Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday that all of the city’s public schools will close Thursday in anticipation of a teachers’ strike. The strike was originally slated to begin Friday, but the mayor, who is a Democrat, said an impasse at the bargaining table this week made it almost certain teachers would walk out a day earlier than planned.
“Without question, the deal we put on the table is the best in the Chicago Teachers Union history,” said Lightfoot. “Despite all this, the Chicago Teachers Union intends to forge ahead with a strike.”
The city claims it offered a 16 percent pay raise over five years plus contract language that addressed numerous union demands, including class sizes and support staffing levels for nurses, social workers, and librarians.
But union officials disputed Lightfoot’s characterization of the city’s proposals, saying the class size offer, in particular, fell short of what was needed. The teachers’ last contract expired in June.
The strike will put 400,000 students out of school for an indefinite number of days. —L.E.
The U.S. Department of Education announced last week it would continue to fund the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies provided it makes strides to present more balanced and diverse viewpoints. The department initiated an investigation of both Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in August, questioning the Middle Eastern studies program’s positive portrayal of Islam against a void of corresponding information on other prevalent religions in the Middle East, including Christianity and Judaism. The taxpayer-funded program also came under fire for events that purportedly displayed anti-Israel bias and even blatant anti-Semitism.
In a letter last week to the schools, Assistant Education Secretary Robert King explained the department would release this year’s funding but remain watchful of ideological bias in the program. “We are simply encouraging the consortium to offer more perspectives, not fewer, in accordance with the law,” he wrote. —L.E.
Maine hogs may pig out on school cafeteria leftovers thanks to newly passed legislation. While not a new practice, the bill clears up some confusion that had developed over whether schools could off-load their food scraps on local pig farmers.
“In Maine, that was a common practice when I was growing up. Hog farmers would come to the back door and take the waste at the end of the day,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, state Sen. Stacey Guerin, a Republican. “I’m glad school administrators can do that with confidence now, without fear of breaking the law.” —L.E.