Chicago Teachers Authorize Strike

Nearly 90 percent of Chicago teachers authorize a strike. Elizabeth Brackett has the latest on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.

Chicago Tonight asked parents and teachers of Chicago Public School children to share their thoughts about a possible teachers' strike. Here's what they had to say:

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Maria, parent of CPS kindergartener and CPS 3rd-grader:

"At the school level teachers are designing the longer school day schedule to meet the needs of teachers, not necessarily the children. The typical, “more time” for “more money” does not sit well with parents since we know Chicago has the shortest school day with the highest paid teachers. It has mostly been possible because the “threat of a strike” has been so successful.

But now parents know better and we certainly have more options today than we ever have. We see schools that are tone deaf to what children want and need for the 21st century. Teachers are here for the children, not the other way around. A strike, in my opinion, would be a huge mistake for the Union. It’s a different world, and an online public education may be just as good, if not better suited for today’s student."

David Stieber, CPS teacher:

"Let's be clear the strike vote does not mean we teachers are going to strike. This vote legally authorizes teachers to strike if the appointed board of education with zero educational experience, the "CEO "of CPS and the Mayor continue to bash, antagonize, and disrespect public school teachers. Zero progress continues to be made on the contract negotiations, not because the Teachers and CTU have stopped negotiating, but because the Board's proposals are harmful for students, parents, teachers, and overall our city.

Schools are not a business and should not be run as such. The Board of Education should be made up of teachers, parents, community members, not multibillion and millionaires with no respect for public education who choose to send their own kids to private schools that have art, music, gym, and world languages every day, while the public schools do not. I will vote for the strike authorization vote, because the board and mayor need to know how serious we educators are. A strike helps no one, but since Rahm has come into office he has bashed us and blamed us for anything he can. A time comes when teachers must stand up to harassment by the only means we have left to do so. No one wants to strike, but the mayor is leaving us with no other options. So we will authorize a strike, then let it be up to him if he wants to work with us or continue to bash us. Whatever route Rahm chooses will determine if we actually have to strike or not in September."

Michael Butz, parent of CPS 2nd-grader:

"I think Chicago teachers deserve a fair raise for the additional hours they will work in future years, and I agree that questions surrounding how CPS will fund the longer day have not been answered to my satisfaction and should be. However, I also feel that the CTU is wrong on two very significant points. 1) Asking for a 30% raise is entirely out of touch with the current economic reality in Chicago, Illinois, the United States and the world at large. It is so wildly absurd as to be comical. Unfortunately, it's not funny in the slightest. 2) I believe it was wrong to call for a strike authorization vote before any teacher even had an opportunity to read the proposed contract.

If the CTU strikes in August I will be enraged and so very disappointed. The impact on thousands of families, especially those struggling to keep food on the table in a recession, will be enormous and will radiate outward into the Chicago economy. It's a terrible message to be sending children - that the adults entrusted with their care, on both sides, can't - or won't - work things out."

Jessica Marshall, CPS high school teacher:

"I have a 7.5 week old newborn at home. Both my partner and I are CPS teachers. Obviously my family would not welcome a strike. At the same time my family would not welcome a contract from CPS that would mean over the next 5 years I am only going to see a 2% raise despite an increase in school day/year while also eliminating consideration of my teaching experience and advanced education. I would not welcome a contract over the next 5 years that judged my effectiveness in large part based on a test that was not created to evaluate teachers in the first place. I would not welcome a contract over the next 5 years that did not include stipulations to ensure that I am the best teacher I can be - including class size, adequate facilities/resources including air-conditioning, and social/emotional supports for students struggling with the harmful effects of poverty.

Mr. Brizard has spent most of this year talking to "stakeholders." He doesn't mean the 25,000 of us who actually work in schools day in and day out. His stakeholders are private organizations that don't actually work and operate within the schools. How can he consult them about OUR contract and then only come to us as an afterthought? This vote isn't because teachers like me want to go out on strike, it’s because we feel ignored at best and disrespected at worst. I am not energized because I am some greedy teacher looking for an extra dime; I'm fired up because I know that this contract will most directly affect my ability to do a good job day in and day out for my students!

I hope that my students, their parents and our community members understand that we are in this fight for our own dignity AND because we want a better education for our students. Hopefully we can get that without having to go on strike. Hopefully the Mayor and his CEO of CPS will come to the bargaining table ready to deal with us as partners in improving schools vs. road bumps on the way to their very flawed, unproven vision of school reform."

Lisa Kulisek, parent of CPS pre-schooler:

"Although I understand the Chicago Teacher's Union desire to have a strong bargaining position - therefore having called for a strike authorization before even seeing the proposal they will be asked to consider - it flies in the face of common sense to ask teachers to decide on something without their having all of the information about what they are voting on.

Given the chance to participate, I am not surprised that teachers felt compelled. How many opportunities do they have to use their collective voice? What an amazing thing it would be if we allowed them to be heard on a regular basis instead of at moments like this and through the filter of this particular union agenda? And what if, instead of 30,000 teachers, we were able to hear 30,000 teachers AND the parents of 400,000 students speaking out on behalf of our schools?

Our Chicago Public School system needs improvement on every front - leadership, teachers, students and parents. The statistics on performance can't be ignored. I think that it is high time for parents to have a voice in public education in Chicago. Whether the teachers strike or not will be up to them, but there is no reason that they shouldn't know how parents feel when they make a decision like this that will affect all of our kids. We want them to take the decision as seriously as parents take every decision about their children every day."

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