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The Chicago Teacher Strike Looks Like It Will End Today!

Great news, the Chicago Teachers Union will decide today if they are going to end the strike against the Chicago Public School.  They have been on strike now for almost one week.  The strike, which was mis-categorized as a fight about money, was truly a fight about the children.  The evidence of that is in what they are agreeing to in order to end the strike.

Some the gains they made in this proposed new contract:

  • 600 additional art, music, physical education and world language teachers.
  • Prep time for paraprofessionals and clinicians.
  • Teacher evaluations limited to 30% of the student test scores.
  • Up to $250 reimbursement for school supplies, which are often out of pocket for teachers.
  • Additional wrap-around services, including hiring of nurses, social workers and counselors.
  • Books on day one for teachers and students. Teachers had to wait for up to six weeks for materials to arrive

This strike, which will hopefully end today, is all about providing the best education for the children.  It once again proves the through collective bargaining teachers everywhere can make the necessary changes to our local education system.

This six day strike was just what America needed to really dig deeper into the problems that face America’s public school system.  People everywhere are talking more about the changes being proposed in the Chicago schools and what that could mean for schools in their districts too.

My hope is that the strike will end today and all the workers and students will be back to school tomorrow.

FULL Press Release from the Chicago Teachers Union local 1:

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU)’s ruling body will decide whether or not to call off its strike against the Chicago Public Schools during a 3 p.m. House of Delegates meeting tomorrow at Operating Engineers Hall, 2260 Grove Street.  The Bargaining Team is expected to share new details about proposed contract language which includes a number of victories for teachers, paraprofessionals, clinicians, and students.

The earliest teachers and other school personnel could return to their schools could be Monday; however, no decision has been made to do so. Delegates, the elected leaders of their schools, have the authority to suspend or lengthen the strike. They could also ask for at least 24-hours to talk to individual members in their schools before making a decision on what to do next. The 29,000-member CTU has been on strike since Sept. 10.

“We are a democratic body and therefore we want to ensure all of our members have had the chance to weigh-in on what we were able to win,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “We believe this is a good contract, however, no contract will solve all of the inequities in our District. Our fair contract fight has always been about returning dignity and respect to our members and ensuring resources and a quality school day for our students and their families.”

The new proposed CTU/CPS contract will:

  • Secure Raises & Ensure Fair Compensation:  The CTU wants a three-year contract.  It will secure a 3% raise  in the first year, 2% raise in the second and 2% raise in the third, with the option to extend to a 4th year by mutual agreement at another 3% raise.
  • Defeat Merit Pay: The CTU successfully fought the star of national misguided school reform policies. The Board agreed to move away from “Differentiated Compensation,” which would have allowed them to pay one set of teachers (based on unknown criteria) one set of pay versus another set of pay for others.
  • Preserve Steps & Lanes:  The new contract will preserve the full value of teachers and paraprofessionals career ladder (steps); and, it will increased the value of the highest steps (14, 15 and 16)
  • Provide A Better School Day: The Board will hire over 600 additional ‘special’ teachers in art, music, physical education, world languages and other classes to ensure students receive a better school day, a demand thousands of parents have called for since last year
  • Ensures Job Security: Creates a “CPS Hiring Pool,” which demands that one-half of all of CPS hires must be displaced (laid-off) members.
  • Adds An Anti-Bullying Provision: No more bullying by principals and managerial personnel.  The new language will curtail some of the abusive practices that have run rampant in many neighborhood schools.
  • Paraprofessional & Clinicians Prep Time: The new contract will guarantee preps for clinicians.
  • Racial Diversity: The CTU continues to fight the District on its lay-off policies that has led to a record number of African American educators being laid off and eventually terminated by the District.  The new contract will ensure that CPS recruits a racially diverse teaching force.
  • New Recall Rights & Tackling  School Closings:  Acknowledging, the CTU will continue its ongoing legal and legislative fight for a moratorium on all school closings, turnarounds and phase-outs, the new contract requires teachers to “follow their students” in all school actions. This will reduce instability among students and educators.  The contract will also have 10 months of “true recall” to the same school if a position opens.
  • Fairer Evaluation Procedures:  The new contract will limit CPS to 70% “teacher practice,” 30% “student growth” (or test scores)—which is the minimum by state law.  It also secures in the first year of implementation of the new evaluation procedures there will be “no harmful consequences” for tenured teachers. It also secures a new right—the right to appeal a rating.
  • Reimbursement for School Supplies: The contract will require the District to reimburse educators for the purchase of school supplies up to $250.
  • Additional Wrap-Around Services:  The Board agrees to commit to hire nurses, social workers and school counselors if it gets new revenue. Over the past several months, the CTU has identified several sources of new revenue, including the Tax Increment Financing program.
  • Books on Day One: For the first time, the new contract will guarantee all CPS students and educators have textbooks on day one and will not have to wait up to six weeks for learning materials.
  • Unified School Calendar:  The new contract will improve language on a unified calendar. The District will have one calendar for the entire school district and get rid of Track E and Track R schools.  All students and teaching personnel will begin on the same schedule.
  • Reduced Paperwork: The new contract ensures the new paperwork requirements are balanced against reduction of previous requirements.

“This Union has proven the Chicago labor movement is neither dormant nor dead,” Lewis continued. “Our members are on the line because we all believe there is an assault on our profession and public education in general.  We will always do what is in the best interest of our students and our own children, many of whom attend these schools. We showed our solidarity and our strength, and with this new contract we have solidified our political power and captured the imagination of the nation. No one will ever look upon a teacher and think of him or her as a passive, person to be bullied and walked on ever again.”

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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