Union Resurgence In Chicago?

Few if any of the 150 or so comments above about the CTU election reflect any sense of growing union power, and yet the most recent issue of In These Times claims that unions in Chicago are flexing their muscle:

"Frustrated
with city hall's tilt to a business elite, Chicago's labor unions
decided to send Mayor Richard M. Daley a message," begins the article (Chicago Unions Flex Political Muscle).  "In the February and April elections,
the labor movement broke with the city's fabled but feeble Democratic
machine, and helped oust key Daley allies and elect seven new members
to the 50-seat city council."

The article goes on to claim that changes in the city council could block or blunt things like Wal-Mart and other antiunion initiatives.  But is any of this resurgence happening with CTU, I wonder?  I don't get that sense -- but don't know why.

Filed under: Campaigns & Clout

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  • 10:10 indicates that CPS teachers are leaving the system for charter schools. Most of the special education teachers I know that have left CPS have gone to the suburbs and gotten better working conditions and more money.

    Access Living conducted a FOIA review of numerous New Schools Office documents related to Ren 2010 in the last two months. We reviewed numerous resumes from charter staff, proposed Ren 2010 principals,and proposed charter lead teachers. What we found were that some individuals proposed to be various administrative level staff at charters or contract schools run by Education Management Organizations (EMOs)who were former CPS teachers. However, of those charter classroom teachers whose resumes we did review a disproportionate number came from the Teach for America program.

    In some of the documents we reviewed we saw turnover rates for various charters. We have not done a comparative analysis of this data yet. But in some discussions we have had with charter administrators they expressed some concern that alternatively certified teachers with limited experience were using charters to develop experience and that some leave for more money once their instructional skills mature.

    Regular CPS schools have seen the same problem for a long time now. So it is not clear to me that CPS teachers who are members of CTU are leaving for charters.

    During our review of New Schools Office materials we were able to review the employee handbooks for several charters and EMOs. We did not find one situation where these handbooks indicated teachers would recieve any sort of salary increase on a fixed schedule based on teaching experience or formal education beyond the BA level. Compensation decisions were based on administative evaluation systems that were in some cases extremely vague and in others highly detailed. The amount of a maximum salary increase even for a teacher identified by admistrative review as being outstanding was not established in any of the handbooks we reviewed.

    We are still reviewing the large amount of materials we FOIAed. Our emphasis is of course on the education of students with disabilities, but part of that concern is the ability of charter schools or EMOs to hire and retain special education teachers. That of the numerous EMO and charter budgets for proposed Ren 2010 schools we reviewed that elected to hire their own special education staff it could be seen that they were being given $65,000 for each projected special education teacher from CPS. In no case did we see a budget for a special education teacher that was more than $50,000 per year. In one case the projected budget to hire special education teachers was as low as $37,800 per year plus a moderate benefit package.

    Given that there is an extreme shortage of highly qualified special education teachers in Illinois and from what we have reviewed in New Schools Office files it would appear very few special education teachers would choose to work for an EMO or charter unless they were being paid as some type of administrator or wanted possibly some time flexiabilty the charter or EMO could offer that CPS or suburban districts can not.

    There were also some charters that elected not to hire their own special education teachers and utilized a special pool of CPS employed special education teachers who are CTU members and are paid union scale wages.

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