The Chicago Teachers Union continues its strike into the second week, leaving about 350,000 students out of school for the 10th day. I have been following the news closely these past couple of weeks, trying to stay updated with how each side is fighting and what progress (or lack of) has been made. In the most recent news, Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago is going to court to make the teachers get off the picket line and back into the classrooms. A really interesting, well-informed article I found on the Huffington Post describes every event involving CPS and CTU and why Emanuel is about to take it to court. The article, written by Sophia Tareen and Michael Tarm, says “The request, filed in Circuit Court of Cook County, argues the strike is illegal because state law bars the union from striking on anything but economic issues and that the work stoppage is focused instead on such issues as evaluations, layoffs and recall rights.” So basically the Mayor is arguing that the strike is about more than just the longer schools day. Mr. Emanuel is also saying that this strike is a “public health and safety issue” because over 80% of CPS kids rely on the school for most of their meals. Another big issue with the CTU strike, is that child care is very hard for working parents to find and it is causing parents to have to take off work. As I mentioned in my article last week, many summer plans for kids will have to be canceled because of how the school year will have to be extended when the strike finally does end. Both sides of the strike still have many problems and contracts to go over so the strike could be continuing to even the end of the week.
I have many friends who go to CPS schools such as Walter Payton, Northside College Prep, Whitney Young, Lane Tech, and Lincoln Park High School who I have talked to about what its like from a students perspective to be out of school. Many of them were in agreement when they said that being out of school was fun for about the first three days because they could relax and it was almost like a long weekend. But now coming into its 10th day, some of them even said that they are ready to go back to school. Some of my friends also said that there is not much to do during the day and especially the ones in AP classes at school are anxious because everyday they aren’t learning the material in class, the more they will have to cram when the AP test days come in May.
Overall I think that everyone loses because of the strike, even though I understand it is important for the teachers to strike if they feel like they aren’t getting paid enough for the hours that they are working. Hopefully both sides will come to an agreement soon so we can get Chicago students back into school.