September 10th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

What are key issues in Chicago public school strike?

Chicago public school teachers began manning picket lines instead of classrooms Monday, launching the first teacher strike in the city in 25 years.

The strike, announced Sunday night, left about 350,000 students without schools to attend and parents scrambling to find alternatives. The union that represents nearly 30,000 teachers and support staff in the nation's third-largest school district called the strike after negotiators failed to reach a contract agreement with school administrators despite 10 months of negotiations.

Below, we break down the key issues that are keeping the teachers out of the classroom, what the teachers are asking for and what the schools are willing to offer.

Compensation and health care benefits

One of the key issues is salaries and benefits for teachers and their families.

What the teachers want: to maintain their existing health benefits, as well as salary increases.

"Recognizing the Board’s fiscal woes, we are not far apart on compensation,"  the Chicago Teachers Union said in a news release. "However, we are apart on benefits."

What the Chicago Board of Education is offering: a deal that would increase salaries 16% over four years. The average teacher salary in Chicago was $74,839 for the 2011-12 school year, according to the district. The total salary increase would equal $380 million over four years. That includes "modified step increases that both reward experience and provides better incentives for mid-career teachers to help keep them serving in the Chicago Public School system," according to a news release from the school system.

"The Board is calling for a modification to the health care plan funding that will freeze all employee health care contributions for single and couple plans with a small increase in family contributions of no more than $20 a pay period in addition to a small increase in emergency room co-pays," the school system says. "67% of all CTU members will not see a change to their healthcare."

Job security

Another major issue is making sure teachers will know their jobs are safe amid the likely closing of several schools over the next couple years. Teacher issues center on what options will be available to them if they are laid off, as well as how they can be promoted.

What the teachers want: more teacher training and help for laid-off workers.

“We want job security. Despite a new curriculum and new, stringent evaluation system, CPS proposes no increase (or even decreases) in teacher training. This is notable because our Union through our Quest Center is at the forefront teacher professional development in Illinois," the union says. "We have been lauded by the District and our colleagues across the country for our extensive teacher training programs that helped emerging teachers strengthen their craft and increased the number of nationally board certified educators."

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The union notes that "while new Illinois law prohibits us from striking over the recall of laid-off teachers," it does not plan to sign an agreement until both sides discuss the issue and implement a plan.

What the Chicago Board of Education is offering: The board has announced plans and opportunities for laid-off workers but only a willingness to discuss opportunities for promotion.

The school system notes that it has addressed concerns about teachers displaced by school closings, turnarounds or phaseouts, and other reasons.

If a school is closed, Chicago Public Schools says, teachers will "receive a job at a school receiving their students if there is a vacancy; placed in a reassigned teacher pool for five months or may elect to receive a three-month lump sum severance; or placed in a Quality Teacher Force Pool in which teachers who apply for positions shall be entitled to an interview and explanation if not hired."

If a teacher is displaced by turnarounds or phaseouts, they will be "placed in a reassigned teacher pool for five months or may elect three-month lump sum severance." Teachers displaced for other reasons will "have recall rights for one year for the same unit and position and will be offered interim assignment in substitute teacher pool."

As for moving up within the system, the Board of Education says the union should work with it "to increase promotion opportunities and identify differentiated compensation models that have worked in other places."

New teacher evaluation system

As many as 6,000 teachers could lose their jobs under a new evaluation system based on standardized test scores implemented by the school district, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said. Statistics from the Chicago Public School District and the state show that Chicago children perform poorly compared with the rest of students, with 10% to 20% more students not meeting the goals compared with rest of the state in reading, math and science during the 2010-11 school year.

What the teachers want: a change to the new evaluation system for teachers.

Lewis called the new system "unacceptable," saying that too much emphasis is being placed on testing scores.

"This is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator. Further there are too many factors beyond our control which impact how well some students perform on standardized tests such as poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control," the union said in its news release.

What the Chicago Board of Education is offering: to help get the new system in place and reach required standards.

