CHICAGO -- Chicago teachers uncomfortable with a tentative contract offer decided Sunday to remain on strike, insisting they need more time before deciding whether to end an acrimonious standoff with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that will keep 350,000 students out of class for at least two more days.

Emanuel fired back Sunday night by instructing city attorneys to seek a court order forcing Chicago Teachers Union members back into the classroom. "This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice that is wrong for our children," he said in a statement.

Presented with a choice on whether to ask members to vote on a contract that union president Karen Lewis had at one point called "a fight for the very soul of public education," the union's 800-member House of Delegates told their leaders they needed more time to talk to the rank and file before ending the city's first teachers strike in 25 years.

Teachers had only a few hours to review a summary of a proposed settlement worked out over the weekend with officials from the nation's third largest school district. That wasn't enough time, they said, to digest a complicated contract that addresses two issues central to the debate over the future of public education across the United States: teacher evaluations and job security.

The union will meet again Tuesday, after the end of the Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.

"We felt more comfortable being able to take back what's on the table and let our constituents look at it and digest it," said Dean Refakes, a physical education teacher at Gompers Elementary School. "We can have a much better decision come Tuesday."

That timeline, however, means the soonest classes could resume would be Wednesday. That frustrated both Emanuel and some parents, who learned late at night a week ago Sunday that a flurry of last-minute negotiations had failed to produce a contract agreement and that the strike was on.

"I think a week is a long time to be wasting time. Another week would be murder. I don't think it's right," said Beatriz Fierro, the mother of a fifth grader. "They should be back in school. I don't think teachers should be on strike that long."

Other parents continued to stand with the union. As teachers walked picket lines in the past week and rallied Saturday in a park near downtown, they were joined by parents who have had to scramble to find baby-sitters or a supervised place for children to pass the time.

"As much as we want our kids back in school, teachers need to make sure they have dotted all their I's and crossed their T's," said Becky Malone, mother of a second grader and fourth grader. "What's the point of going on strike if you don't get everything you need out of it? For parents, it'll be no more of a challenge than it's been in the past week."

Emanuel didn't appear at a brief news conference Sunday night with city school board president David Vitale, who said 147 schools staffed with non-union workers and central office employees would be open Monday for students who are dependent on school-provided meals.

But in a statement, Emanuel was typically blunt. He accused the union of using the city's students as "pawns in an internal dispute." He said the strike was illegal because it endangers the health and safety of students and concerned issues – evaluations, layoffs and recall rights – that state law says cannot be grounds for a work stoppage.

"While the union works through its remaining issues, there is no reason why the children of Chicago should not be back in the classroom as they had been for weeks while negotiators worked through these same issues," he said.

The walkout, the first for a major American city in at least six years, canceled classes for students who just returned from summer vacation and forced tens of thousands of parents to find alternatives for idle children, including many whose neighborhoods have been wracked by gang violence in recent months.

With an average salary of $76,000, Chicago teachers are among the highest-paid in the nation. The contract outline calls for annual raises, but it doesn't restore a 4 percent raise that was rescinded by the mayor last year.

That upset many teachers, said union delegate Susan Hickey, a school social worker. But she said the proposal was ultimately one teachers – who are worried that staying out beyond mid-week will further upset parents – could support.

"Personally I think there's a lot of us who don't want to lose the parental support," she said.

Lewis said delegates weren't yet willing to go back to work while contract language was amended because of the level of distrust between the union and the city, and the fact the settlement on the table remains tentative.

"The trust level is just not there," Lewis said. "You have a population of people who are frightened of never being able to work for no fault of their own. They just don't have the trust."

Emanuel, who did not personally negotiate the deal but monitored the talks through aides, has pushed hard for a contract that includes ratcheting up the percentage of evaluations based on student performance, to 35 percent within four years. The union contends that is unfair because it does not take into account outside factors that affect student performance such as poverty, violence and homelessness.

The union also pushed for a policy to give laid-off teachers first dibs on open jobs anywhere in the district, which the city said that would keep principals from hiring the teachers they thought best qualified for the position.

"They're still not happy with the evaluation(s)," Lewis said. "They're not happy with the recall. They don't like the idea that people's recall benefits are cut in half."

The teachers walked out Sept. 10 after months of tense contract talks that for a time appeared to be headed toward a peaceful resolution.

Emanuel and the union agreed in July on a deal to implement a longer school day with a plan to hire back 477 teachers who had been laid off rather than pay regular teachers more to work longer hours. That raised hopes the contract would be settled before the start of fall classes, but bargaining stalled on other issues.

To win friends, the union representing 25,500 teachers, engaged in something of a publicity campaign, telling parents repeatedly about problems with schools and the barriers that have made it more difficult to serve their kids. They described classrooms that are stifling hot without air conditioning, important books that are unavailable and supplies as basic as toilet paper that are sometimes in short supply.

The strike upended a district in which the vast majority of students are poor and minority. It also raised the concerns of parents who worried not just about their kids' education but their safety. Chicago's gang violence has spiked this year, with scores of shootings reported throughout the summer and bystanders sometimes caught in the crossfire.

"I don't like being on strike. Nobody in my school likes being on strike, but we understand the reason. It's not an easy process," said Michael Bochner, a teacher at Cesar Chavez Elementary.

"My membership," he said, "really wants to go back to work."

___

Associated Press writer Michelle Janaye Nealy contributed to this report.

Earlier on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Leslie Sabbs-Kizer, Nkai Melton, Akaira Melton, Khaymya Smith

    Leslie Sabbs-Kizer, right, walks her children Nkai Melton, 8, Akaira Melton, 7, and Khaymya Smith, 3 to Bond Elementary school in Chicago, for the first day of classes Wednesday morning, Sept. 19, 2012, after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years. Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to suspend the walkout after discussing a proposed contract settlement with the nation's third largest school district. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Students gather outside Benjamin E. Mays Academy , Wednesday morning, Sept. 19, 2012 in Chicago, after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years. Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to suspend the walkout after discussing a proposed contract settlement with the nation's third largest school district. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Two students hug, right, as they gather outside Benjamin E. Mays Academy Wednesday morning, Sept. 19, 2012, after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years. Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to suspend the walkout after discussing a proposed contract settlement with the nation's third largest school district. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Students walk through the gates outside Benjamin E. Mays Academy, Wednesday morning, Sept. 19, 2012, after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years. Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to suspend the walkout after discussing a proposed contract settlement with the nation's third largest school district. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Students gather outside Benjamin E. Mays Academy Wednesday morning, Sept. 19, 2012, after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years. Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to suspend the walkout after discussing a proposed contract settlement with the nation's third largest school district. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Rahm Emanuel, Jean-Claud Brizard, David Vitale

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, center, is flanked by Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claud Brizard, left, and school board president David Vitale during a news conference after the teachers union House of Delegates voted to suspend their strike Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. The city's teachers agreed to return to the classroom after more than a week on the picket lines, ending a spiteful stalemate with Emanuel that put teacher evaluations and job security at the center of a national debate about the future of public education. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Karen Lewis

    Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union smiles as she talks with reporters after the union's House of Delegates voted to suspend the strike Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Members of the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates celebrate after the delegates voted to suspend the strike against the school district Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. The city's teachers agreed to return to the classroom after more than a week on the picket lines, ending a spiteful stalemate with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that put teacher evaluations and job security at the center of a national debate about the future of public education. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Tennille Evans

    Tennille Evans, a member of the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates, celebrates after the delegates voted to suspend the strike against the school district Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. The city's teachers agreed to return to the classroom after more than a week on the picket lines, ending a spiteful stalemate with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that put teacher evaluations and job security at the center of a national debate about the future of public education. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Mary Edmonds

    Mary Edmonds, a member of the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates, celebrates after the delegates voted to suspend the strike against the school district Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. The city's teachers agreed to return to the classroom after more than a week on the picket lines, ending a spiteful stalemate with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that put teacher evaluations and job security at the center of a national debate about the future of public education. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Teachers picket outside Morgan Park High School in Chicago, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, as a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union continues into its second week. CTU members in the nation's third-largest city will pore over the details of a contract settlement Tuesday as the clock ticks down to an afternoon meeting in which they are expected to vote on ending a seven-day strike that has kept 350,000 students out of class. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Patty Westcott

    Teacher Patty Westcott pickets outside Clissold Elementary School in Chicago, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, as a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union continues into its second week. CTU members in the nation's third-largest city will pore over the details of a contract settlement Tuesday as the clock ticks down to an afternoon meeting in which they are expected to vote on ending a seven-day strike that has kept 350,000 students out of class. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2012, file photo Madison teachers hold a unity rally for striking Chicago teachers at the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin's attorney general planned to ask a judge Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, to put on hold his decision issued last week repealing major parts of Gov. Scott Walker's law effectively ending collective bargaining for most state workers. The request comes as school districts and local governments attempt to understand the ramifications of the decision and whether it opens the door to new negotiations previously barred with unions. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, M.P. King, File)

  • Chicago Teacher's Strike Enters Second Week

    CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Tyler Whitaker watches from a distance as teachers from the Jose De Diego Community Academy, where he is a third grade student, walk the picket line on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Smaller, more subdued groups of teachers picket outside Morgan Park High School in Chicago, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, as a strike by Chicago Teachers Union members heads into its second week. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he will seek a court order to force the city's teachers back into the classroom. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Chicago Teacher's Strike Enters Second Week

    CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Striking Chicago public school teachers attend a press conference by The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign outside the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel in City Hall on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Chicago Teacher's Strike Enters Second Week

    CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Striking Chicago public school teachers attend a press conference by The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign outside the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel in City Hall on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • A handful of teachers picket outside Shoop Elementary School in Chicago, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, as a strike by Chicago Teachers Union members heads into its second week. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he will seek a court order to force the city's teachers back into the classroom. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Chicago Teacher's Strike Enters Second Week

    CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Striking Chicago public school teachers picket outside of George Westinghouse College Prep high school on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Karen Lewis, Jesse Sharkey

    Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, left, listens to CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey speak at a press conference following a meeting of delegates Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012 in Chicago. The Chicago teachers union decided Sunday to continue its weeklong strike, extending an acrimonious standoff with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over teacher evaluations and job security provisions central to the debate over the future of public education across the United States. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A young boy holds a placard in support of striking Chicago school teachers as they march after a rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 in west Chicago. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Striking Chicago school teachers march after a rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 in Chicago. Thousands of striking Chicago public school teachers and their allies packed a city park Saturday in a boisterous show of force as union leaders and the district tried to work out the details of an agreement that could end a week-long walkout.(AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A young girl plays a toy horn as striking Chicago teachers rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Chicago. Union president Karen Lewis reminded that although there is a "framework" for an end to their strike, they still are on strike. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Karen Lewis

    Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union addresses the crowd during a rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Chicago. Lewis reminded that although there is a "framework" for an end to their strike, they are still on strike. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Karen Lewis

    Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union addresses union menbers during a rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Chicago. Lewis reminded that although there is a "framework" for an end to their strike, they still are on strike. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Karen Lewis

    Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago teachers union , left, and vice president Jesse Sharkey stand before a meeting of the union's House of Delegates Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Karen Lewis

    Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis arrives for a meeting of the union's delegates Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, in Chicago. The city's nearly weeklong teachers strike appeared headed toward a resolution Friday after negotiators emerged from marathon talks to say they had achieved a "framework" that could end the walkout in time for students to return to class Monday. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • David Vitale

    Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale speaks to reporters following negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 in Chicago. After a week of public school teachers striking over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations, Vitale said the district and teachers union have agreed on a

  • Public school teachers rally at Chicago's Congress Plaza to protest against billionaire Hyatt Hotel mogul Penny Pritzker, who is also a member of the Chicago Board of Education on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Protesters said that $5.2 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds being used to build a new Hyatt hotel in Hyde Park would be better spent on meeting basic student needs. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A large crowd of public school teachers rally at Chicago's Congress Plaza to protest against billionaire Hyatt Hotel mogul Penny Pritzker, who is also a member of the Chicago Board of Education on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Protesters said that $5.2 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds being used to build a new Hyatt hotel in Hyde Park would be better spent on meeting basic student needs. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters march down Michigan Avenue on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters rally following a march down Michigan Avenue on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters march down Michigan Avenue on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Teachers picket outside the Chicago Public Schools headquarters on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters march down Michigan Avenue on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters rally before a march down Michigan Avenue on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Thousands of public school teachers and their supporters rally outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel to protest against Penny Pritzker, whom they accuse of benefiting from being a board member of both the Chicago Board of Education and Hyatt Hotels on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Children in strollers join thousands of public school teachers rallying outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel, protesting against Penny Pritzker, whom they accuse of benefiting from her position on the boards of both the Chicago Board of Education and Hyatt Hotels on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Two-year-old identical twins Colton and Lucas Jordan join thousands of public school teachers and their supporters as they march along Chicago's Michigan Avenue, protesting against Penny Pritzker, whom they accuse of benefiting from her position on the boards of both the Chicago Board of Education and Hyatt Hotels on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Thousands of public school teachers and their supporters rally outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel to protest against Penny Pritzker, whom they accuse of benefiting from her position on the boards of both the Chicago Board of Education and Hyatt Hotels on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Teachers and their supporters rally in downtown Chicago on day four of the strike Thursday, Sept. 13.

  • Teachers and their supporters rally in downtown Chicago on day four of the strike Thursday, Sept. 13.

  • Teachers and their supporters rally in downtown Chicago on day four of the strike Thursday, Sept. 13.

  • Teachers and their supporters rally in downtown Chicago on day four of the strike Thursday, Sept. 13.

  • A large group of public school teachers marches past John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A large group of public school teachers rally at John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A family waves at a large group of public school teachers as they march on streets surrounding John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Chicago public school student Natalia Segal joins the picket line outside of Marshall High School on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on Monday after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • A large group of public school teachers marches past John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A young boy in a cart is pulled along by his mother at the tail of a group of public school teachers marching on streets surrounding John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Thousands of public school teachers rally for the second consecutive day outside the Chicago Board of Education district headquarters on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 in Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)