Hundreds of CPS teachers joined students and parents Wednesday morning to protest outside the Board of Education, days after school board members denied a contractually obligated four percent annual pay raise for teachers.
Ahead of a decision Wednesday to approve salaries for new CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard, the Chicago Teachers Union voiced support for teachers and worried about a future without veteran educators.
"They are not supporting raises for some of CPS' oldest teachers who mentor the new teachers and teach them how to educate students," said Elyse Montejano, a CPS teacher of eight years. "How will we get that experience if we don't support them?"
Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel last week attributed the school board vote to a gaping CPS deficit. But Tiffany Watkins, a CPS counselor who attended public schools as a child, worries teachers are being passed over to bail out banks and large corporations.
"It's unfair because we're the ones who taught them," Watkins said. "Who will teach the next CEO or president?"
Jennifer Johnson, a teacher at Lincoln Park High School, said the lack in funding could create turnover in the school system, which will hurt students.
"Schools make stability in many of these kids' lives," Johnson said. "How will we maintain that stability and encourage teachers to enter the profession when there's no funding?"
As the CTU marched back toward the Board of Education to attend the morning board meeting, dozens of cars and trucks responded to signs that read, "Honk if you support teachers."
Teachers say they're not giving up the fight for education funding.
"There needs to be funding for schools," said Greg Difrancesco, a teacher at Northside College Prep HIgh School. "A lot of it has been shifted to bailing out corporations. This is terrible for our children and the future of the school system, and we will fight it."