She suggests that the union and the school district could have avoided the strike by hashing out a contract during the summer, soon after union members voted to allow a strike. “They should have started earlier in the process … [and the union vote] should have raised a huge flag to CPS [Chicago Public Schools] that they were really serious," says Ms. Liebman. "We could have avoided having the kids out if discussions would have happened in July.”
On Monday, a group of parents staged a small protest in downtown Chicago outside the Merchandise Mart, where the teachers union is headquartered. Holding signs that said “350,000 CPS hostages! Let our children learn” and “If you care about the kids, go back to work,” the parents said they were frustrated that they had no voice in the negotiating process, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times. Some portrayed the walkout as resulting from nothing more than a clash of political will between Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“This process has been run to benefit the adults in the system and not to benefit the children in the system, and we’re here to send the message that the kids need to be in school while they work out the details,” protest organizer Steve Timble told the Sun-Times.
Other parents who did not take part in the protest had more empathy for their children’s teachers, but said they hoped a resolution would come this week.
If the union decides Tuesday to continue the strike, a Cook County Circuit Court judge will proceed with a court hearing Wednesday to take up a complaint that the strike is illegal. The Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Rahm Emanuel claim that Illinois law that does not allow teachers to strike over issues other than wages and benefits. The complaint also seeks an injunction to force teachers back into classrooms, saying the strike poses a threat to public health and safety.