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With picket signs, T-shirts, teachers ready for action

Updated: September 10, 2012 9:49AM



A steady flow of teachers pulled up in front of Chicago Teachers Union strike headquarters Sunday at the corner of Marshfield and Van Buren outside Teamsters Local 705 headquarters. They were there to pick up picket signs and T-shirts.

“I’m optimistic, but at the same time, I’m realistic,” said Ollie Allen, a fifth-grade teacher at Mount Vernon Elementary School. “I would like to see a fair contract. I want to see fair pay, job security and a better classroom environment that’s fair to students and teachers.

Allen, a delegate, said any notification of a possible deal could come late.

“We’ve been told to keep our cell phones close,” she said.

Xian Barrett, a social studies teacher at Gage Park High School, doubts a strike will be avoided.

“I’m not very optimistic because I feel like the issues that we as teachers care about are ones that the board doesn’t seem at all interested in discussing, like class sizes, support for high poverty schools vs. other schools.”

“And special needs students,” chimed in Maria Hernandez, a bilingual teacher at Daley Elementary Academy.”

As teachers came and went, drivers in cars passing by sometimes blue their horn in a show of support, among them officers riding in a Chicago Police Department sports utility vehicle.

“We’ve been villainized for so long; it’s so nice to get support,” said Renata Nessinger, who teaches at Sullivan High School. “We’re so not about the money. Its about the kids.”

Nessigner, also the mother of a special needs child, who attends Chicago Public Schools, hopes a strike can be avoided.

“It’s scary,” she said. “I’m not going to lie. My husband is unemployed. It’s terrifying for all of us.”

But she said if a strike occurs, she will be on the picket line, along with her son.



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