Chicago Schools Reopen After Strike Ends, Budget Looms

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hundreds of thousands of Chicago students returned to school on Wednesday after a teachers' strike ended, thrilling parents who had struggled with child care but shifting the debate to hard questions about budget deficits, school closures and teacher layoffs.

At the doorstep of John H. Vanderpoel Elementary Magnet School on the city's south side, children lined up on a sunny and chilly morning to wait for doors to open for the first time in nine days. "Mommy, I've got to go to school," yelled Kimberly Watson's kindergartner as she pulled her mother toward the door.

"She was excited to get back," said Watson after dropping her daughter off. "At first I was concerned that it would drag on, but I was confident that the teachers were going to hold out and that (the school board) was going to try to work with them and get them what they needed," she said.

"I think it's going to take a while to get the resources that they were promised," said Sherolyn Shaw, another mother who was dropping off her two children at the school.

Representatives of the 29,000 striking Chicago public school teachers and support staff voted on Tuesday to suspend their first strike in 25 years and accept a compromise three-year contract with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Read more