Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday said public school students have gotten "the shaft" and said canceling teachers' contractually-obligated pay raises was the right decision.
"I can't, in good conscience, continue an implicit understanding between parties that left our children on the side of the road," he said. "Just a little north of 50 percent of our kids graduate. Our [test] scores haven’t moved. Yet, in all that time, not one additional minute of instructional time for the children of Chicago where they can be safe and learning... Our future -- which is what this is about, the mission of education -- our children got the shaft... I will not accept our children continuing to get the shaft."
The school board voted unanimously Wednesday to cancel the four percent pay hike in the final year of a five-year contract that was approved well before the system fell into a more than $700 million deficit.
Chicago Teachers Union lawyers have now sent a letter to the school board demanding negotiations on the salary schedule. A battle may be brewing, though, since Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation this week that bars unions from striking unless at least 75 percent of members agree to do so.
In recent years when the economy has soured, other city workers have taken furlough days. Teachers did not.
"If children have gotten the shaft from anything, it’s our system. This system needs some serious re-organization," said CTU President Karen Lewis, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
She suggested the mayor "stop maligning teachers" and look at fixing the revenue streams for the schools.
"As mayor, that should be his job, instead of just repeating things that aren't based on research or real evidence," she said.