In a major contract win, the Chicago Teachers Union has finalized the process for 30 Chicago public schools to receive a restorative justice coordinator, counselor or librarian starting in the 2020-2021 school year. Thirty positions will be added each year for the remaining four years of the CTU contract with the Board of Education for a total of 120 new positions, and are a necessity for Chicago Public Schools communities.

When considering what Chicago’s public school students and their families are experiencing right now—a global pandemic, remote learning, police violence and civil unrest—30 new positions don’t seem like nearly enough. But they were earned through collective bargaining and an historic 11-day strike, which wouldn’t have been possible without the strength and sacrifice of the CTU rank-and-file.

The following schools will each receive one counselor, restorative justice coordinator or librarian position:

Benjamin E. Mays AcademyRJ
Carter School of ExcellenceRJ
Carver GRJ
Eli WhitneyCounselor
Frazier International MagnetLibrarian
G.R. Clark ElementaryRJ
Gage Park High SchoolRJ
Gregory AcademyRJ
Hamline ElementaryCounselor
Hefferan S.T.E.A.M. Elementary SchoolCounselor
John Marshall High SchoolCounselor
John Spry Community SchoolLibrarian
Kanoon MagnetLibrarian
King ESCounselor
Laura WardCounselor
Michael FaradayRJ
Social Justice HSCounselor
William Penn ElementaryLibrarian/RJ

“We are so excited that the CTU and CPS joint committee was able to work together to identify 30 high-need schools that will receive either an additional counselor, restorative justice coordinator or librarian,” said CTU Counselors Committee Chair Lissette Flores. “This is definitely an historic moment, and our students will benefit greatly.”

The Union is thankful for Flores and other rank-and-file Joint Staffing Committee members who have secured additional staffing at a time when it’s needed the most. Due to student-based budgeting, principals have long had to choose between a librarian and a classroom teacher, and as a result, only 20 percent of schools have librarians. At the same time, many of our predominately working class students of color face trauma in their lives due to poverty, unemployment, unstable living conditions, the lack of health care and affordable housing, and over-policing in their communities.

Chicago’s public school educators and staff need to be equipped to address this trauma, which is why more counselors are needed. Because of severe conditions our students face outside of the classroom, they must learn to address their emotions in a safe, but meaningful, way. That’s where restorative justice comes in.

Our school communities require significant investments, which is why current cries for defunding the police and re-investing in schools, communities and Black and Brown lives are important.

Our city can ensure success for even more students and school communities if the Chicago Police Department contract with CPS was terminated and we returned $33 million to our schools. That $33 million per year the district pays CPD to police our students amounts to $90,000 per day. We could hire more than 365 counselors or social workers with those resources to teach our students how to manage conflict instead of penalizing and criminalizing them for their actions.

CPS will notify principals that its Talent Department will begin looking for candidates to fill each school’s chosen position. The Union will soon be inviting delegates at all 30 schools to a virtual meeting to learn more about this win and develop plans for organizing in their buildings.

Congratulations, sister and brothers. When we fight, we win! So let’s keep fighting.