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Update: New Rules, Old Salaries

image from 2.bp.blogspot.comEven as debate continues to rage in Washington and elsewhere over the merits of Illinois' new reform bill, Governor Quinn is set to sign it today in Maywood (Quinn to sign education legislation on Monday Sun Times, Quinn to sign education overhaul package Tribune) and -- it appears -- the Board is aiming to push forward without giving teachers the raises they're due under contract (Board meeting Wednesday to consider teacher raises Tribune).  The Tribune editorial page says it's a moment to cheer ( The new leader in education reform) -- a collaborative yet still dramatic set of changes in state law.  There's nothing wrong with collaboration, but I'm still not so sure about the transformative part.  Indeed, like the editorial says down near the bottom, "Now, the hard work begins."

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  • If you look at the agenda for the special board meeting, there is this tidbit:

    "11-0615-RS2 Resolution Finding that the Board of Education Has a Reasonable Expectation that Board will be Able to Fund Collectively Bargained for Wage and Salary Increases for Fiscal Year 2012"
    http://cps.edu/About_CPS/The_Board_of_Education/BoardAgenda/Documents/spc%20bd%20mtg%20agenda%20jun152011.PDF

  • Because written language can be read and re-read carefully, it must be more precise than spoken language which isn't normally designed to be "played back." This calls for a different set of values in written versus spoken expression. One of those differences is that the phrasing, or choice of words, used in written language must be very precise, much more so than that used in oral communication. Language choices not only reflect individual disposition of the writer but influence the course of policy. The power to control the language is also the power to control the argument, and those who control the argument are more likely to successfully translate belief into policy.

    Such is the case with a very small turn of phrase used by Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Tribune reporter, in an article Alexander linked to his blog today. Specifically she writes at the start of her article: "With Chicago schools facing a $720 million deficit, teachers next week may be asked to give up the 4 percent annual salary increase in their contracts."

    The critical word here is "asked," the word by definition has two meanings. One definition is to make a request for something and the other is to require somebody to give or contribute something. It is sort of up to the reader to interpret the appropriate definition of "asked" in the context of the article, but the article provides no context what so ever and never discusses even in passing the CTU contract. That collective bargaining agreement requires that the CPS Board adopt a resolution 15 day prior to the end of each fiscal year in which the Board finds that there is reasonable expectation it will be able to fund the agreed upon wage and salary increases for the upcoming fiscal year.

    So "ask" can be a powerful word that carries very loaded implications. Why does it have to be CPS that "asks," and not the union?

    According to the agenda for Wednesday, CPS will not effectively go nuclear and argue that it cannot make the salary increase, but it seems clear CPS will pressure the CTU to forfeit the agreed upon wage increase and step and lane increases for individual teachers for the good of the children. Given the fiscal situation of CPS I am totally unsure how it really can make the salary increase, but even without the increase CPS will be balancing its budget by some form or another of voodoo accounting, maybe a tax increase, and possibly new bridge loans. I know many on this blog believe the CPS budget deficit is a contrived PR attack on the union, I am not part of that crowd. But I do believe CPS has often made its fiscal situation appear more desperate than it might other wise be understood to be, so CPS has effectively created the skeptics.

    Just so everyone reading this understands, yet again, my thinking on the 4% wage issue. I believed and continue to believe the CTU should offer to defer its raise and "ask" to make it a loan to CPS, the union has up to now elected not even to attempt to do this. I have some vague ideas why they did this that involve internal union politics, but not even making an offer which protects their members interests, has two potentially negative consequences. First, CPS can say it was "forced" to make greater cuts and layoff more staff in order to make the salary increase and hence put the CTU on the public relations defensive. Second, senior teachers because of SB 7 are now at greater risk of layoffs and in some cases could be completely out of work.

    CTU President Lewis could on Wednesday give the speech of her life and offer CPS the olive branch of a loan offer pending the approval of her membership, which is not a sure thing at all. That would force CPS to respond. It doesn't mean she can't criticize CPS spending and priorities. Moreover, a loan deal could also have built into it specific requirements for truly independent auditing and forensic analysis of expenditures going back a few years with requirements that the report be made public. The CTU can make its legitimate points and possibly come out of this reaching for the high ground. But President Lewis and her caucus are faced with a howling mob of mad as hell teachers, mad about SB 7, mad about attacks on the pension, mad about lots of stuff that are not superficial in the least.

    Rod Estvan

  • CTU, DONOT defer your 4% raise! If the Board of Education wants to take out a loan to pay for the 4% raise, SO BE IT! CPS has has a

  • CTU, DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR 4% RAISE! If CPS wants to get a loan to pay for your raise, SO BE IT! CPS has a LEGAL obligation to pay your scheduled pay raise! Jonah Edelman, head of Stand for Children, last year in fewer than 100 days in Illinois, raked in over $3.5 million to destroy unions in the state of Illinois, including the CTU!

  • I completely agree with Rod Estvan. The CTU needs to play the public relations game. Offering our 4% as a temporary loan to CPS in return for a forensic audit would be a good move for the CTU. We need to take some of the wind out of the reformers' sails.

  • from stand for children's jonah edelman:

    Dear friend,

    Today, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law Senate Bill 7, landmark education legislation that will put Illinois at the head of the class nationally, and sets a standard for other states to follow.

    We can all be proud of this collective victory. When effectively implemented by school districts, this legislation will substantially increase the quality of classroom teaching and level of student learning, allow for excellent teachers to be recognized and rewarded along with being given the meaningful support needed to do their best work, and give Chicago Public Schools the tools needed to lengthen the too short school day and year.

    Take a moment and thank your State Representative and Senator for their vote to pass this historic legislation.

    This new law not only provides a powerful example to legislators across the country about the potential to enact strong, thorough and thoughtful education legislation without rancor, but sets the stage for continued collaboration in Illinois.

    Thank you again for all you have done to ensure our children receive the best education in Illinois. We are thrilled with this first step of passing SB7 and look forward to continuing this momentum to build better schools in Illinois.

    Standing with you,
    Jonah

    P.S. We are pulling together all of the photos and videos of the bill signing, we'll be posting the best on our Facebook page, 'like' us to see inside the signing.

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