Monday evening, we sent the interim CPS CEO and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago Board of Education a formal proposal for a memorandum of agreement (MOA) regarding school reopening in the fall. This proposal would set a baseline of 80 percent vaccination rates for eligible students and school communities, strengthen ventilation requirements, connect members in need of accommodations with CPS “Virtual Academy” positions and invest in school community needs.
In short, the proposal builds on what worked in our MOAs to reopen elementary and high schools in 2021 — and fleshes out what communities are calling for as part of every neighborhood’s right to recovery. It is built on what you’ve told us about what worked and what didn’t, what you and your students need, and what we’ve learned about the challenges that students and families continue to face.
CPS has the resources — nearly $2 billion in incoming federal COVID relief — and the window of opportunity to truly transform public education for hundreds of thousands of students in this city. But positive transformation that supports, rather than harms, school communities has long eluded CPS, and the district has never been governed with a will to collaborate with educators, parents and students. So it’s on us to lead at the table, and support the path that is right, possible and necessary.
The mayor and her CPS team must give stakeholders the agency they’ve demanded for years, with the resources to address needs that are more acute now than before the COVID pandemic. We don’t need marketing, public relations or graphics trying to “sell” us on lackluster proposals. The style points don’t matter nearly as much as the stabilization of our district and recovery for our schools.
Parents, students and community residents have been clear about what they need. They’ve spelled out those needs and the values that drive them in the #TrustLearningCare campaign. We’re taking those demands to the table because they make sense for our school communities, and provide a platform for broad agreement among educators and families about what matters most.
We’re scheduled to bargain this afternoon with CPS, where we will invite them to join us as true partners in advancing real equity across the district this fall and going forward. Again, our agenda in our proposal and at the table is clear: refine what worked well in our previous agreement, retool what didn’t and advance the equity agenda that the Chicagoans demand and deserve.
Our students and their families are depending on us, and we have support and trust across the city because we lead with integrity and stand by the people we serve. Please watch for regular bargaining updates and keep us posted with your input.
Finally, a reminder that 2,500 of our sisters and brothers in SEIU Local 73 are now entering day 12 of their strike against Cook County for fair wages, affordable health care and the dignity that every essential worker deserves. Their fight is our fight. Please follow their twitter feed and support their picket lines.