More than 50,000 people surround Chicago Board of Education in support of teachers' strike

By the end of the afternoon of the first day of the Chicago teachers strike of 2012, more than 50,000 people, most of them wearing the now famous "CTU Red", were in downtown Chicago surrounding the headquarters of Chicago Public Schools a few blocks south of the offices of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who currently has overall power and control over the schools.

CTU members and supporters march by City Hall on LaSalle St. on Sept. 10, chanting "Hey Ho, Hey Ho, Rahm Emanual has got to go." Some estimated the crowd at the 3:30 - 6:00 p.m. rally as many as 50,000. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.The arrival of the sea of people, many of whom had spent the beginning of the day on picket lines at real public schools across the city, began after the pickets were taken down late in the morning of the first day of the strike, September 10, 2012.

The massive September 10 Loop rally in the afternoon followed the early morning picketing at all of the schools. In response to the nasty comments by Chicago's mayor and his appointed officials, the Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement WHY WE STRIKE:

Mayor Emanuel Continues to Insult Public School Educators; This is not a “Strike of Choice.”

Why The Chicago Teachers And School Personnel Have Called A Strike:

Southwest side art teachers on Monroe St. (east of the crowds on Clark St.), carry homemade and "On Strike" signs. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.Teachers already accepted a much longer day—and now are not being treated with respect. We are on strike for a fair contract that includes the following:

 Pay Fairness.

The parties are not far apart on overall compensation, CTU seeks a fairer distribution of pay and to preserve the schedule for career advancement established 45 years ago in the Union’s first labor contract.

 Protect our benefits.

Maintain our existing benefits and sick days without increasing the contribution rate.

 Fair Evaluation Procedure.

After the initial phase-in period, CPS’s proposed evaluation procedures could result in 6,000 teachers, or nearly a third of all CPS teachers, facing discharge within one or two years. It places too much emphasis on standardized test scores, which diminishes children’s education and punishes teachers unfairly.

O. A. Thorp teachers and students Anna Lopez, Josh Schmidt, Alfredo Alvarez, Carrie Lah, and Sam Schmidt were part of the passionate crowd. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt. Teacher Training.

CPS is imposing a new curriculum at all schools and a strict, stringent evaluation system. Teachers have asked for more training, but CPS proposes no increase, or in some cases decreased, teacher training.

 Timetable for air conditioning.

Teachers insist that CPS agree to a reasonable timetable to install air conditioning in student classrooms. In July and August, students sit in sweltering 98-degree heat, and many classrooms also need air conditioning.

Other issues of importance:

CPS-sponsored legislation bars teachers from striking over certain issues, but we nonetheless expect to include the following in our next labor contract:

 Fair recall procedure for laid off teachers.

This summer, CTU agreed to the Mayor’s longer school day, and the agreement included a fair recall procedure for laid off teachers. The new labor contract must include a fair recall procedure.

Following the rally, Heidi Nardini and her fellow CTU members from Peterson Elementary dined at Club Lago, where restaurant owners Guido and GianCarlo Nardini are offering a teacher special during the strike — free food for CTU members. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt. Fair compensation for a longer school year.

If teachers are expected to work a longer school year, they should be fairly compensated for the extra work. Neutral Fact Finder Edwin Benn ruled that teachers should be paid for their extra work.

The union is not on strike over matters governed exclusively by IELRA Section 4.5 and 12(b).

The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTU’s website at .


September 10, 2012 at 7:34 PM

By: Allen Levie

Wisconsin teacher supports CTU

CTU thank you for standing up for your rights. You are an inspiration to us all.

Al Levie, Wisconsin teacher

September 10, 2012 at 9:08 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

What happened to class size?

I thought maintaining a safe and reasonable class size was a part of the teachers' demands too. I know this is in court (based on violations of the City Fire Code) but I think it should have been on this list too. Allowing CPS the freedom to put more children in the classroom will hurt the education of all students because teachers can not possibly meet the needs of the students on the two extremes--super bright who need extra challenges and Special Ed who need 1 on 1 support while teaching to the level of the majority of the students. I'd like to see the Mayor and School Board President try to do it for 1 week.

