Thousands of Chicago teachers took to the streets this morning, making a statement about poor local school management and the state’s dire budget impasse, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The Chicago Teachers Union walked side by side with parents, students, and community organizers after announcing the “day of action” for the nation’s third-largest school district on a flyer. About 396,000 students attend one of about 500 schools in the district.
“All this support, it already gives us a sense that people understand what’s happening,” the Tribune quoted Tom Keddy, the union representative at Roberto Clemente High School in the city’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, as saying. “Of course we’d prefer to be inside teaching the students. We don’t take these things lightly. But they understand it’s for us and it’s for them.”
The state’s budget impasse, now beginning its 10th month, has resulted in drastic cuts for schools, unresolved teacher contract negotiations, and a larger budget crisis that has yielded threats from Gov Bruce Rauner, a Republican, about taking over the Chicago Public Schools and weakening the powerful union.
School district officials have planned to challenge the walkout on legal grounds.
The CTU has about 27,000 members, and the union projected that almost all would participate in the day of action. In addition, hundreds of students have organized their own rally downtown.
Last week, school was cancelled by the district for a day, a so-called “furlough day” to save some money, and Jesse Sharkey, CTU’s vice president, said parents shouldn’t have much trouble finding daycare for kids who can’t go to school today on account of the CTU walkout. After all, they had to make arrangements last week when the district cancelled school.