Is another teachers’ union strike on the way in Chicago?
Chicago Teachers’ Union President Karen Lewis is telling members of the union to prepare for a “protracted strike” next year and advised them to save up to 25 percent of their paycheck, according to a press release.
The union’s contract expired on June 30 this year, but administrators in the Chicago district have been dealing with a series of financial issues, as well as the departure of CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who has since pleaded guilty to fraud for her approval of a no-bid contract.
CPS is also relying on the Illinois state legislature to come up with $480 million to help it get through the 2015-16 school year.
New CEO Forrest Claypool recently said that if the district does not receive the hoped-for funds from the legislature, the district may be forced to lay off teachers early next year, according to local television station WGN.
In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, Claypool laid out what the future could like without the anticipated funds from Springfield.
“There will be fewer teachers. There will be larger class sizes. And the educational gains that our principals, teachers and students have worked so hard for will be jeopardized.”
While the district has had a contentious relationship with some parents, it is hoping that it can tap them as allies to help lobby state officials to increase funding for CPS.
Lewis, the CTU president, appeared skeptical about CPS’ plan to get parents to lobby state legislators.
“They’re asking parents to come help them and lobby in Springfield but they don’t want to listen to parents when parents are asking them ‘Don’t close our schools. Don’ t do this. Don’t do that.’ They don’t listen to parents then,” she told WGN. “But now they want their help for a hair brain scheme that’s a very short term fix. We need a structural fix.”
The Chicago Tribune says that the union will take a “practice” vote on whether to strike or not later this week.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.