Chicago Teachers Refuse to Go Back to School, Rahm Emanuel Takes Them to Court

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Teachers rally in Chicago's Union Park on September 15. Photo: Scott Olson/2012 Getty Images

Following the greatest week of young Chicagoans' lives first week of the Chicago teachers strike, a tentative contract was hashed out over the weekend that would have let 350,000 students return to school on Monday. However, teachers said they didn't have enough time to look over the complicated contract and scheduled another meeting for Tuesday, after the end of Rosh Hashanah, meaning that students won't be in school until Wednesday at the earliest. That is, unless Mayor Rahm Emanuel gets his way and forces teachers back into the classroom with a court injunction.

NBC Chicago reports that on Sunday night Emanuel said he was directing the city's lawyers to file a lawsuit that would end the strike immediately. He argued that the strike is illegal on two counts: "it is over issues that are deemed by state law to be non-strikable, and it endangers the health and safety of our children." "I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union," he added. "This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice that is wrong for our children."

According to the New York Times, both sides claimed to have secured important victories in the proposed contract. The reforms Emanuel pushed for were intact, including letting principals make hiring decisions, adding more school days per year and more time to each day, and using test scores to evaluate teachers. Union negotiators said they were pleased to see raises maintained for teachers with experience and additional education, the hiring of more teachers to handle expanded hours, and a year of amnesty for experienced teachers during the first year of the new evaluation system.

Now the shaky truce may be damaged beyond repair. With each day parents' patience grows thinner, and kids become more hooked on trashy daytime TV.