#RedforEd Teachers Strike in Chicago, Classes Are Cancelled

Teachers and supporters gather for the rally on the first day of strike by the Chicago Teachers Union on October 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) followed through on their earlier threats and went on strike on Thursday, forcing the cancellation of all classes for the 361,000 K-12 students who attend Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

“CTU has told us they are moving forward with a strike, which means classes will not be in session tomorrow,” CPS said in a tweet sent out late Wednesday:

The Chicago Tribune provided this description of the day’s events:

The Chicago Teachers Union is on strike and negotiations will continue Friday after a day of marches and negotiations failed to produce a deal. Earlier in the day, a city source expressed optimism about reaching a deal as talks renewed. During a break in negotiations, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said bargaining had been productive, but that it was highly unlikely a deal would be reached by the end of the day. CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates confirmed Thursday night that the strike will continue and school officials said Friday classes are canceled.

The union, which has been fighting to gain more influence over the direction of the school system, has rejected the city’s offer of 16% base-pay raises over five years, asking instead for 15% over three years. But while state law mostly restricts teachers to striking over pay and compensation issues, union leaders have highlighted demands related to staffing, class sizes and prep time. They want nurses, social workers and librarians in every school, and more special education classroom assistants and case managers — and they want all those items in their contract.

“Thursday was the first day of the Chicago Teachers Union strike, and thousands of teachers marched through the Loop after a rally outside of Chicago Public Schools headquarters, ” WGN reported:

About 25,000 Chicago Public School teachers hit the picket line at 6:30 a.m. after rejecting the district’s contract proposal Wednesday evening. This is the first time CPS teachers have gone on strike since 2012. Chicago is the nation’s third largest school district.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey joined teachers picketing outside Helen Peirce International Studies school, where he said every kindergarten class has at least 30 students. He said there’s “pent-up frustration” among union members about conditions in the schools, and the union wants some of those longstanding issues addressed in their next contract.

Rebecca Garelli, a former CTU member who moved to Arizona and helped organize the #RedforEd movement that launched there in March 2018, tweeted on Wednesday about the role CTU has played in inspiring the growing national teachers union organizing effort:

As Breitbart News reported in February:

A well-funded and subversive leftist movement of teachers in the United States threatens to tilt the political balance nationwide in the direction of Democrats across the country as Republicans barely hang on in key states that they need to hold for President Donald Trump to win re-election and for Republicans to have a shot at retaking the House and holding onto their Senate majority.

This teachers union effort, called #RedforEd, has its roots in the very same socialism that President Trump vowed in his 2019 State of the Union address to stop, and it began in its current form in early 2018 in a far-flung corner of the country before spreading nationally. Its stated goals–higher teacher pay and better education conditions–are overshadowed by a more malevolent political agenda: a leftist Democrat uprising designed to flip purple or red states to blue, using the might of a significant part of the education system as its lever.

Lost in the power struggle between the CTU and CPS over teacher pay, class sizes, more non-teaching personnel, and other issues, is the quality of education delivered to students attending CPS. According to the most recent nationalized test, the performance of CPS students continues to be well below national averages, as Breitbart News reported in August:

“Its students’ test scores in grades three through eight are generally one-half to one-and-a-half grade levels below the national average,” a study conducted by the Stanford University Center for Education Policy Analysis, published in 2017, concluded.

“Chicago students fared slightly worse on this year’s PARCC standardized exam than in 2017, even as scores statewide remained flat,” Chalkbeat reported last year:

Across the state, nearly 37 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 scored proficient or higher in reading. In Chicago, that figure was nearly 10 percentage points lower: 27.4 percent. Last year, that figure was 28.5 percent.

And in math, 22.4 percent of Chicago students scored proficient or better, compared with 31.5 percent of students statewide. Last year, 23.7 percent of Chicago students met the state’s standards.

“The state [of Illinois] uses PARCC scores when it grades schools. On this year’s ratings, also released Tuesday, nearly half of Chicago schools received the two lowest grades, compared with 20 percent of schools statewide,” Chalkbeat noted.

Late Thursday, CPS announced that “CTU has told us they will continue their strike, which means classes will not be in session tomorrow, 10/18.”

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