Teachers' strike is over; Chicago students return to school

Nov. 1, 2019
The final issue was resolved when the union and district agreed to make up 5 of the 11 days lost to the strike.

Students in Chicago Public Schools have returned to their classes Friday after the teachers union agreed to end its 11-day strike.

WGN-TV reports that the district and the union reached a compromise over making up some of the time students lost during the teachers' walkout. Students will make up five days and return to school Friday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says.

The two sides had settled their differences on a new contract Wednesday, but the teachers decided not to end their strike until the district agreed to restore to the calendar the instructional days that were cancelled because of the walkout.

EARLIER THURSDAY: The Chicago Teachers Union has voted to approve a tentative contract agreement with the school district, but refused to end a strike that has canceled two weeks of classes.

WGN-TV reports that the union is demanding that the school district agree to make up the days lost during the strike before they return to the classroom. Without those days, teachers won’t be paid for the time lost during the strike.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she will not make up the days because she doesn’t want to extend the school year.

The failure to end the strike means students are missing classes for the 11th day Thursday.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson says making up the missed days would require cutting winter or spring break days or adding days to the end of the year.

“Not once during that three-and-a-half-hour meeting did they raise compensation for strike days,” Mayor Lightfoot said. "Not once."

State of Illinois requires at least 180 school days a year. The district had eight emergency days built into the schedule. The missed days could be made up starting June 19.

Lightfoot says she has given the union what she promised to give them during her mayoral campaign, and now wants them to follow suit.

“Give our kids, and our parents and our tax payers what you promised,” she says. “We will push forward and we will be back at the table with a goal of getting our students back in class.”

Union president Jesse Sharkey says the teachers consider a refusal to make up school days “punitive” and argues that it will hurt students.

“We feel like we’re just being punished because we had the audacity to defy the mayor,” Sharkey says.

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