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Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 5:15am

Chicago Teachers To Meet About New Contract, Possibly End Strike

A nearly weeklong teachers strike in Chicago may come to an end Sunday. Delegates from the teachers union have a meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. local time to review and potentially approve a new contract with Chicago Public Schools.

As the union says in a statement on its website, the hundreds of delegates could ask for at least 24 hours of review, which would delay school opening yet another day. It says schools could reopen as early as Monday, though.

Sunday's meeting follows six days of demonstrations, including a rally of thousands in Chicago's Union Park on Saturday.

Teachers nationwide are watching the strike closely, as the outcome could influence the fate of other unions. As Alan Greenblatt reported for NPR last Monday, teachers unions have had to fight harder in recent years, even with their historical allies, Democrats.

The strike in Chicago is the city's first in 25 years, a burst of frustration in response to an effort led by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to overhaul the education system. Tim Knowles, head of the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute, told NPR's Tovia Smith it's "a prefect storm" of issues one seen in cities across the U.S.

Among the big points of contention are the tying of teachers' pay to student performance and job security with the expansion of charter schools and the closure of other public schools.

The union's statement late Saturday said that the proposed contract includes provisions on pay, evaluation practices and job security. The union announced Friday there was an outline of a deal, but no details were released.

While the final score in the negotiations is yet to be tallied, the Chicago Tribune says financial woes will hang over the outcome.

"What remains to be seen, even if the strike ends Sunday, is how the agreement affects future relations between the union and mayor as the board struggles to find ways to afford the new raises, faces a projected $1 billion deficit in the 2014 school year and contemplates scores of school closings."

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