CHICAGO – There are just eight days left for Chicago Public School and the teachers’ union to reach a deal in order to avoid a strike.
The union says there are issues besides pay which affect the quality of learning conditions in schools.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot says CTU is holding up talks over affordable housing proposals aimed at helping teachers and students families.
Both sides weighed in on the matter during an appearance on Chicago Tonight Wednesday.
Earlier Wednesday, CTU hosted a press conference at Simeon Career Academy to address overcrowding.
Teachers joined parents and students to highlight “the scope of the crisis,” according to a press release.
“Oversized Kindergarten classrooms, 37 in a classroom, is detrimentally to the safety, health and cognitive development of our students,” kindergarten teacher Dr. Caprice Mitchell said.
“It is our obligation as change agents to delete oversized classrooms and add proficient sized classrooms, so that the world’s greatest natural resource will be prepared to be the 21st century learners that God has created them to be,” Mitchell said.
Another teacher said overcrowding is a direct connection to literacy.
“I have 34 students, out of those 34, I have 12 that don’t know their letters. I do have some that can read, but it’s a wide range of abilities. How can I teach them, the way that I need to teach them, if classes are overcrowded?” third grade teacher Gloria Torres said.
According to CTU’s analysis of enrollment numbers this year, 1,300 elementary classrooms had 29 or more students.
“It is very frustrating at my school that we have to deal with overfilled classrooms. there should only be 28 or probably less students in a class,” Simeon student Nervosa Scott said. Where we have students over like, 40 and that is a shame.”
In particular, the union said a third grade class at Gresham on the South Side has 49 students in it. The overcrowding problems extends to all parts of the city, CTU said.
Following the press conference, CPS said the district has made significant progress to minimize classroom overcrowding. They went on to say their offer makes a $10 million investment to provide 200 staff members to support classrooms experiencing overcrowding.
The district claims the average class size last school year was about 25 students and that most classrooms are within the limits laid out in the last contract.
If CPS and CTU do not come to an agreement, a strike will take place beginning on Oct. 17.