Chicago Public Schools were closed today for Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day (the state of Illinois does not formally recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but it is listed on the CPS calendar), and many teachers spent the day rallying and marching as Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union continued to try to make a last-minute deal.
CPS and CTU are at odds over more than just pay and benefits. In recent years severe budget crises have led to cuts in staffing in schools, including nurses, librarians, and social workers. Class sizes have also grown dramatically as schools have closed. However, legally, the teachers can only strike for pay and benefits, not staffing or class size.
The previous mayor, Rahm Emanuel, had a contentious relationship with the CTU, and his failures in education were a primary cause for his low approval rating and may have led to his decision not to seek a third term.
Lightfoot says that she is committed to making a deal. In this first major test of her administration, everyone is watching to see if she manages to avoid the strike, currently planned to start Thursday.
We will learn soon if Chicago teachers will strike for the third time since 2011.
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