Chicago Teachers Strike Begins
September 10, 2012 7:33 am
The New York Times’ Monica Davey is reporting that Chicago teachers will begin striking this morning after contract negotiations between the district and the Chicago Teachers Union broke down (again) late Sunday.
As we reported last week, the union gave Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office ample warning that if the district failed to meet their demands — for raises, reduced class sizes, and other issues — teachers would have no other option than to strike. The strike is expected to affect up to 350,000 students (Chicago is the third-largest school system in the US) and is the first Chicago public school strike in 25 years.
A detailed contingency plan has been laid out, including meals for the 84% of Chicago public school students who are eligible for free or reduced meals, but parents and union members are concerned that the plan will create confusion and hassle for both students and parents.
[Chicago Teachers Union president Karen] Lewis deemed the contingency proposal, which was expected to be able to accommodate at least 150,000 students, “a mess,” and suggested that school officials were expecting families to “put their children with random folks.” For its part, the union on Saturday opened a strike headquarters where members could begin collecting picket signs and other materials to prepare for a walkout.
Closed-door negotiations have been ongoing since February, with issues including ”wages and benefits, whether laid-off teachers should be considered for new openings, extra pay for those with more experience and higher degrees, and evaluations” on the table. Mayor Emanuel, whose own children attend private school, has repeatedly called for “comprehensive reform” and claims that the action on the part of the teachers is a “strike of choice.”
Parents forced to juggle childcare as their children’s teachers fight for a basic, fair contract may wish they had a bit more choice themselves.
Image from here