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  • 6:30 a.m. TODAY, Thurs., Oct. 17: Picket lines go up at 500+ Chicago public schools
    SEE BELOW for full schedule/locations/times.

CHICAGO—After more than 10 months of frustrating bargaining, over 25,000 CTU teachers, clinicians, teaching assistants and support staff are officially on strike as of today, Thursday, October 17. The goal: to win—in writing, in an enforceable contract—learning and working conditions that respect educators and provide Chicago’s students with the schools they deserve.

Educators are fighting for conditions that include smaller class sizes, adequate staffing—from social workers and school nurses to librarians and teachers for English language learners and special education students—and living wages for paraprofessionals, some of whom earn less than $30,000/year.

Today’s schedule: Thursday, Oct. 17

  • 6:30 a.m.: picket lines go up at all CPS schools
    • NORTH: CTU President Jesse Sharkey, Peirce Elementary, 1423 W. Bryn Mawr
    • WEST: CTU officer Christel Williams Hayes, Cather Elementary, 2908 W. Washington
    • CENTRAL: CPS HQ, 42 W. Madison, Chicago Loop (striking city-wide staff)
  • 7:30 a.m.:
    • NORTHWEST: 33rd Ward Alderman Rossana Rodríguez-Sánchez, 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Avondale-Logandale Elementary, 3212 W George St. RALLY at 8:15A with parents, allies.
    • SOUTHWEST/SPANISH language: CTU officer Maria Moreno, Solorio Academy High School, 5400 S. St Louis Ave
  • 8:30 a.m.:
    • SOUTH, CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, National Teachers Academy, 55 W Cermak Road
  • 1:30 p.m.: Mass rally and march, CPS HQ, 42 W. Madison St. with CTU rank and file, grassroots community groups, AFT President Randi Weingarten, CTU officers, elected officials, allies.

Schedule for AFT President Randi Weingarten:

  • 8:30 a.m.: Taft High School, 6530 W Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago
  • 9:30 a.m.: Lane Technical High School, 2501 W. Addison St., Chicago
  • 10:30 a.m.: Whitney Young High School, 211 S. Laflin St., Chicago

Fast facts:

  • The CTU and CPS exchanged formal proposals for new contract language on January 15, jumpstarting formal bargaining. The CTU’s contract expired six months later, on June 30.
  • CTU educators are fighting for better wages, smaller class sizes, adequate staffing, and educational justice for students and their families.
  • After the State of Illinois created a new equity-based school funding formula in 2017, the State began sending CPS over a billion additional dollars a year explicitly to lower class sizes and support students in poverty, English language learners, special education students and students confronting trauma. Yet for this year’s record $7.7 Billion budget, CPS is investing less in classrooms this year than last.
  • CPS is desperately short of school nurses, social workers, librarians, special education teachers, ELL teachers and more. But CPS has balked at meeting staffing ratios recommended by national professional organizations and best practices. CPS has fewer than 115 school nurses for over 500 schools, with a nurse in schools barely one day a week. One out of four schools has a librarian—and that number falls to barely one in ten for Black-majority schools. A decade ago, most schools had a librarian. CPS is desperately short of social workers, English language teachers, special education teachers and more, even as CPS is under the oversight of a state monitor for shortchanging its diverse learners.
  • This year, more than 1,300 CPS classes are overcrowded even under CPS’ own high class caps, up from more than a thousand overcrowded classrooms last year. Almost 25% of elementary students are jammed into overcrowded classes, with some kindergarten classes topping 40 students. Roughly 35% of high school students are enrolled in overcrowded classes; at schools like Simeon, virtually every core class is overcrowded, with math, social studies and world language classes topping 39 students.
  • The CTU’s school clerks and teaching assistants earn wages as low as $28,000/year—so low the children of two-thirds qualify for free and reduced lunch under federal poverty guidelines. Over 1,100 cannot afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment at prevailing rent rates in ANY zip code in the city. In year 5 of the mayor’s proposed contract, most of those workers would still be earning poverty wages. And in the last ten years, NO CTU member’s wages have kept pace with the inflation rate.
  • Candidate Lightfoot ran on a platform calling for equity and educational justice—including a nurse, a social worker and a librarian in every school—all proposals her negotiating team has rejected at the table. She also ran in support of an elected, representative school board—but moved to stall that legislation in the Illinois Senate after she was elected. We want those promises in writing, in an enforceable contract—the only way we have to hold CPS and the 5th floor to their promises.
The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 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. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.