Trust, closing of 200 schools huge problem
By Chinta Strausberg
With trust and the â€œbig elephant in the roomâ€ â€“ the closing of 200 schools– being the two stumbling blocks, Chicago Teacherâ€™s Union (CTU)Â Â President Karen Lewis Sunday evening announced the House of Delegates will reconvene on Tuesday and that students may return to the classroom on Wednesday at the earliest.
However, hours later, Mayor Rahm Emanuel ordered his lawyers to haul the CTU into court in an effort to get the students back into the classroom. Chicago School Board President David Vitale said, “Just as we said this is a strike of choice. It’s now a strike by delay.” The dueling media press conferences will now change venues to a legal war of words inside of a courtroom.
In a live television press conference, Lewis said the House of Delegates wants more time to pour over the contract before the delegates vote up or down on Wednesday.
However, with Rosh Hashanah beginning tonight, this pay pose a problem with some House of Delegate members who may celebrate the High Holy Days.
Saying the tentative agreement is not completed in terms of language, Lewis said her members would reconvene on Tuesday.Â However, the members said they would like to go back to their schools â€œto their members, have discussions with themâ€ and reconvene on Tuesday out of respect for those observing Rosh Hashanah.
Come Tuesday, Lewis said they would be back at the table to determine if they will suspend the strike. â€œAt this moment, they donâ€™t feel that way,â€ she told reporters.
Lewis said, â€œThis is the deal we got. This is not a good deal by any stretch of the imaginationâ€ but they did get some things they got in terms of the recall procedures.
Explaining about the three huge initiatives they were faced with, Lewis said teachers have a longer school day, an evaluation system and a common core curriculum. â€œBy not having language on Friday was hard for them because it was not written.â€
Asked if her members are satisfied with the tentative agreement, Lewis candidly said, â€œThey are not happy with it. They would have liked it to be actually a lot better for us than it is. Clearly, a contract is always a sum of negotiations. No sides are ever completely happy, but are members are not happy and they want to have the opportunity to talk to their members. They still want to know if there is anything more they can get,â€ she explained. â€œWhen you have expectations of democracy, that is what happens.â€
Specifically, Lewis said her members are not happy with the evaluations, the recall and â€œthey donâ€™t like the idea about peoplesâ€™ recall benefits are basically cut in half.â€
â€œThe big elephant in the room is the closing of 200 schools,â€ said Lewis. â€œThatâ€™s where they are. They are concerned about this cityâ€™s decision on some level to close schools. They are extraordinarily concerned about it. It undergirds just about everything weâ€™ve talked about.â€
The second problem the CTU members have with the Chicago School Board is trust. â€œThere is no trust for our members of the board.â€ â€œThe trust level is just not there. You have a population of people who are frighten of never being able to work through no fault of their own. They just donâ€™t have the trust.â€
She said what her members want is to discuss this tentative agreement to give all the opportunity to be a part of the talks â€œthen come back and decide whether or not we have time to work this outâ€¦. This contract may not be approved until November.â€ However, her members rejected that timeline but emphasized they just want time to talk with their members.
Lewis made it clear that â€œthis is not a personal thing for me. This is the deal we gotâ€¦. The whole process is listening to our membersâ€¦. I do what they tell me to do. I am their spokespersonâ€¦.â€ Lewis said her members donâ€™t want to be rushed.
While they have the language, which is incomplete, Lewis said they have been guaranteed that the final language may be finished by Tuesday and she will provide it to all of her members.
Saying the CTU and the Board have different worldviews about education, she said, â€œThey have a political spin machineâ€¦.â€
While the CTU could not get the Board to budge on negotiating class size, Lewis said they were able to get a class size panel that will monitor class size and will have a parent on that panel.
Asked if the House of Delegates could vote down the tentative contract, Lewis said, â€œThey could say that, but they need the opportunity to have the time to make those decisionsâ€¦.â€
Saying one contract wonâ€™t solve all of the school problems, Lewis said, â€œPutting our members together with community and with parents starts moving towards the fighting those issues. Weâ€™ve had school closing fights before. We feel they will be even larger and grander now.â€
|Length of Day||Students gain 7 minutes per day.||No change from 5 Â¾ hours per day.||Elementary students gain 1 Â¼ hours to create a 7 hour school day. High school students gain Â½ hour to create a 7 Â½ hour school day.|
|Length of Year||Students lose 7 days, falling from 177 to 170 instructional days.||No change from 170 days.||Students gain 10 full instructional days.Â|
|Academic Calendar||Multiple calendars with different start and end dates for students.||Maintains multiple calendar system.||A unified calendar is created so all public school children attend school on the same days. A joint Board-Union Committee created to work on specifics.|
|Teacher Evaluation||Maintains the 1967 evaluation system.||Maintains the 1967 evaluation system.||Student growth is part of evaluation for first time, accounting for 25% of evaluation in years 1 and 2; 30% in year 3; 35% year 4; and potentially 40% in year 5 if Joint Committee approves. A student survey will be piloted in Year 2, with implementation in Year 3 at 10% of total, subject to Joint Committee.Â Tenured teachers will continue to be evaluated on biennial cycle if receiving a Proficient or Excellent rating.Â Â Unsatisfactory and Developing teachers will face layoff in Year 1. Remediation and dismissal may occur immediately post-rating (which tenured teachers receive in Year 2 of implementation).|
|Contract Duration||4 years||5 years||3 years with the option of 4th year based on trigger.|
|Recall and Layoff||Principals maintain authority to hire whichever teacher they deem best.Â Layoffs done by seniority only,
without consideration of performance.
