- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Chicago teachers go on strike for first time in 25 years
CHICAGO — For the first time in a quarter-century, thousands of Chicago teachers walked off the job Monday, escalating a bitter contract dispute over evaluations, job security and other issues and forcing parents to scramble for somewhere to send idle children.
Both sides went back to the bargaining table around midday, hours after the walkout began when the two sides failed to agree on a contract before a midnight deadline. The strike affected nearly 400,000 public school students and their families in the nation’s third-largest district.
While negotiators said they had made progress on salary issues and a longer school day, they remained divided on a host of other issues.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed to end the confrontation quickly. He repeatedly said negotiators were within reach of a deal and that the strike was unnecessary. He acknowledged tensions with union over longstanding issues, but urged a quick resolution.
“Don’t take it out on the kids of Chicago if you have a problem with me,” Emanuel said Monday at one of the churches that is serving as a gathering spot for students during the strike.
Some 26,000 teachers and support staff were expected to join the picket line, and events were planned all day long. At Paul Robeson High School on the city’s South Side, two dozen teachers wearing red shirts chanted and carried signs saying “On Strike For Better Schools.”
“There’s been a large disinvestment in neighborhood public schools,” said Jeremy Peters, who’s taught civics and U.S. history for a decade. “It’s an absolute debacle.”
To give students a place to go, district officials said some 140 schools would be open between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. so children who rely on free meals provided by the schools can eat breakfast and lunch. More than 80 percent of district students qualify for free and reduced-price lunches.
City officials acknowledged that children left unsupervised — especially in neighborhoods with a history of gang violence — might be at risk, but Emanuel vowed to protect students.
“We will make sure our kids are safe. We will see our way through these issues, and our kids will be back in the classroom where they belong,” said Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff.
The school district asked community organizations to provide additional programs for students, and a number of churches, libraries and other groups planned to offer day camps and other activities.
Police Chief Garry McCarthy said he would take officers off desk duty and deploy them to deal with any teachers’ protests as well as the thousands of students who could be roaming the streets. Chicago police reported no problems or violence related to the strike.
Union leaders and district officials were not far apart in their negotiations on compensation, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said. But other issues — including potential changes to health benefits and a new teacher evaluation system based partly on students’ standardized test scores — remained unresolved, she said.
“This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could have avoided,” Lewis said. “We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.”
Before the strike, some parents said they would not drop their children at strange schools where they didn’t know the other students or supervising adults.
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
- FIELDS: Oscars' fantasy on the Left Coast
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again