Recent News Articles
Chicago classes could resume Monday
Chicago teachers said they hoped a deal would be worked out Friday to end a five-day strike that kept 350,000 students and 26,000 teachers out of the classroom.
“We can’t just do this again. This has to be the finish line,” fourth-grade teacher Michelle Gunderson told the Chicago Tribune.
“I feel like everything has slid a week back,” Christopher Barker, who teaches math and humanities at an elementary school, told the newspaper.
He said he needed to finish evaluating new students, call parents and build his student library.
Negotiators expressed optimism the strike in the nation’s third-largest school system could be resolved and classes would resume Monday.
“I’m praying, praying, praying,” Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis told reporters outside the hotel where talks took place. “I’m on my knees for that. Please, yes, I’m hoping for Monday.”
The union’s roughly 700-member House of Delegates, which must approve any deal, was to meet at 2 p.m. Friday.
If a deal is ready, delegates could vote on it after being updated. The vote would need to be approved by the union’s full membership. But the vote, which would take a week or more to complete, would happen while classes resume, union officials said.
If a deal is not ready, the delegates could send negotiators back to the table and meet again over the weekend for another update and possible vote, union spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Delegates could also decide to let students return to school while negotiators talk — a possibility Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city aldermen have pushed.
But Lewis said Thursday she preferred for the union to stay on strike until a deal was finalized.
The union scheduled a “Wisconsin-style” labor rally at a Chicago park at noon Saturday.
If a deal is done, the rally could be a victory party. If it’s not, it could be a show of strength for what the union calls a “fair contract,” the Sun-Times said.
The district proposal softens an evaluation system demanded by Emanuel that the union said could put nearly 30 percent of public school teachers on the path to dismissal if performance doesn’t improve within a year.
Under the proposal, evaluations of tenured teachers during the first year could not result in dismissal and later evaluations could be appealed, school officials told the Tribune.
In addition, health insurance rates would not rise for teachers with families, as had been planned, if the union agreed to take part in a wellness program.
And teachers’ raises — averaging 16 percent over four years at a cost of $320 million — could not be rescinded due to an economic crisis.
The board stripped teachers of a 4 percent raise last year, sparking union distrust of the mayor.
To pay for those raises, other expenses would be cut, some of the district’s 600 schools might be closed and students might get shifted to charter schools that typically hire lower-paid non-union workers and get supplemental funding from charitable sources, the Tribune said.
The strike is Chicago’s first in 25 years and the first in a major city in a half-dozen years.
Copyright 2012 by United Press International