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Tech cos shined during remote learning — now, CPS could outsource their jobs.

Technology Coordinators — tech cos — have always provided essential services to our school communities, but during the pandemic their roles were even more essential. During a normal school year, they are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

During the pandemic, their effort was heroic. We would not have been able to provide remote learning for our students without them.

So how does CPS respond after two years in which these vital workers demonstrated their value to our school communities? The district appears ready to outsource their jobs.

Excuse me, but this reminds me of “Groundhog Day,” where Bill Murray keeps reliving the same day over and over. We’ve seen this movie from CPS before and we all know how it ends. 

In 2014, then Mayor Rahm Emanuel privatized janitorial services — funneling millions to Aramark — and left our schools filthy. The district has used privatized nursing services for years, forcing nurses to jump from school to school leaving students and staff in the lurch when medical crises erupt. 

Then, in 2017, CPS launched the Kronos pilot with the ultimate goal of outsourcing work done by our school clerks. But we launched a union-wide campaign to Save Our Clerks and we won. 

We are now mobilizing to defend our tech cos. At its April meeting, the House of Delegates passed a resolution calling for the union to defend tech cos and marked Friday, April 29, as “Technology Coordinators Appreciation Day.” On that day, members are asked to send photographs and testimonials to CPS CEO Pedro Martinez and Board of Education President Miguel del Valle about the critical need for more, not fewer, tech cos. 

Right now, the district only employs 167 full-time technology coordinators. That means, in most schools, the work of supporting the technology students, educators and families depend on is done by other staff. Sometimes, it is teachers, sometimes other PSRPs. They do a yeoman’s job, but that work should always be performed by members who are specially trained for it. 

We needed more tech cos in our buildings before the pandemic hit. But with remote learning here to stay —  in some form, at least for the foreseeable future — those extra positions are critical. We need a tech co position funded, out of central office, for every  school. 

As CTU Recording Secretary — and a PSRP for life — I want our tech cos to know that they are as important to our union as any other job category. We will go to the mat to defend them the same way we defend each and every member.

That’s our union’s job. We take it very seriously. CPS may want to rerun this old movie, but we’re turning it off  — for good. 

Christel Williams-Hayes is CTU Recording Secretary and PSRP for life. Read the full HOD resolution passed in April.