September 17th, 2012
05:13 AM ET

Q&A: What's behind the Chicago teachers' strike?

The Chicago teachers strike drags into a second week, after a representative group of the Chicago Teachers Union decided over the weekend not to end the walkout even though union leaders and school officials had reached a tentative contract deal.

The strike in the third-largest school system in the country is affecting more than 350,000 children.

A quick primer:

Q. What's the sticking point?

A. Among the major issues, the teachers are negotiating over the length of the school day, objecting to their evaluations being tied to performance and fretting about potential job losses.

Q. How would the length of school days change?

A. Elementary students would gain 75 minutes to create a seven-hour school day. High school students would gain 30 minutes to create a seven-and-a-half-hour school day. Teachers wants additional money to teach the additional hours.

Q. Why are teachers objecting to evaluations tied to performance?

A. The union says student performance is directly linked to conditions in the home or neighborhood, making it unfair for teachers to be punished if students don't do well in the the classroom for those reasons.

Q. How many jobs will be lost under the evaluation plan?

A. As many as 6,000 teachers could lose their jobs under the evaluation system, according to CTU President Karen Lewis, who has called the system "unacceptable." The mayor's office, the city and school officials have questioned that job-loss figure.

Q. How many school closings are being talked about?

A. The teachers union says 200 schools will be closed, but Marielle Sainvilus, a spokeswoman for Chicago Public Schools, calls the claim "false," asserting that union leaders said recently that 100 schools would close. "I'm sure it'll be another number tomorrow," she said.

Q. What is the status of the strike?

A. The Chicago Teachers Union will make no decision Monday. They are taking the day off for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is vowing to go to court to force teachers back to work, calling Sunday's actions by the union "a delay of choice that is wrong for our children." He announced in a statement that he's asked city lawyers to file an injunction in circuit court to "immediately end this strike."

Q. What's next?

A. The House of Delegates - a group of 800 union representatives - will reconvene Tuesday afternoon, at which point delegates could decide to end the strike. If they do, classes would resume no earlier than Wednesday. The rank-and-file of the Chicago Teachers Union would still have the opportunity at some point to accept, or reject, the proposed contract.

But as of Sunday, Lewis said a "clear majority" of union delegates did not want to suspend the strike given the proposed contract, saying "they are not happy with the agreement."


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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • U.S.
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    Oh, I give up. I cannot continue making excuses for blithering dimocrat nincompoops. The most highly paid teachers in America want more money for what? Babysitting hoodlums until the school system disgorges tem upon society. I’ll feel better when this vodka headache wears off.

    September 17, 2012 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Rascal Rabble

      that is not a fair statment to call an entire city of youth of chicago hoodlums...any more than calling the boyscouts of america's leadership closet pederasts...

      September 17, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Rascal Rabble:
      I didn't write this abominable post, and it does not reflect my opinion at all.
      Smurf, remember?

      @faux banasy jacker:
      New York has the highest paid teachers in America, and I wish you would get alcohol posioning the next time you go on one of your benders.
      The only blithering blathering idiot here is you.

      September 17, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. francois2012


    September 17, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    More money for mediocre teachers to produce lamentable results with no accountability, and Rahm says he's a union man? Come on people, this mess canot be explained away! Chicago is murder capital USA, worse than Afghanistan or Congo!

    September 17, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mary

    Prolly RR. Even if he pushes the Union which according to the article is a major support base... I don't recall Chicago being one the the key states of the Presidential election.
    Good Morning to you sir! 🙂

    September 17, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mary

    @ Faux banasy©, If you have something to say... say it under your own name please. Otherwise ... get lost.

    September 17, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    Lol very astute of you Mary, that is not banasy.

    September 17, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. chrissy

    There does seem to be a major decline in ethics in teaching however. And not only in Chicago but in all cities. And the teachers unions are beginning to look more like major league sporting unions! You cant be in it just for the money!

    September 17, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. vinnie

    What slavery! I can't imagine a 7-1/2 hour work day, because that would be an hour and a half less than I typically work 240 days a year. And as a salaried employee, I only get paid for eight hours a day. P.S. I don't get Rosh Hashanah off either. I did not realize the CTU had such a devout Jewish religion base. At 8+ percent unemployment, I am sure we could find somone would love to teach and get summers off. I suggest if we want to dump government money into something, we cross train the unemployed who want to work and replace the whiners who don't. Mind you that it is not that I don't appreciate teachers, it is that I think they might consider what others have to do for a living before crying foul.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Schools have Good Friday off, too.
      Religion has nothing to do with this.
      And what *you* go through, and other right-to-work employees, is exactly why unions exist.
      One cannot be "cross trained" to teach; one must have the applicable education to be a teacher.

      That being said, it is time for the teachers to sign on the dotted line and get back to their jobs.

      September 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Vinnie,these holidays are nation wide ,not just in Chicago.And you didn't go to college for a degree either or in some state teachers have to get HUD homes in undesirable areas because teachers pay starts so low,some under $20,000 a year,try living on that right outta college with loans to pay..But then you could be like Romney and ask for cash from your parents for college ,its that easy,two legged ATM machines right..These teachers also buy student supplies and aren't compensated and stay late to help tutor some students who need additional help,do you stay late to help someone for no pay,I doubt it!!Remember thank a teacher for who you are in life,yah didn't post on these sites without their help did yah!!And this strike isn't all about wages either,its about the conditions of schools and the areas they teach at,they're protecting the kids,not just themselves,read up!!

      September 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ronvan

    There is NO question that our school system is just screwed up! ALL across the USA!! GOOD vs BAD? With ALL kinds of employment there are those employees that work hard and those that do just the minimum. That is a fact of life! HOWEVER, teachers are, for me, in a different catagory. WE, parents, expect them to do their absolute best to teach our kids for THEIR and OUR future. The fact that you, as I understand it, cannot FIRE a teacher because of Tenure, or because they are not doing their jobs, is outrageous! Unions have a RESPONSIBILITY to insure its members are, in fact, doing their jobs, not just paying their dues! YES, I totally agree that teachers are NOT responsible for RAISING or babysitting kids in school! Kids come to school to LEARN and better themselves. Teachers are there to give their BEST effort to do this! IF a student refuses to behave or try to learn then is when the Asst. Principal, Principal, Counselors, get involved. You DON'T send them back to class until the problem (s) have been resolved! Sorry, if this means they are sent home, then it is the PARENTS RESPONSIBILITY to correct the problem, and if they cannot then, again sorry, that student WILL become a burden on our society. BUT the ones that want to learn will NOT have their chance destroyed over 1 or more that continually disrupt cllass's! The VAST MAJORITY of teachers, for me, are underpaid!! In this case it looks like teachers are making some good money!?
    BUT, again, what is the "cost of living" in this area? Teachers pay CANNOT be the same throughout the USA. It needs to be compatible with the area they teach in! LONGER school days? YOU BET, easy to say, but many things, other than school that come into play

    September 18, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. JimP

    Question? Could the good citizens of Chicago that are paying school taxes on their property request an adjustment to their taxes for the time that they were not getting school services for their tax dollars. Could the city of Chicago then go after the teachers union to recover the lost tax dollars?

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |