Teachers stay strong amid strike criticisms

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A sea of more than 20,000 red t-shirts donned by teachers, union leaders, and a number of supporters rallied in Union Park, Saturday, chanting, “strong schools, strong community,” “Chicago is a union town,” and “the people united will never be divided.”

The rally at Union Park had a diverse list of supporters and speakers that included parents, students, educators from Wisconsin and Indiana, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, local Aldermen, and the Rev. Jessie Jackson. 

Standing on a platform with a white and blue banner that read “Take Back Chicago Schools” as the backdrop, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis greeted the large crowd.

“Brothers and sisters,” Lewis said, “I am tired of the lies, name-calling, and the vilification of the people who do the work every single day to make the difference in our children in Chicago’s lives.”

Describing the tough conditions for teachers, Lewis said that she would like the Chicago Public Schools Board to turn off their air-conditioning, work with limited supplies, and to not only be evaluated, but to also have their evaluation based on the work completed by students who also have to suffer that type of an environment. Lewis added that the CTU is standing in the way of bad policies for education made by people without any professional educational experience. At the end, CTU President Lewis stated that the negotiations are over.

“Brothers and sisters, we did not start this fight…we want to work with people…that’s how we roll, we are collaborative. Collaboration is the best thing you can do to make schools better.”

Lawyers and the CTU House of Delegates began drafting the language for the proposed contract Sunday based on the framework for an agreement developed over the past week. Unfortunately, due to the start of the Rosh Hashanah holiday at sundown, which continues through Tuesday, the CTU contract was not completed in time for schools to resume Monday. CTU House of Delegates voted to continue the strike. CTU House of Delegates will meet again Tuesday afternoon to resume drafting of the contract.

Although Chicago students will not be back in the classroom Monday, they will continue their education by witnessing history through the solidarity of the teachers and their numerous supporters.