At the center of the Chicago teachers' strike are Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the head of the teachers' union, Karen Lewis. To learn more about Lewis and the relationship between the teachers' union and the mayor's office, Audie Cornish talks to Joel Hood, education reporter at the Chicago Tribune.
Chicago public school teachers and their supporters picket in front of the Chicago Public Schools headquarters.
Credit Scott Olson / Getty Image
As a strike by Chicago's schoolteachers enters a third day, the president of their union says negotiators are still "miles apart" from an agreement to get 350,000 students back in the classroom, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The talks were set to resume Wednesday morning, but Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said there had been only "centimeters" of progress and that the union and city were still "kilometers apart."
On the face of it, the teacher's strike in Chicago is about money, job security and how teachers are evaluated. But it's also about the political pressure on teachers' unions to make concessions that not long ago would've been unheard of. Teachers' collective bargaining rights these days have taken a backseat to bare-bones budgets and to claims that unions are an obstacle to efforts aimed at improving the quality of schools. As NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports, all these elements have come together in Chicago.
Striking teachers in Chicago manned the picket lines for a second day today as parents again scrambled to occupy their stay-at-home kids.
Some 350,000 of the district's students are locked out of their classrooms because city officials and thousands of teachers represented by the Chicago Teachers Union have yet to reach a contract. The strike is the first by public school teachers in the Chicago in 25 years.
It was a major accomplishment in Chicago that teachers who used to walk out frequently had, for the past 25 years, managed to avoid a strike. But it's not surprising, many experts say, that things would fall apart now.
"I think it is a perfect storm," says Tim Knowles, head of the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute. He says issues in Chicago — of tying teacher pay to student test scores, job security, longer school days and expanding charter schools, for example — are not unlike issues unions have grappled with in other cities, from New York to Los Angeles.