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Payton students Stephanie Greene and Abigail MacCumber on the picket line with teachers on Sept. 12, Day 3 of the CTU strike. MASH PHOTO/COURTESY OF STEPHANIE GREENE

By Shantae Howell
Walter Payton

As the strike by the Chicago Teachers Union progressed to a fourth day, students, parents and administrators were eager to share their experiences and concerns.

The majority of Chicago Public Schools students were enjoying a few days off with the concern about the strike potentially infringing on next year’s summer break, while high school juniors such as Walter Payton student Calvin Edwards expressed concern as to how it may affect his preparation for standardized tests, and seniors contemplated how the delay may affect applying for college.

Several seniors were particularly worried about whether they would be able to make early college application deadlines. Payton’s Jana Chiu, who is applying to college through the QuestBridge scholar program, said, “All my apps are due on the 28th (of September), so I’m pretty pressed for time.”

Other seniors are simply worried about being able to have enough time once school resumes to be able to ask their teachers to write letters of recommendation in time for varying deadlines, beginning in early November. Though Payton has been open and providing students with transcripts, other CPS high schools have been closed and or can’t provide materials that are vital to applying for programs, scholarships and colleges.

Despite how this time spent out of the classroom may affect students, most students who talked to The Mash said they supported their teachers, some even expressing animosity for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Lane Tech student Adam Glueckart said he felt it’s necessary for the union to finally shed light on school district’s issues.

Yet other students expressed concern about how to pay for 16 percent in pay raises over four years (reportedly the percentage district negotiators have offered the teachers union) and pointed to Chicago’s struggling economy.

Other students support teachers in general, however, that support doesn’t necessarily extend to the union. Northside student Aidan Sadowski said that CTU should be open minded in their negotiations: “There are teachers working barely above the poverty line at $25-35,000 a year who absolutely deserve higher wages, but there are also teachers making over six figures who don’t need a raise.”

However, several CPS high school students said that money wasn’t the only issue; that striking teachers are also fighting for smaller class sizes, which helps the quality of students’ education.

Principal Timothy Devine said he wasn’t at liberty to media about his position on the strike, but he did say that the strike has become more of an ideological issue rather than a policy debate. Devine said that teachers are primarily fighting for what they feel is a lack of respect for their profession as well as a lack trust that teachers feel has resulted in micromanagement by CPS administration.

 

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About The Mash

The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free each Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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