Chicago Teachers Union strike continues into third week

Chicago+Teachers+Union+President+Jesse+Sharkey+%28center%29+and+Vice+President+Stacy+Davis+Gates+%28left%29+join+members+of+to+walk+the+streets+of+Chicago+on+Thursday%2C+Oct.+17.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Chicago Teachers Union strike continues into third week

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey (center) and Vice President Stacy Davis Gates (left) join members of to walk the streets of Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 17.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey (center) and Vice President Stacy Davis Gates (left) join members of to walk the streets of Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 17.

Ryan Gilroy / The DePaulia

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey (center) and Vice President Stacy Davis Gates (left) join members of to walk the streets of Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 17.

Ryan Gilroy / The DePaulia

Ryan Gilroy / The DePaulia

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey (center) and Vice President Stacy Davis Gates (left) join members of to walk the streets of Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 17.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Forty students in one class, 30 desks for all of them and only one teacher trying to teach and pay attention to each student. This has been a typical day for many overcrowded CPS classrooms during the past few years. Some schools only have a nurse for one day out of the week, and only a few counselors and social workers to help a large number of students. Other schools cannot even afford a library.

The Chicago Teachers Union took action on Oct. 16, when teachers and staff formed picket lines outside of schools to strike against the Board of Education and Mayor Lori Lightfoot for not meeting their demands. Now, over a week later, they are still on strike, beating their record from their last strike in 2012.

A comprehensive offer was released last Friday, Oct. 18, but no agreement has been reached.

At Thomas Kelly College Prep, teachers and staff form every morning with tables of food, music and some teachers with instruments playing for the cars and people who pass by in the mornings. Carolyn Brown, the lead CTU delegate for Kelly and a teacher, said that the offer from Friday did not show interest in truly negotiating because it does not pay attention to the CTU’s demands.

“We want to talk about conditions, not just salary,” she said.

The new contract mentions that for 4th-12th grade classrooms, the maximum class limit is 31 students, which many teachers say is still too many. Brown said that different class limits should depend on different programs.

Stephanie Bradley, DePaul M.Ed, teaching and learning and a secondary history teacher at Kelly College Prep, said there should only be 28 students to a classroom.

“As high school teachers, we’ve seen the impact of overcrowded classrooms on the students,” said Irma Vega, a history teacher.

Under-resourced and overcrowded schools in the low-income neighborhoods of the city are affected more than any other schools, Vega said.

“It’s dangerous,” Vega said. “This would not get away with schools in Oak Park or in Evanston.”

In the early 2000s, Kelly was so overcrowded that there were 46 to 53 students in one classroom. Brown said that although many students from overcrowded schools came out fine, graduation rates were low and the number of students who joined gangs increased as well as pregnancy rates. At one point, there were over 40 kids in a CTT classroom, a classroom where students with disabilities and general education are integrated in the same classroom. Fifty percent of the students were special education, Bradley said. This is illegal, but they couldn’t do anything about it.

The new offer also stated that there would be a “Moratorium on Charter Expansion,” meaning that there will be a temporary halt to the increase of charter schools. Brown said that this was already in their original contract, but many teachers agree that it should not be temporary.

Elisabeth Morrsion, English teacher and the AP and IB coordinator at Kelly College Prep, agrees that the stop to the expansion of charter schools should be permanent and enforceable. Mansueto High School, a newly-founded charter school, was built in 2016 and has taken a toll on Kelly. Enrollment into new charter schools drained the population of public schools, and with low enrollment, there is low funding.

“We get a ton of charter school students back because they didn’t like the school, but we don’t get the money of the charter schools back,” Morrison said.

CTU also demands that more teachers should be hired based on how many students there are. Some teachers will have four to five different prep periods due to low staffing.

However, not many people are on board with the strike. Many parents all over the city are upset that their students are missing class, and outsiders online have made comments such as, “The teachers are not thinking about the children.”

Bradley and Brown both questioned what other ways can they make change.

“Striking is a result of them not wanting to come to the table,” Bradley said. “If we weren’t on strike, students will not get what they need. The board is not taking us serious until we strike, goes to show that they don’t care.”

Monica Ramos, the new assistant director in the Egan Office at DePaul, said that students who decide to pursue teaching as a career must be convinced that they are passionate about it.

“One comes into education with a little hope with a lot of passion and sometimes with a romanticized view of what a teacher is and what a teacher can do.,” Ramos said. “We encounter the crude reality it can be very overwhelming, but one must be convinced that embracing education as a career will have its ups and downs.”

Brown, alongside other Kelly teachers, goes to Kelly everyday to picket, as do  former students who support the strike.

“We’re good at looking at historical movements of people who stood against power, but we’re bad at looking at it when it’s happening in front of us,” Ramos said. “It’s a revolution.”