Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chicago teachers vote to end strike

Teachers in Chicago on Tuesday agreed to return to the classroom after more than a week of protesting issues related to education reform. 

According to a report by the Associated Press, the two issues at heart are performance evaluations based on test scores and job security. The 700-plus union delegates voted overwhelmingly to end the strike after discussing a proposed contract settlement that had been on the table for days. Classes will resume Wednesday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the settlement “an honest compromise” that “means a new day and a new direction for the Chicago public schools.” Emanuel said the talks achieved goals that had been long overdue, including an extension of the school day and a new teacher evaluation system.

The walkout, the first in Chicago in 25 years, shut down the nation’s third-largest school district just days after 350,000 students had returned from summer vacation. Thousands of parents had to find alternatives for their children in the midst of gang violence in recent months. 

The contract will now be submitted to a vote by the full membership of more than 25,000 teachers. With an average salary of $76,000, Chicago teachers are already among the highest-paid in the nation. The district’s final proposal included an average 7 percent raise over three years, with additional raises for experience and education. The union also pushed for a policy to give laid off teachers first dibs on open jobs anywhere in the district.

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