Ifeoma Nkemdi

Ifeoma Nkemdi

“I’ve been a teacher for 17 years, and I opted out of the Chicago Teachers Union in 2019 because I just got tired of the pomp and circumstance. I’m not for the ritual. I’m not for CTU’s symbolic activism at all. I cannot stand behind an agenda to politicize education as a status symbol.”

“I want the best outcomes for our children, for them to believe in themselves and believe in their dreams. But at this current state, our kids are nervous and they’re afraid because they realize that they really aren’t protected. And adults are not looking out for their best interests.”

“My 9-year-old says, ‘Mom, I’m scared to go to school.’ And I can’t lie to him or say, ‘Oh, no, that’s silly.’ Because it’s not. It’s a real threat. These kids are voicing their real anxiety, and they are watching us not really having a solution.”

“We know that very real security issues exist within schools but I don’t see a union really pushing to protect the teachers, students, everybody in the building, and no one’s asking: ‘Why?’ ‘How come we don’t have enough money?’ ‘If we don’t want police officers in the school, what are some suggestions?’ ‘What are some other ideas to ensure safety within the school?’”

“Those are tough conversations, and I haven’t seen that. I haven’t seen any members really hold CTU accountable for ensuring their safety or the equity that they’re asking for.”

“To have accountability, you must have a space and a forum for discourse. Without space for discourse, you don’t have a true organization and you don’t have true leadership. The union hasn’t been reimagined in over 60 years and there’s no imagination of what the workforce can look like with equity and inclusion of diverse voices.”

“CTU says it supports ‘equity,’ but what do they even mean? It’s just pretty words on paper, pretty words spoken in the media or meetings, but real true leadership confronts difficulty and confronts the problems.”

“During the pandemic, CTU cast blame on everyone because the children didn’t have computers or internet access, but what about donating and buying service for the kids?”

“CTU has millions of dollars in resources they could use to enact change in communities, yet they blame Chicago Public Schools and the school board for problems. Teachers unions know that students need book bags, supplies, technology, access to laundry, etc. If CTU put their money where their mouth is, you would think their philosophy would be to pour their money back into these kids.”

“I’m very grateful and honored to be a teacher. And I feel like I would be nowhere without my kids. I would give to any union, any organization that is actually involved in our schools. I haven’t seen this type of ground-level work from CTU.”

“I have seen the union’s sole purpose is they want to ensure a political agenda and that their politicians get into Congress, the White House and all the different local and state governments. That is where most of the money goes. If we follow the money, I think union members should be asking more questions about where this money goes, what it supports.”

“There should be absolute transparency about where union dues go, and I guarantee you most teachers would not really understand what union bosses are truly doing with their hard-earned money.”

“Amendment 1 promises to make that worse by giving union bosses unlimited power that even lawmakers will never be able to take back. Union leaders are not doing a good job.  They’re not doing their job to protect their own workers. If they can’t run their own group, expanding their power and eliminating their accountability won’t fix the problems union bosses say they fight for.”

“I think we have to ensure that, first, all workers’ voices are heard not just through one mouthpiece, or one or two people controlling the thought process and telling them where they need to go, what they need to fight for.”

“Second, CTU and other teachers unions need to get their houses in order and do everything they can to ensure the safety of our students, our staff and our community. Once that has been dealt with, then maybe we can look at expanding their power.”

“In the meantime, voters and union members should use their voice to put union bosses in their place. I gladly signed on as a plaintiff against Amendment 1 to stop this union power grab before things get any worse.”

“Enough is enough. We have to clean house.”

Ifeoma Nkemdi
Chicago Public Schools teacher
Chicago, Illinois

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!
Keep scrolling for more inspiring stories

Have a story to share?

Tell us how a state or local policy affects your life.
If we decide to feature your story, one of our writers will reach out to you directly.