News & Politics

Mayor Lightfoot Issues Ultimatum to Chicago Teachers

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have sent a “final offer” to the Chicago Teachers Union on reopening the schools to in-person instruction.

“Yesterday afternoon, we received a counter proposal from CTU leadership and responded with our last, best, and final offer,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a statement. “We expect a response from CTU leadership today.”

WLS-TV is reporting that a tentative deal on testing and teacher vaccinations has been reached. But the sticking point appears to be “health metrics” — when schools should close down if an outbreak occurs.

With a deal that close, you don’t think the teachers would call the mayor’s bluff and refuse to budge on the health metrics issue, do you? In fact, the pressure is all on the CPS and not the teachers. They will take their own sweet time in making a deal, forcing Lightfoot and the CPS to sweat it out.

In an open letter sent Thursday morning, the CTU said, “We cannot return to in-person instruction until we have made more progress with the district on CDC-based health metrics, allowing educators with medically vulnerable family members to continue to teach remotely, and addressing real equity needs for the vast majority of our students – particularly Black and Latinx students who continue to learn remotely.”

Lightfoot said negotiations took a “series of steps backward” Wednesday after taking several steps forward on issues like testing and teacher vaccinations.

She said the city “waited for hours” for a proposal on other issues from the CTU that never came.

It’s unreal that the union would play with kids’ education this way. Are they educators? Or radical activists?

“It bothers me that we continue to see people disregarding what the scientists, such as Dr. Fauci, Dr. Arwady, are saying, and even as early as yesterday, the head of the CDC,” [CPS CEO Janice] Jackson said.

The district has agreed to vaccinate 1,500 CTU members a week. But CTU is asking the number to increase as more vaccine becomes available.

“We are dedicated to getting this group vaccinated but I want to reinforce that vaccination is not required for safe school reopening,” said Dr. Allison Arwady of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Jackson is a fool. This isn’t about “science” — it’s about politics. The union couldn’t care less what Fauci or any scientist says. They want guarantees that their members will not be at risk. They want everyone in their union vaccinated yesterday. They want minority kids to get extra instruction. And they don’t want any risk for vulnerable family members of teachers.

They’re willing to hold a strike vote to achieve their ends.

People are at risk if they walk out the door. The schools have spent $100 million to comply with national recommendations on how to keep kids safe in class. Black and Latino kids are falling even further behind by keeping the schools closed to in-person instruction. But none of this matters to the teachers who have negotiated to get vaccinated ahead of vulnerable Americans who are 65 and older.

Teachers’ unions in other cities are watching carefully. And as the CPS caves in to demand after demand, other unions will take note of that success and look to imitate it elsewhere.