Wednesday, July 8, 2020
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Chicago students have contingencies if teachers strike

Recent movies suggest an unexpected day off school, like a snow day, is something kids welcome.

But the real world and the demands it puts on kids, especially high school athletes and high school seniors, turn any days off into hassles and worries, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Chicago’s teachers could walk off the job on Monday if a new deal isn’t reached in ongoing contract negotiations between the nation’s third-largest district and the Chicago Teachers Union. Some teachers have handed out “strike packets” that include assignments to be completed “in the event of a strike,” but we all know what happens to those.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that football teams will, if a strike should occur, take their case to the Illinois High School Association, hoping the association waives its “by-laws.”

The by-laws the article is presumably referring to are reprinted for your convenience below. A strict reading reveals that practices would be possible, even without an explicit waiver from IHSA. Actual games, though, would have to be cancelled unless the IHSA grants a waiver, which is unlikely, I think. The by-laws were written expressly to determine what IHSA member schools should do in the exact circumstances now happening in Chicago. Granting any “waiver” would effectively nullify the IHSA by-laws, given (a) the number of students involved and (b) how close the situation in Chicago is to the circumstances found in the by-laws directly.

However, the by-laws provide four conditions under which a football team may practice, including approval by the local board of education and the practice being run by a qualified person, who could be expected to exercise diligence in looking after student safety during the practice.

Based on our experience from Illinois teacher strikes in the past, we simply can’t support the idea of students running practices, which are more likely to be conducted without protective gear—either because students can’t get access to that equipment or choose not to use it.

Yes, it shows good initiative and leadership on the part of students, but there are higher principles at play here, which are jeopardized by unsupervised practices or workouts.

The Sun-Times quoted one player as saying, “It’s pretty bad. We don’t like dealing with uncertainty. It’s the worst thing for a team.”

Upcoming college application deadlines also have some Chicago students worried they won’t be able to get the help they need from teachers to complete those applications, the Tribune reported.

“It’s going to be hard,” the Tribune quoted one student as saying. “They told us, ‘Oh, the longest CTU strike hasn’t been longer than two weeks.’ But we’re applying to colleges with deadlines. We can’t just hope it doesn’t last too long.”

And younger students say that studying course material, especially in some of the tougher Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes, will be tough on their own.

“There’s so much cramming that goes into AP classes that even missing a day, you have to spend hours trying to make up the information,” one sophomore told the Tribune. “We need our teachers to stay with us, for us.”

IHSA Strike Policy

Source: (see p. 88).

The IHSA Board of Directors, in conformity with policy established by the Illinois State Board of Education for strike situations, has ruled that a member school which does not have fifty-one (51%) percent of the students in the district in attendance and cannot offer the minimum program required by state law and ISBE Circular Series A160 on a daily basis shall not engage in interscholastic activities.

IHSA By-laws 3.012 and 3.015, relating to attendance requirements and eligibility requirements of interscholastic participants, and Bylaw 2.050, relating to schools with which contests may be held, shall be enforced.

The decision of the Board of Directors will not apply to time designated by the local Board of Education as school holidays or vacations, including the Illinois Code provision for five emergency days, provided school is in full operation on the school day preceding the school holiday.

Under the following criteria, practice sessions of the normal length and frequency may be held during the period when school is not fully operating:

  • They must be approved by the local Board of Education and school administration.
  • They must be conducted by personnel who meet the provisions of By-law 2.070.
  • They must be conducted in such manner that assures the health and safety of the participants.
  • Students from a school on strike may not practice with a team from a school which is not on strike.

Participation in State Series During Strike

If a school is on strike and not in legal session, as defined by the State Board of Education, on the date of the beginning competition in any IHSA state series, students from that school may not participate in the state series.

However, when students from any member school first participate in the beginning level of competition in a given state series that state series is considered to have begun for all entered schools. If any school subsequently incurs a strike, the qualified teams and/or students will be permitted to continue participating in the state series, so far as the IHSA strike policy is concerned, even though their school may not be in legal session on the dates of subsequent state series competition in that sport.

Participation During Weather or Other Emergencies

The IHSA strike policy does not restrict schools from participating in activities on days when school is not held due to weather or other emergency situations. The policy relates only to situations in which school is not operating due to strike circumstances.

Host Activity During Strike

A school that is on strike may host an interscholastic event in which other schools participate. The striking school simply may not participate in the event.

Discontinuation of Football Practice

In the event football practices have been terminated, the following restrictions will be enforced:

  • 1) If football practices have been terminated for a period of at least seven (7) days, but less than fourteen (14) days, a school may not resume competition until after three (3) separate days of practice.
  • 2) If practices have been terminated for a period of fourteen (14) days or more, a school may not resume competition until after five (5) separate days of practice.
  • 3) Days in 1) and 2) above shall be interpreted as calendar days, excluding Sundays.
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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