“There’s never any good time to strike,” Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, said recently.
Late last spring, when the teachers union was considering a walkout, parents worried about whether their kids would be able to take finals and graduate.
Now, with the union threatening to strike starting Tuesday unless they reach an agreement with the Chicago Board of Education, homecoming dances, field trips and city championships for a couple of boys’ and girls’ sports could be threatened.
Beyond school and extracurricular activities that would be affected, there are also national scholarship exams, early college application deadlines, state athletic playoffs that fall in mid-October, leaving high-schoolers potentially facing the biggest problems if there’s a strike, especially if it were to drag on.
“This sports thing is devastating for these kids,” said Lara Pruitt, who has a son and a daughter at Lane Tech College Prep High School. “The city of Chicago is ripping away the one thing they care about, the athletes.”
Citywide championships in girls volleyball and coed cross country are set for the coming week, according to CPS.
State regional finals for boys soccer players are Friday and Saturday. Girls tennis championships start Friday.
On the state level, once athletes miss a round of competition, that’s it, they’re done.
The Illinois High School Association plans to take up the Chicago schools situation when its board meets Wednesday, “which should provide some clarification on how we will proceed if CPS schools are on strike entering the final week of the season,” according to spokesman Matt Troha.
Those championships and state competitions often lead to college scholarships, Pruitt said, adding, “We’ve got some elite athletes that are going to lose some huge opportunities if you’re not able to go downstate.”
Margaret Steele, a Northside College Prep mom, is worried about all-state band tryouts, set for later in the week. Kids who aren’t in school can’t compete. Those coveted slots are another example of “life-changing events” that can lead to scholarships, Steele said.
Her older daughter, a senior applying “early action” to several colleges, already has requested transcripts and letters of recommendation — as the school advised doing since the staffers who perform those tasks are CTU members. But not all kids took that advice, Steele said.
Her daughter is worried about missing work in Advanced Placement classes — courses that could get her college credit — because those classes operate on an accelerated schedule.
School officials are trying to figure out how administrators might be able to help with applications if teachers walk out, CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said.
If students and teachers weren’t back in class by Oct. 19, CPS might be able to work with the College Board to reschedule the PSAT, taken by sophomores and juniors, Bittner said.