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Emanuel blames teachers’ strike for Spring Break change

Mayor Rahm Emanuel September.  |  Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel in September. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: November 5, 2012 11:35AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday blamed the seven-day strike by Chicago Public School teachers for a new student calendar that has infuriated parents by moving spring break up a week.

“I am very sensitive to that. That’s why I’ve always thought that the strike was a strike of choice,” Emanuel said.

“This was a set of requirements based on the fact. Had we not had a strike, we wouldn’t be in this position, which is why I thought that was a strike of choice, and it wasn’t good for our kids, our families, our taxpayers and the city.”

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis could not be reached for comment on the mayor’s remarks.

CTU attorney Robert Bloch said it’s unfair for the mayor to blame the union for a new school calendar devised by Emanuel’s handpicked Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.

“It was the school board’s decision. The teachers union was not asked to decide on the schedule. The school board reserves that decision to itself. How they can blame anyone for an unpopular decision that they made is beyond me,” Bloch said.

He added, “I’ve never understood what the term ‘strike of choice’ means. Aren’t all strikes strikes of choice? Employees decide that a strike is what they need to do to get a fair contract.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that phones at CPS headquarters were ringing off the hook after parents learned of a new student calendar that makes up for the seven-day strike by turning their vacation plans upside down.

Spring break was moved from the week of April 1 to the week of March 25, angering parents who had made airline and hotel reservations for family trips planned months in advance.

At some schools, parents also questioned why CPS kept Lincoln’s birthday as a day off for students on Feb. 14, but took away the more widely celebrated Presidents’ Day on Feb. 18, which working parents are more likely to have off.

At, one parent called the decision to push back the last day of school to the last Monday in June “ludicrous.”

The parent wrote: “We’ll be headed out camping that weekend and don’t plan to stick around for a wasted last full day of school.”

Also drawing heat, said Raise Your Hand founder Wendy Katten, was CPS’ decision to add six half-days of attendance for students. Many working parents will have to find day care those half-days, she said.

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