Following its call for public school teachers in Chicago to strike for a fairer contract, the Chicago Teachers Union organized a solidarity rally at Union Park where thousands of teachers and supporters gathered for spirited speeches, chants, and musical performances. The rally culminated with a march into the city’s West Side, signifying a “take back” of the neighborhoods hit hardest by the Chicago Board of Education’s decision to close at least 80 schools.
The Chicago Teachers Union went on strike on Monday after contract negotiations with the Board of Education failed to produce a contract that would address the concerns of the union’s 25,000 teachers. The striking teachers demand better funding for schools in low-income neighborhoods, reasonable pay increases in line with the longer school days, a moratorium on citywide school closures, and a new evaluation system that more accurately assesses a teacher’s performance in the classroom. Both parties have acknowledged a framework has been set but there has not yet been a formal agreement. The strike will continue until Tuesday at the earliest.
At the solidarity rally, teachers from Wisconsin and Minnesota addressed the crowd and praised the Chicago Teachers Union for holding firm and leading the nation’s labor movement. Union president Karen Lewis closed the ceremony with a galvanizing speech, making it clear that Chicago’s teachers will continue to challenge the city’s current school system until education reform becomes a first priority.
The solidarity rally’s stage organizers and emcees reorder the list of scheduled speakers.
Striking teachers chant during the Chicago Teachers Union solidarity rally on Saturday held at Union Park on the city’s Near West Side.
Three teachers from Whitney Young Magnet High School stand with thousands of other public school teachers during Saturday’s solidarity rally organized by the Chicago Teachers Union and its supporters.
Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson makes his way to the podium to address the crowd during the Chicago Teachers Union solidarity rally in Union Park on Saturday. He later paralleled the teachers union strike with other labor and civil rights struggles that he’s participated in since the 1960s.
As the crowd makes noise, one public school teacher fans a clapper adorned with a sticker supporting full funding to city schools.
“If you can read this thank a teacher,” reads one sign at the Chicago Teachers Union solidarity rally.
One public school teacher from the South Side of Chicago delivers an emotion-filled speech demanding the Board of Education take accountability for what teachers are calling a failing system.
Thousands of striking teachers were joined by members of other unions as contract negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city’s school board dragged throughout the week.
The rally drew media personnel from major local and national news outlets, as well as striking teachers who also had their cameras ready.
One rally organizer passed a donation bucket to the thousands-strong crowd. One sign behind her says “100% Union” and the other reads “CTU Proud”.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky expresses her solidarity with the striking teachers at the Chicago Teachers Union solidarity rally at Union Park on Saturday.
A city public school teacher records the stage as a representative from a small but growing charter school union expresses his full support of the Chicago Teachers Union strike which began on Monday.
The crowd of public school teachers, students, and supporters stand through a brief intermission between speakers during the Chicago Teachers Union solidarity rally at Union Park, September 15.
“Rhymefest”, a music artist who co-wrote Kanye West’s Grammy Award-winning song “Jesus Walks”, shares his turbulent experiences growing up in Chicago and the opportunities that came his way after a public school teacher personally helped him pursue higher education and his dream of becoming a music producer.
Teachers from across the nation arrived joined the rally to show their support of the Chicago Teachers Union. In related news, a Wisconsin county judge struck down a collective bargaining law that sparked sweeping strikes in the state in 2011.
A representative of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and a public school parent drives home a passionate speech about education reform and the spark Chicago’s teachers have given it.
Hands go in the air as Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis takes the stage during Saturday’s solidarity rally at Union Park.
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis reminds the crowd of striking teachers and supporters that this is a movement of one.
Teachers and supporters fight the heat and the sun as they listen to Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis thank the public for its wide support during the teachers strike, the first in twenty-five years.
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis reminds the crowd that the strike has not yet been called off and that union delegates will vote on the language of the contract the following day.
Teachers and their supporters march into the city’s West Side following speeches, chants, and brief musical performances at the Chicago Teachers Union solidarity rally in Union Park.
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See: ‘From Chicago to Palestine’ poster gets airtime during ABC coverage of teachers strike, September 15