Chicago Teachers Union votes to end standoff, agrees to reopening some in-person learning

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The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has finally agreed to a tentative deal for some of its teachers to return to school and start doing their jobs once again.

During a one-day vote held Tuesday, 68 percent of CTU members voted in favor of a deal reportedly put forth by city officials that calls for pre-k, cluster and kindergarten-8th grade students to finally return to in-person learning, but only for two days a week.


“Pre-kindergarten through 5th grade staff will return Feb. 22 followed by their students March 1; 6th to 8th grade staff will go back March 1, and their students return March 8,” the Chicago Sun-Times has confirmed.

The deal puts school workers on a fast-track for vaccines, creates health and safety standards and committees for over 500 schools, lays out a comprehensive testing plan and delays the return of most students until March — all measures the union pushed for in protracted negotiations.”

According to reports, the deal doesn’t affect high school students, who for the time being must remain at home.

Yet even with all the concessions that the CTU was able to squeeze out of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials, the union still remains unhappy.

“Let me be clear. This plan is not what any of us deserve. Not us. Not our students. Not their families. The fact that CPS could not delay reopening a few short weeks to ramp up vaccinations and preparations in schools is a disgrace,” union president Jesse Sharkey said in a statement after Tuesday’s vote.

“Yet the mayor and CPS leadership were willing to do even further harm to our school district to maintain that posture. That’s how much they care about real safety for students, their families and the educators and school staff who support them.”

Sharkey added, “This agreement represents where we should have started months ago, not where this has landed. That is a stain on the record of their administration. In a humane system, we would have used this as a beginning to build out real equity for school communities that had been starved of resources and equity decades before the pandemic hit.”

Note the unsurprising use of the Orwellian term “equity” …

This is the same union that recently claimed that “the push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism, and misogyny.”

Yet a growing number of minority families disagree with the predominantly white union’s radical rhetoric and have been clamoring for a voice at the table.

“A group of Black and Latino parents that has advocated for schools to reopen wrote in a letter to CPS and CTU leaders Tuesday night that they hoped the union would accept the reopening terms and pleaded for the district to offer families a voice at the decision-making table moving forward,” according to the Sun-Times.

Moreover, the actual data — versus the feelings of teachers’ unions — has shown that it’s school closures that have hurt minority families the most.

“When Covid-19 closed schools, black, Hispanic and poor kids took biggest hit in math, reading. An analysis of 4.4 million student test scores showed most children fell short in math — and the most vulnerable students likely fell further behind,” NBC News reported in December.

School closures have also been bad for so-called “equity.”

“School closures related to the current COVID-19 pandemic mean that students from diverse backgrounds who are more at risk of increased vulnerability are less likely to receive the support and extra services they need, and the gap between students that experience additional barriers and that do not might widen,” according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“Closures can also have considerable effects on students’ sense of belonging to schools and their feelings of self-worth – these are key for inclusion in education.”

The union’s stubbornness in the face of such facts has made it the target of widespread ire so intense that in some cases, far-left Democrats have resorted to quoting the same Republicans whom they otherwise “detest.”

Case in point:

Ouch.

See more backlash below:

In fairness to the union, nearly 14,000 of its 20,000 members voted in favor of the deal approved Tuesday. However, that still leaves around 6,000 or so members who either didn’t vote or who feel their “selfish” concerns outweigh the needs of children, including the minority children whom they purport to care so much about.

Meanwhile on the national front, the Biden administration is vowing to reopen “more than 50 percent” of K-8 schools (high schools not included) by April 30th for at least one day of in-person instruction.

According to White House press secretary Jes Psaki, this apparently counts as President Joe Biden fulfilling his campaign promise to reopen schools within 100 days of taking office.

Despite the administration’s bluster, it’s been incredibly defensive of teachers’ unions like CTU.

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Vivek Saxena

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