Kids in Limbo as Chicago Teachers Continue Strike

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It's day two of the teachers strike in Chicago as union leaders and city officials are still at odds.

At least 29,000 educators and staff are walking the picket lines for the largest teachers strike in the United States in more than two decades.

Chicago School Board President David Vitale claimed an agreement could be reached today, but the president of the teachers union didn't sound like it.

"They have made no movement. They understand what our positions are," Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, said.

The strike means that more than 350,000 children are out of school, with many working parents trying to find care for them.

"I told them I couldn't make it in [to work] because today I didn't have child care," Chicago parent Tiffany Williams said. "I couldn't do my job because I had nowhere to send my child today."

About 11,000 students showed up at the 144 schools the city opened Monday for breakfast, lunch, and activities.

Click play to watch Dale Hurd's report followed by comments on education reform from Jason Richwine, senior policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation.

The union and the school district are at a standoff over new teacher performance evaluations that teachers fear will put their jobs in jeopardy. The district wants the assessments based in part on how well students perform on standardized tests.

But union leaders say that's unfair to teachers in underprivileged and underperforming schools. Seventy-nine percent of the eighth graders in the Chicago Public Schools don't read at grade level.

In addition to changing the evaluation requirements, the Chicago Teachers Union wants the district to adopt a policy to recall laid off teachers if jobs open up within the district.

"Teachers like us should not be unemployed. We should be in the classroom," one educator said.

The strike has also put political pressure on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He urged both sides to "stay at the table and finish it for our children."

Meanwhile, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney issued a statement saying President Obama is siding with the teachers union against children.

"We ought to put the kids first in this country and the teacher's union goes behind," Romney said while in Chicago for a fundraiser.

"As president, I will stand up and say, 'Look, these teachers unions are not acting ... with the best interest of the kids in mind,'" he said.

In response, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "We certainly haven't expressed an opinion on how it should be resolved. We're urging the sides to resolve it."

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Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at