The Chicago teacher strike that has led to about 400,000 children being left out of schools is likely to continue for the second day, Tuesday, as the striking Chicago Teachers Union and the school district officials failed to reach an agreement till late night Monday.
An estimated 30,000 teachers and support staff walked out of the classrooms for the first time in 25 years in Chicago on Monday, after months-long negotiations to resolve issues on evaluation and job security failed.
The teachers union and school officials negotiated throughout Monday, but failed to reach an accord.
"We have said to them (the union) again that we believe we should resolve this tomorrow, that we are close enough to get this resolved," said School Board President David Vitale emerging out of the meeting with the union, according to Reuters.
According to an AP report, Vitale said that the board and union negotiators did not even get around to bargaining on the two biggest issues, performance evaluations and recall rights for laid-off teachers. The school board officials are supporting an evaluation based on the students' performance on standardized tests, while the teachers union is objecting to the method.
Unions say that majority of the teachers may lose jobs if evaluated on student performances alone as the performance of Chicago students is below the national average, which the unions point out, is due to reasons beyond their control such as poverty and crime rate.
The teachers came out in the thousands on the streets of Chicago Monday, bearing placards and signs and seeking fair contracts, targeting Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a democrat, who is pro-school reforms.
The strike in the third-largest school district of the nation has left working parents looking for alternatives to accomodate their children who have no school to attend and cannot be left at home alone. Many public facilities, faith and charity based institutions have opened to care for the students out of school, under a $25 million strike contingency plan financed by the school district, allowing some of the parents to work, Reuters reported.
There is an increased concern over the safety of the children especially in high-crime areas of the state.
The strike has also come under the scrutiny of the GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He does not favor the union's strike and has taken the opportunity to accuse President Obama of supporting the strike that has affected tens of thousands of children.
In a statement released Monday, Romney said: "Teachers unions have too often made plain that their interests conflict with those of our children, and today we are seeing one of the clearest examples yet."
Obama's political supporters were quick to react and alleged that Romney was taking undue political advantage of the situation.
A top Obama spokesman refuted the charges and said that the President was not taking sides on the issue and was asking instead for an early settlement.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was aware of the situation in Chicago. "We hope both sides are able to come together to settle this quickly in the best interest of Chicago's students," Carney said, according to Reuters.
The strike has drawn nationwide attention and many other districts with similar disputes between the teachers and school district officials are closely monitoring the developments.
"This is a long-term battle that everyone's going to watch... Other teachers unions in the United States are wondering if they should follow suit," said Eric Hanuskek, a senior fellow in education at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, AP reported.