Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chicago Strike Update

Yesterday, the first day of Chicago’s teacher strike, 35,000 teachers and their supporters (including hundreds of students) picketed in front of their schools and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) headquarters. 578 schools held pickets, according to “On The Line,” the CTU’s strike website. Today, CTU asked all members to picket at one of the 144 school sites that CPS is trying to keep open. These sites are being run by people from the district office, with scab support from members of religious organizations.

What are the Issues?
  1. The proposed contract put forth by CPS provides a nominal pay increase that does not adequately compensate teachers for the extra work required by the implementation of the Common Core Standards (CCS) and the new evaluation system, let alone cover the cost of inflation. Furthermore, CPS is not offering sufficient teacher training to implement the new curriculum, forcing the teachers to do all the training on their own and at their own expense.
  2. A new evaluation system is being imposed from the top down that is based heavily (25%) on student standardized test scores. This system could result in 6,000 layoffs over the next two years, causing a severe teacher shortage and the loss of thousands of excellent teachers.  Student test data correlates very weakly with teacher ability and even then it is only consistent when averaged over three years and only for teachers at the extremes of quality (the very best and the very worst). For the majority of teachers the data is inconsistent and meaningless. If used yearly or every two years it would likewise lead to inaccurate results, causing many good teachers to get bad reviews and some mediocre teachers to get good ones.]
  3. The contract provides no additional resources for the health and safety of the children. The board has disregarded teacher concerns about air-conditioning and inadequate staffing levels. It should be remembered that 750 people died from dehydration and heat stroke during the Chicago heat wave of 1988. Some Chicago teachers have documented classroom temperatures soaring into the 90s.
  4.  A fair recall procedure needs to be codified in the new contract so that teachers who were laid off over the past few years get rehired to cover the longer school day. CPS imposed a 90 minute longer school day and backed off demands that existing teachers work those extra 90 minutes without compensation. Instead, they agreed to rehire laid off teachers, but have yet to propose a fair and reasonable system for doing this.

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