Dear CTU family:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 16 is PSRP Appreciation Day across the state of Illinois! Since 2006, PSRP Appreciation Day has been set aside to recognize the school clerks, teacher and library assistants, technology coordinators, hearing and vision screeners, parent advocates, ESL interpreters and many more who make our schools run.

We owe PSRP Appreciation Day to the advocacy of longtime Chicago Teachers Union members like Roberta Wilson (left), one of our most active and cherished retirees. Our PSRPs — paraprofessionals and school-related personnel — are essential pillars of school communities who students, parents, administrators and educators all rely on. PSRPs know what’s working in our buildings and what’s not. And, often they are the first ones called to step in and solve problems.

Many of our PSRPs are matriarchs of families and communities, mostly Black and Brown mothers, grandmothers and aunties, who love others’ children like they were their own. They are caretakers, members of church congregations, and supporters of small neighborhood businesses. Inside of schools, they care for our unhoused students, while also doing the “little things,” like reminding our babies to put on coats and sweaters before recess and dismissal. They answer the questions that no one else can answer.

Quite simply, PSRPs are the frontline workers in our schools. kept children safe during the darkest days of the pandemic and they are always there for our students and school communities, despite any challenges they may face in their own lives. We lean on our PSRPs because their strength is our union’s strength and their solidarity is our anchor.

In 2019, for the first time in our union’s history, we won salary increases that lifted the predominantly Black and Latinx PSRPs in our schools above the federal poverty line. We are extremely proud of that accomplishment — and determined to do more to elevate PSRPs in our next contract.

This Wednesday, school communities around the city will show special love to our PSRPs. Flowers, treats and other gifts and tokens of appreciation are just a reminder of the respect and admiration we share for our PSRPs all year long. Let’s make sure every day is PSRP Appreciation Day.

In solidarity,

Stacy Davis Gates, CTU President
Jackson Potter, CTU Vice President
Maria Moreno, CTU Financial Secretary
Christel Williams Hayes, CTU Recording Secretary and PSRP for Life