Dear CPS Family,
Our students are back in school!
I’ve been waiting and wanting to say this for weeks. We have reached five-year agreements with the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Local 73 that are both fair and respectful of our colleagues. Throughout this process, I have said compromise would be needed to reach these agreements, and that’s what we have—a compromise.
It’s now time for us to move past the acrimony, the name calling, and the outrage hashtags and get back to focusing on our young people. After all, we are one family with one goal—ensuring the next generation of Chicagoans are prepared for success and ready to surpass our wildest expectations. As parents and educators, that is our shared desire.
Our teachers chose to walk out of their classrooms for their students—not for greed or selfishness as some have claimed behind the anonymity of a Twitter account. Let’s put a stop to that myth.
My values have not changed since my days as a member of the Chicago Teachers Union. I know first hand how much our teachers care about their students, and it anguishes me to hear people question the motivations of our teachers. Let me be very clear, I have nothing but respect for the passion I have seen on the picket lines these past two weeks.
All along, I have said that I want what teachers want. I want our educators and support staff to be fairly compensated for their work and contribution to our city. I want a dedicated, full-time nurse and social worker in every school, every day. I want manageable class sizes. I want our district to focus on schools and students who need us most. This half-a-billion dollar deal delivers just that, and I’m excited to continue working with educators to fulfill the promise of this momentous contract.
Our parents and students have also been burdened these past two weeks, and nothing gives me more joy than to tell them that we can get back to normal. We have asked a lot from them. Families have had to miss work, figure out childcare, and perhaps most importantly, throw routines out the window. Like so many other parents, I’m excited to have my children back at school with their friends and teachers who love and care for them.
Over the coming weeks, I will be checking in on our school communities to help support the healing process in any way I can. We will also share resources for principals and educators to help foster positive and productive conversations in their school communities about the strike and its role in our democracy. Children have had questions for their parents about the strike, and they will come back to school with more questions for their teachers. It’s critically important that we, the adults, come together to rebuild trust in our school communities for our young people. This is an opportunity for us to make these past two weeks a teachable moment.
From time to time, families will have disputes, and that’s okay. What’s more important is that we talk about it, resolve it, and move on. Chicago Public Schools is a district on the rise, and we will continue to be a shining example of what is possible for an urban school district. Stick with us. There are more great things to come.
Janice K. Jackson, EdD
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools