Budget cuts continue to affect students, parents, and school staff in Chicago Public Schools. This time the librarian at Pritzker Elementary in Wicker Park was handed the pink slip. To keep the library open for more than 700 students, parents of Pritzker schoolchildren volunteered to operate the checkout process. However, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) objected to the parent volunteers, thus, keeping the library closed. The message this sends is simple: only those paying union dues can work in the school library.
This is not the first time CTU has chosen what is best for the union over what is best for the students. In April, CTU staged a one-day walkout. Joseph Ocol, math teacher and chess coach, chose not to walkout, but to go to school to prepare his team for their upcoming chess tournament. Of course, CTU threatened to expel Ocol from the union if he did not turnover to the union the wages he received for working during the walkout.
The phenomenon of teachers unions rejecting help from volunteers happens is not exclusive to Chicago. In Culver City, California, the local unions tried to force the unionization of parent volunteers in the Culver City Unified School District. In Petaluma, California, unions objected when volunteers started helped answering phone calls. In Massachusetts, the Bridgewater Raynham Education Association objected to volunteers staffing the library after library positions were cut.
In my own K–8 school district in Grayslake, Illinois, the teachers unions resisted help from parents wanting to coach the afterschool sports teams and other extra-curricular activities. Unsurprisingly, the unions’ justification to resist volunteer coaching elevated their love of money above their desire to continue children’s programs. They wanted their union-paid teachers getting the extra-duty pay, even if it meant cuts to other programs.
These unjustifiable actions by teachers unions are more proof that their priorities do not include the education and wellbeing of students across the country.