Chicago teachers strike 'a question of political priorities,' says former teacher

Former high school teacher Eric Blanc ripped Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) following failed contract negotiations with the Chicago Public School teachers union, saying “it’s a question of political priorities, not economic feasibility.”

Roughly 25,000 Chicago Public School teachers went on strike on Thursday, canceling classes across the city. The move comes a day after Lightfoot announced that she couldn’t accept the teachers’ demands for more funding and lower class sizes because it would cost money the city doesn’t have.

But Blanc told Hill.TV on Thursday that the Chicago mayor is just playing “hardball.”

“The money’s there but it’s a question of political will and it’s a question of political power to see whether the educators can force the city to grant the money,” he said during an interview that aired on “Rising.”

Blanc, who picketed alongside teachers, said the strike already brought about some positive change, noting that several local unions have also joined the picket line in solidarity.

“You see unions across the board coming out to picket lines with food, coming out with their members — there’s going to be a mass rally today — and we’re expecting a lot of workers, not just in the schools to show up,” he said. “It has been pretty remarkable to be at the picket lines this morning.”

The former teachers added that what makes this particular strike unique is the fact that it doesn’t just include teachers, but all school employees.

“When we’ve looked at the other strikes that happen across the country, really the most powerful actions that have taken place have been when its all workers in a given school, really shutting down the whole system and so that’s what we see in Chicago,” he said.

“It means that the strike really have more power than it might otherwise,” he added.

Lightfoot’s office didn’t immediately response to Hill.TV’s request for comment.

⁠—Tess Bonn