Thursday, February 04, 2021


 James, this morning our union shared this open letter with Chicago public school parents as negotiations with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS leadership continue. We continue to work towards reaching an agreement that supports the safety, equity and trust every public school community in Chicago needs and deserves.

An open letter to Chicago public school parents from the Chicago Teachers Union

We understand the past nine months have been difficult times for you, and for our entire city. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that has taken more than 450,000 lives in the U.S — among them the lives of family, friends, colleagues and students.

These losses, and the fear of more illness and death from COVID, is the basis of our work toward a safe return to classrooms for Chicago Public Schools. Our teaching has never stopped. You’ve seen your teachers, clinicians, counselors, PSRPs and librarians working with your children since March. Our students have continued to learn, remotely, in spaces that are safe.

And that’s what our members’ fight is about — safety.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS leadership have unilaterally tried to impose a plan to return educators and students to in-person learning without involving our members, principals, students or parents. Unlike school districts across the country, and unionized charter schools in Chicago, CPS for a long time refused to bargain regarding its reopening plan. Yes, we have had 70 meetings, but for 10 months, we never had a willing partner on the other side of the table.

Initial CPS proposals lacked many of the basic safety elements found in other school districts, like COVID testing and contact tracing, health and safety metrics, and protocols for the inevitable school closures that will result from reopening buildings without control of community spread. It wasn’t until educators voted overwhelmingly to take collective action that CPS leadership showed some urgency about negotiating the critical details of its plan.

All through this period, red flag after red flag has been raised. We’ve seen CPS leadership fail to meet its own meager safety protocols, and fail to provide the PPE, deep cleaning and adequate ventilation it promised. Positive COVID-19 cases began to climb as just a handful of students and staff returned to our buildings last month.

Like our members, you have witnessed decades of broken promises from CPS, which have hit our most vulnerable Black and Brown communities the hardest — much like the coronavirus. More than two-thirds of families opted out of returning to school buildings. Perhaps you didn’t trust the plans in place, or perhaps the COVID threat was just too great. Parents in our most vulnerable communities have borne the brunt of this pandemic in every way.

We have won some agreements in the last week that establish real school safety measures we can hold the district accountable for, and that make a difference in the health of every student and adult who enter our buildings. Our unity, and solidarity from Local School Councils, elected officials, clergy, labor partners, community partners, educators across the country and President Joe Biden have helped move the district to make tangible progress that protects lives.

Mayor Lightfoot and CPS leadership mocked us when we raised the needs of families beyond the classroom, like support for rental assistance and investment in resources to keep communities safe in a pandemic. CPS has yet to provide any path for our families to access vaccinations through our school communities. The district continues to refuse to address challenges of remote learning, despite months of pleas from parents, students and educators, and has yet to provide a clear path for providing desperately needed social-emotional supports for students.

CPS and the mayor are still threatening to lock out teachers and shut students out of all learning if we don’t capitulate on critical outstanding safety issues. We sincerely hope that doesn’t happen. Thousands of our members are also CPS parents. We love your children. We desperately want to be back in classrooms with them, but we are not willing to accept the inevitable illness and death a reckless reopening will inflict on our city.

We cannot return to in-person instruction until we have made more progress with the district on CDC-based health metrics, allowing educators with medically vulnerable family members to continue to teach remotely, and addressing real equity needs for the vast majority of our students — particularly Black and Latinx students who continue to learn remotely.

Our members live in communities with the families they serve, and recognize the turmoil that this pandemic has wrought. Educators have sacrificed for nearly a year to bring learning, nurturing and care to each and every student despite the gravest obstacles. We’ve worked with parents and grassroots allies to bring mutual aid to school communities and neighborhoods in need. We want nothing more than a return to normal. But these are far from normal times, and we are prepared to sacrifice even more to ensure real equity and safety for all.

We won’t stop advocating, and we won’t stop fighting until we win what our members, our students and their families deserve: a school reopening model that protects us all and gives you the confidence to send your children back into classrooms to safely learn and grow.

In solidarity,
Chicago Teachers Union


Anonymous said...

Love seeing a union that takes a stand that the rank and file supports, and stick to it. I especially appreciate how they use their power to raise issues that affect students beyond the classroom.

Anonymous said...

LOL. So the dem unions are now fighting with dem leaders and dem president. The dem unions are refusing to go to work. Funny.

Anonymous said...

Inadequate framing. This is the working class taking a stand against their employers and the upper class those employers represent. This is what a union is all about. Party affiliation, for which Repub and Dem basically only determine what primaries you can vote in, doesn't apply. This is class struggle.

Anonymous said...

1135 you are right but... It's a class struggle that the working class right bowed out of. We're not aligning with flag burning leftists. Had the left focused on healthcare and banking reform instead of sanctioning violence against Trump supporters, we may have been able to unite. Too late now. I'd rather see more fucking billionaires and homeless people than align with the censorship loving left on anything. I'll pass my days letting the left continue to pay me well to babysit and pass kids who do no work.

Anonymous said...

flags are more important than providing housing for people? fear of being censored for anything at all is more important than housing people? come on now. realign those priorities. id rather there be homeless people is an inhumane stance on any subject. this is why it is beautiful that the CTU, as they expressed in the above letter, is also making rental assistance a priority. wish the same could be said for the UFT.

Anonymous said...

I’m embarrassed and ashamed at the utter cowardliness of teachers. I am a nyc doe classroom teacher for the past 22 years. They are as bad as the anti mask trumpers. Just as anti science and just as wrong. We heard everyone say trust the science, we now know the science says schools with masking are safe but Ofcourse that’s not good enough for many in the uft pajama brigade who love to collect those checks while kids suffer. It’s disgusting.

waitingforsupport said...

@James @11:35 and 11:02 :
Thank you

Anonymous said...

Just wondering how Eva Moskowitz and her Charter Schools would have responded to this ultimatum of the Chicago Mayor. I do believe all of her charter schools are fully remote—indefinitely—yet DeBlasio has a different set of rules for the NYC public elementary buildings—with very little pushback from Mulgrew.

Anonymous said...

To 12:50...helloooo, much of d75 is unmasked.that is why 2 weeks ago, I decided to go remote.i love going in and did until we had cases and QUARANTINED DURING MY WELL-EARNED ENTIRE VACATION.I was ok till we got multiple cases.dont paint everyone with the same brush.i would love to go back, but only when it is safe.UNMASKED STUDENTS AND STAFF ARE NOT SAFE

Anonymous said...

Eve Moskowitz is full of shit anyway. She was gloating when her first Senior class of 17 students graduated. She failed to mention that she had over 100 students in the program in kindergarten and lost 80% over the years. So technically she only had about a 20 percent graduation. She is all talk.

Anonymous said...

Spot on

Anonymous said...

12:35. Inhumane? Ok. I still want my fucking freedom. So yes freedom more important. I’ll give you the flag but not my freedom.