Kendall Tietz, DCNF
After the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted Tuesday to move to remote learning, citing concerns over safety amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, the union received criticism as Chicago Public Schools (CPS) decided to cancel classes.
The CTU’s elected House of Delegates voted in favor (88%) of a resolution to shift to remote education amid a surge of COVID-19 cases and the rise of the Omicron coronavirus variant, citing a lack of safety guarantees, a union press release said. In a membership-wide vote, 73% of CTU’s members voted in favor of moving to virtual learning, passing the two-thirds threshold required to enact the resolution.
Criticism swept in quickly, with Twitter users from both sides of the political spectrum condemning the decision.
Even Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the 1619 project, said “we have to be able to talk about the harms of remote learning in a society where vaccines are available for all teachers without being accused of being anti-union or anti-teacher,” shortly after CTU’s decision to strike.
Other critics accused CTU of putting politics ahead of the needs of children, especially minority children who constitute the majority of CPS students.
“Chicago Public Schools are closed starting today,” said Angela Morabito, former press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education. “The CPS student body is more than 80% Black or Hispanic. So, NEA and AFT, don’t you dare claim to be on the side of equity or anti-racism. You’re robbing these kids.”
“I can’t imagine being a parent whose kids go to Chicago public schools. I would be furious. Kids need to be IN school,” tweeted Kimberly Ross, a writer for the Washington Examiner.
“American children are starting 2022 in crisis,” tweeted David Leonhardt, a senior writer for The New York Times. “I’m not sure that many people fully grasp the depth of it.”
“11 pm the day before school begins, the teachers walk out. Shameful,” posted Rory Cooper, a partner at Purple Strategies. “Give parents their $ back to go elsewhere.”
“Privileged kids are doing remote learning today because of a large surge,” said Ja’Mal Green, president of Chicago-based homeownership firm AHP 75. “But Chicago public schools which is majority black is in person without meeting Covid-19 protocols. The word of the day is Privilege.”
“Chicago Public Schools are closing ‘for kids’ safety,’” tweeted Christina Pushaw, press secretary for Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Because the streets of Chicago are somehow ‘safer’ for young people than the classroom?”
“If Walmart employees don’t show up to work, families can take their money elsewhere,” posted Corey DeAngelis, national research director for the American Federation for Children. “If public school employees don’t show up to work, families should be able to take their children’s education dollars elsewhere.”
“The facts are clear: school closures are HORRIBLE for kids,” said Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy. “We can’t let children suffer because teacher unions don’t want to work.”
“This is not about safety, it’s about power and control – and that’s never been clearer. Kudos to Chicago leadership who have stood their ground to keep kids in the classroom,” Alleigh Marré, president of the Free to Learn Coalition tweeted. “Our schools must remain open.”
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