Chicago Teachers Union OKs Plan to Resume In-Person Class

Students back in class by Wednesday and teachers back Tuesday.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Students are poised to return to Chicago Public Schools after leaders of the teachers union approved a plan with the nation’s third-largest district over COVID-19 safety protocols, ending a bitter standoff that canceled classes for five days, according to The Associated Press (AP).
  • The deal was approved late Monday and aims to have students back in class on Wednesday, teachers getting back a day earlier.
  • The plan requires approval from the union’s roughly 25,000 members, with voting scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Union leaders acknowledged it wasn’t a “home run,” notes AP, but said teachers wanted to be back in class with students, Union President Jesse Sharkey saying at a separate news conference, “It was not an agreement that had everything, it’s not a perfect agreement, but it’s certainly something we can hold our heads up about, partly because it was so difficult to get.”
WHAT MAYOR LIGHTFOOT SAID:

“We know this has been very difficult for students and families,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a news conference. “Some will ask who won and who lost. No one wins when our students are out of the place where they can learn the best and where they’re safest.”

WHAT ELSE UNION PRESIDENT SHARKEY SAID:
  • Earlier Monday, Sharkey said the union and district remained “apart on a number of key features,” accusing Mayor Lightfoot of refusing to compromise on teachers’ main priorities, AP reports.
  • “The mayor is being relentless, but she’s being relentlessly stupid, she’s being relentlessly stubborn,” Sharkey said, referencing an earlier comment Lightfoot made about refusing to “relent” in negotiations. “She’s relentlessly refusing to seek accommodation and we’re trying to find a way to get people back in school.”
CTU President Jesse Sharkey (middle) discusses with reporters the union’s rejection of an independent fact finder’s report on contract negotiations with CPS. Nader Issa/Sun-Times
LIGHTFOOT’S ANTI-WHITE STATEMENT:

“If I had a dollar for every time some privileged, clouted white guy called me stupid, I’d be a bazillionaire,” Lightfoot told WLS-TV.

BACKGROUND:
  • Chicago’s school district—third-largest in the U.S.—boasts about 350,000 students.
  • Cheri Warner, the mother of 15-year-old twins, said the sudden loss of in-person learning has taken a toll on her family, revealing her girls “missed their whole eighth-grade year and it felt like they weren’t really prepared for high school,” adding, “They’re all trying to figure out how to catch up and it’s a really stressful situation.”