Acero charter school students, teachers return to class Monday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Acero charter school teachers and staff who went on a nearly week-long strike returned to work Monday

The charter school network and the Chicago Teachers Union, which represents the teachers, reached a tentative deal Sunday. It still needs to be ratified.

Thousands of ACERO Charter School students bundled up tight and walked into school Monday morning, thrilled to be back in class and back with their teachers who many consider family.

"If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be where I am right now," said student Mary Dionicio. "They give me the confidence I need and push me forward."

Hundreds of teachers rallied at Union Hall Sunday to claim victory after a nearly week-long strike. A tentative agreement was reached early Sunday morning.

More than 500 Acero Charter School Network teachers from all 15 schools walked off the job last Tuesday becoming the first charter school educators to do so in U.S. history.

Annual teacher raises, a shorter school year, fewer hours in teacher's work days, smaller class sizes are all are in the new contract.

"I'm glad to see Acero has stepped up to the plate and is playing ball," said Acero teacher Jessica Connor.

"It's even better for the kid cause it motivates the teachers, it motivates everyone to do a better job," said parent Cristina Cotto.

More than 90 percent of Acero's 7,500 students are Latino. Teachers were asking for "sanctuary school" provisions to be implemented including not sharing information with immigration officials. Acero schools agreed to that.

"I have a bunch of friends that are, like, illegal and I'm glad they're here because my friends mean the world to me, honestly, and I actually like that they're in my school," said student Jamilet Mendez.

Meanwhile Acero's CEO says this agreement will produce strong outcomes for students.
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