Straw Poll Saber Rattling

Lots of coverage of yesterday's CTU press conference (see also previous post), plus some updates on the pink slime thing and a few other tidbits.  I like the idea of calling the votes "straw polls" instead of strike votes, since they're nonbinding.  And I think the WLS story calling it "sabre rattling" is about right, though I spell it "saber." What about you?  Do you think it's effective and wise for CTU to be pushing so hard so early?  Do you think that a 2 percent increase is really a 23 percent pay cut, like CTU says?


Sabre rattling over new Chicago teachers contract getting louder WLS:
We're getting strike talk from the teachers union now because Chicago Teachers UnionPresident Karen Lewis says teachers are feeling “angst.” In response, Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he just might be feeling angst too.

Chicago teachers ready to strike, union says WBEZ: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing for big changes at Chicago Public Schools next year, including a longer school day, a different calendar and new teacher evaluations.

Teachers support possible strike, union says Catalyst: Lewis also slammed the district’s proposal for a 2 percent raise next year, saying it amounted to a 23 percent pay cut because of the increase in time that teachers will be required to work once the official longer school day and year begin next year.

‘Fed up’ teachers at 150 schools support strike: union chief Sun Times:  “Fed up“ with being scapegoated, Chicago public school teachers in 150 schools have voted overwhelmingly in mock ballots to support a strike should ongoing contract negotiations fail, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis revealed Thursday.Chicago Public School officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have created such a “hostile” climate that teacher leaders in 150 schools polled CTU members ...

Union: Teachers support strike in poll ABC: The Chicago Teachers Union says teachers voted overwhelmingly to support a strike in a mock poll.

Teachers Support Strike in Mock Poll NBC: In mock polls, teachers at 150 Chicago schools "overwhelmingly" voted to strike if contract negotiations fail, the Chicago Teachers Union said Thursday. Each of the schools met the 75 percent approval needed if...


CPS: 'Pink slime' might have been on menus, but no longer Tribune: Last month when a furor erupted over a beef product opponents dubbed "pink slime" being served in schools and fast-food restaurants, Chicago Public Schools officials quickly assured the public that "none of our food contains any of this substance."

Report: CPS lunches may have contained pink slime ABC:  Chicago Public Schools said last month that so-called pink slime was not in any of its school lunches


Brizard: Chicago will open more selective enrollment high schools WBEZ:  Chicago schools CEO Jean Claude Brizard said Thursday evening the city will create more selective enrollment high schools. "Short answer is yes. We have demand," Brizard said.

CPS Completes Installation Of Cameras At 14 High Schools CBS: The Chicago Public School system has just completed a nearly $7 million project to install high-tech, high-definition security cameras in 14 high schools.

Rethink ultralong school day for all idea Tribune (oped):  Chicago Public Schools officials insist that their ambitious — some might even say audacious — plan to lengthen the classroom day systemwide next year is not a "one-size-fits-all" mandate. "Principals, teachers and parents will have an...

Merit pay Tribune (letter):  As we reach the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, it is appropriate to recall a joke we used to tell when I was a Chicago Public Schools teacher: What is the difference between the CPS and the Titanic? The answer is that the Titanic had a...


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  • CTU members, strike or perish.

  • I agree. I vote STRIKE!

  • Maybe CTU holds a strike vote now, before everyone retires, and has it in its back pocket? That's what it sounds like is being suggested in the Tribune story. Didn't know they could do that.

  • Rahm has been spouting in the media about how easy the teachers have it and how the teachers are basically lazy bums. It's about time te teachers start fighting back. SB7 will only bust our union if we accept the contract it gives us.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    My latest blog post addresses your comments. Please check out "Good CPS Teachers Need Public Support" at

    Thanks, Ray

  • In reply to Ray Salazar:

    That is a great post, Ray. Thank you for putting so much thought and effort into it. I hope that everyone reads it. You described the challenges I face everyday as a CPS teacher (except I teach in 5 different rooms each day). How do we make others hear and believe us? There is a better way to educate. It isn't about a longer day or a different evaluation plan. Someone needs to ask teachers what we need to perform our jobs and then allow us to do it.

