CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday urged the Chicago Teachers Union to call off its threatened one-day strike.
Not surprisingly, the mayor said Chicago Public Schools students need more time in the classroom, not less, but the mayor did not lash out at the teachers’ union for suggesting a possible one-day strike on May 1.
“I appreciate and am sensitive to the frustrations that are felt by taxpayers, by teachers, and by parents. Focus that time and energy on where it belongs, which is Springfield. Illinois is dead last in funding education out of the 50 states,” he said.
However, CTU officials also have been frustrated with CPS imposing unpaid furlough days on teachers and staff, and with the district’s threat to shorten the school year by nearly three weeks.
CPS has said it might be forced to close schools on June 1 instead of June 20 if the cash-strapped district does not get a funding infusion from the state. The district was left with a $215 million budget shortfall after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed legislation to provide CPS with pension relief. Even after imposing furlough days and spending freezes, the CPS budget shortfall stands at $129 million for the current school year.
CTU President Karen Lewis has said, if the district goes ahead with the plan to end the school year early, it would violate the current teachers’ contract, and could provoke a strike.
The union’s House of Delegates has approved a monthlong discussion period before voting on April 5 whether to set a May 1 strike.