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Chicago Teachers Strike Suspended, Students to Attend Classes on Wednesday

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Striking Chicago public school teachers picket outside of George Westinghouse College Prep high school on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States.Credit: Getty Images

Following more than two hours of closed-door talks, the Chicago Teachers Union voted Tuesday to suspend the city's first teachers strike in a quarter century, bringing the nearly week-and-a-half long struggle to a close, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Roughly 350,000 who have been kept out of school since the strike began will head back to classrooms on Wednesday.

The education crisis led Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to seek an injuction Monday that would have legally forced teachers to end the strike and get back to teaching students. However, the ruling was delayed until Wednesday by a Chicago judge because of the upcoming Tuesday vote from the union.

"We feel very positive about moving forward," CTU President Karen Lewis said during a press conference following Tuesday's meeting, according to Huffington Post. "People were actually elated to take the suspension of the strike vote....We couldn't solve all the problems in the world with one contract, so people voted to end the strike."

Lewis said the union is not entirely pleased with agreements on things like teacher evaluations, teacher recalls and wraparound programs, but added that the negotiating phase should be over now.

"I hope [Emanuel] carries out this contract in good faith," Lewis reportedly said.

Following Emanuel's injunction move, the Chicago Teachers Union released a strongly worded statement calling the mayor a "bully," calling the action "vindictive" and that it displayed the distrust between city officials and educators.

As Huffington Post points out:

The union's version of the proposal would represent substantial concessions by Emanuel, who has emphasized the importance of a principal's right to select teachers. It would also limit students' standardized test scores to 30 percent of a teacher's evaluation -- the minimum allowed by state law.

And while the strike is hereby suspended, CTU's 26,000 members still have to review and approve the city's proposals. Chicago Public Schools declined to comment to several news outlets, Huffington Post reports.

"This settlement is an honest compromise, it means returning our schools to its primary purpose -- education for our children," Emanuel said at a press conference Tuesday. "This contract is a break with past practices and brings a fundamental change that benefits our children."

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