Emanuel: Schools agreement an 'honest compromise' - KMSP-TV

Emanuel: Schools agreement an 'honest compromise'

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said his first goal for fall was to right the ship of education, and get kids back to school after the strike.

Emanuel called the tentative agreement that led to the end of the city's teacher's strike "an honest compromise" Tuesday night.

The mayor called the union delegates' decision to suspend the strike after hearing details of the proposed deal a "new day" for the city's schools.

SEE: CTU president Karen Lewis announces end to teachers strike

At Chopin Elementary near Humboldt Park, school children resumed their routine, ate breakfast at school and are getting re-acquainted with teachers and friends.

Emanuel talked to school leaders and children, asking about their favorite subjects and teachers, and gave high fives to kids arriving for the first day after seven days off.

SEE: Chicago teachers suspend strike, classes to resume Wednesday

The mayor also used this visit to emphasize the new longer school day and year, a reform he implemented. He said now teachers and students can return to the business of education.

Mayor Emanuel also visited Frazier Magnate School, a school where 90 percent of the students are low income and students are high achievers.

He said they new teachers' contract puts the best teachers in front of the students while being responsible to taxpayers.

He also said the new union contract clears the way for "fundamental change that benefits our children," but he did not address the biggest question left hanging in the wake of this agreement: How will the Chicago Public Schools pay for this deal?

$1 billion per year budget shortfalls are projected over the next several years. The system has about one-third more classrooms than it needs and some expect dozens of schools to close.

The mayor took no questions about any of that, focusing on what he won, starting with what it means for kindergartners just entering the system.

"They have an extra 2 ½ years in the classroom by the time they graduate high school," Rahm announced. "That 2 ½ years of additional education is a new day and a new direction for Chicago's children."

But because union teachers agreed to add only a few minutes to their work schedule, principals will have to hire hundreds of new teachers to deliver the longer school day and year.

Emanuel retreated in the face of fierce union opposition, from his goal of merit pay and being able to pay more to teachers in the system's toughest schools in the most impoverished neighborhoods.

The mayor had called the walkout a "strike of choice" and pushed for a quick resolution after parents were forced to find alternatives for about 350,000 students.

He went to court to try to force teachers back to class Monday, with city attorneys contending the strike was an illegal act that presented a danger to the health and safety of the district's students.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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