Over the years, Chicago Teachers Union has made progress for schools and students

I’m no fan of the current acrimonious CTU leadership, a retired Lake View educator writes. But let’s not forget the gains the union has made, and the conservative forces that want to destroy public schools.

SHARE Over the years, Chicago Teachers Union has made progress for schools and students
A teacher holds a sign as a Chicago Teachers Union car caravan against reopening schools drives outside City Hall on Jan. 5, 2022.

A teacher holds a sign as a Chicago Teachers Union car caravan against reopening schools drives outside City Hall on Jan. 5, 2022.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

In the last few weeks Chicago papers have had editorials blasting Chicago Public Schools’ poor performance and declining enrollment, a result of the Chicago Teachers Union. Such writings praise individual teachers, but criticize the CTU. The teachers are the CTU! Let’s respect the teachers enough not to see them as a flock of sheep.

I am no fan of the current union leadership ... too acrimonious for me. However, over the years, the CTU has made gains to benefit teachers, schools and ultimately students. The CTU has been blamed for keeping schools closed during the pandemic. It’s never wrong to make a decision based on maintaining health and safety. If you’ve worked in a school, you know that working with 30 6-year-olds who may sneeze in your face is not the same as working in an office with 30 adults.

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The CTU has been blamed for declining enrollment in CPS and the exodus of families in the last 20 years. This criticism ignores the razing of public housing, increased gentrification in many neighborhoods and reduced population around schools closed by the Rahm Emanuel administration.

Charters, the perceived solution, are quite varied. Charters are popular in Black and brown neighborhoods because they only exist in these areas. I haven’t seen any charters in Lincoln Park or Lake View. And what quality control is there for charters?

Advocates will say “the market decides.” It’s a luxury for charters to choose their students. Neighborhood public schools cannot. Charters are seen as safer. They can remove “troublemakers.” Neighborhood schools cannot. Non-unionized charters pay teachers less, leading to more turnover.

Ironically, the anti-union, market-oriented Illinois Policy Institute would tell you “you get what you pay for.” One might surmise that higher paid, unionized teachers perform at a higher level than their non-union charter counterparts.

Finally, let’s be aware that there is a major push by conservative forces and their billionaire backers to dismantle public schools and their “evil” unions. School choice is their solution. Elite schools for the powerful, schools with dumbed-down curricula for the rest. Throw in some book bans and we’ll have a poorly educated populace that’s easy to control. Democracy? No. Is it fascism? Maybe not. But if it looks like a pig, sounds like a pig and smells like a pig.....

Bob Blitstein, retired educator, Lake View

EV industry isn’t ready

The electric car industry is kind of self-canceling, and funny to boot.

The thing is, gasoline-powered engines all burn the same fuel and fill up exactly the same Electric vehicles charge differently, have different plug-ins and none get the advertised mileage per charge, even when it’s possible to charge on the road.

I have absolutely nothing but great expectations for electric vehicles, but they have literally put the cart before the horse this time. Even horses have to eat before they work or play. Electric cars are expensive paper-weights if they can’t be charged at will at any location, whether at home or on the road.

Most of us remember driving before cell phones, but breaking down without a phone is terrible. Fix public charging and electric vehicles might have a chance.

Mike Zaczek, Orland Park

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