaccination clinics, and ventilation.

“Testing, contact tracing and vaccination efforts by [Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot] administration have been an abject failure,” CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates told CNN. “Our mayor … is failing our students. We want a plan that looks like, that sounds like safety.”

Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Pedro Martinez have both expressed a desire to return to in-person learning.

“We need to keep our kids in schools, which is what we’re going to do in Chicago,” Lightfoot told CNBC on Monday, dismissing the concerns as “saber-rattling by teachers union leadership.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday he has no plans to implement statewide remote learning, adding that children should be in school.

“I’ve said all along that it’s better for our students to have them in class,” he said. “But safely, and so that’s why we’ve provided and offered testing and we’ve offered and provided more vaccinations. And so we hope that school districts across the state will take us up on that. Many have.”

As noted by Chalkboard Review, the CTU stalled in-person learning in December of 2020 when “the union published a laundry list of demands that the city had to meet before the union would agree to return to in-person work.”

In a statement on Tuesday night, the CTU told parents that the union values their children as if they were their own while emphasizing their desire to safely return to in-person learning.

“To be clear: Educators of this city want to be in buildings with their students. We believe that classrooms are where our children should be. But as the results tonight show, Mayor Lightfoot and her CPS team have yet to provide safety for the overwhelming majority of schools,” the statement said.

“Thousands of our members are CPS parents. To other parents and guardians of this city, we want you to know that when you put your children in our care, we put their well-being and safety first. We fight for your children like they are our own, because when we teach, they are,” it added.

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