CHICAGO — This city found itself engulfed on Monday by a sudden public school strike that left 350,000 children without classes, turned a spotlight on rising tensions nationally over teachers’ circumstances, and placed both the powerful teachers’ union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a risky, politically fraught standoff with no clear end in sight.
The strike, Chicago’s first in 25 years and the first in a major city in a half-dozen years, revealed a rift between unions and Mr. Emanuel, a Democrat and former chief of staff to President Obama, raising the prospect that a lingering strike in the president’s hometown might become an issue in a presidential election year when Democrats depend on the backing of labor.
Teachers here clearly saw the strike as a protest not just of work conditions in Chicago but of data-driven education reform nationwide, which many perceived as being pushed by corporate interests and relying too heavily on standardized tests to measure student progress.
Thousands of teachers dressed in red swarmed through downtown and marched outside of schools across the city in this, the nation’s third-largest school system, as families raced to find alternative child care for classes they had learned were called off only hours before the week began.
Closed-door negotiations continued late into Monday night between Chicago Public Schools officials and leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union. Labor groups and teachers in other cities voiced support for strikers here, suggesting that the fight in Chicago was merely one glimpse at a mounting national struggle over unionized teachers’ pay, conditions, benefits and standing.
芝加哥公立学校学区(Chicago Public Schools)官员与芝加哥教师工会(Chicago Teachers Union)领导人举行的闭门谈判，一直持续到了周一夜间。其他城市的劳工组织和教师也对芝加哥的罢工者予以声援。这说明在全国范围内，要求改善教师工会成员的薪资、工作条件、福利及社会地位的努力越来越多，芝加哥的斗争只是冰山一角。
“You have a situation where the teachers feel totally and completely disrespected,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the parent union of the striking teachers. In this case, she said she blamed Mayor Emanuel for an aggressive push to extend the length of the school day and for a promised raise that was later rescinded.
美国教师联盟(American Federation of Teachers)主席兰迪·温加滕(Randi Weingarten)说，“这里的局面是，教师觉得自己完完全全不受尊重。”此次罢工教师所属的工会是美国教师联盟的成员机构。在这次罢工中，温加藤说她谴责伊曼纽尔市长，批评他大力推行延长学时，允诺涨工资而后又反悔。
For his part, Mr. Emanuel, facing the most serious crisis since he became mayor in 2011, deemed the work stoppage an avoidable “strike of choice,” urged teachers to return to work, and seemed eager to dismiss all talk about political fallout — for himself or for President Obama, whose former aides founded a “super PAC” that Mr. Emanuel had, until he suspended his work with it on Monday, said he would assist until Election Day.
Republicans were quick to weigh in on the circumstances that had pitted a Democratic mayor against 26,000 unionized teachers. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president, issued a statement expressing disappointment in the teachers here, adding, “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.”
President Obama on Monday issued no specific reaction to the strike.
For months, a conflict had been simmering here between the teachers and Mr. Emanuel, who has pledged to make the most comprehensive reform in the Chicago Public Schools in a decade.
School officials said they had made significant concessions in the contract talks, including what would amount to a 16 percent increase for teachers over four years despite what is expected to be a $1 billion deficit in the system’s operating budget next year. School board officials said the average salary for teachers here is $76,000.
The officials said only two issues were still subjects of dispute — how to evaluate teachers and whether teaching openings should automatically go to laid-off teachers.
Outside the schools here, though, in the lines of marchers, the issues seemed ever broader. Many teachers said they were troubled by a new evaluation system and its reliance on student test scores. Teachers spoke of rising class sizes, much-needed social workers, a dearth of air-conditioned classrooms and slow-to-arrive reference books, and, again and again, a sense of disrespect.
At Lane Tech College Prep, where many passing motorists honked their support for the teachers, Steve Parsons, a teacher, said he believed the city was ultimately aiming to privatize education through charter schools and computer programs that teach classes online.
在莱恩理工学院预备学校(Lane Tech College Prep)，许多路过的摩托车手纷纷摁响喇叭，声援教师们。教师史蒂夫·帕森斯(Steve Parsons)说，他认为，通过建立特许学校和在网上授课的电脑教学项目，芝加哥市的最终目的是把教育私有化。
“We need to stay out as long as it takes to get a fair contract and protect our schools,” he said.