Both sides optimistic Chicago teacher strike will end ‘soon’
Despite reports that both sides were hoping classes would resume Friday, members of the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) and the Chicago Public School board (CPS) are still in talks, though they remain optimistic that a deal will be reached soon. According to the Chicago Tribune, talks were delayed by “number crunching” as the two sides moved toward a resolution of the strike, now entering its fifth day.
School board President David Vitale emerged from late night talks at about 1:00 a.m. Central time and informed reporters that the district and CTU had “another good day” of work. Earlier in the week, representatives of both sides expressed hope that classes might resume as early as Friday, but Vitale said, “We’ve got some number crunching to do overnight and we’re going to be back here tomorrow and see if we can’t finish this up.”
A resolution is expected around 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, with classes resuming on Monday.
Job security is a key issue in the teachers’ remaining demands. CTU wants to see test-based teacher evaluation de-emphasized and the creation of a recall system that would allow the district to retain teachers who are laid off by school closings and consolidations.
CTU President Karen Lewis said Thursday night that she would be returning to union shops Friday morning to discuss the framework of the prospective deal. While she said that progress has been made, the teachers intend to stand firm on their final demands.
“There were some creative ideas passed around but we still do not have a deal,” she said. “If you are at that this point and I’m at this point, we have to figure out a way to move together. So that takes a little bit of creativity.”
When asked if Chicago’s more than 350,000 students affected by the strike will be able to return to class on Monday, Lewis was hopeful, but perhaps not as sanguine as district President Vitale.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” she said. “I certainly hope so.”
CTU is striking over a laundry list of issues, including a pay raise that teachers were promised, which went instead to Chicago Police, better classroom conditions, smaller class sizes, compensation for extended school hours and shorter vacation times and other issues related to creating better working conditions for teachers and better learning conditions for students.
Talks are scheduled to resume at 9:00 a.m. Central time today.
UPDATE: Recent polling indicates that a majority (55.5 percent) of Chicagoans support the teachers, with 40 percent of those surveyed disapproving of the strike. The poll was conducted by We Ask America.