School board President David Vitale left talks a little after 6:30 p.m. and said the two sides were going over "technical" issues and had failed to take up key points including teacher evaluations and a recall policy. Still, as he has several times before, Vitale expressed optimism that a deal could be reached soon.
Attendance was light at the 144 schools opened by Chicago Public Schools as part of a strike contingency plan, and some parents expressed uneasiness over crossing picket lines.
"I understand both sides, they have their right to strike," said Marcia Garcia as she dropped her daughter off at a school in Little Village. "But it's a shame my daughter can't learn."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with students at Maranatha Church on the West Side, one of 59 faith-based organizations serving as "Safe Havens" for displaced schoolchildren. Emanuel sought to reassure parents that the school board was working quickly to resolve the situation and return kids to the classroom.
He again characterized the strike as "one of choice" by teachers and said the walkout could have been avoided.
"It's the wrong choice for our children," Emanuel said.
The teachers strike has national implications for Emanuel, whose education reform agenda is being closely watched by national reformers and labor leaders. The strike's reach extended to the presidential race, as Republican candidate Mitt Romney accused President Obama of putting organized labor over students. White House spokesman said Obama has not taken a position on the strike.
The teacher walkout has increased pressure on both the district and the union, which find themselves in a battle that may not include an easy exit strategy, said former CPS interim chief Terry Mazany.
"This has the feel of an ideological struggle for the future of schooling in Chicago," said Mazany, now chief executive officer of the Chicago Community Trust. "The parties may be prepared to dig in for the long haul because the stakes are so high."
Many parents didn't know what to expect when they dropped off their children Monday at the schools that were opened as part of the district's strike contingency plan.
At Disney Magnet School on the North Side, John Harvey said he was nervous dropping off his 7-year-old, Aiden, amid all the commotion.
"I don't know how they feel about us bringing our children," said Harvey. "We're a little at odds now. I didn't know if we were hurting the situation or not. I didn't know what they were going to do. So I came with my shield up."