"The Board has proposed to work jointly with CTU to fully implement REACH Students and maintain performance standards and student growth requirements," it said in its release. "This proposal will also allow CPS and CTU to study REACH’s implementation jointly and make adjustments as needed."

Opinion: U.S. needs more strikes

My view: The whole world is watching Chicago

soundoff (500 Responses)
  1. CPS

    Thank you for putting it so succinctly.

    chris:
    You ignorace is obviously the product of a sub-par education by underpaid teachers. I am sorry for you.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • nimrod

      Anyone else see the irony here?

      September 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Chris is right. Those who choose the teaching vocation know, or should know, the compensation they'll make. One doesn't enter public service for personal gain. You're supposed to be a selfless servant of the public which employs you. Then along come the democrats, and unions, and public employees make more than the taxpayers supporting them, and then they go on strike to make more and be held accountable less while Illinois and Chicago are already broke, before the pay raise. If you don't want to teach because the compensation is too low, go elsewhere. Quit.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lahdee Dah

      This is hysterical. You're arguing that educators should be willing to pay for the degrees [yes, multiple] required to get and maintain certification, work 60+ hours a week during the school year, pay for professional development courses during the summer to keep up with new educational trends and technology, reach in to their pocket to pay for necessary classroom resources, and do all this as a "selfless public servant"? I'm guessing that in the next breath you'll wonder why the U.S. educational system isn't like China's, or Sweden's. I can tell you why – because you won't hear about "selfless public servants" in those countries. Teachers are treated with the same respect as other professionals with equal education – doctors, lawyers – and paid at the same salary scale.

      Just because everyone has sat in a classroom, it does not mean everyone is an expert on the needs of education. If your goal is to put the least educated, least prepared, least professional person in front of your own kids, look in a mirror.

      September 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wondering

      That's funny Jeff, politicians seem to make a killing. So you're proposing that I make minimal money because I have a college degree and passion to work with kids. Yeah, that's a tired argument pal. I have a mortgage, bills and two college tuitions to pay so step off pal !!!!

      September 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gold Finger

      Fine. Then we will privitize education and you can pay very high prices to have your kid educated. Better to pay a little now than a lot later.

      September 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gina

      Wait, just because I'm a public servant education YOUR children means that I don't deserve to be compensated as a professional? This isn't Ancient Greece you know. We don't walk around in bare feet spouting our wisdom to the few motivated students that follow us around. We need to live in the area in which we teach. We need to buy food, provide for our own children, help our parents. This takes money. If you want to attract well educated professionals to educate the future of America, you must pay them for their service. How much do you think teaching a child to READ is worth? In my opinion we should pay all first grade teachers double what they do get paid. And no, I'm not an elementary school teacher.

      September 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      Hummm, Jeff guess you're the product of self education....teachers, unions, and democrats are not the problem, republicans are. They got us in this mess we are in, now they want to blame everyone else. Why didn't idiot bush invest the surplus he inherited from a Democrat into creating jobs here instead of fighting two unnecessary wars? republicans believe in spending money to destroy other countries, but when it comes to investing in their own country's future all you get is complaints from them. Just remember do you want people working and being productive members of society or do you want the poor and unemployed resorting to extreme measures to make ends meet. Because i'm sure if that happens, republicans are the ones that society will blame for their mentally unstable policies. They believe cutting taxes is the answer for every thing. All my life that has always been their solution to every issue facing this country. Bush is a good example why education is so important. Where was all the complaints from republicans when we were spending over 87 billion a month to fight two wars that never should have happened? Those who support republicans are brainwashed losers!!

