It’s been a few months since the height of the Omicron surge, when anxiety among families and educators was close to an all-time high, and COVID-19 cases were certainly past all-time highs.
Around that time, Brentano Elementary Principal Seth Lavin wrote a telling and heartbreaking opinion piece in the Sun-Times that gained national attention. Headlined “I’m a Chicago principal. Our schools are not OK
,” the op-ed laid out how various struggles from declining mental health to staffing and food shortages were hurting educators’ ability to support students through a difficult return to in-person learning.
In case anyone thought this was a Chicago problem, it’s not. Districts around the country are hurting. This op-ed by professors at Concordia University and Indiana University paints a vivid picture of educator burnout
and the reasons behind it.
Principals, assistant principals, educators and support staff are all having to fill multiple jobs, support kids in ways they’ve never had to before (and in some ways have never been trained to), all while working to stem the pandemic’s effect on educational and social development. A difficult job has in some cases turned into an impossible one.
And at Chicago Public Schools, that’s a reason why many families, educators and even a couple Board of Education members are asking why the district isn’t using more of its federal pandemic relief funding to shower schools with resources. Though CPS officials have explained they don’t want to exhaust all the funding in one year and create programs they won’t be able to sustain, the fact remains that nearly half of CPS schools are seeing cuts next year. The district also explains that’s because they’re strategically shifting resources to prioritize baseline needs.
But with schools having to pay for teacher raises from the 2019 CTU contract, those cuts are magnified. And for families and educators who have been through two of the toughest years of their lives, and who know their kids need support, that’s a tough pill to swallow.
Until next week,
Nader Issa, Sun-Times education reporter
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