In a surprising twist in the ongoing battle between the Chicago Public School (CPS) system and the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU), Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot has taken the school system’s side in demanding that teachers return to work, as reported by Fox News.
The mayor’s demand comes after the CTU voted to defy the latest CPS plan to return to in-person instructions today, February 1st, in favor of continuing remote learning. As previously reported, the CTU has repeatedly threatened to strike and skip out on working altogether, remotely or otherwise, if any action is taken to force them to return to work.
At a press conference on Sunday, Lightfoot said that “all teachers, pre-K through eight and cluster teachers must report. 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.”
The mayor’s threat was followed by a similar warning from the CEO of CPS, Janice Jackson, who vowed that any teachers who do not return for in-person learning will be removed from the district’s virtual learning system, which uses Google Suites. Jackson’s statement said that “we all want the same thing. We have to move past the debate on whether we should be reopening schools.”
Lightfoot criticized CTU leadership for deliberately avoiding any in-person negotiations with CPS to work out a compromise, saying “we have been waiting on the CTU. Where are they? Why haven’t they come back to us?”
CTU leadership has mostly punted when accused of being responsible for the delay in negotiations, with their most recent statement saying that “if there is a choice to end negotiations, cause a crisis, or cut off 80 percent of students in the city who have chosen remote learning, that choice won’t be ours.”