By Illinois Watchdog
CHICAGO – Chicago public school teachers and students will be back in the classroom beginning Wednesday.
About 800 delegates for the Chicago Teachers Union voted to call off the strike, which began Sept. 10 and kept more than 400,000 students out of classrooms for seven days. Parents were left in a lurch as they scrambled to arrange care for their children, many of whom live in dangerous neighborhoods and rely on schools to provide a safe place for students during the day.
Delegates for the union voted Tuesday to end the strike, but all members of the union must vote on the latest contract proposal in the coming weeks.
“We said we couldn’t solve all the problems. . .and it was time to suspend the strike,” CTU President Karen Lewis said at a news conference after the vote, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Although the work stoppage began last week, contract negotiations between teachers and the city-run school district has been ongoing for months. Teachers initially sought a 30-percent salary hike over two years – something they said was needed because they are required to work longer school days this year.
However, the Chicago school district expects a $1 billion deficit next year, making such a bump virtually impossible.
The tentative three-year contract proposal will cost about $74 million each year, according to the school district. Among the highlights:
- Teachers will receive a 3-percent raise the first year and 2-percent raises in years two and three. If the contract is extended a fourth year, teachers will get a 3-percent raise the fourth year.
- Teacher evaluations, one of the big sticking points in the contract negotiations, will be based on both student “growth” on standardized tests, as well as on classroom observations. The system will be phased in over the three years and count for no more than 30 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.
- On the issue of job security, principals will get the final say on hiring, but teachers rated “excellent” or “satisfactory” at schools that are closed or consolidated will have a chance to be reassigned.
Chicago Public Schools, with more than 675 schools, is the nation’s third largest school district.