Olivia Waldron

Olivia Waldron

“I have been a Chicago Public School teacher for the last 14 years. I’ve always thought of teaching as my calling, and it is something I’m very passionate about.”

“I remember at my first school, our union delegate came to ask me if I wanted to join the [Chicago Teachers Union]. I was fresh out of college, so I didn’t know much about the union. He vaguely explained what the union did and told me that everyone at our school is in the union so if I didn’t join, then I’d be the only teacher to not be a part of it. So, of course, being new to this school, I said, ‘Yeah. Sure. Sign me up.’”

“I went on teaching, and then 2012 came around when we had a seven-day strike. I remember at that time, I didn’t totally understand what exactly we were striking for but showed up on the picket line anyway. I was feeling so unsure about it all, and I felt horrible not being in the classroom for my students.”

“Since that strike, I made sure to start paying more attention to the union’s message and what we were fighting for in contract negotiations.”

“By the strike of 2019, I was fully aware that some schools were better off than mine, and that some were really in need of resources. But I also realized that oftentimes the climate and the culture of a particular school have helped bring about the most change. Teachers and parents have a better chance of having a real voice at their local school through local school council meetings and working together as a school to discuss wants and needs.”

“I’ve been working at the same school for a few years, and my current principal does an amazing job with budgeting and managing her staff. I think too often teachers turn to their union to try and bring about change. When schools are given a certain amount of money, we should be able to trust our principals to make the best business decisions for our schools.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t think all schools have leadership in place that listens to their teachers and allows them to help come up with a plan to make their school the best environment for the students in that particular neighborhood.”

“The strike of 2019 felt even more disruptive to me because my son had just started at a CPS school. It went on for 11 [school] days. School needs are so different across the city, so it was really hard for me to go on strike because I work at a school that serves low-income students and the teachers at my school were, for the most part, set with everything we needed.”

“Going into the 2020-2021 school year, I saw the lack of humility, class and focus from union leadership. They were no longer advocating for teachers’ essential labor rights but advocating more for a political agenda. And they most certainly were not concerned with the well-being of the students.”

“The way they represented union members through their negative, unproductive and unprofessional social media posts and news conferences and endorsements was shameful and it no longer represented me as an educator. The CTU leadership made it clear where they stood, and any teacher or parent that was not on board would not have their voice heard. They have gotten so far away from the true education and teacher matters.”

“I also didn’t want to be paying into an organization that was actively trying to keep my child and I out of the classroom five days a week. I knew I wanted my child to learn in person five days a week. I knew I wanted to be teaching in person five days a week.”

“To continue supporting an organization that was fighting to keep us all out of the school buildings just didn’t make sense to me when districts across the country were using their energy to figure out ways to make it safely work. Even as a CPS teacher and parent, I felt like the union completely dismissed my needs.”

“I received information about the Janus vs AFSCME Supreme Court ruling a couple years ago and after learning more about it, I felt like opting out of the CTU was the right choice for me. I share my story to help others to remember to always make the best decision for themselves and their family.”

Olivia Waldron
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.