Blog: The Educated Reporter

Local and National News About the Chicago Teachers Strike (DAY 3)

Local and National News

CPS says the 2 sides have not bargained today. Spokeswoman: “CTU has been meeting on their own all day and haven’t been avail to meet”

Chicago Sun-Times: ”Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey, before entering Wednesday’s negotiations, said there was ‘no way’ talks would wrap up Wednesday and that if the school board doesn’t move more in its position, ‘this could be a long strike.’”

As I said to both sides, if it means meeting all night long, let’s meet all night long.”

Chicago Sun-Times: Rev. Jesse Jackson has offered to bridge the gap between the dueling parties in the city’s labor standoff between teachers and city officials. Other updates: comparing the contract Boston teachers agreed to recently and the likelihood the courts will be called in to stop the strike.

Chicago Tribune:CPS leadership took exception to CTU president calling the negotiations silly. A top Chicago Public Schools official started today’s negotiations on a testy note, taking aim at Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis…’I can share with you and the larger community that it’s all but silly,’ Byrd-Bennett said. ‘We take these negotiations incredibly serious.’”

 Tribune: “Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said that the issue of impending school closings — coupled with continued plans for increasing the number of taxpayer supported but privately run charter schools — is affecting negotiations, particularly the issue of recalling teachers who are laid off when schools are closed.” Lean Forward: Emanuel could rely on the courts to put a stop to the strikes, since the work stoppage is over assessments and rehiring rules–issues that may not be legally ’strikeable.’ “Ultimately, Malin said, Emanuel would have to consider both the legal and political implications of a court battle. ‘The mayor is damned if he doesn’t, damned if he doesn’t,’ he said. ‘If he doesn’t [file a complaint], he’s subject to political attack that he’s not doing everything he can to open the schools. If he does, he opens himself to comparisons to the late 19th, early 20th century, when court injunctions were a favored legal tactic to bust unions.’”

Delegate says tchrs are exhausted. But asked how long strike can continue, adds that “the spirit is high, people are so fed up” 

Education Week:There are 119 charter schools in Chicago serving 52,000 students, and as of Tuesday, all of those schools remain open…Just 10 of the Chicago charter schools are unionized…Nationwide, only about 12 percent of charters, or 600 out of roughly 5,600 schools, have collective-bargaining agreements with unions, according to recent estimates from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.”

Catalyst-Chicago: “About 140 schools, most on the South Side, meet all the key components of the district’s draft criteria to be eligible for closing.”

A look into the earlier negotiations, via Catalyst-Chicago:

Link to 3 shots of Karen Lewis’ notes, released today by : Not a lot of surprises here

Notes appear to indicate agreed to offered raises, will consider step restructrng as long as tchrs get same pay value

Notes also indicate teachers on want a recall procedure that is the same as the interim agreement. See also:

Lewis’ notes appear to show CTU asking for 3.8% raise in exchange for longer school year calendar.

Chicago Tribune: “As contract talks resumed this morning, some striking Chicago teachers were chafing at comments by the school board president that they seemed more interested in having fun than returning to the classroom … ‘They were told to keep going and have a party and have fun — to have fun while 400,000 kids are out of school that they should have been teaching,’ Vitale said. ‘This is not the behavior of a group of people that are serious about the interests of our children. It is time to get serious.’”

Catalyst-Chicago: ”To pass a balanced budget last year, CPS leaders promised to find $107 million in savings by reorganizing central and area offices. But while the massive reorganization was carried out, only a small number of cuts were made, a Catalyst Chicago analysis of employee rosters has found.

CPS trimmed about $10 million from area offices, now called network offices. Yet the number of central office staff increased, as did the money spent on their paychecks–by about $2.79 million, with more administrators earning six-figure salaries.”  

The Wall Street Journal: The Chicago strike’s beginnings can be traced back to 2008, when current CTU president Karen Lewis joined the still-fledgling Caucus of Rank and File Educators: “The group felt union leaders were doing too little to fight the overhauls favored by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan, who is now President Obama’s Secretary of Education, including the expansion of charter schools and closing low-performing public schools.

Ms. Lewis took the top union job in June 2010 with a mandate to take a more adversarial role. She has since reveled in the spotlight, with a cheeky and sometimes aggressive style.”

WBEZ 91.5:This issue of job security is important to the teachers union because Chicago has been trying to fix its schools by closing them. Over the last decade, the city has shut down or fired everyone at more than 100 low-performing schools. Thousands of teachers have lost their jobs. The union fears 100 more closings. District officials have said that’s not true.

That’s why the teachers union is fighting for a provision that would force principals to hire those laid off teachers.”

Joy Resmovits ‏@Joy_Resmovits CTU saying at rally JC Brizard has resigned. CPS in an email, “not true at all.” #CTUstrike

E-mail sent from Jean-Claude Brizard to employees (RT if someone told you this rumor today):

NBC 5 Chicago: “Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard hasn’t resigned or been fired.” NBC 5 Chicago: What the city’s aldermen think: “‘They feel that the negotiations have been taken to a personal level instead of negotiating on the best interests of our kids in the school,’ said Ald. Ray Suarez (31st).”

Education Week: A Blizzard for Brizard? “Brizard’s lack of clarity on how to implement the longer school day—which was one of Emanuel’s campaign promises—led to frustration for some principals, and there was an unusual amount of turnover in the city’s education cabinet this past year. Emanuel was also apparently not pleased when the superintendent took a two-week vacation this July, at a time when union-district tensions were already beginning to boil over.”

