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Young, blonde woman wearing a blue mask, standing in front of some green bushes, holding a pink poster that says: WE demand safety, health and equity.

Parents, community groups, elected officials join call to scrap in-person learning plan, demand seat at the table for reopening decision

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her handpicked schools chief don’t want to engage with parents, community organizations or elected officials about in-person school reopening plans any more than they want to engage with educators. But she has been hearing from them loud and clear.

Dozens of elected officials and parent and community groups across the city sent scathing letters to the mayor in October. The letters demand that she scrap her dangerous push for in-person school. Like the Union, our allies believe that equity and safety should be the guiding principles in any discussion about returning to school buildings.

Seat at the table

These allies argue that the people most impacted by the mayor’s decision — educators, parents and students — must have a seat at the table when those decisions are being made.

“We see no evidence that the district is incorporating teacher, parent and student feedback to create a pedagogically sound, developmentally appropriate, sustainable, flexible education virtually,” the letter from members of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) said. “CPS needs to work with, listen to, and incorporate into its guidelines, the feedback from educators, students and families who are dealing with the currently unworkable Remote Learning conditions.”

The groups stressed that the city and state are experiencing increases in COVID-19 metrics. Despite this situation, they warned, CPS has not made the additional investments in facilities equipment, policy and staffing that would make a return to in-person learning safe. Moreover, this is especially true for the Black and Brown communities CPS serves that are being ravaged by the virus.

“CPS is rushing into this hybrid plan the same way it rushed into remote learning and we cannot support it,” the letter concluded.

Elected officials speak

Elected officials echoed the GEM members’ sentiments.

“Not every community has experienced the pandemic in the same way,” they said. “As such, making a decision based on a city-wide measure for transmission may mean higher risk of spread in areas with high populations of essential workers, multi-generational families and those at higher risk of serious complications, thus putting students and families at risk.”

Elected officials signing the letter included:

State Senators

  • Rob Martwick
  • Antonio Munoz
  • Ram Villivalam
  • Omar Aquino
  • Celina Villanueva
  • Robert Peters
  • Jackie Collins
  • Bill Cunningham

State Representatives

  • Aaron Ortiz
  • Theresa Mah
  • Delia Ramirez
  • Lamont Robinson
  • LaShawn Ford
  • Lakesia Collins
  • Ann Williams
  • Margaret Croke (Presumptive State Rep.-elect)
  • Greg Harris
  • Kelly Cassidy
  • Lindsey LaPointe
  • Edgar Gonzalez
  • Kambium Buckner
  • Justin Slaughter
  • Marcus Evans
  • Nicholas Smith
  • Will Guzzardi
  • Jaime Andrade

Cook County Commissioners

  • Brandon Johnson
  • Dennis Deer
  • Alma Anaya

Chicago City Council members

  • Daniel LaSpata
  • Brian Hopkins
  • Sophia King
  • Leslie Hairston
  • Rodrick Sawyer
  • Stephanie Coleman
  • David Moore
  • Jeanette Taylor
  • Michael Rodriguez
  • Byron Sigcho-Lopez
  • Rossana Rodriguez
  • Carlos Ramirez-Rosa
  • Andre Vasquez
  • Matt Martin
  • and Maria Hadden

GEM Groups

  • Brighton Park Neighborhood Council
  • CTU’s Caucus of Rank and File Educators
  • Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
  • Cook County College Teachers Union
  • Enlace Chicago
  • Illinois Families for Public Schools
  • Kenwood Oakland Community Organization
  • Logan Square Neighborhood Association
  • Lugenia Burns Hope Center
  • Northside Action 4 Justice
  • Parents 4 Teachers
  • Pilsen Alliance
  • Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education
  • SEIU Local 73
  • Teachers for Social Justice