Stress in Chicago's school system have boiled over, as the Chicago teacher's union voted unanimously Thursday to hit the picket lines on September 10. Cast at a Chinatown union hall, the results of the vote were met by cheers from the more than 700 delegates who voted. The decision to strike comes a day after CTU president Karen Lewis issued a 10-day strike notice. September 10 is the earliest that teachers can strike, and the date falls a week after many students head back to class. "We're tired of being bullied, belittled and betrayed," Lewis said at a news conference following the meeting. "We have done everything asked of us, yet we continue to be vilified and treated with disrespect."
Lewis commented, saying that negotiation will continue until a new contract is hammered out. The teachers are concerned about issues that include wages, job security, and a new evaluation system. Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard tried to give a reality shock to the situation, issuing this statement in reaction to the strike date:
"Should CTU leaders decide to strike on September 10, more than 350,000 students will be taken out of their classroom, just as they're making progress with a Full School Day. Varsity sports for 11,000 student athletes will be suspended. More than 400,000 daily breakfasts and meals will no longer be served. College transcripts and recommendations for 20,000 seniors will be put on hold. If our priority is our kids, then striking should never be an option. That's why we need to take advantage of each of the next 11 days and work until we reach a fair resolution for our teachers that will allow our kids to stay in school where they belong."