Yahoo News -- CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago teachers went on strike Monday for the first time in 25 years after their union and district officials failed to reach a contract agreement despite intense weekend negotiations that the union said were productive but still failed to adequately address issues such as job security and teacher evaluations.
The two sides were not far apart on compensation, but were on other issues, including health benefits — teachers want to keep what they have now — and a new teacher evaluation system based partly on students' standardized test scores, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said.
"This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could have avoided," she said. "We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel condemned the union's decision, and said the negotiations could be resolved if the two sides kept talking, "given how close we are."[...]
More than 26,000 teachers and support staff were expected to hit the picket lines early Monday, while the school district and parents carried out plans for keeping nearly 400,000 students safe and occupied while classes remain empty in the coming days in the nation's third largest school district.[...]
The timing also may be inopportune for Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff whose city administration is wrestling with a spike in murders and shootings in some city neighborhoods and who just agreed to take a larger role in fundraising for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
Blog author's comment - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has a few problems to deal with. The teachers are on strike and the murder rate is soaring.
This strike could be a plus for Obama with less than 60 days until the election. When the teacher strike is resolved, the head of the teachers union could say the President was on the phone with us trying to get both sides to come together since it’s important for the children. Obama and Emanuel may work out a solution so they will both get credit for it.
A Chicago Public Schools spokesperson said the average pay for teachers is $76,000. That's for only nine months work. And, this salary does not include their benefits. But...they want more. The teachers already rejected a 16 percent salary increase over four years. They pay only 3 percent of their health-care costs.