The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Third Return to School of the Pandemic

Aug 29, 2022

Students in Chicago returned to public schools last Monday. This is the third “return to school” since the beginning of the pandemic. Yet, students see that many of the problems with the school system remain unsolved.

The biggest problem in the public schools has been staffing shortages. First, due to driver “shortages,” bus services for many students in Chicago have been cut. Some special education students now have commutes to and from school as long as two hours, each way! This is not a new problem, and the district has plenty of money—to pay drivers more, to train drivers—but they don’t do it.

With the difficulties of teaching in the pandemic, many teachers have left. Many who could retire, did, when in previous years they might have stayed on. Others have just quit. 2,300 school workers left last year, almost double the number from before the pandemic. It’s no wonder that there are too few people going to school to get their teaching credentials now, after both parties, Democrats and Republicans, have been attacking teaching and the public schools for years.

Again, this isn’t a question of money—Chicago Public Schools has more than a billion dollars extra for this AND next school year from the federal government. But the district refuses to spend the money to address the obvious problems that students, teachers and administrators face.

The district hired one additional teacher to act as a resource in almost every school building, to remedy the obvious student needs from missing a year and a half of in-person school. One! But in more schools than not, this extra teacher is instead filling in, in a classroom that lacks a teacher.

Even with all this money, Chicago Public Schools still decided to lay off 443 teachers and staff this spring—layoffs that were concentrated in working class neighborhoods like Little Village.

It’s been three years of the pandemic, and we have seen that the ruling class refuses to do right by our students in the public schools. All the more reason for the working class to take matters, including running the schools, into its own hands!