Teachers from three Chicago charter schools hit the picket line Thursday morning, striking amid contract negotiations over benefits and classroom resources.
Educators from the Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy, the Instituto Justice Leadership Academy and Latino Youth High School were part of the strike.
More than a thousand students were expected to be impacted at the schools, all on the city's Southwest Side.
At issue is the teachers' contracts covering wages and resources in classrooms.
"Our demands are simple. Fair wages. Fair contract. Better resources for our students, including mental health services and funded after-school programs," said Carlene Carpenter, a teacher at Latino Youth High School.
Since announcing the strike, two charter schools involved - Youth Connection Leadership Academy and the Chicago High School for the Arts - reached tentative agreements with their charter operators.
During a rally Wednesday night, teachers and students demanded that the charter operators meet their needs in the classroom, with some teachers saying they had gone without a contract for months.
"There are teachers working three jobs just to make ends meet," ChiArts student Haley Cao said. "There are teachers that work way beyond hours they are paid for in order to create a curriculum that is right for our students who go to school from eight to five. I support my teachers because they’re the ones who fought for my education, fought for me to be the best version of myself."
IHSCA and IJLA said in a statement that the organizations were "deeply disappointed" in the strikes at their campuses.
"This strike will place a significant burden on the families who we serve, reduce more than 800 students’ access to learning and it will cause long-term harm to the school community at our two campuses," the joint statement said, adding that they have held more than 20 negotiating sessions with CTU since October 2018.
"At these sessions, we have made significant progress including agreements on nearly 20 provisions of the new contract including sanctuary protections, increased support for English language learners and diverse learners, increased wraparound services for students, shared responsibility for teacher growth, grievance procedures and mentoring for new teachers, among others," IHSCA and IJLA said.
The organizations said they were "still in the process" of negotiating compensation and benefits but believed they were making progress by including paid parental leave, class size limits of 28 and a "significant" but unspecified salary increase over the next four years in their most recent proposals to teachers.
All-day programming was available for impacted IHSCA and IJLA students at the Rauner YMCA, located at 2700 S. Western Ave., from 7:50 a.m. to 4 p.m., with early dismissal Friday and all after-school activities cancelled, the schools said.