The instructor in Chicago holds the category outdoors to protest the return to high school
Although the Chicago Public Schools try to get students back to face-to-face learning as quickly as possible, not all teachers are on board. In fact, many educators are not on board. During a recent vote on the teachers’ union 71% of Chicago teachers agreed that it is not safe to return.
However, the district continues to work to require the return of more than 10,000 employees. Teachers like Dwayne Reed are protesting the mandates and citing general safety concerns for educators. In particular, they want CPS to recognize and consider those in risk positions. Reed’s wife is currently seven months pregnant and has their first child. He requested a telework request but was denied.
Reed recently took his protest to the sidewalk outside his school. The district wanted all teachers to report in their buildings, so they sat outside instead. When his students asked why he was teaching outside, he told them it was important for his students to see what was going on in their own school. You don’t have to agree with his perspective, but the story is unfolding. Here’s what Reed had to say about pronouncing it.
Why don’t you teach today?
To teach outside in an act of civil disobedience to protest what I consider to be an unjust question. CPS mandates that all of its educators who cannot secure teleworking accommodation come into the building now and work there. And I just decided no. No.
Why don’t you go into the school building?
Because one thing – it’s not safe. Second, I don’t feel like my teleworking shelter has been carefully considered. The mass denial that I received and that hundreds of others received did not speak specifically to my situation. I live with someone who is immunocompromised and needs me not to bring home illness.
Why is it important for you to talk to your students about it?
I want my children to see that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and for others. I’m not doing this just because Dwayne Reed needs it, but because so many other educators across the country either need or need to see it in order for it to be inspired. Being able to show my scholars, “No, this affects you directly,” and challenging them to count the cost in this present moment makes it real to them.
Are the students taking notice?
Yes, this is a change in action. They see me and they say, “Oh, my teacher is going to sit out here in the cold and talk to me through a mask because he doesn’t want to sit in an unsafe building to talk to me through a mask.” It tells them something. One of my scholars is on the list to return in person. And today she said, “Mr. Reed, I’m definitely with you. I’m not sure I’ll get back to school. “
How does this teach young people to stand up for themselves?
I hope you realize that following an example you can stand up for yourself. You can say, “Oh, this black guy is standing up for himself in this situation.” Then they can say, “Oh, I can.” It’s not just when they get older, it’s right now. Today I said to them: “Even if you protest my protest, that’s fine. Just make sure your voice is heard. “
What about the people who think you should just go back and teach? What do you say to them
My wife’s father died a few years ago. And my birth father died that same year, only a few months apart. And I’ve never known what it’s like to have a father. Now that I’m going to be a father for the next two months, I really appreciate it. Aside from being married to my wife, it’s the best I’ve ever been and I haven’t even experienced it.
I will not allow a political system … I will not allow any institution … I will not allow my school district to take this opportunity from me. If I can reduce this risk by not going to the classroom, then I will.
Main photo of Michael Hick Jr.