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What's Happening When Chicago's Teachers Walk Out On Friday

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 29, 2016 7:21PM

CTU members at a demonstration on February 4, 2016. (Photo by Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist)

The Chicago Teachers Union and its allies are planning on shutting down several roads and areas of the city Friday as part of the CTU’s one-day walkout. The CTU released a tentative schedule of actions that will take place for the day, which begin as early as 6:30 a.m. and culminate in a mass rally and march at the Thompson center at 4 p.m.

“Thousands of workers, students, parents and activists will take to the streets to call for an end to the budget stalemate in Springfield and bring attention to poverty and racial justice issues that are crippling Chicago,” wrote the union in a press release.

The CTU and CPS have been at odds over a contract since the last one expired in June, and its supporters have been demanding the District and Mayor Rahm Emanuel take several revenue options seriously, rather than focus solely on budget cuts and layoffs. The last straw for the CTU that cemented the one day walkout was when CPS announced mandatory furlough days earlier this month.

Pickets, larger demonstrations, marches and teach-ins will begin simultaneously at several locations at 6:30 a.m., with pickets near Roosevelt and Harlan High Schools supported by minimum wage workers with the Fight For $15 Movement demanding an end to student-based budgeting cuts, a call for Bank of America to return toxic swap money to CPS, and living wages for workers. Additionally, Saucedo Elementary School is expected to march to Cook County Jail demanding funding for schools, rather than prisons. Other campuses will “focus on special education cuts; ballooning class sizes and deteriorating conditions in school buildings.”

On the South Side, activists with the group BYP100 along with students and faculty from Chicago State University will host a teach-in beginning at 10 a.m. at the school focusing on racial justice, police violence and “other concerns about black futures.” At 11 a.m., there will be an “all campus rally” highlighting the school’s own budget crisis and threats of closure. At the same time, a teach-in with the American Federation of Teachers will take place at Northeastern Illinois University on the North Side, followed by funeral march to “illustrate the death of higher education in Illinois.”

In addition to an unspecified number of pickets to take place in the afternoon citywide, a “youth march” to highlight the school to prison pipeline and call for the closure of youth prisons will begin at 2 p.m. at the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, as well as demonstrations at City Hall and UIC.

Demonstrators from all over the city will then converge on the Thompson Center at 4 p.m. for a rally, which will then lead to a 4:40 p.m. rush hour march lasting until 6:30 p.m.

Both the District and Emanuel have criticized the walkout, with CPS arguing that the move is illegal since fact-finding in their contract dispute hasn’t finished, but the CTU has called the situation “new territory.” “While it’s unfortunate that CTU leadership is pushing an illegal strike, CPS is committed to providing all of our students with safe environments that will keep them fed and engaged,” said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.

The District is opening more than 250 “contingency sites” for students with no other options for a place to go throughout the day, made up of 107 CPS schools, 80 Chicago Park District facilities, all 80 Chicago Public Library locations and numerous Safe Haven locations.