      September 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • nana

      Why is it that some people expect teachers to sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice! People do not go into this profession wanting to be ridiculously underpaid, abused by students and their parents, and being subject to totally outlandish standards. We want to improve society, or at the least have the level it is at maintained rather than sink lower. One way of doing this is through public education. Bashing the unions is really foolish. Though we are not always happy with them- yes I am a union member, without them, unfortunately greedy people will impose horrible working conditions and compensation upon the workers- remember what Andrew Carnegie did to his steel workers. Finally, parents have to take more responsibility for their offspring. Make sure your child comes to school well mannered, with paper and a writing implement, and realistic expectations about what your child can accomplish intellectually. If the parent never opens a book and reads, it is most likely that their child will exhibit the same tendency. Remember that children are the genetic offspring of the parents, and the brain of the child will be similar to that of the parents.People who are critical of public school teachers should spend a month of their lives in a classroom and see what we are up against and I do believe you would never say anything negative about a teacher again. Try it if you don't believe me.

      September 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • A-Realist

      In this case, it would be a sub-par education by over paid teachers.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      If you're going to knock someone for being the product of sub-par education, you'd better damn well make sure you use proper grammar when you do it.

      September 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      Wow CPS you guess someones intelligence with only three words? What school did you go to?

      September 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      If they were underpaid it wasn't in Chicago. I'd agree with you on the sub-par part, however.

      And, BTW, spell-check is your friend, especially when trying to label others ignorant.

      September 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephen Strebing

      From what I'm reading, I'm disgusted by the CPS teachers/union. In what world is it O.K to sacrifice our future's education, because you do not want to be held accountable for bad test scores? Karen Lewis stated that there is to much emphasis on test scores. Really? Isn't that what a 14yr old says when he/she bombs a test? "It's not my fault, the tests are to hard"!! So, now the CPS is resorting to students tactics? Unreal! This is called accountability folks, get used to it. It happens in every job, every where around the world. If you do not perform, you will be replaced. Case closed. As far as job security, good luck. I'm sorry that the CPS staff has to be lumped in with the rest of society with little to no job security. Are teachers better than ditch diggers? I don't think so. I cannot believe that the educators in my fine City of Chicago are resorting to this. As some one else posted earlier "12 weeks off overy year sounds like a pretty good gig to pull down an average salary of $74k per year" This is just a small part of not only what is wrong with CPS, but the world today. There is zero justification for this strike, and for those who back them, I know one day you will regret neglecting the youth of America. For this, shame on you.

      September 10, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChicagoTeacher

      I can tell that you just don't get it "from what you are reading." This is what 29,000 adults and 400,000 kids are living. Are we "sacrificing our future's education" by demanding a fair system now? Do you really think that when we have better schools years into the future in this whole country that we will look back and say, "You know, I refused to go to work for a few days in my 35 year career because I believed that my students deserved more. I sure do regret that." This is serious. You simplify this huge event in our city's history, in the history of education in the country and the reform of the entire teaching profession by saying that the simple answer is that teaching is the same as making widgets in a factory. More widgets equal better pay. No profession makes a person better than another, but no other profession is like education. You seriously do not understand the complexities of education or even of our city. Instead of judging from what you've read in the last two days and having all these opinions, ask a question. Ask many questions. Talk to people. That is what I tell my students to do. They seem to get it,

      September 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • cja

      The problem with using test scores is that teachers have little control over the result. If you teach 8th grade history and a student can't read you have just lost the lottery. You see this 8th grader 20 weeks, one hour a day can you teach her to read while at the same time teaching history. They try to. But it is really just pure luck if you gt many students like this or not.

      If they are going to use test scores then the only fair way is to test the students before and after your class and grade the teacher on the difference. Otherwise you end up firing the 8th grade teacher because the teachers in grades 1 to 6 failed. What next, fire the basketball coach because all the kids are short?

      September 11, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • GETOVRURSELF

      WE ARE ALL UNDERPAID – GET OVER IT – THEY NEED TO GET BACK TO WORK – IF ITS ALL ABOUT THESE POOR KIDS THEN WORK !!!! WOULD BE NICE IF WE COULD ALL JUST WALK AWAY FROM OUR JOBS AND DEMAND MORE ! IF $ IS NOT THERE ITS NOT THERE ! AND RIGHT NOW IF YOU PAY ATTENTION THE USA IS B R O K E !!!!!!!!! GET RID OF THE DANG UNIONS !

