CHICAGO (CBS) — With the Chicago teachers’ strike now marking six days without classes at Chicago Public Schools, at least one parent is urging both the district and the union to “swallow your pride” and compromise to resolve their disputes so kids can be back in school by Friday.
Jim Interlandi, who said he has two children at Augustus Burley Elementary School in Lakeview, wrote a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson, CTU President Jesse Sharkey, and CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, saying it’s unacceptable that kids have missed six days of class.
Interlandi said both sides share blame in the contract dispute.
“Please stop acting like freedom fighters or overlords,” he wrote.
While Interlandi said he agrees with teachers’ objectives of smaller class sizes and more nurses, social workers, and other support staff, he said the union should not be striking over those issues.
“I can’t possibly argue against those things, but to hold our children out of school to accomplish those goals is not right,” Interlandi said in a phone interview.
Interlandi said he believes the union is being disingenuous by saying they’re fighting on behalf of students’ best interests while keeping them out of school by striking over policy disputes.
“They’re fighting for themselves, and that’s fine, but be honest about it,” he said.
At the same time, Interlandi said CPS leaves teachers struggling to find the time to meet with parents and provide individual attention to students’ needs, given a lack of resources from CPS.
Interlandi said it’s not right that CPS has allowed conditions at schools to deteriorate to the point that teachers feel the need to go on strike to influence policies regarding class size and staffing.
Interlandi said he agrees schools need smaller class sizes, more nurses, social workers, counselors, and other support staff, but he said making those policy changes should be done through legislation in Springfield, or through the union lobbying the Chicago Board of Education, not through a strike.
“I don’t think that CTU has the right to hold our children hostage to accomplish something through a non-democratic process,” he told CBS 2.
Read his full letter to the mayor, CPS, and CTU below:
Dear Mayor Lightfoot, Mr. Sharkey, Ms. Gates, Ms. Jackson:
We teach our children that solving conflicts with others requires compromise and empathy for the other side. The strike has gone on long enough and its duration is harming students.
My children attend Burley School in the 5th and 8th grades. Our children need to return to school NOW and continue their education. Missing a full week of his fall semester is not acceptable. So, please set an example for the CPS students of what responsible, mature problem solvers you are and resolve your disputes within the next 24 hours.
To CTU: While I agree with many of the policy objectives you have (smaller class sizes, nurses and other resources in school) it is NOT for CTU to strike to accomplish these objectives. These things are a matter of the democratic process and it is not for CTU to supplant its own policy judgment by holding our children and their education hostage outside of the democratic process. It makes perfect sense for CTU to lobby, get out the vote, educate people, and all the rest, but striking is a compensation negotiation (and for working conditions) and not for policy decisions.
To CPS: The CPS experience for families is often not good. Schools are sorely strapped for resources. Parents have to step in where schools have traditionally had resources to do these things themselves. Teachers struggle to make time to have even short meetings with parents or to provide individualized attention to students because of the demands placed upon them. Teachers need to feel supported.
To Both: please stop acting like freedom fighters or overlords. It’s a comp negotiation. Please swallow your pride and get this done TODAY. Children should be back in schools by Friday. If this does not happen, it is a failure by both sides. Do parents get a tax refund for the week we’ve paid for and not had school? I think not. Get this done.
Thank you for your attention to the urgency of this matter.