Union delegate Darryl Reed explained Monday that the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) began their strike on Monday to prevent teachers from being unjustly fired.
"We've been saying all along that the [Chicago Public School system] did not think that we were this strong, did not think that we were serious, did not think we would be this successful," he told Labor Beat outside Chicago's Kenwood Academy. "They bragged earlier that we would never reach the 75 percent mark to authorize a strike. They're really just realizing now how determined and how strong we are, and how determined we are to fight for better schools for our children."
The 26,000-member union went on strike over teacher evaluations and the process for rehiring teachers. Under the Chicago Public School system's plan, test scores would account for 40 percent of a teachers' evaluation. The CTU claims test scores are heavily skewed by socioeconomic conditions, putting teachers in poorer neighbors at an unfair disadvantage. The CTU also wants teachers laid off at public schools to get priority for rehiring at taxpayer-funded charter schools, while the city has advocated for providing the charter schools with more autonomy.
"This strike is very important," Reed explained. "Why is this strike so important? Because there is a movement going on now, even after this is all over with, they still plan to close 100 schools and open 250 charter schools. This is mandatory basically -- for job security is what we're striking for and fair evaluation. If they're allowed to go through with the plan they have, they're going to get rid of a lot of teachers. A lot of teachers are going to lose their jobs, for no good cause."
The CTU has also pushed for limits on class sizes and more social workers for students.
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube on September 12 by Labor Beat, below: