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Chicago Teachers Strike: What You Need To Know

WBEZ answers your questions — from how long walkouts usually last to whether Chicago will be required by the state to make up strike days.

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Striking teachers at Peirce Elementary

Striking teachers walk a picket line at Peirce Elementary in Andersonville on Chicago’s North Side early Thursday.

Manuel Martinez

Updated Oct. 25

About 32,000 Chicago Public Schools teachers and support staff have been on strike since Thursday, Oct 17.

Since then, many new questions have emerged, including about make-up days and the lengths of previous strikes.

Below are some quick answers (followed by other questions from when the strike began). The school district also has compiled a list of frequently asked questions that’s worth checking out.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

How long have strikes lasted in the past?

In 1987, the longest Chicago teachers strike on record lasted 19 school days.

That year, WBEZ’s intrepid education reporter Sarah Karp was a freshman at Lincoln Park High School. She lived through it then — and we will all live through it now!

The most recent strike — in 2012 — lasted seven school days.

Prior to 1987, strikes were pretty common in Chicago. Teachers walked every few years, starting with the first strike in 1969.

Will CPS be required by the state to make up missed strike days?

Yes, if the strike goes beyond eight school days.

Illinois requires public schools be in session for 185 days. This includes emergency days and teacher institute days.

Chicago Public Schools has 193 days on its calendar. That gives it eight extra days.

Bottom line, according to CPS and state officials: After the eighth day of a strike, the school district will be required to make up all the days that follow.

Until now, the district and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have insisted that CPS will not make up strike days. That was before the strike started to drag on.

The teachers union wants all the strike days made up, as they have been in the past. One way to make that happen? The teachers could remain on strike until the school district agrees the days will be made up. If the days aren’t made up, teachers and staff will lose those days of pay.

When will teachers and staff get a reduced paycheck?

Teachers and support staff will get a full pay check on Friday, Oct. 25 because that covers the period that ends Oct. 12, according to the The Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU, which represents bus aides, classroom assistants, custodians and security guards who are also on strike.

But the check for Nov. 8 will be cut way back — covering only three of 10 work days. That check will cover the two weeks that end Oct. 26, and teachers and school staff were on strike seven of those days.

Who is impacted by the walkout?

  • 299,000 children and their families (62,000 children in CPS charter and contract schools won’t be affected)

  • 25,000 Chicago teachers and other Chicago Teachers Union members

  • 7,500 SEIU staff working in Chicago Public Schools, including teacher assistants, custodians, bus aides and security officers

How is the strike affecting extracurriculars and after school activities?

All activities at schools are canceled.

This includes the PSAT and SAT, which are rescheduled for Oct. 30.

Sports teams heading into state competitions have been barred from participating while teachers are on strike, including soccer, football, golf, tennis and cross country.

Homecoming dances for some CPS schools, such as the Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center and Kenwood Academy, have been rescheduled.

Where can I find updates on negotiations?

WBEZ’s Chicago Teachers Strike 2019 blog has all the latest news and is updated regularly.

Follow us on Twitter @WBEZeducation

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