The Teachers Being Demonized for Trying To Save Us From the Pandemic

A conversation with locked-out members of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Maximillian Alvarez

A woman holds a sign during the Occupy City Hall Protest and Car Caravan hosted by Chicago Teachers Union in Chicago, Illinois, on August 3, 2020. KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Here we are again. With the Omicron variant spreading like wildfire, Covid-19 cases around the country have shattered previous highs. The federal government has essentially given up on trying to fight the virus, and a familiar ghoulish chorus of media pundits and wealthy business executives are berating working people to suck it up and put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the economy. What’s worse, workers who are standing up for themselves are being viciously vilified and scapegoated for the systemic failures that have put us in this mess. 

Perhaps no group is facing more backlash right now than educators. Earlier this week, nearly three quarters of the membership of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted to return to virtual work until a deal to implement necessary safety measures is reached with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), or until the city’s positivity rate falls below 10 percent. In response, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the CPS administration have locked educators out of their virtual classrooms, replaying their actions from last year when Covid-19 cases were surging and teachers were locked out of their employee accounts and had their pay docked if they refused to return from teaching remotely. In this urgent, unscheduled mini-cast, we talk about the lockout with Ana, a CPS teacher and CTU member, and Quetzalli Castro, a CPS teacher and a delegate and organizer within the CTU. 

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Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive: freemu​si​carchive​.org)

  • Jules Taylor, Working People Theme Song”

Maximillian Alvarez is a writer and editor based in Baltimore and the host of Working People, a podcast by, for, and about the working class today.” His work has been featured in venues like In These Times, The Nation, The Baffler, Current Affairs, and The New Republic.

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