US: Number of social workers a key sticking point in Chicago teachers strike - - PressFrom - US
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US Number of social workers a key sticking point in Chicago teachers strike

15:05  24 october  2019
15:05  24 october  2019 Source:   reuters.com

Chicago classes canceled Thursday ahead of expected teacher strike

  Chicago classes canceled Thursday ahead of expected teacher strike  Chicago Public Schools classes are canceled Thursday ahead of a planned teacher strike. Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she can't accept the Chicago Teachers Unions' demands, saying they would cost $2.5 billion that the city can't afford. Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she can’t accept the Chicago Teachers Unions’ demands, saying they would cost $2.5 billion that the city can’t afford.

CHICAGO — Striking Chicago public school teachers reported some headway at the bargaining table on Friday in a contract dispute focused on reducing class sizes and other issues that would benefit students.

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Striking Chicago public school teachers reported some headway at the bargaining table on Friday in a contract dispute Sticking points in the talks included the needs of homeless students, pay for veteran teachers , and pay for low-wage employees such as teacher

By Brendan O'Brien

a group of people holding a sign: FILE PHOTO: Teachers picket near New Field Elementary School on the second day day of a teachers' strike in Chicago© Reuters/JOHN GRESS FILE PHOTO: Teachers picket near New Field Elementary School on the second day day of a teachers' strike in Chicago

CHICAGO (Reuters) - As the Chicago teachers strike enters a sixth school day on Thursday, negotiations are hung up in part on the question of how many social workers the third-largest U.S. school system can afford for its 300,000 students.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration has proposed doubling the current number of school social workers from about 400 over the next five years, while the Chicago Teachers Union wants the number tripled.

The number targeted by the union in addition to its wage requests and proposal to employ one nurse in each of the city's schools - up from the current one per five schools - would swell the Chicago Public Schools' budget by about $2.4 billion a year, a 31% increase from its current $7.7 billion level, according to the mayor's office, which calls the proposals unaffordable.

'More than just money': Chicago parents warm to teachers' contract demands

  'More than just money': Chicago parents warm to teachers' contract demands 'More than just money': Chicago parents warm to teachers' contract demandsThe crowded conditions at Virgil Grissom Elementary School makes Rodriguez, a 45-year-old stay-at-home mom, sympathetic to Chicago's 25,000 teachers, who have authorized a strike against the public school system unless the two sides can reach a contract deal by Thursday.

A rally of striking Chicago teachers and support staff on Tuesday, featuring presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, exposed the danger of betrayal facing the 32,000 workers now in the fifth day of their strike .

CHICAGO — Lori Lightfoot swept into office as Chicago ’s mayor this year promising to end inequities that have long divided the city . She would invest in struggling neighborhoods, she pledged, and put badly needed librarians, nurses and social workers in schools.

"We need people on the ground in the schools who are ready to pick a kid up when a problem arises, not when it explodes," said Jordan Lau, 36, who teaches high school health and physical education, as he marched with teachers in downtown Chicago earlier this week.

The teachers say providing additional social workers and nurses would reduce the amount of time they need to spend handling students' extracurricular problems.

The strike is the latest in a series of walkouts staged by U.S. educators in recent years, following similar actions in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona. Concern over social workers also sparked a six-day Los Angeles teachers' strike early this year. The deal that ended that strike called for the city to hire one nurse per school and hire more counselors.

Chicago strike means day off for some, emergency for others

  Chicago strike means day off for some, emergency for others Chicago parents are leaning on family, friends and community groups with teachers in the nation's third-largest school district on strike. The strike based on a "social justice" agenda follows months of negotiations between the union and Chicago Public Schools that failed to resolve disputes over pay, benefits, class size and staffing.Teachers say the walkout is about getting more resources and smaller class sizes for students, not about more money for them. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the district's finances are precarious and it can't afford all of teachers' demands.School buildings have remained open.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is a labor union representing teachers , paraprofessionals, and clinicians in the Chicago public school system.

Picketing teachers told reporters last week that the walkout was about getting more resources for But, despite the fact that Illinois law prohibits union strikes over “non-economic” issues, those are also sticking points in And, the city has offered to double the number of social workers and nurses.”

"We wouldn't have won them without the strike," said United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl. "They were not budging without our strike, so I believe the Chicago teachers are doing exactly the right thing."

Lightfoot, a first-term Democrat whose campaign last year included promises to improve the city's school system, is also struggling with an $838 million funding hole in the city's upcoming budget. She unveiled a plan on Wednesday to fill that gap by cutting spending and raising revenues. The city's budget is separate from the budget for CPS.

Lightfoot said that even if the funds were available to hire the hundreds of social workers to meet the one-per-250-students recommendation of the National Association of Social Workers, Chicago would have a hard time finding enough trained people to fill the jobs.

Currently, there is one social worker for every 2,160 students across the United States and just 40% of schools have a part-time school nurse, while 25% have no nurse at all, according to national organizations that track staffing levels.

'We could end this within a couple days,' Chicago Teachers Union president says at beginning of third day without classes

  'We could end this within a couple days,' Chicago Teachers Union president says at beginning of third day without classes  Monday was the third day without classes in Chicago public schools, with picket lines remaining up around the city as union officials reported some progress during weekend talks. Teachers and support staff were out in front of Chicago schools again Monday morning after staying out of school starting Thursday. The strike has sent about 25,000 teachers and 7,000 support staff to pickets line and kept about 300,000 students out of class and extracurricular activities, although school buildings staffed by principals and non-striking staff have been open for child care and meals.

Chicago schools will remain closed Wednesday, as teachers continue to strike , fighting issues She said the city had committed to putting at least one nurse and social worker in every school within five Teachers in Chicago — where more than 16,000 students are homeless and many teachers

Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters march through the Loop on October 17, 2019 in Chicago , Illinois. And, the city has offered to double the number of social workers and nurses.” But the real question is whether the taxpayers of Chicago can even afford such lavish

'NOT A LIGHT LIFT'

"The mayor is not being dishonest when she says it won't be easy to hire that many social workers," said CPS social worker and union member Mary Difino. "It's not a light lift, but it's not an impossible lift."

CPS social workers are assigned to students in multiple schools who have individualized education plans to address their educational and emotional needs.

Since there are not enough social workers in the system and the ones working in CPS must meet quotas each month, they must make tough choices when faced with students dealing with traumatic, violent experiences or the effects of living in poverty, union members said.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey told Reuters the union felt "strong pressure" to settle the second-longest teachers strike in recent U.S. history since some students have already gone a week without the care they usually get from nurses and social workers.

"But what we are fighting for is going to be worth it if we can get it," he said.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)

School's back for 300,000 Chicago students after 11-day teachers' strike .
School's back for 300,000 Chicago students after 11-day teachers' strikeTeachers on Wednesday approved a five-year tentative agreement with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) that includes a 16% raise for teachers, additional social workers and nurses, enforceable class-size caps and extra support for English language learners and special education.

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