Reform: Did CTU Win Big In Springfield?

image from lexib.net The reform bill that was making waves last month is dead, for now at least, but so is the extra funding for education. So who won? Illinois Legislators Approve 66% Tax Increase CNC:  With only hours left before new state lawmakers were to take over, Illinois's State Legislature narrowly approved a vast tax increase early on Wednesday...  Smokers won't fund schools State School News Service:  Districts and other LEAs should receive most FY 2011 appropriated funds by the end of the fiscal year, a great improvement over FY 2010, and they should not fall off a cliff due to the loss of federal funds in FY 2012. In FY 2012, beginning July 1, education funding should not much exceed FY 2011 funding. Any increase in state support would likely offset federal fund reductions and little more... Let's Keep those Lines Ringing CTU:  Thanks to our members' lobbying, e-mailing, and calling their state representatives and senators, we have successfully delayed the "Performance Counts" bill from being passed. However, it's not over--it will come up again and we need legislators to know although the small, yet vocal Stand for Children has deep pockets, we have 30,000 members, their friends and family and our community and Union partners.

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  • I think Alexander's question was a good one, but I think it should be expanded to read "did the IFT, IEA, and CTU win big in Springfield?" The reason it should be expanded to cover the two state wide union organizations in addition to the CTU is because the proposed Performance Counts legislation really applied statewide and not just to Chicago. First off I cannot say enough about how hard Xian Barrett, a past poster to this blog, the CTU's new legislative issues coordinator worked and how much he learned in such a short time effectively while being under fire.

    In my opinion the largest success in Springfield was the coordinated response of the IFT, IEA, and CTU to the issues raised by the proposed legislation from Stand for Children. The proposals came as a surprise I think to all of these teachers unions and the shock effect of the scope of the proposals was dealt with effectively by all of these organizations.

    The reason both the Senate and House education reform committees were created giving equal weight to both Democrats and Republicans was to create good will to gain Republican votes for a tax increase. That strategy failed, given that Democrats were forced to go it alone, they therefore owe Republicans nothing and do not have to yield to their agenda regarding school reform as it relates to teachers unions. Some Democrats share aspects of that agenda, but prefer that teachers unions retain some bargaining power so they can collect dues and contribute via PACs to their reelection campaigns. Interestingly enough all of the elected Democrats who expressed support for the Performance Counts proposed bill during the hearings voted for the tax increase and several of these Democrats are in swing districts subject to Republican electoral efforts.

    So here is how I see it. Ideologically it was impossible for Republicans to support a significant income tax increase and this cost them their agenda for dramatically reducing the power of organized teachers in the state. There was never even the possibility that either the Republican House leader Cross or the Senate leader Christine Radogno were going to offer up any votes for the tax increase in return for passing the Performance Counts legislation. Therefore, the failure of the Performance Counts bill to materialize and pass was in big part due to the fact that the Republican leadership did not see it as being critical enough to horse trade for. In my opinion Stand for Children Illinois, Advance Illinois, and the Business Roundtable did not have sufficient support amongst even Republicans let alone Democrats to pass the bill.

    This made the job of the lobbyists for the IEA, IFT, and CTU easier. They needed only to remind Senate and House Democrats who their real friends were. Since the proposed bill had no cost savings in it for the State it was largely irrelevant to the larger crisis facing Democrats in the General Assembly, any cost savings from the bill would benefit only local school districts.
    Now let me also say this, Stand for Children Illinois, Advance Illinois, and the Business Roundtable also had a political victory of sorts. Collectively they got very major publicity for containing the right of teachers to strike and to limit the tenure system. They also gave the CTU a very intimidating message about their ability to use the "strike" power that they retain and the possible consequences of exercising that option.

    Even though I had only tangential interest in relation to the Performance Counts bill I racked up a small amount of lobbying time in relation to aspects of that bill. Effectively the lobbying costs occurred in relation to this bill since the middle of December are collectively in the many thousands of dollars. I know lobbyists from all the organizations directly advancing the bill had significant costs, the IEA had at least three lobbyists working on the bill to one degree or another, the IFT had several, the CTU I think used three contract lobbyists in addition to the time Xian Barrett put in, the Education Management Alliance devoted lobbying time to the bill, the Large Unit School Districts organization had some involvement, and several other organizations also may have had lobbying costs in relation to this bill that never materialized.

    Teachers who belong to the CTU are lucky they elected the new leadership that they did, I do not think the prior leadership would have been able to respond effectively to the situation. On the other hand it is not clear that Stand for Children Illinois, Advance Illinois, and the Business Roundtable would have bothered themselves with attempting to reign in the CTU under the prior leadership because they were not much of a threat to their agenda of moving Chicago to a market based education system they believe is needed in order to promote America in the global economy and maintain our nation as the predominate economic power in the world. Clearly they see the current CTU leadership as danger to that bigger agenda, I think Mr. Martin made that very clear by his comments at the hearings.

    Rod Estvan

  • The unions would do a lot better with the public if they actually made some arguments as to why their positions benefit the public good.

    Have you been to their website? They make a pretty good argument there! Tribune and news media (just last week had an op-ed on how great Eden Martin is, we could all learn a thing or two by smelling his nuts)could give a rat's ass about the Union's position, watched NBC nightly news? Making A Difference? All the education segments take place in charter schools. So you're saying you want CTU carolers visiting your house, driving ice cream trucks down your street but instead of music talking about the right to a fair education for disadvantaged youth?

  • In reply to cklaus76:

    The CTU and other teacher's unions are duty-bound to do what is in the economic bests interests for teachers. That's what unions do: fight for higher wages, less work, better benefits, more job security. This is the core mission of a union, and none of these things are automatically aligned with the interests of students.

  • Many CTU union members would like the tax increase to go to the families of our children in need of housing, food and jobs. It is not just for education. This is a part of education that makes children prepared for school. The job of the government is to take care of its' citizens. That is what the CTU wants. Take care of our families. The children will come to school well fed, encouraged, read to, loved and wanted. This makes a world of difference to the teachers who teach them. This is what teachers really want. Giving students a background of enrichment makes all the difference in children's education.

  • Attending a Board meeting isn't the only way to express one's views to CPS. Indeed, ranting at a Board meeting is probably one of the worst ways if you are interested in actually making a difference.

  • But look at the issues you note:

    class size (e.g. more teachers)
    full staffing (also more teachers)
    adequate prep time (less work)
    stability of veteran teaching force (job security)

    I'll give you "local professional autonomy," but honestly how do you think a union would come out on an issue of performance metrics if it could mean reduced job security. A union can't come out any other way than against performance metrics, no matter what studies say about teacher performance being one of the few controllable variables in a school.

  • I agree about class size. 25 vs 30? Who cares. Parents with the option to send kids to private school are looking for kindergarten classes of about 12-15.

  • Great schools begin with great leaders. I challenge the readers here to name one outstanding school in Chicago (or any other city) with a crap principal. Unfortunately, in CPS, poor principals abound.

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