by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Chicago Teachers Union is responsible for the failure of staff to return to in-person work, the Chicago School District says.
On Tuesday, the district announced that 40 percent of its preschool and special education teachers and staff had not shown up for work this week. The district’s CEO Janice Jackson blamed the Chicago Teachers Union for allegedly pressuring staff not to return to school. Jackson said teachers who did not show up for work were told their absence was unexcused and could lead to disciplinary action, though she added that teachers would not lose their jobs.
Despite nearly 50 meetings with Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot (D.), the union has shot down every school reopening plan. At one point, the union decried reopening schools as sexist, racist, and misogynistic despite mounting evidence that school closures have exacerbated racial inequality.
The Chicago union’s fight to keep school buildings closed drew increased criticism after a Chicago Teachers Union leader posted a photo of her vacation to the Caribbean while simultaneously claiming that in-person classrooms are unsafe.
The district is hopeful that more teachers will return to in-person work in the coming days. Classroom learning for preschool and special education students begins on Jan. 11, and the district plans to bring kindergarten through eighth-grade students to the classroom in February.
I suspect this news offers no surprises to Terry Stoops, who’s been watching the N.C. Association of Educators’ efforts to keep schools closed in this state.
Consider this Carolina Journal report from September, when students could have been back in the habits of a new school year:
A group of teachers is prioritizing itself over students, experts say of recent tactics from the N.C. Association of Educators.
About half of North Carolina’s school districts are closed for in-person instruction, while the other half have students alternating between learning in the classroom and attending school online throughout the week. Starting Oct. 5, school districts can choose to let elementary schools fully reopen.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced the change during a Sept. 17 news conference. The NCAE, which is usually in lockstep with the governor, criticized the decision.
Terry Stoops wasn’t surprised.
The NCAE is more concerned with advancing the needs of adults than for children, said Stoops, who is vice president of research and director of education studies at the John Locke Foundation.
The NCAE’s goal exemplifies the inherent tension between teacher unions and student needs, said Jonathan Butcher, senior policy analyst for the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation.