Nothing "Silly" About Teacher Strike: CPS

"We take these negotiations incredibly serious," said chief education advisor Barbara Byrd Bennett

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Day three of Chicago's teacher strike brought finger-pointing as to who was being silly and serious about negotiations. Kim Vatis reports. (Published Monday, Sep 17, 2012)

    As barbs kept flying between frustrated sides of the Chicago teacher strike, one word in particular especially irked public school officials.

    Here's a hint: It's child's play.

    "I've got to back to the silly part of my day," union president Karen Lewis said Tuesday as thousands of teachers rallied downtown.

    Chicago Public Schools was none too pleased with the insinuation, and school board president David Vitale blasted the comment later that day, telling reporters there's no room for such behavior in negotiations.

    “There was some public talk of silliness about what's going on in this building today, that this was a silly season,” Vitale said. “I’m not a silly person."

    Pointing to teachers' massive rally in the afternoon, he said, "This is not the behavior of a group of people that are serious about the interests of our children."

    The s-word was brought up again Wednesday, this time by chief education advisor Barbara Byrd Bennett.

    "Yesterday our negotiations were characterized as silly," Bennett said ahead of the day's negotiations. "I need to share with you and the larger community that it's all but silly. We take these negotiations incredibly serious. It's not silly that our athletes are sitting on the sidelines. ... It's not silly that we spent over 10 hours yesterday attempting bridge the gap."

    When asked Wednesday morning about such silly language, Jesse H. Ruiz, vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, chalked it up to frustration.

    "There's frustration obviously," Ruiz said. "You're hearing feelings being vented from both sides, and none of us want to be here. We know the Chicago Teachers Union and definitely the folks at CPS don't want to be on strike and have our students and teachers out of the classroom. So there's a level of frustration there that will continue to grow until we get this done."

    NBC Chicago has an array of reporters and producers covering the Chicago teacher strike. Check our live blog for continuous coverage and updates throughout the strike.