Chicago Teachers demonstrating last Week
Teachers in Chicago, USA are to vote on strike action
The teachers are to vote next week on whether to take strike action against amongst other things the imposition of a longer school day and year. Chicago Teachers' Union President, Karen Lewis told a large rally of teachers and parents last week: "I can say assuredly we are tired of being bullied, belittled and betrayed by the district and by the city of Chicago. Enough is enough."
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are also proposing to bring in merit pay and the union says their proposals will mean larger class sizes as well as promoting private charter schools at the expense of public education. CPS are proposing to open 60 new charter schools in the next five years, even as resources for public schools are cut, including an 85% cut in capital funding. Chicago has been at the centre of the move towards charter schools in the US. Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, who is responsible for the neo-liberal Race to the Top programme used to be the education director in Chicago.
CTU needs to organise the ballot before schools break up for the summer holidays - as a state law says that 75% of teachers have to vote for strike action. At school meetings in the last few weeks support for action has been as high as 95%. If the ballot is succesful and if the CPS does not drop its proposals, the teachers could be taking action at the beginning of next term.
To read more about the struggle in Chicago go to the CORE