      September 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Common Sense by Thomas Paine

      @CPS – I love that your argument against Chris is Chris's "ignorance is obviously the product of sub-par education by underpaid teachers". Since when does the salary of a teacher relate to his/her ability to teach? Suppose Chris was poorly taught, does that mean that his/her poor teacher would somehow perform better if the teacher was compensated for the quality of his/her teaching abilities?

      It's crazy, what if there was a system in place to reward teachers who are gifted in their ability to teach well in the classroom?

      Wait... I forgot to read the article, isn't CPS against Merit based pay?

      September 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeavyFire

      No, He's right. This is a labor movement, pure and simple. Nothing that you're striking for, even by your own admission, other than class size, is even REMOTELY "for the kids". If you don't like it, leave. If you're SO valuable as a human resource, then you'll have NO trouble getting another job.

      Nobody has "job security" anymore. Sure, we'd all love that, but in our new reality, as opposed to the pollyanna-esque world you're currently living in, that doesn't exist. Ask the guys from the Detroit Fire Department. fully 1/3rd of their entire department was laid off. Here's something to teach the teachers...You don't GET job security, you don't GET to determine who does the hiring, firing and evaluating, and if you lose 6,000 teachers in the first year, then you do. The only reason the union cares are those 6,000 fewer dues payers.

      This evaluation system you're kvetching about was developed with UNION MEMBER ASSISTANCE!

      This was the wrong thing for the wrong reasons at the wrong time. You chose to hurt kids and their families when they could least afford it. Shame on you.

      Here's the bottom line; If teachers aren't the problem with the schools, giving them more money and benefits isn't the answer. The rest you can't strike over.

      Get your asses back in the classes and let the negotiations continue.

      Oh, and if you want to be treated like doctors and lawyers, create a market where you can fund your own services through payments from customers...like Charter Schools.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. Fish

    dallas, go back to school and become one. You'll find that it isn't anything related to what the average jo schmo thinks it is. I suspect you aren't serious though and it's a lot of hot air.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Barbra & Jack Donachy

    This strike appears to be about Mayer Rahm Emanuel, Superintendent/CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and School Board Chair David Vitale trying to bully teachers into accepting an evaluation system that will allow administrators to arbitrarily fire thousands of teachers. Here's the shame of it: This contract provision would be unnecessary if administrators would simply do their jobs. Administrators hired these teachers; administrators are responsible for visiting classrooms to properly evaluate teachers and provide further training/assistance as necessary, and administrators have available to them a logical, fair, agreed-upon process for terminating teachers who are not performing their duties. But administrators, by and large, simply refuse to follow procedures. They want a system that will allow them to fire "the trouble makers", i.e., teachers who challenge administrative incompetence in a system where the school board, the CEO and the mayor will not.
    This same dynamic of administrative misfeasance/malfeasance routinely plays out in another area – student discipline – and the collective refusal on the part of many administrators to follow policy in dealing with students who disrupt the education process is KILLING our public schools as parents who can afford to remove their own children from the chaos..
    To anyone who bemoans the difficulty of removing bad teachers from the system, I say, "Baloney." The greater problem is that it is, apparently, all but impossible to remove poorly performing administrators. Follow the news: unless a principal has engaged in criminal activity or unless parents start withdrawing their children in droves from a given school, they simply are not fired. Think about that. It typically takes Criminal Activity before a school board and the superintendent will fire a principal. What they usually do is simply transfer principals from one building to another in a shell game.
    Meanwhile, reports are coming out that in private meetings, Mr. Emanuel, playing the part of the bully, is cursing at teachers when he gets them behind closed doors. Shameful.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gkibarricade

