Reported by Katie Daviscourt, Seattle, WA | February 2, 2021
Democrat Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot made an appearance on CNN’s New Day Tuesday and former President Donald Trump for the standoff between Chicago Public Schools and teachers unions on returning to the classroom. In an outlandish statement, Lori Lightfoot said the standoff between the public schools and teachers unions were “because of the incompetence of the previous administration.”
“These are really difficult times in a pandemic, exacerbated by the incompetence of the previous administration that didn’t leave us with enough vaccine to really quickly get to the entire population in our city that needs it. But we’re going to keep working hard recognizing the concern that, really, all of our residents have regarding COVID-19,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot continued, “I think it’s important for both sides to come to the table in good faith, recognize that we’re both trying to work through a very challenging situation, but we must get a deal done.”
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have been trying to come up with a plan to return to in-person learning but have been blocked by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). The union is demanding that CPS and Mayor Lori Lightfoot “set clear and responsible public health criteria by which to honestly judge student and educator safety.” Among these demands are Personal Protection Equipment, smaller class sizes, support for traumatized students, COVID-19 testing, and upgraded ventilation.
CTU President Jesse Sharkey claimed that “CPS has stonewalled us for months as we’ve been trying to bargain enforceable safety standards for our district-run schools. We want our schools open as well, but we want it done safely, and not on the backs of the majority Black and Latinx students we serve.”
The most shocking demand of all is that the CTU wants the city to create better infrastructure for remote leaning instead of schools reopening. This is not surprising considering Sarah Chambers, an executive with the Chicago Teachers Union, went on a lavish vacation to the Caribbean while encouraging teachers to stay-home, claiming it was unsafe for them to go back to school amid the pandemic. While on her Caribbean vacation, Chambers threatened a strike if teachers returned to the classroom because ‘it’s unsafe.’
Striking is nothing new for Chicago Teachers Union. Chicago Public Schools hoped to reopen schools for in-person learning in January but CTU claimed that date is “arbitrary,” threatening a strike if schools reopened that soon.
Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson threatened to take away teachers tools and deny access to programs for remote learning if the teachers refused to return to the classroom. The pair has since issued a joint statement retracting those claims.
The union threatened to strike if they were denied access to programs they have been using to instruct students remotely.
Time will tell, but it seems as if CTU has no plans to send their teachers back to school anytime soon. Chicago Public Schools have been closed for in-person learning since March 17, 2020.