Chicago Strike Hits 4th Week, Some Other Schools ReopenThe Associated Press , Associated Press
Sep. 28, 1987 8:36 PM ET
UNDATED Undated (AP) _ A strike by Chicago teachers dragged on into a fourth week Monday, while an Arkansas judge refused to order striking Little Rock teachers back to school and classes opened in Edmonds, Wash., after a monthlong walkout.
Classes also reopened Monday for some students in Michigan and Massachusetts, but nearly 500,000 students remain at home as teachers walk picket lines in six states.
By far the largest strike is in Chicago, where 28,000 teachers struck in a wage dispute. As negotiations continue, frustrated parents and some school officials have set up classrooms in public plazas and homes.
''We shouldn't have to do this, but we want to draw attention to the politics and the struggle that's going on,'' declared Kathryn Kemp, dean of girls at Chicago Vocational School, who spent Monday morning teaching fractions in a makeshift sidewalk class downtown.
Wearing a Crane High School Cougars cap, counselor Joyce Oatman said she joined the group in front of the State of Illinois Center to teach chemistry, her major field of study.
''I'm tired of staying home and watching soap operas,'' said Ms. Oatman, ''so I thought I'd come and see if anyone wanted to talk about atoms and protons.''
A Cook County judge on Monday rejected a request from parents and other groups that Chicago students be bused to suburban schools while the teachers are on strike.
Chicago teachers, who are paid an average of $27,900 a year, have been seeking a 9 percent raise in the first year of a two-year contract and a 5 percent raise the second year. The board, saying it has no money, has offered a 0.5 percent raise.
Some 430,000 students are affected by the walkout. On Tuesday, the strike will tie the 16-day city record for a teachers' walkout set in 1983.
In Little Rock, Chancellor John Earl denied the school district's request for a temporary order against the strike, ruling the district had not proved that the walkout by 1,200 teachers is illegal or that the district would suffer irreparable harm if it continued.
Earl tentatively scheduled a hearing for next week on whether he should issue a permanent injunction against the strike.
Meantime, lawyers who represent the district in a federal desegregation case said they would ask the U.S. District Court for an order for teachers to return to work. A neighboring district sends students to six magnet schools affected by the strike.
Monday was the second day in which classes were not held for 26,330 Little Rock pupils. The Classroom Teachers Association, seeking 10 percent raises, went on strike after rejecting the district's offer of 5 percent.
In Edmonds, 17,500 students began returning to classes after one the longest teachers' strikes in Washington history.
Teachers who walked out Aug. 27 ratified a new two-year contract Thursday night and the Edmonds School Board gave its approval Friday.
Teachers said, however, that the main issue of reducing class sizes was not completely resolved. They settled for guarantees that most teachers with overcrowded classes will get help from aides and as much as $4,500 a year for extra supplies.
Christmas vacation will be shortened and classes will run through June 28 to make up for four weeks lost to the strike by about 900 teachers, district officials said.
In Michigan, classes resumed Monday for the 1,571 students in the Cassopolis schools, and 3,833 students in Gibraltar were due to return Wednesday after teachers and school officials reached a tentative agreement in a judge's chambers.
Still on strike were the 75 teachers of West Iron County, keeping about 1,568 students out of school in that Upper Peninsula district. The strike began Sept. 14.
Teachers in Norton, Mass., also returned to work Monday under a new contract, reopening that state's only strike-closed school. The strike by the 148 teachers affected 2,400 students.
The Norton teachers had ignored Superior Court and state Labor Relations Commission orders to return to their jobs. On Wednesday, a judge levied a $1,250-a-day fine on the Norton Teachers Association for failing to obey the order.
In Boston, a federal judge who oversees the school system's desegregation ordered representatives of the striking bus drivers to appear in court Wednesday. The 21-day strike has affected about 25,000 children.
U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr. said the representatives must show why he should not issue an injunction sought by school officials requiring the union to engage in ''daily good-faith bargaining.'' Garrity said the strike could be an impediment to his orders involving the busing of students to desegregate the schools.
Strikes also continued in New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.