As people of faith, we affirm the crucial role of high-quality public education for all children in our American democracy and are committed to achieving that in our Chicago public schools.
Chicago Public Schools is the third largest public school system in the nation, serving roughly 400,000 students and employing over 20,000 teachers. This week, as the Chicago Teachers Union goes on strike for the first time in 25 years, Protestants for the Common Good and the Civic Action Network of Community Renewal Society issue the following statement.
We believe that it is particularly important to support the Chicago teachers who nourish and educate our city’s most precious resource—its children. It is our moral obligation to provide excellent public education to every child, ensuring a strong foundation for the next generation of leaders in our city. We offer our thanks and gratitude to those who work tirelessly in the classroom, and we support the teachers in their negotiations.
There are a number of serious issues at stake in the current negotiations. We hold that the following are especially important:
- Adequate funding for Chicago Public Schools. We believe that all children can learn and that every child deserves a good education. The Chicago Teachers Union is fighting for: books, paper, and school supplies; libraries, art, and music programs; and facilities that have heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Every child in every neighborhood deserves equal access to a high-quality education.
- Wrap-around services and sufficient staffing to support students in need. We believe that schools should provide enough counselors, social workers, nurses, clinicians, and restorative justice/violence prevention coordinators. It is essential to give Chicago's students the care they need.
- Reasonable class sizes. Overcrowding in Chicago’s classrooms is a problem for all students. Chicago’s pupils deserve smaller classes in order to foster better learning environments.
- Responsible and effective teacher performance measurements. We believe that tying teachers’ evaluations so closely to standardized test scores does not offer a true reflection of teacher performance.
We invite you to show your support for a just resolution of these important issues for our children, teachers, and city. Please call Mayor Rahm Emanuel, 312.744.3300, and the Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, 773.553.1500, and tell them we expect a better system for all of Chicago’s students, and we support the sacred task of all educators. May they have the strength, courage, and resources to continue their good work.