Golden Apple teacher: Returning to schools is ‘the right thing to do’

I’m a supporter of the Chicago Teachers Union. I will be a card-carrying member for as long as I work for Chicago Public Schools.

Beyond my support for the union, I am a Chicagoan first and foremost. I grew up in the South Shore area and attended the public schools. One thing I learned in this time is that you don’t walk away from a struggle and you always do best by the community.

I may be in the minority of teachers who want to come back to school, but I know it’s the right thing to do. There are Chicago parents and students eager to get back to school and we should not deny them this opportunity.

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All throughout my teaching career I’ve watched us struggle to gain the respect of other professions. This is our moment to step up and be heroic at a time when students and parents need us the most.

Some years back I won the Golden Apple Teaching award because an organization thought I was excellent at teaching. Remote teaching has produced a shell of my teaching ability, and everyday I watch my 5th graders struggle to get through the day staring at a laptop screen. Students share countless concerns of eye fatigue, headaches, sadness and feelings of isolation. I am empathetic, but I feel helpless in the power struggle between the city and teachers union.

I am not asking teachers who feel unsafe to come back to work. But can we find a way to tap a group of teachers willing to go in and make the necessary sacrifices for the students of Chicago? I volunteer to be a model of what can be accomplished with creativity, ingenuity and love.

If we do not act now, I fear we will be healing the scars of this moment for years to come.

Ronald Hale
Chicago Public School teacher
Stephen K. Hayt Elementary School

In defense of ‘dibs’

In a letter to the editor, Dennis Allen of Wilmette questions the Chicago tradition of calling dibs on shoveled-out parking spaces in winter. His upbringing in Chicago’s North Englewood neighborhood apparently didn’t expose him to the savage competition for parking spaces that we saw in our neighborhood.

Had Mr. Allen been exposed to the daily mayhem of living on the southern edge of Auburn-Gresham, a mere block from the Rock Island train station, he would have a better appreciation for the struggle. Invaders from south suburbs routinely usurped our newly shoveled spots.

Dibs it is and dibs it will stay.

In the meantime, as Mr. Allen wrote, go Bears!

Gerald E. King
Merrionette Park

America back in the fight against climate change

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and a number of other Republicans have criticized President Joe Biden for signing an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement.

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, a Republican who is my representative in Wisconsin’s 1st District, claims that the accord gives an unfair advantage to China. However, all national commitments in the Paris Agreement are voluntary, with individual nations determining the ambition and design of their own climate plans. It’s revealing that the conservative-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has a pro-business focus, welcomes Biden’s move.

The best response that I’ve seen to these objections can be found in the 2019 report “A Climate Security Plan for America: A Presidential Plan for Combating the Security Risks of Climate Change,� which has been endorsed by more than 20 admirals and generals:

“The U.S. is contending with an international environment colored by the announcement of the intent of the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, a loss of American prestige and international leadership as a result, a lack of trust between the U.S. and its partners and allies, and significant moves by other nations, such as China, to fill that global leadership vacuum. China, for example, is positioning itself as a regional and global leader in investments in climate resilience and clean energy transitions. This challenge to U.S. leadership on climate change, particularly from near-peer competitors, can have significant implications for U.S. national security well beyond this issue.�

The pandemic has taught us the importance of hedging against catastrophic risk. Certainly, this is consistent with conservative values. President Biden should be congratulated for embracing U.S. leadership on this crucial issue.

Terry Hansen
Hales Corners, Wisconsin

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