The Chicago Teachers' Union (CTU) will hold a rally on Saturday as a show of solidarity amid hopes that a tentative deal reached on Friday with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will hold. According to Reuters, the "Standing Strong With Chicago Teachers Rally" is intended to keep pressure on Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who ignited a firestorm earlier this year when he tried to ram through a set of controversial new education policies.
CTU President Karen Lewis said that while hopes are high, teachers are wary of Emanuel, who has been called a "liar" and a "bully" by union officials.
"They (union members) are very suspicious. You have to understand that we have been burnt by the (school) board in the past. You have to understand we want to make sure all our I's are dotted and T's are crossed," said Lewis to reporters on Friday.
Teachers and their supporters expect to be joined by labor leaders and activists from throughout the region in a march and rally that they hope will approach the scale of the protests that rocked Wisconsin's capital in early 2011. Teachers and other public workers staged massive demonstrations in the wake of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI)'s controversial union-busting budget law.
Emanuel's education measures proposed to "radically reform teacher performance evaluations and weaken job protection for teachers whose schools are closed or perform poorly academically." Teachers are also striking for better classroom conditions, to pressure the city to make good on a promised pay increase that went instead to Chicago police and for more social workers to help the thousands of at-risk students in the district.
If negotiations continue to go well, Lewis said she will make the call to teachers union officials on Sunday authorizing a return to work on Monday morning, bringing the strike to a conclusion in under eight days, leading to only five missed school days for the more than 350,000 students affected by the strike.