  • In reply to Ray Salazar:

    I agree that was an extremely thoughtful commentary. Ray you indicated that the poll was not done at every school, was it done at your school? If so did you vote, and if you did vote how did you vote? If no poll was done at your school why do you think that was the case? Because you are so thoughtful I think your strait forward perspective on this issue would be revealing.

    From your commentary there was an assumption that if the masses of citizens understood how hard teachers worked or at least those you deem to be good teachers work the current wave of so called teacher bashing might be less. That may well be true Ray, but isn't a great deal of this discussion relating to the contract come down to budgets, money, and theories about educational outcomes for low income children, not how hard individual teachers work.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, the stike vote has not been done at my school. Votes are done privately and I'll protect my right to make that decision privately. No one else is being asked to make his / her vote public I won't make mine public.

    Yes, budgets matter. But those monetary decisions are based on the perceptions that decision makers have of teachers and low-income students. Budgetary decision in affluent suburbs look differently than Chicago's. Yes, it's a matter of how leaders perceive teacher and student (and political) needs.

  • Straw polls

    I would not get too excited about these straw polls .
    Everyone I read has been taken in a high school.
    high schools are usually hot beds of union activity.
    Has this been done in any grammar schools?

  • In reply to rbusch:

    I work at a grammar school, and even though we didn't "poll" everyone, based on our last union meeting we are all on board to strike. Do any of you work at or know of someone who works at a school not willing to strike?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Our principal has stated that he would vote to strike if he could--and we are an elementarry school!

  • In reply to rbusch:

    My grammar school was polled and we voted 100% in favor of striking!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    That shows real commitment, given that the voters don't know the first thing about the offer they will be asked to vote up or down.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    In 1980, 75% of teacher voted strike:
    From The Museum of Classic Chicago Television
    The Main Issues were Guarantee 39 week year and restore 683 eliminated teaching jobs. The clip runs 8:29

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Sadly the video clip shows that only about 11,000 of over 24,000 teachers voted to strike. Notice that President Healy gave the total number of voters in the clip and then stated three quarters of that 11,000 voted in favor.

    The rules for approving a strike in 1980 were different than under SB7. In that strike vote eligible teachers who simply did not vote were not part of the process. But now every teacher who does not vote is in effect a no vote. Even using the 1980 vote as a marker we can see that the CTU would have not had enough total yes votes to reach the current SB7 requirement.

    While non-voters are not tallied for 1980 in the clip it is completely possible to do so now. Only 8,250 teachers out of about 24,000 voted yes or about 34% of the membership and using today's SB7 standard the strike vote would have failed by a wide margin.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Feb 3 1980

    This was a cold Sunday if you wanted to vote it was necessary
    to personally show up at the Conrad Hilton Hotel to cast your ballot.The fact over 10,000 teachers made the trip says volumes for our feelings at the time.
    Any vote today would be in a nice warm school.
    The 1980 vote cannot be compared to 2012.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    It wasn't me that drew the 75% comparison was it? I certainly do expect that more than 34% of the membership in 2012 would vote for a strike. But we have gone through the math of this before haven't we?

    SB7's drafters, including the current lead negotiator for CPS Jim Franzek, assumed a good number of CTU members are passive members, based on history that is probably correct. If you have even 15% of the membership simply not voting, no matter how many times a delegate at the school asks them to, and 89% of those teachers who do vote in favor of a strike the vote fails. This law is very undemocratic and needs to be changed, but that clearly is not going to happen during this session of the General Assembly.

