As both a father and an educator, I’m disgusted every time I hear a report of abuse in our schools. Parents and teachers have a moral obligation to nurture and protect our children, and the lack of resources and training in Chicago’s public schools make fulfilling that obligation all the more difficult.
Our school communities, and specifically, special education, have for years been chronically underfunded and understaffed in Chicago Public Schools, which has removed hundreds of teacher assistants from classrooms and put thousands of children at risk. This is due to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school budgets being downright amoral.
Despite our union’s repeated calls to meet with district officials about establishing a sexual abuse task force to address the lack of staff training, supports for students, clinicians, teacher assistants and other issues, we have been ignored.
Sadly, there is no evidence that anything will change. In response, we see cover-ups, surface level triage and election-year posturing. The fact that CPS did the bare minimum when it came to providing information for these recent reports of abuse leads me to believe that there will be no action from the district unless our union, its educators and the people of this city continue to hold its officials accountable for these atrocities.
This latest scandal begins and ends with Emanuel and his handpicked Chicago Board of Education, who continue to ignore our requests for collaboration and proposals for change, which are:
- Our school communities need additional paraprofessionals and clinicians
- Professional development must be regular and intentional
- The mayor must focus on students and safety, and we need progressive revenue to do so; his proposals to date (a few more social workers and case managers) will not fix our challenges
These efforts must be sustained, and not just reactions to crises or occurring during re-election campaigns. If our elected leaders and their handpicked sycophants can’t do the job of leading our city and our schools, then we need them gone. Immediately.