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Chicago teachers still picketing; parents' frustration grows

September 17, 2012|By Michael Muskal

The Chicago teachers strike entered its second week Monday after a judge rebuffed Mayor Rahm Emanuel's attempt to obtain a court order to immediately stop the walkout, which has crippled the nation's third-largest school district. 

On Sunday, the union's House of Representatives declined to approve a  tentative contract, telling negotiators they needed more time to view the details. That decision dashed optimism that the city's 350,000 students would be back in school today and prompted Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools officials to seek court intervention.

PHOTOS: Teachers strike in Chicago

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Peter Flynn, however, said he would not hold a hearing on Monday and instead would consider a hearing on the request Wednesday -- if the strike had not ended by then. The union will meet again Tuesday, after the end of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The city filed papers for a temporary restraining order, arguing that teachers had gone on strike illegally. Lawyers for the city said state law prohibits teachers from striking on anything other than economic issues and that the key unresolved matters involved teacher evaluations and layoff policies. The city also argued that the strike was a danger to public safety, because about four of every five students receives meals at schools.

“State law expressly prohibits the CTU from striking over non-economic issues, such as layoff and recall policies, teacher evaluations, class sizes and the length of the school day and year,” the city’s motion says. “The CTU's repeated statements and recent advertising campaign have made clear that these are exactly the subjects over which the CTU is striking.”

The Chicago Teachers Union released a statement calling the Chicago Public Schools action groundless and lashed out at Emanuel.

 “CPS' spur-of-the-moment decision to seek injunctive relief some six days later appears to be a vindictive act instigated by the mayor,” the union said in a statement. “This attempt to thwart our democratic process is consistent with Mayor Emanuel’s bullying behavior toward public school educators.”

The city's first strike in 25 years has sent increasingly frustrated parents scrambling to patch together child care and find ways to keep their kids busy.

The walkout, which began a week after most students returned for the new school year, promises to keep families in limbo until at least Wednesday, the Tribune reported.

"I'm not taking a side one way or another as to how it should be settled,"  parent Don Roseen told the newspaper. "It's just there's no reason we should not be in the classroom while they negotiate this contract. The whole concept that the kids get stuck in the middle of this situation when they don't have to is very frustrating."


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