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It has been a well-known fact that teachers work extremely hard for low pay. Everyday, they face an array of barriers to properly educate their students. For example, many schools lack the funds to buy updated equipment and books, let alone classroom supplies. Many teachers use their own money to purchase items needed for their classrooms.
These disparities can be seen all across the nation and especially in Chicago’s Black communities. Many schools lost resources that were in place to help teachers and students. Then COVID-19 attacked the world causing the disparities to worsen.
A few weeks ago teachers in Riverdale Patton District 133 went on strike calling for additional programs and a pay raise. A group of 19 educators walked the picket line. The district’s officials reached out to parents to let them know that the school would be open for students as the protest was being held.
Educators at the school said there was a high teacher turnover rate due to low salaries. School funding is always tight, however, the district received federal COVID-19 funding that many felt could have music, technology, and art programs.
On Feb. 17, 2022, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) held a forum called Shining Light in the Shadows: Black educator leadership in the time of COVID-19. During this event, Chicago Public Schools veteran teachers — ranging from 26 to 30 plus years — spoke of the disparities they have seen in their schools.
Dr. Caprice Mitchell — educator, librarian, and currently serving as an executive board member for CTU — stated that before COVID school systems were stricken with many disparities. “Over 75% of the schools were at no[t] function[al] [as they were] operating on insufficient funds. No computers, no sanitizer, no recess, no resources, uncleanliness, and outdated textbooks,” she added.
Mitchell went on to say that students were displaced after some schools and housing projects were closed or torn down. Then “COVID-19 came along.” She pointed out that on the near Northside of town, students were seeing resources they needed. However, on the South Side, students’ needs were unmet.
Moderator of the event and CPS teacher, Tara Stamps added, “That’s in the same district right?” Mitchell answered “Yes.” Stamps continued, “You don’t have to leave the district to see the disparities.”
To add to these dilemmas people are trying to say that children should not be taught about slavery, racism, or other sensitive topics of American history.
“We are seeing them question what we teach in our classroom. We want to make sure we are standing in the front lines as we always have because our children are depending on us. If they don’t know where they come from they cannot know where they are going. They must know who they are and whose they are, That is our responsibility to make sure they are guarded and protected with that information,” added Stamps.
Teachers all over the United States have faced these or similar issues in their school systems. They feel the pain of working long hours — sometimes having to bring their work home. Educators are an underappreciated asset to helping Americans thrive. They should be paid adequately for all of the hard work they endure.
Written by Sheena Robertson
CTU Forum: Shining Light in the Shadows: Black educator leadership in the time of COVID-19; held on Feb. 17, 2022
Chicago Tribune: Speak Out reader opinion: Riverdale teacher strike shows need for school district consolidation; by DAILY SOUTHTOWN
Fox 32 Chicago: Riverdale teachers go on strike, calling for larger raise and additional programs; by Joanie Lum
Chicago Tribune: Teachers in Riverdale Patton District 133 end strike, ‘eager to be back in the classroom’; by MIKE NOLAN
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of COD Newsroom’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Eric E Castro’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License