Day three of the Chicago Teachers Union strike saw simultaneous rallies Wednesday afternoon at three high schools across the city, which brought out thousands of teachers, parents, and children.
Progress Illinois caught up with teachers at John Marshall Metropolitan High School on the city’s West Side during one of the rallies. There, many teachers continued to hammer on the issues of overcrowded classes and their respective schools' lack of resources, like libraries, nurses and social workers, air conditioning, and computers. Yet, none complained of being paid too little or working too many hours.
“Overcrowding’s number one,” said Tony Heinrichs, a first-grade teacher at Falconer Elementary School. “Thirty-some kids in a classroom, it’s ninety-some degrees in the classroom, there’s not a lot of learning going on.”
Heinrichs, whose daughter rang a cowbell while perched upon her father’s shoulders as they marched through the East Garfield Park neighborhood, said he hopes the strike teaches her how to stand up for fair treatment.
And with fears mounting over rumors that Mayor Emanuel is planning to close up to over 100 schools once an agreement is reached between both sides, SB 630 could become an important weapon in the union’s fight against Emanuel’s push towards privatizing the city’s education system.
The Mayor’s spokesperson has since denied those rumors.
Late last night, CTU President Karen Lewis and Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale both said there were major strides made in negotiations yesterday and that students could be back in school by Friday.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a left-leaning political activism group, has been urging Chicago residents who support the teachers to call on their elected officials to do the same.
So, far most Illinois politicians, save for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a handful of aldermen, have followed President Barack Obama’s lead and currently remain neutral on the issue. Read 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer’s opinion here.
As for rank-and-file teachers, they remain undeterred in their strike even in the face of an uncertain financial future.
“We have to, more than stay positive, stay strong, because we believe in this,” said Mauricio Pineda, a K through 8th grade art teacher at Reilly Elementary.
Here’s more from Chicago educators responding to criticism that the average CPS teacher makes over $71,000 a year: