Friday, September 14, 2012

Tentative deal reached with striking Chicago teachers

'If the delegates so vote, we will suspend the strike'

Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract and classes could resume for 350,000 students on Monday, according to school and union officials.

The union’s House of Delegates will review details Sunday and are expected to vote then on whether to end the 5-day-old teachers strike, according to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

She cautioned there is no contract yet, though a City Hall source said the school district and union have reached a “framework with all points resolved.”

Lewis said delegates at a meeting Friday afternoon did not receive a summary or any details of the agreement. But she said she was “very comfortable” with the terms.

“Our delegates were not interested in blindly signing off on something they have not seen,” she said. “We think it’s a framework that will get us to an agreement.”

CTU attorney Robert Bloch said union negotiators were "hopeful that we will have a complete agreement to present to the union’s House of Delegates by Sunday. And if the delegates so vote, we will suspend the strike and students can return to school on Monday."

Bloch was asked how confident he was that delegates would be happy enough with the deal to end the strike.

“I can’t provide assurances, but I can tell you that it’s a contract that the committee expects to recommend to the membership. And if we have been listening to the membership well and have heard their concerns, then that agreement will be acceptable to our membership overall,” Bloch said.

“We are hopeful that we will have a complete agreement done by Sunday, that when the House of Delegates will review it,  that they will have confidence in that agreement and that they will vote to suspend the strike so students can return to school on Monday,” he added.

School board president David Vitale was also upbeat about the strike ending as he left the talks at the Chicago Hilton and Towers this afternoon.

“I’m pleased to tell you that we have in place the framework around the major issues," Vitale said. “We have more work to do here. The heavy lifting is over. The general framework is in place.”

He declined to discuss specifics but indicated the two sides will be back Saturday with the hope of finalizing details of a contract.

“My message (to parents) is they should be prepared to have their kids in school on Monday,” Vitale said.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the "tentative framework ... an honest and principled compromise that is about who we all work for: our students."

"It preserves more time for learning in the classroom, provides more support for teachers to excel at their craft, and gives principals the latitude and responsibility to build an environment in which our children can succeed," he said.

Under a deal put on the table by CPS earlier this week, teachers would receive on average a 16 percent raise over the next four years. That figure includes both cost-of-living salary bumps and the so-called step increases for working another year in the district.

CPS estimates the cost of those raises will begin at $80 million the first year and increase by that amount in each of the contract's next three years. The union calls those projections exaggerated and says its own analysis puts the cost at $60-$100 million less.

The district and union continue to haggle over how teachers will be evaluated and a framework for recalling teachers who've been laid off because of school closings, consolidations and turnarounds.

Job security has emerged as a critical issue during these contract talks as CPS considers closing between 80 and 120 sparsely enrolled and under-performing public schools to cut costs and conserve resources. Union leaders worry about the jobs that could be lost during such a dramatic downsizing.

Tribune reporter Naomi Nix contributed

  • Linda Del Favero · Top Commenter
    CTU union leader Lewis said the roofs leak, snow blows in the windows in the winter, repairs are needed, not all the schools have air conditioning so it's too hot to learn, books have to be shared, supplies are lacking, and even toilet paper is scarce. Seems to me that instead of demanding more money for themselves, any money from increased taxes or more debt should go toward putting the schools in good condition and providing sufficient supplies. If the extremely well compensated teachers truly cared about the children, they would accept a freeze on pay increases for the next four years and insist the 16% go toward the schools. Looks like they failed the test of their character and veracity.

    • Cole Robertson · Columbia College Chicago
      They are prohibited by law from striking over anything other than wages. Believe me, the teachers I know would have walked out ages ago over their working conditions if they could have.

    • Beryl Turner · Top Commenter · DJ/Producer at Halsted Street Entertainment
      Read the above comment I left for E-Rock...under Illinois law (IELRA, Sec. 4.5 & 12(b)), teachers can't negotiate for anything else but money. They are prohibited from bringing in other factors like classroom and school conditions to the negotiation table.

      Linda...get your facts straight, please. Your post is more than wrong; it's bordering on libelous.

    • Linda Del Favero · Top Commenter
      I didn't know they could only strike over wages. Lewis said other issues are evaluation and re-hiring. Perhaps some or all of the increase in pay could voluntarily go into a fund for each school for supplies and to make needed repairs. That action would support the statement that they are striking for the children. Was a strike really necessary knowing that the city is deeply in debt and cannot afford this increase in pay, let alone supplies and repairs? There is resentment that pay is extremely good for school teachers and personnel compared with other cities and people are hurting with the economy and fear increased taxes. Next other public employees will threaten strikes for increased pay so they are on par with the teachers, creating more debt and increased tax burden.

  • Sean Harvey · Homewood- Flossmoor High School
    Teachers and politicians are both to blame. Vote out Madigan, Burke, Cullerton, and all entrenched politicians in Chicago. DeCertify the teachers union and start from scratch.

