We stand with Chicago Teachers

by Rudy López

Today, Chicago teachers walked off the job for a one-day strike in protest of lack of funding, over-capacity classrooms, and bad-faith negotiations by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

At Interfaith Worker Justice, we wholeheartedly support the teachers strike and call on Mayor Emanuel and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to do everything in their power to restore funding and trust between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools.

We stand with teachers today, because what’s happening in Chicago is bigger than just an argument over funding and pension payments.

For more than a year, Governor Rauner has held the state of Illinois hostage, cutting funding for schools, child care, universities, immigrant integration services, access programs for individuals with disabilities and much, much more.

Why is the governor cutting these services?

Because the governor refuses to negotiate a budget that does not include weakening or dismantling the collective bargaining rights for unions across the state and bleeding vital state services until he gets his way.

At the same time, Mayor Emanuel continues to shift funding away from Chicago’s public schools while rapidly expanding the network of for-profit charter schools in the city.

When Jesus said “suffer the little children,” this is not what he intended.

Whatever your faith tradition, the value of investing in children, in making sure that they have a safe and stable environment to learn and grow is a constant. Investment in education allows future generations the best opportunity to offer a positive contribution to the world years from now, while allowing their parents to work and contribute to the world today.

Education should never be used as a political pawn or a bargaining chip. Interfaith Worker Justice calls on Governor Rauner and Mayor Emanuel to listen to those who know education best: the teachers; and to immediately provide adequate funding to Chicago Public Schools and negotiate in good-faith with Chicago Teachers Union.

Rudy López is the Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice.