More than 80 per cent of students in the city's high school walked out of classes early yesterday morning to show their support for teachers currently trying to negotiate a new contract with the city.
Teachers throughout the public school system also continued their 'work to rule' slowdown yesterday after a Thursday negotiation session failed to produce agreement between the Cambridge Teachers Association (CTA) and the city's school committee.
One of the pupils who left Cambridge's Rindge and Latin High School said students had been talking about walking out as a show of support since teachers began their slowdown earlier this week.
Teachers played no part in the walkout, Roland LaChance, president of the CTA, said yesterday. He added that the union did not encourage further protests by students; "in this business we try to work with kids, not lead them astray," LaChance said.
Students confirmed that teachers did not orchestrate the walkout, which cleared the school about an hour after classes began. "A lot of kids just wanted to get out of classes," one student, who asked not to be identified, said.
Close to 90 per cent of public school teachers are heeding the CTA's call for the slowdown. Teachers have worked only to the letter of their contract since Wednesday, arriving 15 minutes before the start of school and leaving ten minutes after the end of classes.
The CTA voted Tuesday to continue the job action for ten days and then "reassess the situation," said yesterday.
Contract talks were broken off after a short meeting Thursday "where very little was accomplished," according to LaChance. Talks will not be resumed until next Thursday--"We all thought it was a good idea to let things cool down," LaChance said.
The mediator involved in the negotiations has asked both sides not to discuss the bargaining, but sources close to the talks said wages and extra duties for teachers are among the major issues in the dispute.