CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago children returned to school today, less than a day after teachers ended a seven-day strike that disrupted the daily routines of thousands of families and made the city a flashpoint in the debate over union rights and efforts to overhaul the nation’s public education system.
For Erica Weiss, the resumption of classes spared her from having to take her 6-year-old daughter to work.
“I am elated. I couldn’t be happier,” said Weiss, who had to leave her office in the middle of the day to pick up her daughter from one of the schools that stayed open and then bring her back to her finance job downtown.
“I can’t even imagine the people who could have possibly even lost their jobs over having to stay home with their kids because they have no alternate care,” she added. “It just put everyone in a pickle.”
Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday evening to suspend the walkout after reviewing a proposed contract settlement with the nation’s third-largest school district. They said the offer wasn’t perfect, but that it included enough concessions on proposed new teacher evaluations, recall rights for laid-off teachers and classroom conditions.
The contract will now be submitted to a vote by the union’s full membership of more than 26,000 teachers and support staffers.
The strike stranded roughly 350,000 students and left many parents scrambling to arrange alternative care for their children even though the district kept more than 140 schools open for several hours a day for meals and activities.
Some parents expressed hope the tentative agreement would benefit students in a district grappling with high dropout rates and poor performance.
“They’ll win from the strike,” said Leslie Sabbs-Kizer, referring to her children as she walked them to a South Side elementary school.