It's official: the Chicago Teachers Union is on strike.
That was clear Monday morning when clusters of teachers, parents and students held signs while marching in front of schools. At some schools, they were chanting for what they called a fair contract. The cars that whizzed reflected the varying opinions Chicagoans have about the strike. Most cars blared their horns in support, there were a couple of thumbs down and even the occasional middle finger.
Doreyda Rivera was on the picket line supporting the teachers of Zapata Elementary School in Little Village. While it was an inconvenience to have to find childcare for her 11-year-old daughter, who was at a neighbor’s house, Rivera said she was on the picket line because "the teachers really helped educate my child and that is why I am 100% supporting the teachers."
“One of her teachers even gave me her personal cell phone number when my daughter was having trouble in school,” Rivera said.
The strike came after both sides failed to reach a resolution after late-night negotiations on Sunday. There’s been no indication on whether they’re close to reaching an agreement, especially considering the district and the union don’t agree what the main sticking points are.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel told a press conference Monday that he had no plans to change his position on what he sees as the two sticking points, but called on the Chicago Teacher’s Union to stay at the table “for our children.”
After picketing for much of the day, there was an afternoon rally in front of the Chicago Public Schools headquarters downtown in which people were literally dancing in the street.
Docia Buffington works with after the school program Enlace Chicago at Little Village High Schools. She says she’s concerned about how the days off from school will affect the students, but that the larger context of the strike is also important to student’s safety.
“Safety of students is a concern with or without a teachers strike, and a lot off the time having schools in flux or not having quality instruction also leads to situations between students that get violent and chaotic,” said Buffington. “Education isn’t just babysitting. It’s more than that.”