|Principals maintain authority to hire whichever teacher they deem best.Â Layoffs done by seniority only,
without consideration of performance.
|Principals maintain full authority to hire whichever teacher they deem best.Â When schools are consolidated, closed or phased-out, highly-rated teachers will have the opportunity to follow their students to the consolidated school. Order of layoff is by performance: Unsatisfactory teachers first, then by class (probationary/tenured), then by Developing (formerly Needs Improvement â€“ in two groups, those rated lower in this category then those rated higher), and then Proficient/Excellent.|
|Quality Teacher Initiative||No system.||No system.||For the first time, CPS will have hiring standards for teachers that have earned credentials beyond a certification to teach.Â Initiative will create hiring standards to ensure all candidates meet minimum hiring requirements to raise the bar on the quality of our teachers and to ensure that all teachers across the city meet these minimum expectations. The Initiative also creates guaranteed interviews for tenured highly-rated teachers who are laid off because of closings, consolidations, phase-outs, enrollment drops and academic reasons. CPS will aim to fill 50% of vacancies with Proficient and Excellent displaced tenured teachers. Principals will not be restrained by this goal and will continue to have the ability to hire the highest quality candidates of their choosing.|
|Cost of Living Increase||4% per year||4% per year||First year 3%, followed by 2% in Year 2 and 2% in Year 3.Â If accepting a 4th year, will receive 3%.|
|Steps||Unchanged from past contract.||Adds steps 14 â€“ 16.Â||Reformed to incent retention of more senior teachers and to result in short term and long-term savings over current system.Â|
|Lanes||Unchanged from past contract.||Unchanged from past contract.||Unchanged from past contract.|
|Career Ladders, Lanes and Differentiated Compensation||None.||None.||Joint Board-Union pay committee to be formed to study lane movement, differentiated compensation and career ladders.Â Teacher credentials or roles to be considered may include: Teacher Leader, Professional Development Teacher, Mentor Teacher, Peer Observer, Department Chair, and more.Â Credentials will further highlight exceptional teachers, help teachers develop professionally, and will assist principals in identifying top talent for their schools.|
|Health||Contributions remain the same.||Contributions remain the same, and LMCC created.||Contribution rates remain frozen, with LMCC authority revised to permit changes to defray increases in healthcare costs. Introduces a comprehensive wellness program at no cost to employee but with opt-out premium differential.|
|Sick Leave||Sick days continued to be paid out.||Unused sick leave banks increased. Employees can accumulate up to 325 days for payout and pension service credit after 20 years of service.||Eliminate sick leave payout going forward without penalizing existing banks. Permit banking of up to 40 days for use as sick days, FMLA leaves, and pension service credit, but not for payout purposes. Adds short-term disability policy that provides for paid maternity leave, other illness leaves, and may add paternity leave policy of 2 to 3 weeks.|
|Personal Days||Unused personal days are paid out to employees.||Unused personal days are paid out to employees.||Unused personal days are no longer compensated.|
|Class Size||Remains the same.||Remains the same.||Maintains current class size policy.Â|
|School Choice||Â||Â||CPS maintains complete freedom to offer quality school options, including STEM schools, International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, charter schools and selective enrollment.|
|Enhanced Pension Program||$124M in increased pension liability.||$114M in increased pension liability.||Program eliminated.|
|Contract Cost||$534 million over four years, or $133 million per year.||$645 million over five years, or $129 million per year.||$295 million over four years, or $74 million per year. Includes reduced cost from COLA reduction, step and lane compensation, and savings in layoff benefits, sick day compensation, and a new wellness program.|
|Impact||â€¢Â Â Students lose 7 days.â€¢Â Â Students gain 7 minutes per day.Â Â||â€¢Â Â Instructional time remains the same.â€¢Â Â No reforms to teacher evaluation.||â€¢Â Â Elementary students gain 1 Â¼ hours and high school students gain a Â½ hour. All students gain two additional weeks.â€¢Â Â Principals retain authority to hire teachers of their choice.â€¢Â Â For the first time, layoff decisions will be based on performance.â€¢Â Â Groundbreaking evaluation system that accounts for student growth and supports teacher development.|
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.