nside a raucous union hall packed with people Tuesday night, a thunderous round of “ayes!” and pittance of “nays” halted the first Chicago teachers strike in 25 years.
With exhilaration and relief, delegates from the Chicago Teachers Union voted to return to work Wednesday morning.
“It was thunderous applause,” said delegate Andrew Martinek of Gage Park High School. “People were blowing whistles and clapping and cheering.”
“And a couple of people started to cry,” said Susan Hickey, an elementary school social worker. “It was very moving. We just all sort of stood up. Very quickly we adjourned the house, and everybody left.”
Across town at one of the city’s premier high schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed the contract, with its teacher evaluations and his signature longer school day, for giving Chicago’s children a seat at the table.
“This settlement is an honest compromise,” Emanuel said. “It means a new day and new direction for the Chicago Public Schools.
“This time our taxpayers are paying less and our kids are getting more,” he said of the deal estimated to cost an additional $74 million a year, compared to $129 million a year in the last contract.
Then the mayor choked up as he called Chicago’s classrooms the only bridge between the city’s poor children and its promise of a future.
Chicago’s 350,000 children return to school after missing seven days of class during the strike.
No one yet knows when the time will be made up.
Chicago Public Schools wasted no time spreading the word, emailing parents and sending robocalls to their homes.
Their teachers are bursting to see them again.
“I absolutely can’t wait to get back into the classroom,” said Katherine Hogan, an 11th-grade English teacher at Social Justice High School.
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