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Tens of thousands of Chicago teachers go on strike


16:20, September 11, 2012

CHICAGO, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Teachers at the third largest U.S. public school system took to the streets on Monday to protest evaluation procedures and working conditions.

Organized by the Chicago Teachers' Union, the strike meant the majority of Chicago's 675 public schools were closed until further notice, giving around 350,000 students an extended summer vacation.

Though classes went on as usual at the city's private and charter schools, hundreds of thousands of public school students were forced to spend the day outside the classroom, as working parents scrambled to find alternative care for their children.

Many of the 25,000 teachers employed by the Chicago Public Schools did go to school Monday morning, but not to the classrooms they normally lead. Instead, teachers set up picket lines outside school entrances, waving signs and cheering as some passersby honked car horns in support.

Later Monday afternoon, teachers moved to downtown Chicago for a massive rally outside Chicago Public School headquarters and City Hall. Traffic was shut down as the city streets were bathed in a sea of red union shirts, with thousands of striking teachers chanting slogans such as "We want teachers. We want books. We want the money that Rahm took!"

Such statements refer to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who was criticized by teachers for recent changes made to the Chicago Public School system. Opponents say a new teacher evaluation system places too much emphasis on students' standardized test results. Teachers also called for a new "fair" contract that takes into account benefits and pay increases.

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