By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers continued to strike last week, targeting specific places of conflict in Hyde Park as the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the CPS school board continued contract negotiations.
Teachers, who wore their signature red shirts and carried large picket signs, marched and protested Tuesday at the home ofCPS Board President David Vitale who resides on the 4900 block of Woodlawn Avenue. Wednesday, the group marched and rallied at Dyett High School, which the school board voted to phase out over the next three years. On Thursday the group went to the building site of Smart Hotels on 53rd Street and Harper Avenue to protest the use of Tax Increment Finance money allocated by the City Council to the University of Chicago and Smart Hotels LLC and The Olympia Companies, which have been selected to build and operate Hyatt Place Chicago.
Gabriel Sheridan, a teacher at Ray Elementary School, said the teachers moved from their usual posts in front of the schools and began making rounds in the neighborhood in order to reach more people.
“Everyone’s not going to stop by the schools so we came out to make sure people are well educated on the issues,” Sheridan
She said the teachers are changing venues each day because they are thirsty for inspiration.
“The union is already feeling battered by the strike, the activities and claims that we are out for money,” she said. “This cause is much bigger than our paycheck —it’s a social justice issue.”
Sheridan said although the teachers would rather be back in school teaching they’re not going to stop and they don’t want CTU president Karen Lewis to stop fighting for a fair contract.
“We don’t want teaching to be a high turnover, low wage job. We want it to be a respected profession,” Sheridan said. As of press time CPS and the CTU have reached a tentative agreement which is in review by the union’s House of Delegates. However, the delegates voted to continue the strike while the contract is under review. Emanuel said the strike is illegal and he will ask a judge end it.