Chicago Public School teachers and support staff have gone on strike.
What We Know:
- Over 25,000 Chicago Public School teachers and support staff didn’t show up for work Thursday after contract negotiations with city officials took a turn for the worse. They are seeking a bold and transformative investment in the Chicago public education system. They also want more affordable housing in the city for students and teachers, something no teachers’ union has demanded in recent contract negotiations.
- Chicago’s school district has struggled for years with low graduation rates. Compared to surrounding school districts, Chicago has fewer high school teachers with advanced degrees, larger class sizes, and less state investment per pupil.
- Stacey Davis Gates, Vice President of the Chicago Teachers Union, told reporters “We mean business. It cannot be about politics and personalities. It’s got to be about shifting and transforming the infrastructure of inequity”.
- City officials say the teachers’ demands are too extreme and too expensive for the school district’s $7.7 billion budget. They would rather deal with some of the city’s most pressing issues outside of the bargaining process with teachers. They have agreed to give teachers a 16 percent pay raise over 5 years and increase staff at school.
- The strike has already won the public support of several presidential candidates. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Julián Castro have all expressed their solidarity with striking teachers in Chicago. Parents with children who attend the city’s public schools have been supportive of the strike and some even joined teachers on the picket line.
Their demands are part of a growing movement, led by teachers and labor unions, focused more on social justice issues affecting their communities than simply pay known as “bargaining for the common good”.