A Friday night, the mayor’s out of the country, top public schools’ brass are unavailable, and hundreds of Chicago teachers and support staff are suddenly, if not unexpectedly, out of work.
311 teachers without tenure will be fired, along with over 200 who don’t meet the rating of satisfactory. Also cut are 130 paraprofessionals and about 180 bus aides, part-time and seasonal workers.
Said Chicago Teacher’s Union President Karen Lewis, “this announcement comes as far as I’m concerned to try to spread fear and panic and chaos on a Friday night.”
Chicago Public Schools insists that was not the intent. Nor is it the result. In fact, the silence over these layoffs is deafening. No protests, like the ones we’ve been seeing for months; not even from the teachers union, which claims it hasn’t had time to react.
“We just got this information after you all did,” said Lewis.
School officials say that is not the case. They say their general counsel reached out to the union boss with the bad news around midday today.
CPS declined our requests for on-camera interviews, but in a statement, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett called these layoffs part of a process that will give thousands of Chicago children a better, safer education this fall.
Said Byrd-Bennett, their education will include “safe passage, AC, access to updated technologies, science, computer and media labs, all of which will be made possible by redirecting resources from these underutilized schools as part of the process we created in partnership with the CTU in our joint contract agreement.”
The teacher’s union insists that the estimated number of 855 positions to be cut can’t be real, or even known.
“If you’re gonna lay off all these people, then you are talking about having 45, 50 kids in a class,” said Lewis. “I’m not believing that’s going to happen.”
CPS reminds us this is about plugging a billion-dollar budget hole.
The layoffs don’t stop at the schools. About 100 positions will be cut at CPS headquarters, for a savings of about $52 million.