In Chicago, teacher tensions on the rise

The tension around contract negotiations is rising in Chicago, as teachers announced this week they would walk out Oct. 17 if no deal was reached by then. 

That’s the same day that a separate union representing school aides has threatened to strike. Chicago Park District employees, who during the 2012 strike cared for students displaced by closed schools, also took a strike authorization vote last week. They are represented by the same union as the school support staff. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has promised to keep schools open if a strike takes place but said she will do her best to avoid a teacher walkout. 

Chalkbeat Chicago took a few deep dives into the issues at play this week, including a look at how teacher salary stacks up nationally and a proposal to add more teacher prep time that could shorten the school day. 

We also documented the city’s budding contingency plans, as Chicago faces the real possibility that 300,000 children will be out of school..  

As always, you can find the latest in our #TrackingtheContract blog. 

We’re Cassie Walker Burke and Yana Kunichoff, and we’re rounding up Chicago public education news for the week. Please send any tips, story ideas, or general shoutouts our way: chicago.tips@chalkbeat.org

Week in review 

Need to know: Chicago’s universal application portal GoCPS opened this week. What should families consider about the admissions process? We looked at the research and rounded up seven things to know for parents and students. Chalkbeat Chicago breaks it down. 

Selective troubles: At Chicago’s elite Payton College Prep, racial issues have emerged as black enrollment drops. The story is the latest in WBEZ’s dive into school segregation

Charter question: Do charter schools “lift all boats”? Here’s what the latest research tells us. 

Program loss: In Newark schools, popular enrichment programs were set to expand — until they disappeared. Here’s what happened.. 

Future blueprint: Chalkbeat has exciting plans to expand. You can read about our five-year strategic plan here. 

Looking ahead

The Advocate Group will hold a series of workshops to help parents determine if their child may be eligible for extra special education services. The next one will be held Oct. 10, at 10 a,m. in Little Village. More details here. 

Journalist and MacArthur Genius Award winner Nikole Hannah-Jones will host a conversation about the 1619 Project on October 8 at Whitney Young High School. The talk will be livestreamed. Here’s what schools chief Janice Jackson had to say about the project, which is a collection of essays, stories, poems, photography, and accompanying curriculum for schools that marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery.


Twenty-five Illinois schools, including a Chicago Public School in Lincoln Park, have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Blue Ribbon schools must have test scores in the top 15 percent in their state with no significant gaps separating students from different demographics, or have shown “extraordinary progress” in closing those gaps. 

Public and private schools are eligible for the honor. Congrats to all!

Illinois’ 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools are:

  • Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire
  • Alphonsus Academy & Center For The Arts in Chicago
  • Banner Elementary School in Dunlap
  • Bannockburn School in Bannockburn
  • Columbus Elementary School in Edwardsville
  • Eastview Elementary School in Algonquin
  • Glen Oaks Elementary School in Hickory Hills
  • Hawthorn Elementary School South in Vernon Hills
  • Ivy Hall Elementary School in Buffalo Grove
  • Ivy Hill Elementary School in Arlington Heights
  • Kingsley Elementary School in Naperville
  • Madison Elementary School in Hinsdale
  • Maine South High School in Park Ridge
  • Old St. Mary’s School in Chicago
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy in Chicago
  • Prescott Elementary School in Chicago
  • Roslyn Road Elementary School in Barrington
  • Saint Benedict Preparatory School in Chicago
  • Saint Raymond School in Mount Prospect
  • Saints Cyril and Methodius School in Lemont
  • St. Athanasius School in Evanston
  • Timothy Christian High School in Elmhurst
  • Tri-Valley Middle School in Downs
  • Wheaton Academy in West Chicago
  • William Fremd High School in Palatine

Have someone or something excellent that you’d like to recognize in education in Illinois? Drop us a line at chicago.tips@chalkbeat.org! We’ll consider your pitch for our weekly #HighFive.