Chicago Teachers Union Strike — Here’s What You Need to Know

a poster of Major Lightfoot with googly eyes captioned

Here's the Rundown

On Thursday, October 24th, it will officially be one week since the start of the CPS strike by the Chicago Teachers Union. Everyone has a lot of questions about why this is happening again. Is this just for better wages and benefits? How does this strike benefit the students? Why is the CTU striking in the first place? Or even better, how can I help the CTU? Below are the answers to these pressing questions.

Is This Just for Better Wages and Benefits?

Short answer? No. Long answer? Yes and no.

The main focus of this strike is not on better wages and benefits, although the staff and faculty working in Chicago Public Schools are underpaid. The focus is on support staff, such as school nurses, librarians, and counselors. Although this goes without saying, teachers, faculty, support staff, and basically anyone who works in a school or in the education field deserve to be paid on the same scale as doctors and lawyers are paid. These jobs are way more than just a regular 9-5. Not only do education workers need to be at school well before it starts, but they also need to stay after for professional development programs, tutoring, or extracurriculars, which they do not get paid extra for. On top of that, they go home and have to grade hundreds of assignments and papers on a daily basis. Not to mention they write detailed daily, weekly, and monthly lesson plans. Don’t even get me started on the emotional weight put on workers in education to not only be a teacher but also a therapist, a friend, and a parent to their students. The CTU deserves to be compensated for all of this extra work.

How Does This Strike Benefit the Students?

a tweet arguing that Chicago public schools are putting their students in limbo by failing to adequately provide them an education

First and foremost, if this strike succeeds, students will have smaller class sizes. CPS would no longer allow 40 students and 1 teacher in a classroom. Not only will this be great for the teacher (recall all of the work I mentioned that a teacher does), but it has been proven by scientific studies that students just do better in smaller classrooms.

Another big reason as to why the CTU is striking is because of the lack of support staff in schools. Students deserve to have nurses in school everyday, and not on a rotating schedule between different schools. If little Bobby gets sick on Wednesday, he shouldn’t have to “suck it up” because there’s no nurse in the nurse’s office to check on him that school day. Students should not only have a librarian, but they should also have a library in general.

And all of the support staff should get paid the same amount as their teacher counterparts too.

Why Is the CTU Striking in the First Place?

Like I previously mentioned, educators under the Chicago Teachers Union are striking for a few reasons. A big one I haven’t said yet? An injustice is happening, and the union is simply exercising their right to protest.

Students are not getting their needs met. As an educator, or even just as someone who cares about kids in school, wouldn’t you try to argue for a solution so that their needs are actually met? There needs to be more funding for special education, a bilingual curriculum, and even free CTA for these students. Think about it – if your child, who has special needs and requires individualized care, was put into a classroom of around 40 kids, wouldn’t you be livid too?

Chicago’s kids deserve better. Plain and simple.

How Can I Help the CTU?

a poster. It says,

Now that you’re just as upset as the rest of the students and educators in the Chicago Public School System, here are a few ways you can channel that rage in support of the CTU:

  • Be vocal on the internet

By using the hashtag #PutItInWriting on social media, you can share your thoughts and words of support with like-minded individuals in addition to the people who are actually striking.

  • Strike

Get out there and actually strike! Or, if you can’t do that, show your support by donating supplies like food to those who are striking all day.

  • Contact the Mayor

You can email Mayor Lori Lightfoot directly to voice your concerns via the email letterforthemayor@cityofchicago.org.

  • Food Pantries and Programs

There are some kids who rely solely on the food given to them at school every day. Since school is not in session, these children may go hungry. Here is a link to different food depositories and programs you can donate to and support to provide food for the youth in Chicago.