    Josh Edelman from Stand for Children in his now famous video after thanking Jim Franzek for his help in drafting the bill stated he was amazed that the CTU agreed to the 75% vote of the membership language in the bill because it makes winning the vote so difficult, in his opinion unlikely. It is clear that the union got completely out negotiated the night SB7 was finalized and to this day has yet to fully admit that. The CTU's trailer bill did not change the critical 75% vote of the membership phrase and restore a traditional strike referendum.

    Moreover, it is very possible that Senator Lightford who was the key GA member in the negotiations might have supported a 75% yes vote in a traditional strike vote referendum as a more than reasonable compromise. It also would appear that both the IFT and IEA might have backed CTU on that compromise language. Josh Edelman pretty much indicated that was part of his own amazement of how much they got in relation to the strike vote. But as far as anyone knows that option was not pressed by the CTU team.

    So here we sit.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    There is a difference between current strike votes and strike votes previously. Back then a person's vote didn't count yes or no if they didn't vote. This vote will. So now a "passive" voter will be counted as a no vote. In other words, every union member who wants to vote yes is going to end up voting instead of being a passive voter. Furthermore, previous votes were done on a single day. The union will simply vote until everyone has voted to where it can get or can't get 75% of the vote.

    The next vote may have different rules but it will have the same outcome. STRIKE!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Do not assume the CTU will have unlimited time for the strike vote. Up to now these votes were controlled by the internal rules of unions. Once the General Assembly passed a vote percentage rule the voting process could become more of a public act than the process exclusively controlled by the union as it has in the past.

    Moreover, this statement that the "union will simply vote until everyone has voted to where it can get or can't get 75% of the vote," almost seems to assume that there is no secret ballot on the vote or that the union can do a running count of the vote and keep on voting. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has not created administrative rules relating to the voting process as yet and it is unclear if they will. But the IELRB can legally create these rules any time prior to a CTU strike vote and impose them under what is called it emergency rule making authority for short period of time without approval of the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

    Given the Illinois Supreme Court’s rulings against the CTU, one should assume that any decisions that end up being appealed to that body will interpret the voting provisions of SB7 in a manner to make it more difficult to invoke a strike than easier to do so. It is very clear that the legislative intent of SB7 was in part to make it more difficult for the CTU to strike and to allow CPS to impose work rule changes without legal threat of a strike. This is why I opposed SB7 when it was in draft form and was shocked when the CTU agreed to the 75% strike vote language regardless of the situation the union found itself in.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:


    I understand and respect your argument ,but I am sure you
    Realize those who based any decision on that vote are forgetting the situation that caused the low turnout.
    34% meant over 10,000 members ventured out into the cold on a Sunday afternoon to cast their ballads. To this day I feel that strike was Mr Healy’s contribution to the cause of cutting our pay that year without appearing to be part of the problem.
    We didn’t work the week previous ,add the one week strike.In the end we lost 5%.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rodestvan:

    Teachers are getting hyped up about a strike without understanding the realities of a strike under Senate Bill 7. I honestly believe this is just another publicity stunt bt the CTU. If striking was a real option then why did the CTU leadership along with the IFT and the IEA help to change the rules of the game in December 2010. Everyone knows teachers needed to strike then. So why was the threshold for striking changed drastically from 51% of the voting members to 75% of the total membership. Why did the unions agree to this making it almost impossible to strike and then calling for a strike. Does this make sense? Or is the leadership to incompetent they didn't realize what was happening when they were virtually stripped of their collective bar ginning rights in Springfield. Teachers get you heads out of the sand!

    The CTU keeps making comparisons to the Jackie Vaughn era. First of all Jackie cared about her members and would never do anything to jeopardize their jobs and livelihood. This is NOT a Jackie Vaughn type union. Jackie would roll over in her grave if she could see what is happening to the CTU.

    The focus cannot be on preserving the union for the sake of the union at the expense of it's individual members. Issues are important but if you don't respect or protect the jobs of individual teachers, what good is having a union for a few people to get paid. Not to mention that the union membership is constantly flipping over and new members are constantly being added because so many veterans are gone.

