Chicago teachers strike: Talks ‘at the brink’ of deal

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By NBCChicago.com

The Chicago Teachers Union strike will continue for at least another day, completing a full week that public school students have been kept out of class, NBCChicago.com reported early Friday.

However, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel to end the city’s first strike in 25 years.

TODAY’s Natalie Morales reports on the latest in the teachers’ strike in Chicago, where the union and school district say they’re making progress as talks resume on the fourth day of the walk-out.




Following another marathon day of negotiations, school board President Dave Vitale and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis emerged separately from the Hilton Chicago at around 1 a.m. Friday and said they were very close to a deal.

“We’ve got some number-crunching to do overnight and we’ll be back here tomorrow to see if we can’t finish this up hopefully tomorrow,” Vitale said. “I think we’ve got a general understanding of what we’d like to do if the numbers work.”

Lewis said a House of Delegates meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. would go on as scheduled, as the only information those members have is what has been reported in the media.

She said she remained hopeful that students and teachers could return to class on Monday.

Earlier in the day, Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the parties were “at the brink” of getting all the key issues addressed.

theGrio: ‘Safe havens’ for kids offered during Chicago teachers strike

Carroll said the main sticking points are still the evaluation system and the union’s demands that laid-off teachers get top consideration for rehiring.

“We’ve made many modifications over the last several days to our proposal,” Carroll said.”We feel that we’re there. And at this point, it’s in the CTU’s hands to bring it to a close.”

Under an old proposal, the union estimated that 6,000 teachers could lose their jobs within two years.

‘A sense of urgency’
A more recent offer included provisions that would protect tenured teachers from dismissal in the first year of the evaluations.

It also altered categories that teachers can be rated on and added an appeals process. Additionally, evaluations could work on a graduated scale throughout the term of the contract, comprising from between 25 to 35 percent of a teacher’s total score.

“There’s a sense of urgency today,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who stopped by the hotel where the negotiators were working Thursday and spoke to reporters. A day earlier, he said the two sides were talking past each other.

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Ahead of morning negotiations, Lewis expressed hope the opposing sides could soon resolve their differences.

“Oh, I’m praying, praying, praying. I’m on my knees for that, please,” Lewis said. “Yes, I’m hoping for Monday. That would be good for us.”

Question at heart of Chicago strike: How do you measure teacher performance?

Thousands of teachers walked off the job Monday after months of negotiations failed to result in a new contract. It’s the city’s first teacher strike since October 1987.

As teachers plan for another day on the picket lines, CPS extended the hours at its 147 strike-designated “Children First” sites beginning Thursday.

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