Washington Post: Chicago teachers’ strike demands include push for affordable housing to help homeless students

By Kim Bellware

For the first time in seven years, teachers in the third-largest U.S. school district are expected to go on strike Thursday after contract negotiations between Chicago city officials and the Chicago Teachers Union hit a stalemate Tuesday night. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday morning that classes at Chicago public schools will be canceled Thursday in anticipation of the strike.

Along with familiar issues such as contract length, benefits and class sizes, one of the core demands of the teachers union is not explicitly about their work environment but rather community justice: access to affordable housing.

Link to the full report

Doug Schenkelberg, executive director for the Chicago Coalition of the Homeless, notes that roughly 81 percent of CPS homeless population are black students, although they constitute little more than a third of the overall student population.

According to the district’s 2018 figures, more than 16,450 of its students experience some form of homelessness — and that’s a conservative estimate, Schenkelberg said.

…Teachers are demanding that the city commit to creating sustainable housing, housing subsidies for lower-paid school staffers such as aides, and a support system for homeless students.

…“It’s generally accepted that within the school system, it’s important to make sure kids are fed,” Schenkelberg said, citing federally funded breakfast and lunch programs. “We know whether a kid has access to healthy food impacts their educational opportunities. That’s a generally accepted principle; there’s no reason we shouldn’t be talking about housing in the same way.”