    People also need to be asking what is going on inside the union with their own employees. Are the setting a good example of solidarity and unionism with their own employees? What is happening to the unionized employees that work for the CTU? The proof is in the pudding. People need to lead by example. Observe how the unions treat their own employees and those who have shown solidarity to them. That will tell you what they think of individual teachers as well.

    We need some truth and honesty from this leadership. We need some real answers about how this SB7 debacle took place in the first place. Teachers need to ask the question , what am I striking for? What will I get? Am I striking because I'm angry? (We certainly have a right to that). Under the provisions of SB7, basically the only thing effectively gained under the strike other than personal satisfaction is of monetary value. The problem is that CPS has already declared a financial emergency so bargaining for raises is probably out the window. What's left? Striking for pure satisfaction.

    This is not what Jackie went on strike for. We made significant gains in a Jackie Vaughn strike. These strikes made working conditions possible for many of us.

    Young teachers, study your history and study SB7 . Watch the Jonah Edleman video from Stand For Children before you leap into something that may cost you your job. After all young novice first year teachers pay the same union dues as a veteran ones.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    This is 2012 and it is all or nothing!

  • High school teachers are smarter than elementary teachers

  • In reply to district299reader:

    That is just pure bullshit .Every elementary teacher I know
    is just as smart as anyone else, including me.
    My point is that nothing I have read shows how my fellow
    teachers at the elementary level feel about a strike.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Based on what?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Ask a high school teacher about SB7 – they will tell you! Ask an elementary school teacher and they will ask, “SB Who?”

    Ask a high school teacher about the new evaluation system and they will tell you…ask an elementary teacher, and they will say, “value-what did?”

  • In reply to district299reader:

    CPS health care sucks! And they want us to pay more. I have Advocate and there are no appointments for 3 months! I have not been able to see my primary MD for over a year--he has too many appointments. Then, blood pressure AND CHOLEsTROL UP DUE TO cps STRESS and can't get an MD appointment--CPS contracts with bluecross /shield.--then you get written-up for using sick days! This is nuts!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Get another PCP. Call them first to make sure they are accepting new patients and ask about appointment availability. There are problems with CPS healthcare plans, but your issue is with your doctor.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Stupid comment!


  • Last year there was so much rhetoric about young teachers not being on board with a strike. I did a poll at 3 westside schools and I was overwhelmingly surprised at the response from the new breed. See what the board failed to realize is that all these young teachers are either married or preparing to have families. They are worried about their future and how the decisions that are made now will impact them in the long run. They are not afraid and are more than willing to fight, especially schools in areas that have very little support. The CTU movement is definitely gaining momentum. I vote to strike and will wait it out as long as it takes.

  • In reply to SickandTired:

    Last I heard, the HR folks still haven't put out a request for bids on the new short term disability plan. There will be significant unrest if there is a significant gap between the new sick day policy going into effect and the short term disability plan starting.

  • In reply to SickandTired:

    That is helpful, which westside schools were these, and what was your count? I assume we are talking teachers under the age of 34, when we discuss young teachers? If teachers under the age of 34, which no make up a little over 30% of the teaching force in CPS schools are on board then I do think it might make a difference in the bargaining posture of CPS. But what you just posted I doubt will convince CPS to change its thinking.

    I have no doubt that there are many principals who came up in the system that would support a strike, but they are bailing out left and right. I don't blame them because how much they have to lose in sick day pay outs if they stay in the system.

    Ultimately teachers may have to vote to strike on the compromise contract developed by the fact finding panel created in SB7, President Lewis indicated at the press conference she would call for such a panel. The panel's proposed settlement contract will by law not include any provisions relating to things like length of school day, school year, prep time, etc., unless CPS suddenly agrees to open these areas up for bargaining. It is possible that both the CTU and CPS will reject the fact finding panel's deal, in that case it appears the vote would be on the CPS's best final offer.

