Day one of the Chicago Teachers Union strike ended much the same way it began: with thousands of teachers united in protest.
Whereas the morning saw dozens of discrete groups of teachers arriving to picket outside of their respective schools, the late afternoon's mass protest brought a sea of red CTU shirts to the heart of downtown Chicago outside of the Chicago Public Schools headquarters.
Literally, tens of thousands of the city’s public school teachers were joined by hundreds of supporters including parents, students, and other union members. At one point the line of CTU supporters managed to snake around Clark and LaSalle Streets from the Chicago Board of Education building to City Hall.
The message remained the same with teachers and their supporters chanting for a teacher evaluation system that doesn’t heavily rely on standardized tests and better classroom facilities, like air-conditioning.
“At our school we have air-conditioning in about three of our classrooms. It’s very hard to learn when it’s like 98 degrees inside a classroom,” said Ola Wolan, a 17 year-old Lane Tech student.
“There’s about 4,000 students at our school and it gets really nasty, sweaty in the summer.”
Wolan was joined by two classmates who echoed her concerns about the lack of climate control, and a lack of individual attention due to overcrowding in their classrooms.
Those issues, however, might come down to an either-or situation at the bargaining table as David Vitale, Chicago Board of Education president, told WBEZ that there isn’t enough money in the school budget for both AC and salary increases.
Earlier on Monday, the Illinois High School Association put CPS sports on hold.
At the time of this writing negotiations between the city and the union remained stalled. But even as the strike continues indefinitely with students forced to spend time outside of the classroom some parents remain undeterred in their support of the teachers.
“Well, we’ll continue [their education] at home, you know? Reading to them, showing them math. And they’ll have to make it up at the end of the year,” said Evelyn Camacho, whose young son attends CPS’s Fulton Elementary Network.
Here's some highlights from this afternoon's CTU rally:
The CTU strike is set to continue tomorrow, with teachers expected to return to the picket line at one of the 144 CPS schools designated as Children First sites in the district's contingency plan at 6:30 a.m. Check back with Progress Illinois for continuing coverage of the CTU strike.