Chicago Showdown: The Mayor Vs. The Union
Chicago Showdown: The Mayor Vs. The Union
The mayor of Chicago and the school district are drawing a line in the sand. Teachers either show up this morning, or face consequences.
Yes, this is Mayor Lori Lightfoot that we are talking about. After weeks of arguing with the Chicago Teachers Union over coming back into the classroom, the mayor is sounding like she is just DONE with this.
“All teachers, pre-K through eight and cluster teachers must report,” Lightfoot said in a press conference Sunday evening. “If you don’t have an approved accommodation, we expect to see you back in class. Those who do not report to work…we will have to take action. Let’s avoid that.”
The CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, Janice Jackson, made a direct reference to the “science” that the union is trying to hide behind.
We’re ready to reach a final resolution with our labor partners, but that won’t happen until CTU leadership acknowledges that public health experts — from Chicago-based medical professionals to Dr. Fauci — are encouraging schools to reopen. https://t.co/2QoBUaBU12
— Janice K. Jackson (@janicejackson) February 1, 2021
The school district already had to tell families to not send students to school this morning, because they simply could not predict how the negotiations were going to go. And she warned the teachers that if they don’t show up on Monday, the district will take action.
CPS CEO Janice Jackson warned that teachers who refuse to show up for in-person instruction will be kicked out of the district’s remote learning computer system, Google Suites.”
“My message to teachers is that we’re all on the same team. We all want the same thing, Jackson said. “We have to move past the debate on whether we should be reopening schools.”
Is it just me, or is anyone else getting a “fire all the air traffic controllers” vibe from Lightfoot and Jackson? They would be completely justified in doing so, but it is, frankly, shocking to see this kind of language being used by the mayor and the CEO. After all, Lori Lightfoot has not exactly been a stellar example of leadership in Chicago during the lockdowns. Anyone remember her haircut when salons were closed, because she was so important? Or her “Census Cowboy” press conference, where she asked everyone to participate in the 2020 census with an ice cream reward? (The cowboy caused her a political headache later when he was charged with animal cruelty for a later protest stunt.) Lightfoot’s tenure as mayor up to this point has been tumultuous at best, with Chicago crime and murders out of control, riots smashing up the city, on top of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. But I will say this: if Lori Lightfoot holds her ground and stands up to the Chicago Teachers Union, her reputation and legacy within the city will instantly place her within the realm of some of the better mayors in the city’s history.
And to not put too fine a point on it, columnist John Kass really did sum up the current situation in Chicago: this is a struggle for control of the city between Lori Lightfoot and CTU president Jesse Sharkey.
Shouldn’t Chicago just get it over with now and make Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey the mayor?”
He’s already the boss. And he’s the one acting like the mayor of Chicago. He dictates terms.”
There are things Lightfoot could do to show who’s boss.”
She could announce that she’s not going to pay teachers if they don’t show up to school. She could say that schools were opened, and teachers didn’t come to work, so she had no choice but to stop paying them.”
Lightfoot could say that they’re in violation of their contract, that they broke it by authorizing what amounts to an illegal strike.”
She could go to federal court and seek an injunction against CTU and force them back to work on behalf of the children who need them.”
I’m sure others will say that can’t be done, yet isn’t that what you pay lawyers for? I’m not a lawyer. Lightfoot is a lawyer.”
But I don’t want her to play the lawyer in all this.”
I want her to be the mayor of Chicago.”
I want her to lead, demand those children get back into school. I want her to stop taking slaps from Sharkey as if she’s helpless.”
Kass published his column on Friday. Did Lightfoot read it before her press conference on Sunday night, warning the union to show up this morning, or else?
Meanwhile, the Chicago Teachers Union, between Puerto Rico vacations and interpretive dance sessions, is not giving any indication of coming to an agreement. Instead, their official Twitter account is busy retweeting COVID panic porn and demands, along with the many complaints of teachers who say it is too much, too scary, and too dangerous for them to return to the classroom.
The mayor and CPS leadership say the past few weeks of in-person learning have been successful, but even CPS’ own data shows more than 100 positive cases of COVID-19 in buildings among both students and staff since Jan. 9. pic.twitter.com/CfQzKoa1Kq
— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) February 1, 2021
So we are going to see who makes the rules in Chicago within the next 24 hours. My guess is that the union will tell its members to not show up this morning. Mayor Lori Lightfoot will then have a decision to make: does she cave to the Chicago Teachers Union and their never-ending demands, or does she show actual leadership and tell the CTU to pound sand?
Chicago is going to become a national bellweather for public schools reopening. As the third largest school district in the nation, you can bet that all eyes – parents, elected officials, and teachers unions – are watching. If Lori Lightfoot – a hard left Democrat with heavy intersectional credibility within the party – stands firm, then it will be a signal across the country to all the other school districts in blue states: if Chicago can do it, we can do it. Goodness knows there won’t be any leadership from the Biden administration on this issue, so what Lightfoot does here really will set a precedent in other blue states. If she gives in, delays reopening, and makes more promises to the CTU, then there is no way that any other mayor or school district in a blue state will be able to force a reopening of their schools this year.
We are about to learn who is in control of the public schools in this country. And once we do, all parents who can, should make plans to never be held hostage like this again. And we must also fight for the kids who would fall through the cracks otherwise, trapped between the spinelessness of elected leaders and the whims of the teachers’ unions. Our students need caring adults more than ever right now.