Emanuel Denies Unhappiness with Brizard NBC 5 Chicago

Opinion and Analysis

WBEZ 91.5 provides a scintillating review of the many national articles scrutinizing the strike. It picks apart the main facts explored in the respective articles, the top quotes, the thesis, and more. 

Gawker plumbs the depths of the striking teachers’ grievances with some policy analysis to boot. 

While the public supports the striking teachers for now, several surveys point to a population that favors rewarding teachers with more pay but also supports tying their evaluations to student performance: “Rightly or wrongly, most citizens would side with the teachers in a contract dispute that hinged on pay and benefits.

But that’s not the case on the issue of teacher evaluation, where the district’s proposals are more likely to garner majority support. On the PEPG survey, 55 percent of respondents favored awarding tenure on the basis of student progress on state tests; just 20 percent opposed it (the rest neither favored nor opposed).”


RT : “They have abandoned the children they say they’re committed to teaching.” Don’t cave, Mr Mayor! 

Dana Goldstein explores the early history of collective bargaining rightsfor teachers. After explaining women were viewed as the preferred gender to educate children (in part due to their ‘moral superiority’ and also because city managers could get away with paying them half of what males would earn), she lays out the foundation that prompted teachers to organize: “ Most female teachers earned just half the salary of a male teacher, and their jobs were getting harder and harder each day. In turn of the century Chicago, classrooms housed 60 students, many of them new immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe who couldn’t speak English. Yet teacher pay had been frozen for 30 years at $875 annually (about $23,000 adjusted for inflation), less than a skilled manual laborer could earn.”

EWA’s Emily Richmond: Win the battle, lose the war? ”University of Michigan Prof. Jeffrey Mirel, who focuses on the history of politics of urban schools and education reform, said the pushback from some critics who argue that teachers’ unions are standing in the way of improving the nation’s public schools doesn’t have a lot of factual support. Mirel said he wasn’t aware of any evidence that getting rid of unions or collective bargaining rights improved the quality of education. 

He noted that Finland — widely considered one of the world’s model school systems thanks in part to its superior performance on international exams – has a highly unionized teacher workforce. That’s also true in Singapore and Japan, which also scores well in international comparisons, Mirel said.”

More from Rick Hess“Lost in the furor is that the union actually has some valid points to make, on school closures and teacher evaluation. For instance: There are reasonable concerns about simple-minded teacher evaluation that relies too heavily on students’ reading and math scores, or on a handful of cookie-cutter classroom observations. In choosing to strike rather than negotiate, however, the CTU has ensured that any legitimate concerns have been swept under by politics and the passion.

If the CTU folds, it’ll suggest that tough-minded Dems can stand toe-to-toe with the unions just as effectively as Republicans can. If Emanuel folds, it’ll be a much-needed salve for the teacher unions and a serious blow to the President’s credibility on a symbolically potent question. Meanwhile, the longer the strike goes on, and the more attention it gets, the higher the stakes.

Reporters, speak to the teachers: Every one of the two dozen teachers I spoke with at length did a better job of articulating the issues at stake and the reasons why they’re on the street when they’d prefer to be in the classroom than union president Karen Lewis or vice president Jesse Sharkey has done to date. As a media professional and a college English teacher, I’d have to give Lewis and Sharkey a ‘D’ as communicators.”

Why concessions by one union hurt all RT  Emanuel just brought up the recent teachers deal in Boston for the third time.

Though a poll on Tuesday demonstrates the striking teachers have a plurality of the public’s support, there exists a lukewarm attitude toward them among the public. Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum come up with a few theories exploring the limits of popular support for teachers in labor disputes: They are paid for with tax dollars that come from the paychecks of workers whose wages have remained flat for some time; Chicago teachers work 180 days out of the year; and they appear to already have high salaries and generous benefits. While there’s a bevy of data suggesting teachers are underpaid compared to private-sector workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, when students aren’t learning and parents are scrambling to find their kids safe spaces because schools are shut down, it doesn’t take a lot of deep thinking to find out why the striking teachers are less than beloved. 

Rahm: “Our kids belong in the classroom learning, the negotiators belong in the negotiating room.” 

How does this strike compare to the one that last 19 school days in 1987? Atlantic Cities digs through history and the memories of a student (who’s now a parent in Chicago who is also an editor at Catalyst-Chicago) on what the work stoppage from 25 years ago can teach us.

Just spoke to teacher whose sign says “rahm I’m a dancer too,” she says all schools need arts 

Teachers have earned the community’s trust to do right by its children, even while striking, writes a columnist for the Tribune: “He posed as the only true defender of student interests and delivered such backs of the hand as icily dismissing Monday’s walkout as a ’strike of choice.’

The mayor’s reputation as a master arm-twister is well-earned, and it will likely serve him well in other contract disputes. Problem is, this particular dispute called instead for handholding — a focused display of collaborative intent along with relentless expression of respect for the difficulty of the job we ask many Chicago teachers to perform.”

A Teach for America corps member impugns CTU’s commitment to the students: “While the CTU may be pressuring CPS, they have broken their commitments to students and families. The union labeled the last-minute plan to place children in community centers and local nonprofits during school hours a ‘train wreck,‘ seemingly forgetting it was a train wreck that they themselves caused.”