Thousands rally for Chicago teachers and protest budget cuts

Thousands of people gathered in Grant Park for CTU's rally.

By Ziyuan Jasmine Cen

Thousands of people dressed in union red packed Grant Park Monday night to support Chicago public school teachers and to rally against the state budget cuts that might result in mass layoffs.

“CT-who?” “CTU,” the crowd chanted.

Monday’s rally was a signal to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the state Gov. Rauner that Chicago public school teachers can unite and a strike is possible, according to the Chicago TeacherS Union.  The teachers have been working without a contract, which expired in June. The new contract is still under negotiation.

Rally supporters demanded that an elected school board runs the Chicago Board of Education.

“That’s why we are out here tonight,” said Alonzo Hoskins, a teacher at King College Prep High School. “We need a school board that is elected by teachers, that will understand what we are doing in the classroom.”

The crowd’s boos expressed shared dissatisfaction towards Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“A city that forces parents to go on a hunger strike to get the schools in their neighborhood to remain open is not a world-class city,” said  CTU Financial Secretary Kristine A. Mayle. “A city that packs 30 or more kindergarteners in a room is not a world-class city. A city without a school nurse in every building is not a world-class city. A city without enough janitors to keep the school clean is not a world-class city. And a city that drives its veteran teachers out of classrooms because they are too expensive is not a world-class city.”

Chicago public schools are facing a $1.1 billion deficit including nearly $500 million in pension payments, according to Chicago Public Schools statement on its website. Failure to getting the fund will result in thousands of teacher layoffs.

“I think the teachers deserve to have their rights”, said Haris Dcebic, a high school senior. “As a student taking multiple AP courses and hearing that teachers from my schools are supposed to be laid off – it is not right.”

CPS is looking to the state legislature to generate funding as the final decision deadline was pushed from September to October, and is currently set at Dec. 4.

Photo on top: Thousands of people gathered in Grant Park for CTU’s rally. (By Jasmine Cen/Medill)