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Tensions over remote learning isn’t how the Democratic Party, which controls the governor’s mansion and City Hall, wanted to kick off this election year. Yet Republicans, sensing education concerns among parents, are now taking aim at Governor Pritzker.

The standoff between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools could have profound political implications, potentially creating nervous moments for two top Illinois politicians.

Although it’s a complicated local fight with deep history, Republican candidates for governor have wrapped the saga between the city and the teachers union around Governor JB Pritzker’s neck.

State Senator Darren Bailey is out with this video.  

“The corrupt Chicago politicians are at it again closing down schools ignoring parents, hurting our kids,” Bailey said.

Polling has remained consistent that parents support in-person school believing online learning caused their children to fall behind. However, former state Senator Paul Schimpf is using the CPS fight to argue Democrats are wrong on education. 

“This is something that, unfortunately, we’re dealing with a leadership failure,” Schimpf said. “This is a problem that should have been solved six months ago. We have the resources for our kids to go to school and attend school in person safely.”

Gary Rabine, an entrepreneur, says if he were governor, he would take on the CTU.

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“I believe JB is afraid of the consequences of maybe upsetting these unions for political reasons,” Rabine said. “For the sake of our kids, for the sake of the mental and emotional health of our kids, you’ve got to step up as a leader.”

Another GOP gubernatorial hopeful, Jesse Sullivan, has been hammering home the message that Democrats are failing young people. In an op-ed published on Fox about violence, Sullivan writes:

“This failure of leadership runs deep. Elected leaders’ refusal to tackle underlying economic issues makes it impossible to spend money on what’s actually needed.”

Not mentioned in the GOP critique: Governor Pritzker has tried to intervene. Over the weekend, the governor tweeted he’s secured 350,000 rapid antigen tests for CPS. Also, last week, WGN News learned that before the labor dispute, the state had offered CPS vaccination clinics, masks and tests, but the city declined the offer.

A spokeswoman for the governor’s re-election campaign issued the following statement:

“The governor is committed to getting our kids and teachers back in the classroom as soon as possible. This situation would not exist if Republicans spent their time encouraging people to get vaccinated and wear masks instead of spreading misinformation and refusing to take the commonsense actions that stop the spread of COVID-19. The governor will continue to do all he can to follow the science, continue to lead, and get our kids back in school safely.”