August 30, 2012
As part of precautionary planning Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is undertaking to support Chicago's students should the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) decide to strike, CPS is seeking a waiver from the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) to allow a continuation of practices and games for some 11,000 student-athletes who participate in fall sports. This is an effort to preserve current opportunity for CPS student-athletes to succeed during this season as well as future opportunity for sports-based college scholarships.
CPS today sent a letter to IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman noting that IHSA bylaws and policies would prohibit student participation in interscholastic activities in the event of a strike. The letter expresses the concern that if CPS student-athletes cannot compete in games during the period of a CTU strike, it would result in their teams forfeiting critical games, potentially risking playoff and championship opportunities for the CPS students, and also risking student-athlete college scholarship opportunities.
"As you know, this is an important activity that keeps our children engaged, while also lending to their academic success," the CPS letter to Hickman says. "In the event of a CTU strike, we must do everything possible to put our students first and avoid any further disruption to their lives."
The IHSA is the governing body for interscholastic competition among Illinois high schools, and all state tournaments take place under its auspices.
Competition has already begun for fall sports in which CPS student-athletes compete, including football, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball.
"No one will be hurt more by a strike than our children, and the potential cancellation of fall sports will negatively impact our student-athletes who not only dedicate countless hours in order to succeed on the field, but also look to sports-based college scholarships to help afford higher education," said CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard. "CPS will stay at the negotiation table, every day if needed, until we reach a fair contract for our teachers that keeps our kids in the classroom. We are also prepared to support our students, and this is one step in that preparation."
The letter further asks for clarification on whether teams can continue to hold practices if a properly credentialed coach is in place to ensure safety. About 90 percent of certified CPS coaches are CTU members and the letter seeks to "explore an exception that could allow our students to continue with varsity sports in the event of a strike."
CPS today announced it is taking preliminary steps to implement its "Children First" plan to provide students with essential services should the CTU leadership choose to strike. The plan includes providing a safe environment, daily meals and positive, engaging activities for students. CPS will partner with city sister agencies and departments, faith organizations, non-profits and other stakeholders to ensure students receive the support they need in the event of a CTU strike. Further information about CPS plans in the event of a CTU strike is available on the Children First website at www.cps.edu/childrenfirst or visit the District's main website at cps.edu.
Read the waiver.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation's third-largest school district.