Teacher Talks Continue as Strike Deadline Nears

Teachers will walk off job Monday -- the first time in 25 years -- if deal isn't reached

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    NEWSLETTERS

    CTU and Chicago Board of Ed members make no progress on contract talks Saturday night.

    UPDATE: Chicago Teachers Union on Strike; Talks End Without Deal.

    Contract negotiations between Chicago's teachers and school officials resumed Sunday morning in a last-ditch effort to avoid a strike.

    Students and Parents Prepare for CTU Strike

    [CHI] Students and Parents Prepare for CTU Strike
    Negotiators plan to meet through the weekend to avoid the first Chicago teachers strike in 25 years, but with a Monday strike deadline looming, Friday could be the last day of school for a while if an 11th hour deal isn't made. NBC 5 Phil Rogers reports on how the Chicago Board of Education and parents are preparing for a potential strike.

    If a deal isn't hammered out by midnight, the city will have its first teacher strike in 25 years.

    "We still have a little bit of time. The clock is obviously ticking. We want to reach a deal. We want to be in our classrooms on Monday morning," CTU's financial secretary, Kristine Mayle, said on an NBC 5 News broadcast Sunday.

    Parents Unclear How Teachers Strike Affects Them

    [CHI] Parents Unclear How Teachers Strike Affects Them
    Thousands of Chicago Public Schools students head back to class Tuesday, but with a possible teachers' strike looming, the year begins with a lot of unanswered questions. Lauren Jiggetts reports.

    Both sides said they felt they'd gotten closer to a resolution after a 10-hour bargaining session on Saturday.

    "We've made some progress but we're still -- we've got big issues on items we've always had big issues on," Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said Saturday night.

    School board president David Vitale said he was "optimistic" that teachers and their students would be in class on Monday.

    Still, workers at the Chicago Teachers Union headquarters in the Merchandise Mart on Sunday were seen moving crates of T-shirts to the union's mobilizing zones.

    If the strike happens, nearly 150 schools will be open for a half day, as will 60 churches. The Chicago Park District and the YMCA will offer day-camps.

    Fourth grade teacher Michelle Bryson was one of hundreds of teachers who showed up on Saturday afternoon to collect T-Shirts and picket signs in anticipation of a strike.

    “Of course as teachers we don't want to strike, that's not our premise. But right is right and as teachers, we want to do what's right for our teachers," she said.

    The "right" that Bryson is talking about refers to class sizes, job security and providing quality education for the longer school days being implemented this year. Additionally, teachers want an end to controversial evaluations, which the teachers contend are unfair and imprecise.

    Many parents say they want the teachers to get the best deal possible, but they also want the schools to be open on Monday.

    "In my 14 years as a CPS parent, I have never seen such chaos and disrespect for teachers, parents and everyone in our community by CPS and the people on the board," said Parents for Teachers member Erica Clark during a press conference outside the headquarters on Saturday. "It's a disgrace that they have let the situation come to this."

    CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey took a break from the negotiation sessions on Saturday with two members of the bargaining committee to attend the press conference and express his  disappointment with the current proposal.

    "The offer they came back with was disappointing to say the least and frankly there's not enough pieces of the puzzle there yet to make a picture," he said about the offer they received on Friday.

    Charter Schools Open Monday

    If Chicago Teachers Union teachers strike, students who attend charter schools should be sent to class.

    "We think our parents have gotten the message. We think our kids have gotten the message, but we wanted to make sure that we were very clear to every person who lives in Chicago that charter schools will be open tomorrow," said Beth Purvis, the CEO of Chicago International Charter Schools.

    There are about 45,000 charter school students in the city -- about 12 percent of the city's total student enrollment.