  • Ryan Yast · Top Commenter · Chicago, Illinois
    Increases in (non-union!) charter schools are going to happen in Chicago no matter what. It's more than likely a positive thing for our kids and the board of education budget.

    This strike is all about how fast the CTU allows it to happen. Teacher performance evaluation? It's a vehicle to close down schools based on measurements of underperformance. The system needs a good gutting or nothing will change...let Rahm do what he needs to do for the kids.

    • Terry Boone
      I also hear how great the charter schools are. Most people don’t realize this but the charter schools get to pick their students. So if the child has special needs or is a bad egg they are not going to a charter school. If the child has bad grades and has no desire to learn where do you think they end up. You got it right into the CPS school down the street that has to take them no matter what their grades have been or no matter how they have behaved. They are just dumped right into the system the teacher can become a baby sitter.

    • Daniel McNeil · Top Commenter · Downers Grove, Illinois
      What I understand is that the idea is to convert all CPS to Charter Schools. How do they then hand pick their students?

    • Nicole Ohenewa Buckle · Top Commenter · Chicago, Illinois
      Just a few weeks ago, the Associated Press reported that charter schools are leaving special needs students behind. The article says,

      Most charter, parochial and magnet schools serve children with disabilities, but they are often milder disabilities, leaving the brunt of students with significant needs in traditional district schools.

      Charter schools have also been faulted for various forms of selection. Most draw from a pool of parents who are seeking them out. Some have requirements for parental support and participation, which excludes some students. And some, such as the KIPP schools, have been found to have higher than average rates of attrition, meaning students who are not making the grade are transferring back into the public schools.

  • Gregg Mehr
    I do not understand why we need to keep a teacher who is performing poorly...anyone? So if you are a crappy teacher and fall to level X, as long as you don't fall to level Y you can keep your the REAL world, if you continue to perform at X you get fired....NICE! That doesn't sound to me like it is all about the students....Chicago Teachers Union...where our motto is "Keeping Teaching in The Dark Ages by Promoting Job Security...not Quality".

    • Debra Dit · Top Commenter
      Because back in the early 1990s, a reading teacher who taught PHONICS was a "bad teacher" even though their students were the only kids in the building learning how to read. Back in the 1970s, any teacher not teaching UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MATH was a "bad teacher" even though they were the only teacher in the building whose kids could add, subtract, multiply or divide!

    • Greg Foster-Rice
      If you read the details of the contract, you will note that it does not force them to keep people who are underperforming. Rather, my understanding from the contract is that the very worst will be dropped after a year (which gives them an opportunity to improve and also takes into account the variability in the assessment procedures, which are heavily influenced by factors outside teacher control). The next group up will be given a little more time to improve, but will have every incentive to do so in order to prevent their firing. It is estimated that under the Charlotte Danielson model for assessment, which makes up 50% of the new assessment, most teachers will score in the middle with opportunities for improvement made via additional Professional Development days (PD). It's complicated, but the fact that CPS and CTU are j...See More

    • Jeff Seiffert · Consultant at Slalom Consulting
      Greg that is the best detailed description I've read yet on poor performance evaluation. I think the system you described sounds like a good system should eliminate the bad ones like the ones my friend knows which are a group of teachers who go out every night and get completely hammered. I doubt they do a good job the next day and definitely not a good mentor to the children they are teaching.

  • Debra Dit · Top Commenter
    It is really irritating that this is being called a 16% raise. For experienced teachers, the latest I've heard is that it is an 8% raise spread over four years. I doubt that any teacher will experience a 16% raise. Furthermore, I didn't see anything about teaching conditions. Air conditioning, class sizes -- those are HUGE issues. They are also safety issues. Teachers are Mandated Child Abuse Reporters. It IS CHILD ABUSE to hold children in a room for 50 minutes at a time when temperatures approach 98 degrees Fahrenheit or 36 degrees Celsius.

    • Lawrence Weeks · Top Commenter · Purdue University
      Is the 16% figure not also including the step/lane raises, in addition to the additional annual 2% raises? That was my understanding.

    • Daniel McNeil · Top Commenter · Downers Grove, Illinois
      That is my understanding as well. It amounts to a substantial increase in pay no matter how you parse the arguement. Given what we know of the state of affairs in Chicago, this creates a huge hole in the gov't's budget that won't easily be filled even with substantial tax increases.

      That whole mandated child abuse reporters thing is an interesting but flawed arguement. By whose standards is it child abuse for a student to sit in a classroom with a 98% temp? Please show me the regs.

    • Asten Rathbun · Top Commenter
      Yep, if so, 16% is better than the vast majority of the rest of america will get in raises in the next 4 years. Teachers should be paid well, but CPS seems to be relatively high-paying compared to many surrounding districts, and they're getting above average raises on top of it. Be thankful for it. Most people aren't so lucky.

No comments:

Post a Comment