    I believe that testing scores are the teachers responsibility. When it comes to teacher evaluation you are tested against your peers. Testing is good because it forces teachers to put more effort to the students that need it most. Bad test scores won't mean that many teachers will get punished. It will simply redistribute more qualified teachers to areas of need and compensate them acordingly. As usual, good teachers have nothing to worry about, it is bad teachers that disagree.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • CPS

      It is highly apparent that you have never taught in a CHICAGO PS.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Corruption City

    Ironic that Rahm Emmanuel who proclaims to love the unions and public education sends his kiddies to a private school, gee, alot like obama sends sasha and malia to a private school. Just pay the unionized teachers what they want, Rahm, sort of like you did when you worked at the white house. Too much salary for such poor teaching performance? Since when did merit have anything to do with leftist politics? Just make the rich pay their fair share.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bouge

      Good try but MOST politicians send their kids to private school. Those who don't, live in affluent areas with public schools that are more aligned with private schools.

      September 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John Monachelli

    I am a critical cre RN in an emergency dept in a small city. I work 40+ very hard hours per week. I am on my feet for atleast 7 of those 8 hours. I have to work holidays and weekends and can only take 1 week of vacation at a time. My raises are 100% based on how well I perform and they range from 0-4%. The average raise is 1.7%. I pay $368.27 per month for my families health insurance, $43.56 per month for dental insurance, $17.23 per month for eyeglass coverage. I have no retirement fund, what I save is what I retire on. I have to be certified in ACLS, TNNC, ENCP, PALS and even CPR. I have to take CEU's to ensure that I am keeping up with the ever changing face of medicine and health care. I constantly read and study to ensure that when you come to the ED you will have an educated, competant RN taking care of you. I can and will be fired if I do not do my job well. I teach constantly in my job. I teach wellness, medication info, disease info, services that are available for people, etc, etc. I do my job because I love it. I won't become rich, I will burn out sooner than later and if I become unhappy, I can always quit. So, if you teachers think that all your bennies, time off and retirement packages are not already enough, then quit and see if the other side is truly greener.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJB

      I agree!!!

      September 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • IhaveID

      Been there done that John, you sound like a good nurse. And you're right, you will burn out sooner than later. You should consider hooking up with a nursing school, you'd be an asset as a clinical instructor.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • CPS

      In a small city, right? Come to Chicago. Bet some of your patients will be some of the teachers that have been attacked. Apples to oranges.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fabfiveitis

    Lots of other states have many, many unemployed teachers and in my experience having worked in a school district for seven years, cost of living raises for any employee, at least in Texas, remain between one and three percent and yet teachers from Chicago are being offered four percent for four years. Help me understand. Performance counts for teachers and it has too long been the rule of thumb that we allow teachers who are not during a good job to remain and continue their mediocre teaching! Why should teachers be able to retain their job if under a "fair" evaluation it shows they are not doing that job. Wake up! And the citizens of this country wonder why we should get rid of "collective bargaining" because while rewarding the great teachers, we are also rewarding the poor ones.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • CPS

      WHY do people INSIST on comparing wherever they live, and their school districts, to CHICAGO? Unless you have stepped foot in a classroom here, you would have NO idea what reality is like.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • BAZOOKA

      If you read better articles from foxnews or MSN, the major dispute is the fear of firing 6,000 teachers (Have no idea where this idea coming from by the Union), when they implement the "annually review" with student standard test. It clearly shows that most of these teachers are not good (1/4 of 26,000 teachers). What is this standard test? My kids (in california) said it mostly contains the BASIC knowledge in math, english..., in their tem just your IQ, i.e. read the question, understand it, answer...
      Now the city give them an average 4% raise for 4 years in this recession economic. I think it is too much for the average teacher; just 80% student in his/her class pass the standard test.
      They complaint about the additional hour to help poor families for a longer school hour, specifically designed for poor towns, keep the kids from street and trouble.... Do these teachers deserve to be called "TEACHER"????

