Elfega Cazares isn't taking sides in the standoff between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools over contract talks. Like many of the immigrant parents in the city's Pilsen neighborhood, she knows her children stand to lose the most if teachers walk off the job next Monday.
"It is very important that we stay in school so we can be prepared to be someone in life," Cazares said, her 10-year-old son Francisco Vasquez translating for her from Spanish.
But students across the city, most of whom return to school Tuesday, could find themselves out of the classroom again Sept. 10.
At a time when teachers' unions are under pressure nationwide, union President Karen Lewis said more than 26,000 teachers and support staff in the nation's third-largest school district are prepared to strike for the first time in 25 years. It would be the first big-city strike in the U.S. since Detroit teachers walked off the job for 16 days in 2006. The last Chicago teachers strike was in 1987 and lasted 19 days.