No school for Chicago students as teacher strike reaches third day

FILE PHOTO - Teachers picket near New Field Elementary School on the second day day of a teachers' strike in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., October 18, 2019. REUTERS/John Gress

Classes for more than 300,000 students in Chicago were canceled for a third straight school day on Monday, as striking teachers remained locked in a contract dispute with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the third-largest U.S. system.

Some 25,000 teachers went on strike last Thursday after their union was unable to reach an agreement with Chicago Public Schools over pay, overcrowding in schools and a lack of support staff, such as nurses and social workers.

At a news conference late on Sunday, union negotiators said the two sides had made progress on several issues, including providing support for homeless students and ensuring school counselors can do their jobs. But areas of dispute like class size and staffing levels remain unresolved.

“We’re not going to settle for a fast contract if it’s not a just contract,” Jennifer Johnson, the union’s chief of staff, told reporters.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper on Sunday in which she noted her own background growing up in a disadvantaged school district, saying she understands how important educational equity is.

“I am disappointed that the Chicago Teachers Union has decided to strike,” she wrote. “I believe our contract offer is fair and respectful of the union’s leaders and their members. But my disappointment will absolutely not soften my resolve to reach an agreement.”

The strike is the latest in a recent wave of work stoppages in school districts across the United States in which demands for school resources have superseded calls for higher salaries and benefits.

In Chicago and elsewhere, teachers have emphasized the need to help underfunded schools, framing their demands as a call for social justice.

Although the latest work stoppage has forced officials to cancel classes, school buildings are staying open for children in need of a place to go.

The strike comes seven years after Chicago teachers walked out for seven days over teacher evaluations and hiring practices. In 2016, teachers staged a one-day walkout to protest the lack of a contract and failure to stabilize the school system’s finances.

The district has offered a raise for teachers of 16% over five years, enforceable targets for reducing class sizes and the addition of support staff across the district, according to Lightfoot, who was elected in April.

Lightfoot has previously said the union’s initial full list of demands would cost the district an additional $2.5 billion annually.

What do you think?

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william jackson
Member

DA union teachers: Strike for a year—-replace all the union pukes with non union personnel. Kids will benefit by having the striking slugs that teach kids how to praise Allah and put a condom on a cucumber; sitting on the side lines forever. What they teach is BS not reading, writing, american history and arithmetic.

General Confusion
Member

“How much were these overpaid babysitters making before they went on strike for more?” Confused James

Not enough, obviously, but if you actually cared about education issues, you would know that pay is not the only problem resulting from over $60 BILLION of decades of deliberate public school under-funding.

Sandra Lueder
Guest
Sandra Lueder

Teaching is an honorable profession. Unfortunately, K12 teachers seem to be blamed for the problems of the world. Their job is very difficult. In fact, as a college professor for more than 30 years, I can honestly say that I don’t know how the K12 teachers can even stand it. The teacher unions don’t help. They contribute to the negative perceptions of the teachers…as do the strikes. That said, teachers have valid reasons for concern, but I think that taxpayers are justifiably perplexed by the millions, sometimes billions, that are spent on education without noticeable progress. It is difficult not… Read more »

Sandra Lueder
Guest
Sandra Lueder

The biggest obstruction to quality public education in our cities are tge teachers and their unions. Public sector unions should not be allowed. They areca conflict of interest.

General Confusion
Member

“The end of that last sentence should probably read: …deliberate public school under-funding, fiduciary mismanagement and union chicanery.” Morte206

And you would be wrong. I am talking about just federal education promises put into funding bills starting in the 1960s. Successive governments have made sure that this country does NOT meet our own education responsibilities.

General Confusion
Member

“Why the need for such caustic comments?” Toni Get used to that around here. There are a bunch who seem to think that one tax dollar put towards the public good equals ten dollars of government waste. They also seem to think that public education at all levels is evil liberal indoctrination that needs to be replaced by either corporate charter schools or libertarian home schooling. But as I am sure that you are aware, while charter schools are no panacea and some do their own religious indoctrination, they are also designed to suck up funding to make public education… Read more »

ron
Member

They don’t say how much they are getting or what the want. So it’s hard to reply honestly to this article. But today’s teachers I believe are in it for the money and not for the students. If they were for the students they would continue teaching while they negotiated a new contract. The only ones that are going to get hurt are the students.

Morte206
Member

A massive part of the problem is attitudes such as James’. Teachers are not, nor should they be considered, babysitters. Parents bear more than a little responsibility for their child’s education, this means actually speaking to the child about school, asking questions about assignments and most importantly checking those assignments. Parents also need to support teachers by backing them up with the students not constantly undermining them with “how dare you flunk my child despite their never having turned in an assignment.”

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