By Mireya Aguilar ’16
On April 1, the Chicago Teachers Union called for better education funding by walking out on a one-day march through the Loop.
Thousands of teachers, supporters, and labor organizations marched from the Thompson Center to Grant Park around 6 p.m. during rush hour.
Teachers are tired of midyear cuts that only allowed for teachers to be let go and also less money spent in classrooms and for the students’ education. Also, teachers receive three unpaid days off. However, Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said it can save them over $30 million. Karen Lewis, President of Chicago Teachers Union, argues the mayor is already asking for 7 percent reduction in salary pay, which will add 1.6 percent.
The union hoped this will wake up Springfield to provide more funding by striking the third largest school district in the nation. This was also an action against Governor Bruce Rauner’s anti-union positions, and to target Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the lack of funding and failure of Chicago Teachers Union contract deals.
Rauner released a statement and also agreed to call the strike illegal, “Walking out on kids in the classroom, leaving parents in the lurch and thumbing their nose at taxpayers — it’s the height of arrogance from those we’ve entrusted with our children’s futures.” Rauner argued public-worker unions have too much power and will try to minimize their political influence as well.
Emanuel also saw this strike as “illegal.” He argued on the stand that the students should not suffer for a political message.
However, many CPS students stood side by side their teachers through the rally. Arely Barrera, a junior at Lane Tech College Prep, attended the rally to fight for her rights as a student along with her teachers. She believes in a fair contract for her teachers and as well as a better education for herself and many others entering Chicago Public Schools. Barrera wanted to make a point to the Board of Education, “As students, teachers, and parents, we stand in solidarity.”
Sade Luna, also a senior at Lane Tech College Prep, did not take part of the event. She could not seem to pick a side because she did not contain all the proper knowledge of the situation going on. To her and many other students as well, they saw this day as a day off to get homework done and relax. Her mother, however, use to work for CPS and left because of all of the problems between CPS and the CTU. Her mother doesn’t pay much attention to it anymore and changes the channel every time the strike was mentioned.
Chicago Public Schools’ CEO, Forrest Claypool, has sued the union to make sure that they never again participate in an “unlawful” strike and demanded the Chicago Teachers Union to pay the costs of the strike.
Chicago police said they arrested three people that Friday.
Although CPS offered a new contract, Chicago Teachers Union believed the contract did not acknowledge the economic pay of teachers. However, it said to help the instructions and the academic environment for the CPS students. CPS teachers are not satisfied with the contract because it does not touch on the topic of any economic elements. CTU do plan on having another strike and will give a 10 day notice before it occurs.