CHICAGO (CBS) — Just days before a possible strike, many teachers, students, and parents took part in “walk-ins” at several Chicago Public Schools, calling for more money for neighborhood schools.
Teachers were sounding the alarm to CPS and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to wake up and give them a fair contract, or else. Teachers, parents, and students showed up early at about 200 schools citywide, standing in solidarity ahead of a possible strike next week.
In the rain outside Taft High School, a clothesline was stretched out along the sidewalk. On it hung CPS’ “dirty laundry,” according to teacher-organizer Les Plewa.
Dangling from the clothesline were white T-shirts bearing messages in black marker like “NO ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD = UNAMERICAN,” “3 out of 4 schools NO LIBRARIAN,” and “6 YEARS 4 CPS CEOs = INSTABILITY.”
Plewa said funding is the main problem facing city schools.
“Here at Taft we have overcrowded classrooms; 36, 38 kids in a classroom. We have one social worker for 3,200 kids,” he said.
Teachers took part in walk-ins at 15 public schools on Thursday, demanding full funding for neighborhood schools. Plewa said taxpayers need to ask who is to blame for the district’s financial crisis.
“I ask your listeners to ask this question. Am I responsible for your finances? Am I responsible for the financial mess that we’re in? People need to get angry against politicians, about the people who are responsible for creating budgets,” he said.
He and other teachers who took part in the walk-in at Taft said they hope contract negotiations with the district are successful, and a threatened teachers’ strike can be avoided.
The Chicago Teachers Union has set a strike date of Oct. 11, meaning teachers could walk off the job on Tuesday if no contract agreement is reached by then. The union has said it is prepared to negotiate all weekend, if needed.