Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday)
Teachers who are willing need to be allowed to get back into the classroom
I’m a supporter of the Chicago Teachers Union. I will be a card-carrying member for as long as I work for Chicago Public Schools.
Beyond my support for the union, I am a Chicagoan first and foremost. I grew up in the South Shore area and attended the public schools. One thing I learned in this time is that you don’t walk away from a struggle and you always do best by the community.
I may be in the minority of teachers who want to come back to school, but I know it’s the right thing to do. There are Chicago parents and students eager to get back to school, and we should not deny them this opportunity.
All throughout my teaching career I’ve watched us struggle to gain the respect of other professions. This is our moment to step up and be heroic at a time when students and parents need us the most.
Some years back I won the Golden Apple teaching award because an organization thought I was excellent at teaching. Remote teaching has produced a shell of my teaching ability, and every day I watch my fifth graders struggle to get through the day staring at a laptop screen. Students share countless concerns of eye fatigue, headaches, sadness and feelings of isolation. I am empathetic, but I feel helpless in the power struggle between the city and teachers union.
I am not asking teachers who feel unsafe to come back to work. But can we find a way to tap a group of teachers willing to go in and make the necessary sacrifices for the students of Chicago? I volunteer to be a model of what can be accomplished with creativity, ingenuity and love.
If we do not act now, I fear we will be healing the scars of this moment for years to come.
Ronald Hale Chicago Public Schools teacher Stephen K. Hayt Elementary School