Chicago teachers strike to improve education system

CTU on strike
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

By Jerry Goldberg

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is leading the way in the fight for a decent quality education in major cities. In addition to demands for a fair wage increase beyond the 3.2% yearly hike being offered, the 25,000 teachers, on strike since October 17, 2019, have put forth demands benefitting the entire community, including:

  1. Smaller class sizes with hard caps;
  2. Hiring social workers, counselors and other clinicians; more class managers’ full-time librarians, and a restorative justice coordinator in every school;
  3. Comprehensive measures to ensure adequate time for clinicians and counselors and appropriate workloads;
  4. Hiring 1000 additional teaching assistants to achieve equity for women, Black and Latinx counselors;
  5. Hiring more Special Education teachers;
  6. Development of early childhood programs inside Chicago Public Schools;
  7. Focusing on culturally relevant curriculum instead of focus on testing;
  8. That the CPS declare support for expansion for affordable housing for educators, students and parents;
  9. Continuing the moratorium on the expansion of charter schools.

While the Chicago city administration claims it has no funds, in fact the city has paid $1.2 billion in termination fees on crooked interest rate swaps to the banks, $449.4 of that amount on Chicago Public School bonds. In addition, the City has used tax increment funding to divert hundreds of millions in tax dollars that are supposed to be earmarked for school funding to stadium developers and gentrifiers. The CTU has been in the forefront in challenging these tax giveaways to the banks and developers, and the Public School Teachers’ Public Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago has filed a historic class action lawsuit challenging the swaps (Case No. No. 16 MD 2704 (PAE) in federal district court for New York).

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