Chicago Teachers Union members last week voted overwhelmingly to ratify their contract with Chicago Public Schools, following an 11-day strike grounded in the struggle for equity and educational justice.
While a linchpin in our bargaining was the demand to lift our paraprofessionals out of poverty, this was not a strike solely about wages and benefits. We returned to our school communities with the same pay increase that was on the table before our strike.
We fought, instead, to shift CPS policy away from a relentless agenda of austerity and privatization toward real student needs, and, by extension, the needs of the neighborhoods our school communities anchor. We fought for the common good of students, and CPS must now — for the first time in decades — invest in the bare minimum: a nurse in every school every day; social workers and counselors; and manageable class sizes, especially in schools with urgent needs.
These minimums are critical for CPS’ overwhelmingly low-income black and Latino students and their families. Our strike forced CPS to invest hundreds of millions of additional dollars into schools, an investment that will yield returns for Chicago for years to come.