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Chicago teachers stand their ground

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September 12, 2012 07:09 pm

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As fall rolls into D.C., fallout continues to mount as the Chicago teachers strike enters its third day.  

With over 27,000 educators on strike since Monday, 350,000 students out of school and solidarity rallies planned around the country – including one held yesterday in Baltimore, this historic strike is on pace to set a new precedent for how local districts and states handle disputes with teachers. Negotiators say the two sides have moved closer, but a deal has not been reached.

The Chicago Teacher’s Union refuses to return to classrooms until wages and benefits are fairer, classrooms are temperature controlled and training days for teachers are implemented. However, the heart of the debate now resides in evaluating teachers based on student performances, an Illinois law passed in 2010 and implemented first by Chicago, that many teachers believe threaten to make classrooms “test-taking factories.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces immense political pressure to resolve this issue and has tasked negotiators with a quick settlement. Will the ruler fall on the side of the unions or the Mayor? How long will educators be out of the classrooms? If the educators succeed in having their demands met, at what cost will that come to the students who may have nowhere to be while this strike marches on?

Today’s education news is dominated by analysis on these questions. Some pundits fervently believe the striking is selfish posturing that harms the students, particularly low income ones. Other analysts salute the educators’ fortitude, pointing out the unique struggle teachers’ unions have in maintaining fair labor practices.

Does this issue belong in the “court of public opinion,” or do you stand in solidarity with the Chicago educators as they picket for change? Join the discussion in the comments section.

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