CTU Strikes for Support Staff


Ashna Satpathy 
Following the election of a new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, $1 billion in funding for Chicago Public Schools, and a new board of education, the Chicago Teachers Union finds themselves faced with the opportunity to have the demands they’ve been advocating for to finally be written into their contract. According to ABC 7 Chicago: “The teachers union is pushing for written commitments from CPS for more nurses, counselors and other support staff, which Lightfoot has been unwilling to do up to this point” 
Awaiting this contract, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) set Thursday, October 17 as the day they would begin their strike. They followed through with their promise, and CPS has cancelled school on Thursday as well as Friday (10/18), with the looming possibility of further cancellations. 
But taking away multiple school days, which will not be made up in June, could lead to unfavorable effects on teachers and students. 
Reese Salgado, a junior at Walter Payton College Prep, points out that the students at Payton “were supposed to take the PSAT on Wednesday, but since there’s a potential strike, [they] aren’t taking it that day.” The principal of Payton, Mr. Timothy Devine, sent an email to all students that should there be a strike, “there would be no classes and students would not be expected to come to campus. School would be open for any student who needs breakfast and/or lunch or who needs a safe place to be during the regular school hours, and all extracurricular activities (e.g. clubs, academic and athletic team practices and games) would be cancelled for the duration of a strike,” but he is “hopeful that CPS and the CTU come to an agreement.”
Reese elaborated on how the strike can lead to an early end to the varsity girls tennis season, as they are “supposed to compete in sectionals on Thursday, but if there is a strike, [they] won’t be able to compete and will be disqualified,” she also explains how this is especially troublesome for the seniors as they “will have no chance of going to state or winning at sectionals, so this is really hard for the team.”
Reese believes that “taking away days of school is more of an injustice to the teachers, because for students it just seems like a couple days off. For teachers, two or three days, or even a week, depending on how long the strike goes, out of pay, is a lot. Rearranging lesson plans can also be tricky” because after all, “if the union decides to strike, the teachers don’t have any option.”
Considering these setbacks, Reese notices her “some of [her] AP teachers are unsure if they want it to happen because it will disrupt their schedule”
A teacher from Hearst Elementary School, who asked to remain anonymous, said that “the impending strike holds a lot of significance within the city and will show how our new Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, prioritizes Chicago’s public education. All teachers want what’s best for their students which includes librarians, nurses, and wrap around services but there also comes a point when CPS has to recognize that the Mayor will not #PutItInTheContract if it can’t be upheld. I hope that bargaining can be settled before a strike takes place so everyone can stay committed to providing the best education”
After progress being made on Lightfoot’s side and compromise being made on the CTU’s side, it is still unclear what the outcome will be. While schools will be open for students that need a place to go, interrupting academic and extracurricular schedules will have disorienting effects on teachers and, as seen in the Walter Payton varsity girls tennis team, can have disappointing effects on students. 
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize those who are fighting on behalf of all students and teachers within CPS. Education has always been one of society’s highest regarded principles, and this fight may come at the expense of certain students and teachers for the benefit of public education at large.