Teachers in Chicago set down their lesson plans on Thursday and went on strike, forcing school officials to cancel classes for more than 300,000 students.
School buildings are set to remain open during the strike for those children who need a place to go during the strike, and meals are still being served, Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said in a release about the strike. Non-union school district employees are on hand as well as nurses and principals. However, no educational instruction is being provided as students work on crafts and other activities to occupy their time during the strike.
Thousands of people, including teachers and parents, marched through Chicago streets on Thursday and set up picket lines on Friday after negotiations failed between the teacher's union and the city. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) wants more money for salaries, reductions in class sizes and more support staff such as nurses and social workers.
Lightfoot's office said the days used by teachers while on strike will not be made up at the end of the year, leaving many parents to wonder how much their children will have to play catch-up if the strike continues for long. One parent of a fourth grader at South Loop Elementary School told NBC News she was not too "thrilled" her kids were missing class time.
“It could have a real effect on the curriculum if they are out for too long," said Amy Wenders.
Union President Jesse Sharkey said progress has been made in negotiations with the city, including an unspecified concession on class sizes.
"It’s a shame that it took a work stoppage to actually get that document," Sharkey told reporters during a press conference with reporters.
The school district has offered teachers a 16% raise over five years and set targets for reductions in class sizes as well as add more support staff across the district, the mayor's office said. The union's full list of demands would cost the city upwards of $2.5 billion every year.
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