Another Chicago strike threat. What it means

Teachers at five Chicago charter and contract schools have threatened to walk out on their jobs by the end of the work day on Wednesday if a deal isn’t reached in bargaining sessions for a new contract. They could have company: Instructors and adjunct faculty at Chicago’s city colleges have authorized a strike beginning the same day.

If Wednesday’s action happens, it could be the third charter strike this school year in Chicago. There are reasons why Chicago is becoming the center for so much charter labor activity. For starters, the teachers union has been actively negotiating several contracts between local charter operators and teachers, some for the first time. Second, compared to other cities, Chicago has the highest proportion of charters with union contracts, at 25 percent (although, in pure numbers, Los Angeles, where educators also went on strike this school year, has more union teachers at charters).

Another reason: The city’s aggressive union has forged a link between two disparate, and sometimes hostile, groups: teachers at publicly run schools and those in charter schools. And early wins that saw gains on wage increases and class sizes showed it could be done.

What’s more, the union isn’t just agitating on the charter front. In front of a buttoned-up audience at City Club on Thursday, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said talks between the union and Chicago Public Schools had slowed and said a mediator was a likely next resort.

Read about his call to Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot to speed things up.  


The Week in Review

Anxiety all around: A crowd of charter operators pressed Chicago’s board of education Wednesday for their needs, from facilities to new school budgets to the release in millions of withheld funds. Here’s what happened.

Common’s school gets a home: A school backed by the Chicago actor and hip-hop artist, whose mother sits on the school board, finally finds a building. Chalkbeat had more.

Universal pre-K applications: Chicago will start taking applications on April 30 for its universal pre-K program, which will be rolled out first in 28 neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the city continues to operate a small magnet lottery pre-K system and tuition based programs in others. Chalkbeat had the latest.

No silver bullet: Speaking at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson sounded a warning about Chicago’s march toward an elected school board. Chalkbeat was there.

Renewing the fight: As Chicago prepares for a new mayor, residents of Chinatown plan to resume their case for a new high school. Chalkbeat visited the neighborhood as part of a new office hours series.

A bigger contract for AUSL: Chicago Public Schools was preparing to up the amount it was paying a politically connected turnaround operator in schools this week, but the school board didn’t end up voting on the contract. WBEZ reported on the boost.

Looking ahead

How can education reporting impact neighborhoods? Chalkbeat will join Chicago Learning Exchange and City Bureau for a talk at next week’s Public Newsroom in the Austin neighborhood. Join us. Here are the details.


On Friday, teams of students from 27 high schools will present their innovations to research and design challenges presented by some of the state’s top companies — from redesigning the smartphone to the invention of a mental health chatbot. Presented by the Illinois Science and Technology Institute’s STEM Challenge Program at Google Chicago’s headquarters, the event will showcase student teams from several Chicago high schools, including Lindblom High School, Solorio High School, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lane Tech, Muchin College Prep, Von Steuben Metropolitan Science High School, Chicago Vocational Career Academy, Perspectives/IIT Career Academy, Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, Corliss High School, Foreman High School, and more.

“Working with industry professionals to envision a potential solution for a real-world problem is a transformative experience for a young person,” said Mark Harris, president and CEO of the Illinois Science and Technology Institute. “Our goal is to help build Illinois’ talent pipeline by providing authentic learning experiences that open up the walls of the classroom and make these vital industry connections to cultivate the next wave of problem solvers and innovators.”

The event will be livestreamed here.