Graphic celebrating national Teachers Appreciation Day.

As educators, we will receive well-deserved appreciation from parents, community members, administrators and colleagues this week during Teacher Appreciation Week. Educators should be appreciated every single day and we especially want to emphasize the love for our tremendous contributions on this Teacher Appreciation Day.

Thank you for the work you put in day after day for our students, for the way you reach out to parents and community members in service to your schools, and for the effort you put into showing solidarity with fellow CTU members — even after long days in classrooms.

As educators we are united to win and enforce the transformative contract that we and our students deserve. The highest act of appreciation will be to realize and meet these needs as expressed in our contract demands.

Genuine appreciation from Chicago Public Schools will require vast improvements to our working conditions, and we are in contract bargaining right now, negotiating for those changes. After getting an unprecedented level of input from our membership and spending months with committee members bringing direct school experience to bear on our demands, we have brought more than 800 proposals and the largest team of teachers and colleagues ever to the bargaining table.

Just last week, you probably read that we brought expert testimony to the bargaining table from actual practitioners that included early childhood teachers, elementary and middle school teachers, arts teachers and librarians about our first round of these priority demands:

  • A better school day, including equity between elementary and high school teachers and ample time for preparation and collaboration.
  • Expanded Arts education, with sufficient teaching staff in every school for multiple arts modalities.
  • Appropriate early childhood education supports, including more adults in the classroom, more opportunity for play and elimination of developmentally inappropriate standardized testing.
  • A librarian in every school, to support students’ love of reading and ability to successfully navigate the overwhelming media environment in which they’re growing up.
  • Green schools that address aging school buildings and facilities and that prepare our students for jobs in the new, greener economy.

And that was just the first week of bargaining!

The entire city owes a debt of gratitude to educators and CTU members. Because 94 percent of CTU members came out to vote in the 2023 elections and elected a pro-public education mayor, and because we built our profile and our power in the city through 90% member participation in our last strike authorization vote, we are in the greatest position in generations to reverse decades of underinvestment and outsourcing of our education system to private interests.

We are closer than ever to winning the schools our students deserve, but we must demand that Chicago’s business leaders and state legislators demonstrate their appreciation for the incredible work  we perform. Will the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago contribute to the housing needs of our more than 40,000 students enduring unstable housing? Will Jerry Reinsdorf’s Bulls and Sox organizations contribute to sporting and extracurricular opportunities for our girls, boys and nonbinary students? Will the Commercial Club of Chicago offer the funding our schools need, instead of its unhelpful Civic Committee programs to shut down and privatize schools? If you haven’t signed our petition to those civic leaders, we appreciate your signing now.

Will the state legislature take necessary steps toward fully financing the evidence-based statewide school funding formula? We would appreciate your joining your CTU siblings in Springfield on May 15 to let them know we’re determined to win full funding!

We know that educators have stepped up for our students both in the classrooms and in the streets and we will continue to do so.

For your constant leadership and professionalism, we couldn’t appreciate you more.

In solidarity,

Stacy Davis Gates, President
Jackson Potter, Vice President
Christel Williams, Recording Secretary
Maria T. Moreno, Financial Secretary and
the entire staff of the Chicago Teachers Union