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Chicago teachers strike: Tentative deal reached

September 14, 2012|By Stephanie Chavez
  • Chicago teachers rally on Thursday, the fourth day of their strike.
Chicago teachers rally on Thursday, the fourth day of their strike. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago…)

A tentative deal has been reached between striking Chicago teachers and the city's school district, an agreement likely to end a five-day strikein the nation’s third-largest school district and allow classes to resume on Monday, leaders from both sides said.

“The heavy lifting is over,” school board President David Vitale said Friday after leaving labor talks. Added Chicago Teachers Union attorney Robert Bloch: “The outlines of an agreement on the major issues” has been reached, the Chicago Tribune reported.

About 350,000 students have been out of school since Monday. The week has been chaotic for tens of thousands of families who scrambled to find care while teachers picketed and rallied at neighborhood schools and district headquarters.

The most contentious issues in the district's first teacher walkout in 25 years have been teacher evaluations and job security in the face of looming school closures. Union and district officials have been negotiating over how to implement an Illinois law that requires student test scores to be factored in to teacher reviews.

Earlier discussions called for teachers to receive, on average, a 16% raise over the four-year life of the proposed contract — an issue that didn't raise much debate.

Bloch said that the two sides were continuing to hammer out the details but that a complete contract was expected to be presented to 700 union delegates on Sunday, the Associated Press reported. If the delegates approve the contract, school will resume Monday.

Both representatives declined to discuss more specific details Friday afternoon.

“My message [to parents] is they should be prepared to have their kids in school on Monday,” Vitale said, according to reports.

The union had scheduled a Friday afternoon meeting of the delegates and -- after union president Union President Karen Lewis arrived -- members could be seen cheering and applauding, the AP reported.

Bloch said that the negotiating officials were expected to recommend the contract to the membership.

“And if we have been listening to the membership well and have heard their concerns, then that agreement will be acceptable to our membership overall,” Bloch said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The strike had underscored a shift within the Democratic Party to embrace education policies — such as a firm system of teacher evaluations — that unions approach with caution. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, had been a leader in the standoff with teachers, calling it at the onset “a strike of choice.”

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nation@latimes.com 

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