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(CHICAGO) — Three-hundred and fifty thousand kids in Chicago get the day off today as the city and the teachers union try to get on the same page in order to keep the first public school strike in a quarter century from extending much longer.

Late Sunday night, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis announced, “Negotiations have been intense but productive, however we have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike.”

And then directly addressing parents, Lewis said, “Please seek alternative care for your children.”

Many of the 30,000 teachers and other school personnel on strike will walk picket lines, much to chagrin of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who lamented, “This is totally unnecessary. It’s avoidable and our kids don’t deserve this…This is a strike of choice.”

Emanuel said two issues are holding up a resolution — that is, rehiring laid-off teachers from shuttered schools, and new teacher evaluations that educators complain put too much emphasis on test scores.

The 50,000 students in Chicago charter schools aren’t affected.

The last public school teacher’s strike in Chicago occurred in 1987 and lasted 19 days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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