    Based on the information the CTU has released the CPS has not agreed to bargain over these work rule issues as of their last best offer. SB7 allows CPS to impose these conditions on CPS employees if it choses to do so, and it appears that it has.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I say STRIKE until the district also gets SB7 changed to where CPS is treated equally as other school districts including having everything on the table that can be bargained with and also have an elected school board. And I say STRIKE illegally if necessary. All they can do is fire us which is what will end up happening sooner or later anyway.

    CPS has become an environment where it is like trying to work with kids in a pit full of snakes, constantly getting bit whether you do wrong, do right, or do nothing at all. And yet Rahm and Brizard keep saying its all about the kids and teachers shouldn't be talking strike. Who here can focus on working with kids in a snake infested environment?


  • In reply to district299reader:

    By the fact that a teacher would make such a statement anonymously says a lot about where this is going. To include the broad list of demands, almost all of which I agree with by the way, you are willing to hold out for would be legally impossible for the CTU. It is easy for one anonymous teacher to say the things you have just have, it is entirely another for a union which has material assets and officers who can be found legally in contempt in an illegal strike to make such a declaration.

    I understand how upset many teachers are with the situation, but it is better to fight for what you can legally achieve and then attempt to show how bad of a law SB7 is to get it legislatively changed. You do not want to burn your own house down.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:


    SB7 was financed with a barrel of money; it will probably take more to have it legislatively changed. Most people don’t know what the law is, why it’s bad, or who the Senate and House sponsors of the law are.

    Anyway, Chomsky weighs in – we should invite him to Chicago
    The Assault on Public Education

  • Anyone see the City Inspector General report on TIFs? Englewood has $50 million sititng in it. It has collected $12 million the past two years. That TIF is really helping develop the Englewood community, huh? The Lasalle TIF has collected $32 million in 2010 and 2009. Each year the City of Chicago collects $500 million in TIF money. What is the supposed budget shortfall in CPS?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    C'mon. TIFs serve a very important purpose. These struggling, blighted communities need financial support to improve their neighborhoods. Just look at that one neighborhood recipient of massive TIF funds that would otherwise be destitute - the Gold Coast. They *needed* TIF money to make it! What good is educating a kid if he's got to suffer under the weight of a blighted community like the Gold Coast? C'mon!

  • Fed up? Seriously? That's putting it mildly.

    As an 8th year veteran NBCT with a master's degree and a decade of experience in the private sector in my field of teaching I don't need monetary "incentives" dangled in front of me to be a better teacher. I work my tail off, I'm great at my job, I make a tremendous difference in the lives of my students (sometimes reflected in test scores, sometimes not), and I want a competitive wage. This much I can handle.

    What can't I handle?

    Constantly shifting CPS education initiatives. Unfunded or useless district and/or network mandates. The relentless blame heaped upon me for working in a "failed" school. The annual, real threat of school closure or turnaround and accompanying unemployment and possible black listing. The top-down failed education policies of the last 15 years coming out of the mayor's office regardless of who is in office. Not having enough desks or books in my classroom for each student. The absence of heat in one of our classrooms in the winter. Starting school in early August on the third floor with no air conditioning with windows that are nailed shut. The literally crumbling auditorium with chicken wire on the ceiling to prevent large chunks from falling and hurting someone. 160 schools without libraries. The pathetic excuse for technology support and infrastructure from CPS and its schools. (I don't even have a computer in my room.) Mandated, scripted curricula. Class sizes in the mid-40s. Replacement of an arbitrary, meaningless evaluation system with a sure-to-be massively unreliable one that is forced upon us. The threat of merit pay, proven time and time again to *not* boost student achievement. The trashing of unionized teachers and the Chicago Teachers UNion. Rampant misunderstanding of tenure as "job protection for life". The removal of seniority rights. Abusive and incompetent principals. 25% more mandatory work hours with the promise of only a 2% raise which will be chewed up by increased health insurance costs. A decrease in preparation and collaboration time during the school day. Different laws and rules for me as a teacher in CPS compared to every other district in the state. This list goes on and on and on and on...

