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Chicago Teachers Union Pushes Progressive Ideology in Negotiations

According to Stacy Davis Gates, “Conservatives don’t even want Black children to be able to read.” 

This statement perfectly encapsulates the current direction of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) under her leadership as president. Over the past few months, the CTU has increasingly drawn negative attention. 

Weeks and months before Davis Gates’ controversial remark, the CTU had already sparked debate by presenting a list of demands totaling over $50 billion before negotiations even started. These demands stand in stark contrast to the state of Illinois’ total tax revenue of $50.7 billion last year. 

Critics, including the Illinois Policy Insititute, scrutinized the CTU’s agenda, highlighting a focus on progressive causes rather than educational priorities or teacher welfare. The union’s demands include mandates for a 100% electric bus fleet, adding solar panels to facilities, and going “carbon neutral” by 2035, all in the name of “climate justice.” Additionally, the union advocates for policies that would prevent teachers from sharing students’ gender identities with parents and require all school wellness staff to complete annual training on LGBTQ+ issues. The union pushed for the district to provide 100% coverage for abortions (including out-of-state travel if Illinois restricts abortion), allocate $2,000 for each student seeking asylum, and use schools as homeless shelters. 

Brigette Herbst, senior organizing director at AFFT, believes there are more relevant issues facing Chicago Public Schools that the union should address instead. “In 2023 only 27% of Illinois students were proficient in math. 90% of schools in Illinois report staffing shortages. These are real issues that should have the focus of the union and the school administration,” said Herbst. “Perhaps it’s time the union starts putting the obvious needs of students and teachers first instead of this constant focus on social issues and politics.” 

The current contract between the CTU and Chicago Public Schools expires on June 30th, and the two parties have yet to reach an agreement despite weeks of negotiations, including a public bargaining session on June 14th