Lawmakers Fume After Biden Sides with 'Radical' Chicago Teachers Union

Posted: Jan 26, 2021 2:40 PM
Lawmakers Fume After Biden Sides with 'Radical' Chicago Teachers Union

Source: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

The Chicago Teachers Union continues to stage a standoff with City Hall after the union voted to reject in-person learning on Monday. The Board of Education had required K-8 teachers to return to schools so they could be prepared for a return to in-person learning on Feb. 1. But because the CTU didn't comply, the city has announced a delay to the teachers' start date to Wednesday in order "to resolve our discussions without risking disruption to student learning.”

Chicago Public Schools explained how remote learning is putting strains on students, both in terms of their education and finances. The delay, they explain, has been most detrimental to minority communities.

“Students in over 130 private and parochial schools and over 2,000 early learning centers across the city have been safely learning in their classrooms since the fall, and we must provide that same option to our families who, through no fault of their own, have been unable to make remote learning work for their children,” Chicago Public Schools said. “We’ve seen grades, attendance, and enrollment drop significantly for many of our students in recent months, and the impact has been felt most by our Black and Latinx students.”

President Biden, who initially said he wants to reopen schools soon, appeared to backtrack on Monday and said he wants to reopen schools as soon but as safely as possible. 

"I believe we should make school classrooms safe and secure," Biden said at his press conference. "Teachers want to work, they just want to work in a safe environment, and as safe as we can rationally make it, and we can do that." 

"I believe that we should make school classrooms safe and secure for the students, for the teachers, and for the help that's in those schools, maintaining the facilities," he added. "We need new ventilation systems in those schools, we need testing for people coming in and out of the classes, we need testing for teachers as well as students, and we need the capacity, the capacity to know that the circumstance in the school is safe and secure for everyone."

Republican lawmakers are disappointed that the president appears to be caving.

While the union argues this doesn't amount to a full strike, the CTU is no stranger to strikes, having staged one in 2019 that lasted two weeks.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board sounded off on the CTU's behavior in a new op-ed this week.

"The union," they write, "is taking kids hostage to extract more money from Congress with no guarantee that it will release them if it does."

Schools have already taken several precautions to make in-person learning as safe as possible. There's "no excuse" for teachers not to get back in the classrooms, the WSJ writes.