    A fat raise is about the last thing on my mind. All I've ever wanted to do was give to poor children in Chicago's neighborhood schools the type of education I received in the suburbs. And I provide that for them them every day in *SPITE* of my employer. But honestly, I've just about had it with CPS. I don't think I'll last much longer.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Amen, brother (or sister)!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I agree...well said....please send this to the newspapers...

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Amen x 2 !!!

  • I think most young teachers are down for a strike. The overwhelmingly majority of young teachers I see are from somewhere other than Chicago. They're from the suburbs. They're from other states. They want educational systems for Chicago's children like the systems they grew up with. They can't believe what they witness here in Chicago. They'll undoubtedly fight for the children.

  • In reply to j007:

    The common issue for all teachers seems to be more pay for more work. But that additional money is in competition with improving class size and student services. How is striking "fighting for the children"?

  • In reply to Donn:

    CPS needs to begin a real dialogue with CTU. Leave the mistrust BS and start with a whole new attitude. CPS needs to be open to changing practices and policies that have no basis in educational research. Generally, educators and professors know what works based on research and real successful practice from other school districts that really know what they are doing. It would take CPS leadership the ability to say , we don't know what we are doing. (If you walk in different departments on Clark St, they are in stasis due to the unknowing leaders running the show) We need a long term plan, because as noted, the administrators on Clark St change the game every year, with new hoops to jump through. There is no continuation of prior goals. New yearly programs meant spending large sums of money on books, support materials and some kind of training. Money is wasted due to top administrators not knowing what they need to to, not knowing the how to build capacity throughout the system and wasting a lot of money on programs that are dropped and forgotten for their next "silver bullet" endeavor. I don't have the hard data, but how many network chiefs and other administrators stay in their job and have their work assessed. My gut feeling, is that most of these top administrators, are filling their resume and moving on before a microscope is placed on their leadership. CPS needs to come correct. Rahm , set your administrators free!

  • In reply to Donn:

    Donn do you support recinding the provisions of SB7 and prior legislation that allows CPS to not bargain over either class sizes or student services with the CTU? How is that provision fighting for children?

    I think the CTU members at least the ones that have been posting on this blog are far more concerned over potential contractual changes that involve student services and the conditions children are instructed in than they are getting paid at the hourly rate for any longer day that could come to pass.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I definitely don't believe class size and student services belong in the CTU contract.

  • In reply to Donn:

    If you don't entrust these factors to teachers then you are handing over decisions on these critical issues to people who do not work with children every day and do not have their best interest at heart: politicians, educrats, paper pushers, and Pritzkers.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Donn, do you believe class size should be on the table in negotiations between other districts and unions?

    Right now, every school district in Illinois except Chicago must bargain over class sizes. So, should class size be eliminated from negotiations entirely? Or is your feeling that the current separate rules are appropriate?

    Interested in your thoughts and rationale. Thanks for sharing.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Donn:

    Then how do we prevent exploitative conditions that damage hundreds of thousands of young people's lives?

    The mayor's office has had autonomy on these issues for a long time, and they've done a progressively worse job on it.

  • In reply to Donn:

    I'd happily accept zero raise and an additional hour to my instructional time if my class size was reduced to 18, as is best practice for early primary grades. But CTU cannot bargain over class size ever. It is against the law for us to fight for children by speaking about class size. Our law makers were truly awful when they made that law.

  • If teachers believe that their movement towards a strike vote can resolve all the problems they are laying out they will be sadly mistaken. The law is very clear, Chicago Public School teachers, can only strike over wages and benefits. The CTU can come up with a monetary impact figure for the work rule changes, including a longer day school day, and any thing else in the CPS proposal. The union can attempt to trade money in its proposal for work rules being returned to the written contract, but the union can’t reject a CPS monetary based settlement offer based purely on CPS’s failure to agree to return work rules to the written contract. The CTU can legally hold out until hell freezes over in relation to the complete elimination of step and lane provisions in the current contract.