September 10, 2012 at 9:26 PM

By: Laura Chern

More than 50,000 People

My experience in Wisconsin during the recent uprising taught me that the number of people reported by the media was usually very low. I would guess that the number is closer to 100,000 or more if the estimate is 50,000.

September 10, 2012 at 10:25 PM

By: John Kierig

Like the White Sox winning the World Series

A wonderful afternoon. The birth of grandsons notwithstanding, i don't think i've felt this good since the White Sox won the world series. BTW. It IS a strike of choice. Rahm chose it.

September 11, 2012 at 6:34 AM

By: Martin Haber

I appreciate your work

My Kind of Town, Chicago is!!!

A Beacon of Light to all in this disparaged field! Thanks Substance for the great photos and great reporting!

The First Casualty is The Truth,and you keep on correcting it...

September 11, 2012 at 2:46 PM

By: Andy Berman

Congratulations to Substance!


How wonderful to read Substance again after many years and to see how folks have kept up the struggle for justice in Chicago Public Schools. Keep up the good work.

Andy Berman, (ex-Chicago activist, currently math tutor, Minneapolis Public Schools)

September 11, 2012 at 9:42 PM

By: Tracie Turner

teacher strike

I'm a school counselor in Texas and applaud you being able to strike for better benefits. We don't have that option here and the state continues to dump everything on us and teachers. We are one of the lowest paid states in the country. Good luck with your strike:)

September 11, 2012 at 10:14 PM

By: Molly Woods

Obama's broken promises

What happened to the promises made by Obama in this speech?\r\r

September 11, 2012 at 10:53 PM

By: Marilyn Beidler


Good to see Americans taking pride in themselves and their work.

September 12, 2012 at 12:54 AM

By: Patricia Robertson

Seattle Support for Chicago teachers

We educators in Seattle are watching, and hoping, for a positive outcome for your strike. It's about time we stood up and spoke out against using student test scores to evaluate teachers. We will be bargaining later this year, and what happens to you will be instrumental in helping us to push back against the onslaught of "Ed Deform" proposals. Seattle Education Association Board of Directors voted to endorse the strike and send some $ your way. Thank you for putting your jobs on the line for all of us.

September 12, 2012 at 2:45 AM

By: Sara McNally

To Rahm... Researchers are against you

My new sign for tomorrow....

Dear Mr. Mayor

Please read your mail

80+ Researchers from

16 Universities


Standardized Tests &


Do Not Mix

P.S. Your Children's School Agrees

September 12, 2012 at 11:13 AM

By: Andrea Gudal

Support from Wisconsin

Thank you Chicago for taking up the torch for your children and for educators everywhere! You are right to fight for all you have listed and more, like supplies, books, and number of students per class. Your fight is ours!! In Wisconsin, we fought hard with high stakes. We made progress, but we all took some serious losses. May you win! All people need to start caring about the future of education in our country! You are bringing it to the forefront! Thank you for your courage, sacrifice, time, example and strength! You have the support of many in Wisconsin!

September 12, 2012 at 5:41 PM

By: Gail Richmond

CTU leading the change public school teachers have been crying for...

To the CTU- — Thank you from this recently retired NYS teacher of 34 years and Union President of 12 years. Your bravery will most likely be the catalyst for change that public school teachers across America have been crying out for. Your fight is our fight. I have been wearing red all week in support of all of you. I'm sure this has been difficult not only on you as individuals but on your family members. A strike is never a decision easily arrived at. You are fighting for us 1 against an unfair evaluation system that seeks to dismantle the public schools...for the inclusion of the arts-so important to the souls of our children. Thank you. You have given us hope.

September 12, 2012 at 6:50 PM

By: Melissa Packwood


Thank you for standing your ground in order to not only be sure you are treated fairly, but also to make sure children have the best!

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