      In short, I think the city must get rid the union, the incompetent teacher.... hire new teachers and start to rebuild Chicago education system , which is at the bottom of ranking school and district. Start from the Mayor first.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned Parent

      @bazooka: The teachers are being asked to work 20% longer per day for only a 4% raise. They are OK with that even though it isn't really fair, but they understand the economic situation. What they don't like is being treated unfairly. to be evaluated over a 3 year period when they only get a student for usually 1 year is not fair. Students change year to year and it really isn't fair to look at data over a 3 year period with changing students. Looking at test data doesn't tell you that little Johnny just saw 2 people killed in front of his house last night before the test. Test data doesn't tell you that these kids in chicago live in a war zone. More people have been killed in chicago than soldiers killed in afghanistan over the same time period of the war.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Fish

    All roads lead to Chicago for jobs? Where? After thousands of teachers have been laid off due to decrease in enrollment or layoffs based on bogus evaluations, would anyone want to come here and work with the poorest of the poor? How long do people really think they can put up with kids who rip up your classrooms, pee in their chairs, constantly scream and yell, no parental involvement, an ever-increasing pressure to perform in schools who don't give you the materials with which to teach... yeah, everyone is lining up to move here and teach in this system.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • CPS

      One who GETS IT! Thank you!

      September 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fish

    If the test scores are the teachers' responsibility, when does student and parental responsibility factor in?

    September 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • corpsman

      Good question. Many, many parents do almost nothing to help teach their kids at home. They expect public school to teach them everything, AND be a daycare service.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gkibarricade

      No where.
      Previous post:
      As a teacher it is your job to get the students to do well. Does the hot dog guy blame the meat company for selling bad hotdogs? Sure, parent involvement would make better students. However, that is not within your control. If I was a teacher I would force all students to do well. Call the parents everyday. Stay with students till 8-10 PM. Saturday tuturing. Online study chats. Is it hard? Sure it is but, not impossible. Do you want to be the the hotdog guy who says: "hey, I just put the hotdog in the bun" or the one who says:"I guarantee this is the best Hotdog you will ever eat"

      September 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Matt

    My wife's a teacher and I can tell you that all of these teachers saying they work for hours before and after school isn't always the norm. My wife gets to school at 8 and is out of their by 4, rarely having to bring home any work to grade. She teaches 5 varying math classes in a public middle school. She's a very efficient person and her students received the highest math scores in the school last year so her hours aren't to her students' detriment.

    Her contract shows she is paid for working 180 school days compared to my 8-5, 3 weeks vacation job of 245 days. Yes, she stays somewhat busy over the summer doing summer school programs but that is all extra stipends paid for at an abnormally high dollar/hour rate in addition to her normal salary. And then there's coaching stipends...lunch detention stipends...collaborative learning stipends... all in addition to her normal salary. And these aren't small stipends. And then you have the top notch health care plan, family dental coverage, and family vision coverage that's all paid for equalling an extra $700/month in compensation.

    After all that can you honestly say to me with a straight face that teachers need more money thrown at them? Her and I both love her job and compensation. The only downfall is regardless of having the best student math scores in the school her first year, she received a layoff notice along with 240 other new teachers. She was later recalled and regained her position due to community pressure to not increase class sizes but the unions sure did not help her. They love getting rid of the new and securing jobs of the "experienced" regardless of performance. And let's not forget the MANDATORY $65/month she has to pay to the union who almost got her laid off.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Illinois 1

      I realize your frustration with the reduction in force that always affects non-tenured teachers, but you will be singing a different tune when your wife approaches vesting in her retirement and the district would get rid of her in favor of a fresh out of school teacher at the minimum salary and 25 years to go before they fire her before her pension vests, if not for that same union contract. That is assuming your state has not already gotten rid of pensions for new teachers like they have here in Illinois, making it even more attractive to get rid of unvested older teachers.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      I fully agree Illinois. But there are alternatives to tenure.

