At 6:30 a.m. today the Chicago Teachers Union will officially go on strike for
the first time since 1987, affecting about 404,000 Chicago Public Schools
students and 26,500 teachers. Both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said they expect a return to the bargaining table
However, the two sides may not be close to reaching a deal.
The following is written by Oscar Weil, formerexecutive director of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
The threat of a teachers’ strike in Chicago is but an introduction to a crisis that will spread as school districts and unions face many problems in negotiating new contracts. A crisis has been building in Illinois for thirty years, as it has been in other states, like California, which was once a model for education in the nation and is now in decline. The decline began in Illinois when Ronald Reagan was able to turn the people away from the progressive income tax as the only way the nation could carry the cost of paying for a public education system that has been the most democratic in the developed world, a system that became the foundation for the greatest economy in the world.