A strike vote is in, Chicago. What’s next?

Late Thursday, Chicago’s Teachers Union announced that 94% of its teachers, clinicians and paraprofessional union members had voted to authorize a strike, setting the stage for a walkout less than six months into Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s term. 

Educators could walk out as early as Oct. 7.

But a lot can happen between now and then. 

During the city’s last contract negotiations with the union, in 2016, observers saw a strike as all but inevitable. But district officials made several concessions at the last minute, averting a full-fledged strike. 

Here’s what last night’s vote means, what could be next, and what the mayor said.

And here’s a look back at what Chicago can learn from one past strike and one near-miss.

Week in review

A worrisome trend: District leaders presented new data this week that show that, after nearly a decade of steady improvements, Chicago’s black students have backslid on some key metrics, including one that predicts which ninth-graders are most likely to graduate.  Chalkbeat looked at the numbers.

Course correction: After an uproar over how $200 million in early learning grants was distributed, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this week that the city will extend funding 25 nonprofits and community organizations through June 2020. Chalkbeat explained the significance.

What students say: Young people told Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot that they want to see more support for their schools and their teachers, at a meeting this week that gave youth a chance to speak directly to the mayor. Chalkbeat was there.

Bernie pays Chicago a visit: Sen. Bernie Sanders touched down in Chicago this week to lend support to the teachers’ union and trumpet his education platform. Chalkbeat reported from the event.

Warren’s education record: Speaking of national presidential candidates, Elizabeth Warren, who speaks often about her experience as a teacher, has yet to release a comprehensive K-12 education plan. Chalkbeat looked at what she has said so far.

Losing diversity: This year, Chicago plans to spend $50 million for busing and extra positions at its test-in and magnet schools, which were created under a federal decree as a way to diversify schools. WBEZ crunched the numbers and found that only 1 in 5 meet the racial goals set up in the plan.

Looking ahead

The application window for Chicago’s selective enrollment high schools is scheduled to open Monday.


Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman this week announced the formation of the Mayor’s Youth Commission – a group of more than 30 students, ages 14-19, from throughout the city selected to advise the mayor and her team on issues that impact Chicago’s young people. The more than 30 high school and college students were nominated by Chicago-based community organizations and represent neighborhoods and schools across the city. Commission appointments occur annually and involve civic education, leadership opportunities, and public service skill development. Youth Commissioners include Traolach O., 17, Jones College Prep; Jonathan R., 17, Benito Juarez High School;  Tyra S., 18, Northwestern University; Isabela A., 15, Lane Tech College Prep; Skylar M., 16, Chicago Math and Science Academy; Angel R., 18, Loyola University; Celiana L., 16, Roberto Clemente High School; Molly M., 17, Mother McAuley; Arnrae W., 17, Morgan Park High School; Charlotte M., 17, Jones College Prep; Marilyn S., 18, DePaul University; Kent C., 17, Lane Tech College Prep; Chaseon E., 16, Prosser Career Academy; Taliah T., 17, Wendell Phillips Academy; Schun P., 19, Kennedy-King College; Elijah W., 16, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School; Maria C., 16, Benito Juarez High School; Bella R., 15, Benito Juarez High School; Michael A., 17, Hansberry College Prep; Hugh K., 16, Lincoln Park High School; Josiah S., 16, Sarah E. Goode High School; Mariam A., 15, Chicago Math and Science Academy; Safiyah S., 16, Ogden International High School; Kent C., 17, Lane Tech College Prep; and Adelina A., 18, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. Congrats all!