Chicago teachers’ strike highlights support staff shortages

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Demands by striking Chicago teachers for more nurses, librarians and social workers are highlighting concerns that resonate in high-poverty school districts nationwide, where shortages of support staff leave educators feeling stretched.

Teachers unions argue not having enough support staff hinders students’ learning and teachers’ work.

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When the issue came up during strikes this year in California, teachers won promises for more nurses and counselors in Los Angeles schools and more psychologists and special education instructors in Oakland. But unions and professional groups representing such support staff say shortages remain a concern around the country.

Chicago has committed to hiring more nurses, social workers and support staff, but objected to making that part of the teachers’ contract.