Upcoming union, city elections are a chance to end the CPS-CTU rhetoric

For so many of us who are affected by the decisions these top school leaders make, it’s our turn to express our approval or disapproval with both sets of elected officials.

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Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates speaks beside President Jesse Sharkey during Chicago Teachers Union’s press conference Nov. 2021.

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates speaks beside President Jesse Sharkey during Chicago Teachers Union’s press conference Nov. 2021.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

In response to Nader Issa’s balanced analysis about the state of education in Chicago, the next round of leadership elections may decide if fighting between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union stays the new normal.

Impasses, stalemates and political standoffs have become all too common between the two. Both sides talk at each other, but instead should do more to collaborate in the best interest of students. Can the current CTU leadership’s tactics lead to results that provide solidarity among union members but also benefit students and parents?

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There’s no question that education policy during a pandemic is complicated, but it is feasible to find solutions. Other school districts have. It is disappointing that district leaders and CTU bosses continue to have a hostile, confrontational and ineffective relationship with little to no progress for students who depend on both sides to find meaningful solutions.

It’s time leaders stop the incendiary rhetoric and other hard-line tactics that lead to more gridlock instead of better education. Union negotiating may require tough tactics but should never come at the expense of children and parents.

These times call for open discussions about how to balance safety with meaningful instruction, with flexibility for schools to have options for in-person, remote or hybrid classes depending on circumstances with COVID.

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The pandemic is a different time that begs for a balance between strong union demands and more collaboration between CTU and CPS. For that to happen it may be necessary to rethink who is driving CTU decisions, rhetoric and, most importantly, results.

Same goes for CPS.

The next election for CTU president and other union leadership is in May 2022. The next municipal election that will shape CPS leadership is in 2023. For so many of us who are affected by the decisions these leaders make, it will be our turn to express our approval or disapproval with both sets of elected officials.

Chicago is the city that works. Let’s hope union and district leadership can adjust with the times and collaborate for solutions while this pandemic remains a reality. Everyone who is affected by their decisions should definitely have a say in these upcoming elections.

Froylan Jimenez, Bridgeport, CPS teacher and CTU member

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