The latest standoff between the city and the Chicago Teachers Union has created new uncertainty – and in some cases resentment – among parents whose children have now had three school years shattered by the pandemic.
Vanessa Chavez, who lives on the Northwest Side and has a daughter and two step-sons at AN Pritzker Elementary School in Wicker Park, said she co-founded the Hispanic Community Collaborative parent group after feeling her voice had been “hushed up and ignored”.
Despite the skyrocketing number of cases linked to the omicron variant, Chavez said she was comfortable with the CPS plan to keep children in school. At the same time, she criticized CTU for allegedly disseminating disinformation aimed at causing “damage”.
“My hope would be that everyone would grow up and decide to go back to the negotiating table and the teachers to go back to the classroom,” she said, though she doubted that would happen.
If children are kept away from the classroom for the next few weeks, she fears for her seventh-grade daughter, who she says has struggled socially, emotionally and academically with virtual learning. Additionally, she said keeping the children out of the classroom also puts a familiar strain on her and her husband, who both have to work.
Despite being a longtime CPS relative, Chavez said her opinion of the district has been soured by recent union strikes and the current CTU regime. A former Catholic school student, she said she was now considering a private school as her husband tried to convince her to stick to their plan to enroll children in selectively enrolled high schools.
“Personally, I’m done with CPS,” she said. “And it’s not because of the Chicago public school system, it’s because of the Chicago Teachers Union.”
Chavez is not alone.
An online petition that seeks to return to in-person learning criticizes the union’s latest union action as “a step in the wrong direction that challenges the views of public health officials and endangers the safety and health of our people. children ”. As of Thursday evening, he had received more than 2,100 signatures.
Meanwhile, other parents have expressed concerns that sending children back to school during the omicron surge poses imminent health and safety risks.
“We are tired that the CPS and the board of education [are] always make the wrong decisions, ”said Jazmin Cerda, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council parent organizer and Chicago Public School alumnus, in a recent Zoom call with parents and students. “They put our communities, our families, our students, our teachers at risk and they continue to ignore our requests.”
“If the CPS continues to stay in person, the number of cases will undoubtedly continue to increase,” she added.