Parent Group Calls on CPS to Reopen

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

By: Ashmar Mandou

As the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools continue to clash over the return of in-person learning, a new group has emerged in an effort to give a platform for concerned parents. A newly-formed parent group in Chicago is calling on the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to open as soon as possible. During a virtual press conference, which included CPS parents and students, the Chicago Parents Collective insisted that in-school learning can be done safely.

“We’re not dismissing safety concerns of teachers, but health experts say schools are not major spreaders and they can open safely. They’ve had a year to figure this out. Our children have waited long enough,” said founder of the Chicago Parents Collective Ryan Griffin. Several other parents and CPS children spoke and shared stories of stressed children overwhelmed by on-line learning and missing social interaction. They pointed out that many private schools and day care centers are open and are not experiencing surges in the number of infected people. 

CPS parent Anne-Laure Justeau, a teacher in a public school in a Chicago suburb where she has been teaching in-person since October stated, “The first step for a teacher to teach hybrid is to go back to the school building. It was a little scary at the beginning to just go back to school but I got used to it. We practice social distancing, we wear masks. Now it’s just routine.”

A CPS 7th grader named Maddox said, “Remote learning has been hard. Although my teachers are doing their best, a lot is lost in remote learning. It is hard to get feedback from teachers like you would in a classroom. I often feel lost during lessons and have to catch up later.”

The parent group formed a few weeks ago when they started to hear talk of a teacher strike. Approximately 6 in 10 CTU members have voted to keep remote-only education unless their reopening conditions are met.  Licensed Clinical Psychologist and CPS parent, Dr. Kati Wax added, “In my opinion there is just too much shaming of people and putting people against each other, so I would implore both teachers and parents to stop the bullying and blaming, especially in front of our kids.”

In a statement to press in regards to an agreement between CTU and CPS, CTU shared the following, “It’s heartening that the mayor and CPS have agreed to continue bargaining tomorrow, Tuesday, as our members continue to teach and work remotely. We are not locked out today or tomorrow because of our members’ unity, their commitment to their school communities, and their fearless solidarity. “We don’t want a strike. We want to keep working remotely as we bargain an agreement to return to our classrooms safely. And we’re one step closer to that goal today, because management has agreed to stay at the table rather than escalating conflict or locking out educators.”

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