- The Washington Times - Friday, October 18, 2019

More than 360,000 Chicago students were kept from their classrooms Thursday as teachers from the city’s 500 public schools went on strike to press the city for better contract terms.

The first day of the work stoppage was marked by thousands of teachers and parents participating in an afternoon march in downtown Chicago, chanting “Whose schools? Our schools!” and displaying signs calling for a “fair contract.” Many of them, including bilingual special education teacher Pamela Wasson, picketed in front of their school buildings.

“I’m hopeful. I’m here to stand up for teachers and the future teachers,” the 34-year veteran teacher said to Reuters while protesting by her North Side elementary school.

The Chicago Teachers Union is attempting to strike a deal with the district which allows more funding to reduce class sizes and provide more social workers and nurses.

Union President Jesse Sharkey said they have made progress and “have in our possession now something in writing about class size. It’s a shame that it took a work stoppage to actually get that document.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the district’s proposition includes a 16% raise over five years and adding more staff to both reduce class sizes and support other school functions. She has said previously the union’s demands would cost city taxpayers an extra $2.5 billion.

“We certainly believe that we can get a deal done,” she said Thursday.

The U.S.’s third-largest school district is still opening its doors for parents who have no one to watch their children during the strike.

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