PHOTOS: Thousands attend downtown Chicago teachers rally - FOX 32 News Chicago

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PHOTOS: Thousands attend downtown Chicago teachers rally Monday

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Thousands of teachers, parents and supporters marched through downtown Chicago on the first day of a school strike.

The crowd Monday afternoon stretched for several blocks and was expected to swell through the early evening and into the city's rush hour. Some protesters carried signs that said "Chicago Teachers United" and "Fair Contract Now." Others waved red pom-poms and chanted. Earlier in the day, thousands of teachers picketed around neighborhood schools.

The union stood in front of Chicago Public Schools' headquarters for hours. They also made their way to a police surrounded City Hall with a message for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel has called the strike unnecessary.

"This is really an important situation and I understand that Rahm Emanuel doesn't understand," says CTU Counselor Darlene Hall. "Because if you don't get in the trenches of the schools, you don't know what the needs are."

The union says those needs include keeping health benefits and making changes to teacher evaluations that are partly based on standardized tests.

"This to me is proof that we are not fighting over small issues," a teacher from the crowd yells into the microphone. "We could not possibly inflame of this many students, parents and teachers. And we are talking about anything less than quality education for our kids."

Those issues were being discussed at a separate location, where Board of Education President David Vitale emerged with an update.

"We believe that we should resolve this tomorrow, that we are close enough to get this resolved and that we hope that once again we can deal with the two major issues that are on the agenda," said Vitale.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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