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 .