Negotiators were back behind closed doors Tuesday on the second day of Chicago’s teachers strike, but publicly the teachers union and school board couldn’t even agree on whether they were close to a deal.
Negotiations between Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Teachers Union are focused mainly on two factors: job security and teacher evaluations. Teachers are worried about several schools that might be closed during the next few years. The teachers’ union wants CPS to recall laid off teachers when jobs open up, but CPS wants to hire the best teachers that match qualifications for a particular school that is re-opening.
The union says CPS plans to evaluate teachers on standardized test scores unfairly rates teachers, who might be stuck with students with high factors that distract from education, such as homelessness, violence, and poverty.
Some teachers claim that salary and benefits are third in priority after job security and teacher evaluations. The school district has offered a 16 percent raise over four years, which is double the 8 percent offer made earlier. “Modified step increases” would reward experience and provide “better incentives for mid-career teachers” to keep them from leaving Chicago Public Schools. CPS wants to eliminate the banking of sick days, but is offering short-term disability. and paid maternity leave. CPS offered teachers a three-month severance or the reassignment to a teacher pool for five months.
Chicago Teachers Union President survived a controversy last November 2011 after she was caught on video at the Northwest Teaching for Social Justice Conference (Octovber 1, 2011) discussing and joking on stage that she had spent past years “smoking lots of weed — self-medicating.”
A lot of the teachers don’t feel that they should be evaluated too heavily on student scores because we can’t control what happens out of the classroom — which is a big deal.
— Jody Ebstein, Chicago School Teacher
Average annual salary: $76,000 (among top paid in country)
25,000 teachers picketing and protesting
350,000 Chicago children out of school
One picket sign summed up a teacher’s opinion of a dire situation in Chicago:
Teachers on strike
Police without a contract
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