CPS should be doing everything in their power during a global pandemic to create stability and fully staffed schools, instead of once again creating destructive annual end-of-year chaos.
CHICAGO—CTU President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement to rank and file members on July 19 in response to CPS’ announcement of hundreds of layoffs for the coming school year, including layoffs that disproportionately target Black and Brown women workers.
“CPS should be doing everything in their power during a global pandemic to create stability and fully staffed schools. Instead, they are once again creating this destructive annual end-of-year churn. In this moment, it would be in the best interests of students to leave staff in place and seek ways to dramatically increase staffing at all schools for the fall, especially if Mayor Lightfoot and her hand-picked board of education want school to occur safely in person. Why allow layoffs to produce more chaos for students and hardship for educators who are needed now more than ever?
“CPS’ record-high staffing numbers for nurses and social workers exists only because of the CTU’s 11-day strike and the solidarity of students, parents, community and educators, who fought to force CPS to staff up these critical positions. Now more than ever, we need a full-time nurse and social worker every day in every school—and in most schools, more than one. CPS guarantees one counselor in every school, and it’s time they provide students with a full-time nurse and social worker in school every day. CTU also fought for and won 30 additional counselors, librarians and restorative justice staff for the coming school year—a number that CPS must increase to ensure that every school has these critical staff. We will need even more counselors in this moment, and we should look to re-allocate the $33 million the Mayor spent on policing in schools instead on additional counselors, clinicians, restorative justice coordinators, librarians, art teachers and other critical frontline staff.
“The Mayor’s decision to lay off PSRPs will continue to further rob schools and communities of the Black and Brown women workers who anchor our communities and live in the neighborhoods in which they work—just as we must have smaller class sizes to safely practice social distancing in our schools. Our schools need more support staff, more Teacher Assistants to help reduce class sizes, more SECAs to help high-needs students who parents recognize have been most harmed by remote learning, and more parent mentors in every school. This move by the Mayor and CPS does the opposite, and simply maintains a set of bad policies that continue to harm our overwhelmingly Black and Brown students.”