Catholic groups pitch in during Chicago teacher strike
According to the Chicago Public Schools website, three Catholic groups are providing a free space for students who have no alternative place to stay during the strike. They include: Casa Juan Diego, a youth center affiliated with St. Pius V parish and located at 2020 S. Blue Island; The ARK of St. Sabina, a youth center located at 7800 S. Racine; and the Catholic Youth Ministry Center at 1825 W. Monterey. (For more information and to see other community-based groups that are part of CPS’ contingency plan, click here.)
Catholic Charities is providing free breakfast and lunch to children at a number of other faith-based organizations that are also designated “safe havens” for students, CBS Chicago reports.
Many Chicago religious leaders have been pleading with both sides — the school board and the Chicago Teachers Union — to reach a contract agreement on account of the students’ safety.
“The school year is a safety time,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger said. “Children don’t get shot in school.”
Chicago teachers walked off the job Monday, shutting down schools and launching their first strike in 25 years. Mayor Rahm Emanuel called it a “strike of choice” and said two issues are holding up talks: the re-hiring process of laid-off teachers and teacher evaluations. CTU President Karen Lewis said the issues also include job security, health care benefits, class sizes and compensation for a longer school year.
Negotiations are ongoing.
Meanwhile, Crain’s reports that both charter and parochial schools are anticipating a possible influx of students if the strike continues.
“While the Catholic schools are not seeking to take advantage, nor to ourselves be put at a disadvantage, during this strike, we do have seats available in some schools at some grade levels,” Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, head of Chicago Catholic Schools, told the publication.