By Associated Pres, FOXNews.com
CHICAGO â€“ Chicago teachers went on strike Monday for the first time in 25 years after their union and district officials failed to reach a contract agreement despite intense weekend negotiations that the union said were productive but still failed to adequately address issues such as job security and teacher evaluations.
The two sides were not far apart on compensation, but were on other issues, including health benefits — teachers want to keep what they have now — and a new teacher evaluation system based partly on students’ standardized test scores, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said.
“This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could have avoided,” she said. “We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel condemned the union’s decision, and said the negotiations could be resolved if the two sides kept talking, “given how close we are.”
“This is not a strike I wanted,” Emanuel said. “It was a strike of choice … it’s unnecessary, it’s avoidable and it’s wrong. ”
More than 26,000 teachers and support staff were expected to hit the picket lines early Monday, while the school district and parents carried out plans for keeping nearly 400,000 students safe and occupied while classes remain empty in the coming days in the nation’s third largest school district.
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