Chicago teachers take to the picket lines for the first time in 25 years
Parents scramble to find replacement facilities for their children during strike
Teachers in Chicago have taken to the picket lines for the first time in 25 years, stranding an estimated 350,000 students. Parents are struggling to find replacement facilities for their children after 11th hour negotiations failed to break an impasse in contract negotiations.
The teacher's strike marks the first time between Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's former top White House aide, and organized labor in the president's home city.
Chicago, the home of the nation's third-largest school district, has been left idle after a walkout by 26,000 instructors. Negotiations are expected to continue this week.
The strike follows more than a year of slow, contentious negotiations over salary, health benefits and job security.
Proposed reforms that were not implemented are the chief reason for the strike. For example, the teacher's union opposed a proposal to make student test scores a key factor in teacher evaluations. Teachers also opposed a move to give principals more control over hiring, which could undermine the seniority system that protects long-time teachers.
"We have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike," Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said.
The occasion marks the first time between Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's former top White House aide, and organized labor in the president's home city.
"I am disappointed that we have come to this point given that all the other parties acknowledged how close we are, because this is a strike of choice," said Emanuel. "And because of how close we are, it is a strike that is unnecessary."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called a strike by the city's teachers "a strike of choice" and cast the negotiation stalemate as a result of issues relating to a new evaluation system and principals' ability to fire teachers.
Chicago teachers make an average of between $69,470 and $76,000 per year, which is second-highest to New York City. The deal Chicago Public Schools put on the table includes a 16 percent average salary increase, said school board president David Vitale.
"There's only so much money in the system," Vitale said. "There's only so many things we can do that are available to us that we actually believe will not hurt the educational agenda that we think is best for our children."
He said the deal they put on the table would cover four years and cost the city $400 million.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Chicago, teacher's strike, labor negotiations, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
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