Educators for Excellence-Chicago Reacts to Reopening Agreement Between Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Teachers Union
February 10 (Chicago) — Educators for Excellence-Chicago (E4E-Chicago), a teacher-led organization, today celebrated the school reopening agreement between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.
“I am so happy that we have an agreement on reopening because this fight has caused so much turmoil for me and my students,” said Yazmin White-Mitchell, a case manager at Carter School of Excellence and E4E-Chicago member. “My students thrive when they have order and consistency in their lives. Reopening our schools safely and getting students back into classrooms is the first step in establishing a routine and recuperating from what has been a chaotic time. This will allow me to better assess student needs around trauma and learning, and start closing any gaps caused by distance learning.”
“The agreement between the district and the union, while long overdue, comes as a relief to all educator stakeholders in Chicago,” said Stacy Moore, Executive Director of E4E-Chicago. “For weeks, we have heard stories from teachers around their nuanced perspectives of this reopening battle. Educators worry that their schools are not safe enough for themselves or their students, they worry about learning gaps from remote teaching, and they’re nervous about a work stoppage because of financial issues. Unfortunately, educator concerns in Chicago echo the experience of educators across the country. I hope the resolution reached by CPS and CTU encourages other districts struggling with reopening decisions to come to swift, science-based agreements for the benefit of their students and staff.”
This week, Educators for Excellence released the 2021 edition of their scientific, nationally representative teacher survey, Voices from the Classroom: A Survey of America's Educators.
National trends that mirror trends in Chicago include:
Reopening safety needs:
- 81% of teachers identified regularly sanitized schools as “critically important” to make them feel comfortable teaching in person. This is followed by ensuring personal protective equipment is available and required for teachers and students (67%); limiting class sizes to allow students and staff to remain at least six feet apart (66%); concrete plans for testing, communication, tracing, and quarantining are in place (65%); an option for teachers with health risks or with household members with health risks to continue facilitating distance learning until the risk is lower (63%); and school building ventilation is upgraded if needed (62%).
- A free, FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine for teachers and students was the lowest-rated of all options, with a slight majority of all teachers (56%) rating the vaccine as “critically important” to feel comfortable.
- As for physically reopening schools, 44% claim their principal and school administrators actively sought their advice, but this drops to 37% for their union and to just 21% for their district or charter network.
Remote learning struggles:
- Across all student demographics, grades, and school types, more than half of teachers report that student learning (61%), student completion rates of homework and/or assignments (60%), student participation/engagement during class (57%), and student attendance (56%) are worse than before the pandemic.
- Four in 10 teachers claim both technology or reliable internet access and limited access to a conducive learning environment have been “very serious” obstacles for their students. This increases to nearly half of all teachers in schools reporting a majority of low-income students, students of color, or English Learners.
- More than eight in 10 teachers claim that their students and families have been concerned this school year about social-emotional health (88%); physical health (85%); financial health and job security (85%); balancing school, family, and personal responsibilities (84%); and academic progress (84%).