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Chicago educators return to school

By staff |
January 12, 2022
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 CTU members at school in Little Village protesting during the lockout.
CTU members at school in Little Village protesting during the lockout. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Chicago, IL - Members of the Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates voted to end a four-day remote learning action and return to school. The union announced today that by a vote of 55.5% in favor that the union would accept an agreement with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s handpicked school board.

Teachers returned on Tuesday, January 11 to get tested and encourage parents to sign their children up for COVID-19 testing at the school. Students returned the today for in person instruction.

Chicago Mayor Lightfoot escalated the action when she locked teachers out hours after the remote action began. CTU members were moved to act during spiking COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. The rising crisis highlighted the mayor’s unwillingness to spend federal dollars on testing as well as other safeguards.

Lightfoot appoints all members of the Chicago Board of Education as well as the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. The mayor has been more than willing to use these officials to do the bidding of big business during the pandemic. “Don’t bother me with the facts, just keep these schools open,” has been her policy as well as the policy of her hand-picked Health Commissioner Allison Arwady, the chair of her Board of Education, Miguel Del Valler and all the Chicago big business roundtable talking heads.

In the face of this CTU took action. They recognized the inequality in the system while they stood up for themselves, but more importantly they stood up for their students and their families. “For too long our Black and Latino schools have been given the short end of the stick and this pandemic​ has been no different,” said high school social studies teacher Saul Garcia, “I stood for this action because I went through CPS community schools and now as a teacher I have seen the inequities that are in these neighborhood schools populated by oppressed nationality students of color. A disproportionate number of oppressed people of color are the ones being infected and dying and our mayor still wants to say that our schools are the safest place for our students.”

The union fight succeeded in making some changes to increase testing, masking and the ability to move back to remote learning when extreme conditions hit. “It’s difficult to name a victory when we had to fight for the most basic protections. But fight we did! We further exposed Lightfoot and her team as being entirely devoted to the interests of capital despite the somewhat progressive platform she ran on. Sometimes fighting when the odds are against us and getting others to see the truth in stark clarity are the biggest wins,” said CTU Delegate Elijah Eilier.

The Chicago Teachers Union took militant actions to support students in the district schools and in the charter schools. They should be applauded as an example of class struggle unionism.

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