When Lori Lightfoot ran for mayor, she gave Chicago students, parents and educators hope that her administration would reverse many years of failed education initiatives and poor policy decisions pursued by those who came before her.
Candidate Lightfoot spoke of expanding access to childcare and support services, and the importance of early childhood education starting from birth. She promised to support neighborhood schools and make equity the hallmark of our district.
Those campaign promises mirrored the equity agenda of our movement—a mandate for public education in Chicago long before Lightfoot’s commitment to lead our city. Chicagoans support an elected school board, smaller class sizes, increased wraparound services and full staffing in our schools because we know this is what our students need to succeed.
Public school educators are now speaking directly to their fellow Chicagoans in a new video about these student needs. Their words, and what they are demanding from Chicago Public Schools, are the fulfillment of candidate Lightfoot’s promises of democracy, equity and the necessary support and staffing of school communities.
Our union began negotiations with the district more than six months ago. Based on candidate Lightfoot’s education platform, and her pledge to be an inclusive leader and honor parent and teacher voice, we should have a signed agreement by now.
Today, we return to bargaining to work toward that agreement. The last time we were in classrooms without a contract, special education was dismantled and educators were unjustly furloughed. Our members will not be forced into the same position again.
Next month, teachers, PSRPs, clinicians, social workers, counselors, nurses and librarians return to their school communities after a brief summer break. They deserve a fair contract with equal pay, adequate staffing, class size limits and social justice for their students.
Candidate Lightfoot has vowed there will be no teachers strike on her watch.
Mayor Lightfoot has a month to make good on that and her campaign promises.