CHICAGO — Teachers at the largest network of charter schools in Chicago are celebrating their historic win: In the first ever strike at a charter school, more than 500 teachers walked out of their classrooms earlier this month to demand better conditions for both themselves and their students. It worked, and now they're inspiring other charters to follow suit.
The Chicago Teachers Union partnered with the Charter Teachers Union, and after almost a week of protests, Acero Schools, which operates 15 charter schools in the city serving mostly Latino students, agreed to increase teacher pay, decrease class sizes, and adjust several other metrics to better align with those at Chicago's public schools.
"When we finally got our contracts, we were laughing and jumping around," said Bethany Rouke, a second-grade teacher at one of the Acero schools who was part of the negotiations. "We had been there for like 18 hours and we’re singing and holding signs and signing our shirts." The win will mean $6,000 more in her annual salary, among the other concessions.
We went to the Chicago Teacher's Union rally to see what exactly they were fighting for and how they pushed for it. Given how well their strike effort went, it could have serious implications for not just the charter school movement in Chicago but also other charters nationwide, with charter school enrollment growing steadily each year.
This segment originally aired December 10, 2018, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.