The school has returned for 300,000 Chicago students after an 11-day teacher strike

CHICAGO: Chicago teachers returned to work on Friday after an exhausting 11-day strike, as parents hoped that the agreement reached between the teachers union and the district would improve their children's education.

Teachers approved a five-year tentative agreement with the (CPS) on Wednesday that includes an increase of 16% for additional teachers, social workers and nurses, class size limits and additional support for English learners and special education.

I am delighted that the strike is over and I believe that the things that the teachers won are very significant and will have a great impact on the quality of education, said the mother of parents Julie Dworkin, 49, who trusted her friends. and his family to take care of his 12 and 14 year old children, so he can continue working during the strike.

It was the second longest in a wave of American teacher strikes that developed throughout West Virginia, Oklahoma , Arizona and California over the past few years, topped only by a three-week June strike in Union City, California.

Like previous strikes, Chicago teachers asked for money to alleviate overcrowded classrooms and more support staff, in addition to seeking a salary increase for the 25,000 teachers in the district.

Welcome back to school, CPS students! The mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, a first-term Democrat who campaigned to improve the city's schools, tweeted, but said the school district could not afford to increase spending on counselors and nurses who were looking for teachers.

For Marlena Ceballos, the agreement was essential to enable her to meet the teaching needs of her special education students.

I wanted to fight for my children, said Ceballos, 29, who was on the front lines of the protests and was so desperate for an agreement that she attended the training and was prepared to be arrested.

The pressure for an agreement increased in recent days when teachers prepared for their first paychecks reduced by the strike, as well as the possibility of health insurance expiring on Friday.

I was really thinking about crossing (picket lines), Ceballos said, adding that he has diabetes and could not pay higher healthcare costs if he loses his current insurance.

The strike brought difficulties for students forced to stay home and, in some cases, stay inside for fear of going out and being confused with gang members, teachers said.

The student athletes lost the opportunity to participate in championships where universities are looking for scholarship candidates. Some angry parents unsuccessfully sued their children to compete.

But Rousemary Vega, 39, the mother of three school-age children, said the teachers had been robbed and hungry for resources, and that she would have supported the strike for another 11 days.

They went out, flexed their muscles and won, said Vega, a receptionist at a nonprofit housing organization. They taught our children a great lesson, that when you defend justice and what is right, then you win.