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Sunday Letters: CPS teachers have made many sacrifices

CTU President Karen Lewis, with Vice President Jesse Sharkey, reacts to the Chicago Public Schools budget Monday. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

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Since teachers have been asked to “share the sacrifice” to fund public schools, let’s look at the sacrifices that already have been made. I will leave it others to list the sacrifices (if any) made by the bankers and brokers who earn interest on money borrowed by Chicago Public Schools; the testing, publishing and software companies who sell expensive standardized tests and test prep materials to CPS; the charter school and CPS executives who earn six figure salaries; the private companies who have expensive contracts for services previously handled by CPS employees; and the politicians who receive campaign contributions from all of those who make money off of CPS. I will simply list a few of the sacrifices already made by the teachers and staff who have worked in CPS schools.

We are required by law to live in Chicago, so we automatically share in any sacrifices made by Chicago taxpayers. We pay our taxes, and like all city residents suffer when when city funds are misspent due to corruption or misplaced priorities.

We are not allowed to collect Social Security if we are in the CPS pension plan. We have sacrificed the security of our retirement by working for an employer who skipped paying into our pension fund for many years.

We have had pay raises that were promised in our contract canceled, even when we were asked to work longer school days and to work more days during each school year.

We have paid from our own pocket for materials for our students when school libraries have been closed and classroom supplies have been reduced due to CPS budget cuts.

We have gone into debt earning the certification and knowledge to make us the best teachers we can be. Many of us carry student loans that are not easy to repay on a teacher’s salary.

Yet the biggest sacrifice of all is one we tragically share with our students and their families. Violence increases when after-school programs, counseling services, special education, tutoring, and social workers are sacrificed due to CPS budget cuts. Since joining CPS, I personally have lost three of my students who were murdered before they could graduate. Nobody should be asked to share such sacrifices.

David R. Stone, special education teacher,

Gallistel Language Academy,

Chicago Public Schools

Bizzaro world

It is truly a bizarro world we live in when a millionaire politician who has fed from the public trough for decades, our ethically challenged mayor, demonizes Chicago Public School teachers and lectures them on sacrifice. Really, Mr. Mayor? Let loose with the millions in TIF money you dole out for your rich benefactors’ pet projects. Have them sacrifice for the good of CPS students and their hard working, grossly underpaid teachers. Stop pontificating and start protecting the integrity of labor in schools where you would not last five minutes as a teacher.

Edward D. Juillard, Morgan Park

Not a shred of sense

The DEA just announced it will not reclassify marijuana from its Schedule 1 status, leaving it in a category with heroin and meth.

Despite it being legalized in half the country for medical purposes, the agency cites no evidence of its medical properties being beneficial.

In one mere instance, it has more or less stopped epilepsy in children. I have heard multiple stories of families moving to Colorado just so they can get it legally for their sick kids. And what about hemp? Whole books can be written on its multitude of uses, from paper to clothing to food to fuel. It is a plant that could one day end deforestation and fossil fuel dependency.

George Washington farmed hemp, for crying out loud. For a plant with so many uses, one that will come with taxable dollars for the government to reap, it doesn’t make a shred of sense to continue to be obstructionists in this movement.

Scot Sinclair, Third Lake