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Teachers in Chicago leave their class­rooms to protest for higher wages and more. | Wiki­media Commons

The average fire­fighter salary in Chicago is $49,489. Reg­is­tered nurses in the Windy City make an average of $66,322 a year, and a policeman will earn an average salary of $73,130.

But Teachers in Chicago are asking for a base salary of nearly $100,000.

The Chicago Public Schools can­celled classes for nearly 300,000 stu­dents beginning on Thursday, Oct. 17, and joined the Dis­trict Service Employees Inter­na­tional Union Local 37 in a strike.

Around 25,000 Chicago teachers and 7,000 support staff are nego­ti­ating deals regarding salaries, class sizes, and the number of support staff in schools, such as librarians and nurses.

Chicago teachers should stop being selfish and go back to work for the sake of their stu­dents, while the Chicago Teachers Union fights for improving class sizes and increasing support staff. The union should abandon the fight for a six-figure base salary and go back to work for the sake of their stu­dents.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has asked the teachers to return to work for the stu­dents’ benefit and for prac­tical reasons.

“CPS is not flush with cash,” the mayor told CNN. “The fact is there is no more money. Period.”

The Chicago School Dis­trict is the third-largest dis­trict in the country. Although all of the school buildings are open for stu­dents to go to during the day, stu­dents are not being taught any­thing. They can go to their school buildings for a gov­ernment-pro­vided breakfast, lunch, and supper to take home.

Ade­quate nutrition is nec­essary to a healthy lifestyle, but it’s not the same thing as enriching children’s lives through quality edu­cation. The teachers refusing to go back to their class­rooms undermine every­thing they claim to be fighting for.

About 75 percent of stu­dents in the dis­trict qualify for a free or reduced lunch. The teachers claim they are fighting for these stu­dents and not their salaries.

If teachers cared about the well-being of their stu­dents, they would ditch marching around the streets and go back to their class­rooms. The Teachers Union is more than capable of working out a deal for the teachers.

Chicago does need to address the issue that nine out of every 10 majority-black schools do not have librarians, and many schools don’t have a full-time nurse. Again, the union can settle these issues, and the teachers should go back to work and provide an edu­cation for those stu­dents.

Of the 15 issues the Chicago Teachers Union are fighting for, they have reached ten­tative agree­ments with the CPS as of Oct. 22 on seven talking points: homeless stu­dents, pre-kinder­garten classes, charters, coun­selors, support staff pipeline, sanc­tuary cities, and bath­rooms.

The two parties are still dis­cussing the terms of the remaining eight issues: length of con­tract, pay, health ben­efits, prepa­ration time, staffing, class size, special edu­cation, and sports.

As talks con­tinue to drag on, CPS has offered 3 percent raises for each of the first three years of the con­tract and 3.5 percent raises for each of the last two years. But CTU has asked for 5 percent raises in each of the three years.

If teachers con­tinue to wear their red and waste their time holding up homemade signs, ath­letes will be denied the pos­si­bility of com­peting in state tour­na­ments.

Ale­jandro Sanchez, a senior soccer player at Solorio Academy High School told Chicago MSNBC the teachers’ strike has pre­vented his team’s chances to play for a state title.

“I was looking forward to this,” Sanchez told MSNBC. “It’s actually pretty sad because I didn’t expect my season (to end this way).”

At least three schools, including Solorio, have peti­tioned the Illinois High School Asso­ci­ation, asking them to use their strike policy so stu­dents who started playing in state com­pe­tition can play during the strike.

Unfor­tu­nately, The IHSA did not hear the appeal, and issued a statement saying that the CPS has taken a position not to allow stu­dents to compete during the strike.

“Because the CPS have taken a position to not allow stu­dents and teams to con­tinue par­tic­i­pating when our policy would have allowed them to, the board will not be con­sid­ering the appeal hearing request unless the CTU strike is settled,” the orga­ni­zation said in a statement.

In addition to pre­venting stu­dents from com­peting in state com­pe­ti­tions, the strike has largely been politi­cized by the Chicago chapter of the Demo­c­ratic Socialists of America. Members of the Chicago DSA have taken an active role in assisting Chicago teachers and the union, making the strike more about a political message rather than improving con­di­tions for Chicago schools.

Will Bloom, a Chicago DSA member who is coor­di­nating with the CTU, told the Chicago Sun Times a few of his “com­rades” are also in the teachers union, adding many of them are “very active” in Chicago DSA’s labor-orga­nizing branch.

After gaining support from pres­i­dential can­didate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I‑Vt., in 2016, the orga­ni­zation increased its influence in American pol­itics with the elec­tions of DSA members U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D‑N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D‑Mich. The DSA and its various chapters now have more than 50,000 members.

Chicago DSA used its orga­nizing efforts to help elect five members to the City Council in a series of elec­tions that have expanded its power in Chicago and moved the body further left. DSA members make up more than one-tenth of the council.

Even as the DSA uses this strike to gain more national attention, teachers need to return to class­rooms and let the union hash it out with Lightfoot.

Julia Mullins is a junior studying pol­itics and is the city news editor for The Col­legian.