Marching teachers in downtown Chicago were blocked by police as they tried to enter Lake Shore Drive during rush hour Friday afternoon on the seventh day of canceled classes in the city.
The teachers began with a rally near Buckingham Fountain before marching down city streets, prompting closures as they went. The group was stopped on Balbo at Lake Shore Drive as a line of officers kept them from entering the major roadway.
Although no agreement was reached Thursday, officials with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union say that there was some progress made in negotiations.
"We've had a productive day," Deputy Mayor for Education Sybil Madison said Thursday. "We've had good conversations on many topics, and we're encouraged by the progress we're making."
"We had some good progress as the bargaining table yesterday," CTU President Jesse Sharkey said at a news conference Friday morning. "I'm not gonna go into details but I will say that we had conversations that hopefully could give us a path to a settlement."
"At the same time though, I do need everyone to know that the resolve of our union, the public, the parents and the city of Chicago is undiminished," Sharkey continued. "We intend to achieve better schools in the city of Chicago."
About 30,000 members of both the Chicago Teachers Union and Service Employees International Union Local 73 went on strike Oct. 17, canceling school for more than 300,000 students.
Both sides said they've made progress at the bargaining table but that some disagreements remain on issues like class sizes, staffing and the length of the contract.
The union wants CPS to put in writing a commitment to smaller class sizes, which teachers say currently exceed 30 or 40 students in some schools, and to staff each school with a nurse, librarian and social worker. Part of their request includes an enforcement mechanism to ensure the district adheres to the class size and staffing levels in the contract.
CPS says it's taken steps toward meeting those goals but has a responsibility to taxpayers and students to ensure the district is financially stable.