      The main issue is coming up with performance metrics that aren't soley based on test scores but also steer away from complete subjectivity. So when the teacher is 25 years in and still performing very well based on "reviews" and performance metrics, they would have nothing to base the elimination of employment on. Unions are definitely not going to advocate for a change like this but the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is definitely looking into it.

      On a sidenote.. The golden parachute type pension that they used to have at her school district was cut away for new teachers but her pension still is great.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Nicole and Fourth81
    "Teachers Decide TO Work For Free After Budget Cuts Leave Pennsylvania School District Without Funds For Salaries."

    I know the Chicago strike is not just about money because it is also driven by performance assessment scores and so on but perhaps the following would enlighten you a bit.

    This story was reported by Tanya Somanader on Jan 6, 2012!

    "The Chester Upland School District in Delaware County, Pennsylvania suffered a serious setback when Gov. Tom Corbett (R) slashed $900 million in education funds from the state budget. The cuts landed hardest on poorer districts and Chester Upland, which predominantly serves African-American children and relies on state aid for nearly 70 percent of its funding, expects to fall short this school year by $19 million. Faced with such a shortage of funds, the school district informed its staff that it will not be able to pay their salaries come Wednesday. So the teachers decided to work for free. As one teacher put it, students need to be educated, so we intend to be on the job."

    September 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. larry5

    No one should confuse the teacher's union with anything to do with teaching children.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jennifer

    Why is it unfair and greedy when teachers ask for more money and job security but it is considered ludicrous to ask the wealthy to pay higher taxes which in turn would lower their income? So, aren't wealthy people being unfair and greedy when they are refusing to pay a little more in taxes? Until I worked in the education system, I had no idea how much teachers had to deal with.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lagos

      Why is it fair for teachers unions to spend millions of dollars supporting candidates pushing healthcare reform, yet strike when their premiums go up like everyone said they wouldn't?

      September 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • CPS

      Lagos, you ae making this about Obama, which I realize is your intent, but it isn't, and your point is pointless. There is much more at stake here, but with your current mindset, it is useless to try and teach you what they are.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lisa White

    This strike has been building for years. It is about a more thoughtful and balanced approach to education. Rather than test training/scripted curricula that offers little towards building critical thinking skills, teachers are requiring a more authentic and meaningful education be returned to the schools. Teachers are on the line to keep education as a public service rather than a private enterprise. In recent years, private interest groups have been given too much influence towards diverting public funds into private coffers at the expense of students. Placing 30 + students in a classroom undermines learning. Untenable working conditions (Have you worked in a chimney?): dangerously hot/freezing classrooms that lack basic supplies, lack of the arts, physical fitness, and day-to-day uncertainty of life/death situations when gun violence impacts schools. Many Chicago Police officers hesitate to go into many Chicago schools, yet teachers go in there every day unarmed. Yet, teachers are held accountable for all of societies ills: poverty, violence, neglect. Teachers have been left on their own to not only teach, but to provide social services, nursing care, and parenting to their students. To acquire help for students, teachers must navigate through a maze of obstacles designed to keep costs down. The time has come for teachers to say, "Enough is Enough!"

    September 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • CPS

      Another one who gets it! Thank you!

      September 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DCD

    Instead of holding the teachers responsible for the standardized test scores maybe the administration should share the responsibility. I agree with the teachers on this one. Parents take less and less responsibility for the kids these days and to set some unrealistic goal for a teacher to raise the score is just that, unrealistic. Maybe start thinking outside the box for once and analyze what works and doesn't work for the poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues these kids face. To put the blame on the teacher is like blaming your boss because you underperform at your job. You have got to make it easier and more fun for these kids to learn. After all they are just kids and making these kids and teachers measure up to some unrealistic goal is unacceptable. Try taking a year off from measuring these scores and try some out of the box experiments that may or may not work. Or maybe ask the kids what works for them. They are the key to this whole problem. Maybe they can teach us adults a thing or two about how to raise test scores.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
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