CHICAGO—CTU President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot promised today to bring in more CPS case managers, 250 more nurses and 200 more social workers over the next five years. CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates is also available to provide reaction. Please contact Chris Geovanis at firstname.lastname@example.org, direct at 312-329-6250 or via mobile at 312-446-4939 to follow up. Sharkey’s statement follows:
“Chicagoans voted for a candidate that said she would transform our public education system. As the mayor, Lightfoot has yet to provide any real commitment to that type of transformation. Today’s announcement triggers more questions than relief.”
“Will these individuals be fully licensed and certified school professionals? Will these individuals be staffed by outside companies with zero accountability to students, parents, faculty or staff? Will we be able to see these individuals on day one or in year five? Is this a fixed commitment to increasing wrap-around services or is this an opening offer? Are there loopholes in these promises that will give the mayor the opportunity to renege in year five?
Still absent from either her press release or her bargaining proposals are any discussion on class size, the expansion of sustainable community schools, school librarians, restorative justice coordinators, job stability and salary proposals for our low-wage teacher assistants and school clerks.
“At the bargaining table, CPS must provide an agreement that ensures that the mayor will not use privatization to meet these critical staffing needs—because we’ve learned over the last decade that privatization has instead undermined vital services and been used as a tool to eliminate living wage work for Black women in CPS. We have invited the mayor and her hand-picked board of education to participate in an open bargaining session where we are able to discuss the details of proposals from CTU and CPS in the open and not at selective, ‘invite-only’ tables. So far, we’ve been rebuffed.
“We look forward to having a substantive and productive conversation at the bargaining table about our demands to address CPS’ dire shortage of school nurses, counselors, social workers, case managers and other critical front-line workers—a conversation the mayor’s bargaining team has rejected to date. The staffing commitment the mayor made today still falls far short of the sweeping need in our schools—and they must be supported not by a press release or a public pledge but by a real commitment in revenue and a legally binding agreement with the CTU on behalf of the students for whom we advocate.
“There is simply no other way to hold CPS and the mayor’s office accountable for promises made—but still unfulfilled—for our students.
“We’ve been down this path of unfulfilled promises before with the previous mayor, who promised to expand early childhood education and improve special education—when today parents struggle even more to access these services for their children.
“Instead of ‘studying’ the landmark legislation that transformed school funding in Illinois and prioritized funding for smaller class sizes, bilingual education, special education and wrap around services, the mayor should immediately put an end to CPS’ distorted and racist school funding formula—student based budgeting. This current funding scheme does precisely the opposite of the evidence-based funding model embedded in state law. She can also secure progressive revenue for our schools today. She can start by moving to reinstate the corporate head tax that her predecessor eliminated, reform the city’s unethical TIF practices, cancel immoral deals like Lincoln Yards that serve the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us, and redirect the resources for these elitist projects to our school communities.”