‘We Can Support Our Teachers and Still Call B.S. on This Chicago Strike’

As the Chicago teachers’ union strike continues to receive national media coverage, I want to share a perspective on the walkout from a Chicago Public Schools alumna who sees the strike for what it is: a political move.

Tanesha Peeples, the deputy director of outreach for Education Post, supports Chicago’s teachers, but doesn’t support the teachers’ union using the strike to advance its political objectives.

Listen, I know and understand that the teachers are striking for smaller class sizes, more support staff and pay. And for the umpteenth time, I support good teachers and believe that they should be well compensated and work in comfortable school environments. After all, they’re public servants—they do the very difficult and selfless work of ensuring our kids are academically successful.

But I am talking about union leadership because nothing will convince me that they’re primarily striking just for educator and student needs.So, teachers, I’m not talking about y’all. Please have a seat—preferably at your desks so our kids can go to school.

Don’t get me wrong, they support and protect their teachers—good and bad—but their motivations are driven by increasing membership and power. They’re politicians.

First, let’s call a spade a spade—the CTU is salty because they put almost $300,000 into Toni Preckwinkle’s mayoral campaign for her to suffer an embarrassing loss to Lori Lightfoot. Now they’re trying to hit Lori with the big payback, make her answer for years of negotiations gone left with the former mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and flex their waning power.

However, the strike goes beyond a labor contract dispute. The teachers’ union is unapologetically labeling the strike as a social justice fight, which includes demands they legally can’t even strike over, according to Peeples.

Look, I’ll give it to ‘em, their messaging is very effective—and it would work on anyone who’s unaware of the union’s fickle stance on other social justice issues impacting the students for whom they claim to advocate.

Like, where was the CTU when allegations of sexual abuse against CPS students were running rampant? They were nowhere to be found! Jesse Sharkey—CTU President—had nothing to say, despite being contacted multiple times for comment.

Why aren’t they working with their teachers to reconcile concerns around implicit bias that parent Natasha Dunn says is hindering her kids in schools? Isn’t that a big social justice issue?

And before I go, listen to this craziness—the CTU pushed contract negotiations a step further to demand affordable housing for teachers!

As if we all aren’t drowning under Chicago’s ridiculous taxes and high costs of living!

Who’s going to relieve the rest of us from our bills? Better yet, what students will teachers have to teach when more Black families join the more than 300,000 who have already left because they can’t afford to pay taxes, pensions and $100,000 salaries for teachers? How is that social justice?

The strike is keeping around 300,000 students out of class and has left parents scrambling to find accommodations for their children so they can still go to work.

If the teachers’ union wants to prove it actually has teachers’ and students’ best interests in mind, it needs to stop using them as political pawns, Peeples continued. “We can support our public servants and fight the politics that ultimately undermine the interests of our communities.”