    The union can try to be creative with a strike settlement, but there will be very clear limits to that creativity. SB7 along with pre-existing legislation are very restrictive on union rights, the law in my opinion is wrong, but it is still the law. It will be enforced assuming CPS pushes for that enforcement. Public opinion will play only a limited role in how judges will ultimately enforce the law. Even judges who personally disagree with the restrictiveness of SB7 are sworn to enforce the rule of law and they will do so.

    So what is very likely to happen will be that if teachers go on strike thinking they are striking over larger issues than they legally can strike over, many teachers will ultimately believe that the ultimate settlement is a sell out deal. Both CORE and the CTU leadership need to reign in these rising expectations or they are headed for trouble. Rallying your troops for battle is always necessary, but letting your troops think winning one battle will win the war is always a mistake.

    Rod Estvan

  • fb_avatar

    I personally think it is very unfair to expect a teacher to work 90 minutes more per day and not be compensated for it. The offer from CPS to give them a 2% raise is like a slap in the face. I also hate when the media refers to the pay the teachers will get for working a longer day as a "raise"! The teachers should get paid their hourly rate for any additional time worked! I mean it stands to reason that anyone who was being asked to work longer is going to expect to be paid for it. That is only fair.

    I also do not think that adding 90 minutes to the school day is going to change anything. My dad who is 67 years old was telling me that when he was in school back in the day, they went to grammer school from 9 to 3. He also said they had an hour lunch and 2 recess breaks, one was 20 minutes and the other 15 minutes. It is not the teachers that have changed. The teachers are just as good as they were back then. It is the kids and the way they are being raised that has changed. My dad said there was no such thing as being disrespectful to a teacher in his day. That just did not happen. You did not see kids out on the streets shooting each other with guns like you do now. Teachers have it ever so much harder now, and are expected to make sure that each and every student does well and shows substantial growth each year?? How is a teacher suppose to do this especially when some kids have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or have to worry about getting shot on the way home from school. A teacher can only do so much. There has to be help on all sides for this to work. Teachers cannot be expected to do it all.

    Teachers work very hard. I laugh when I hear people say teachers only work a 5 hour day and that they have it easy. That is so far from the truth. Teachers have to make lesson plans, they have to grade a ton of papers and keep the gradebook online updated. They have to check emails and also call parents. This is all done on the teachers OWN time for the most part.

    Teachers definitely do not get the respect they deserve. Yes, there are some bad teachers out there that need to be fired, but there are many more good teachers than there are bad ones. Also as far as this whole merit pay thing, this is not going to work and is very biased. If they are going to do merit pay for teachers, well then I think that law should apply to everyone including firefighters, doctors, surgeons, police officers, mechanics, politicians, etc.... I mean that would only be fair right?

    I hate to say it, but if things keep going the way they are with all the teaching bashing and union bashing and all the politics, things are only going to get worse. I just watched a documentary on the public school system in Finnland. They have a 4 hour school day and do not teach to the test. They offer all kinds of help to their teachers and support them( not go against them) and guess what? They are on the top.Their students are at the top.They rarely ever have to fire a teacher. They do not have the turnover rate that we do here. Most teachers in CPS end up leaving before their 5th year of teaching. I think our school system could learn something from finnland!

  • Jennifer your Dad's recollection is completely correct. on the school day. I will be 59 shortly and my elementary school day was 9am to 3:15 with one hour for lunch and two recess breaks a day. But I don't agree with this statement: "The teachers are just as good as they were back then. It is the kids and the way they are being raised that has changed. My dad said there was no such thing as being disrespectful to a teacher in his day. That just did not happen. You did not see kids out on the streets shooting each other with guns like you do now."

    That Jennifer is a historical myth. For example in the Spring of 1967 a white high school student held 40 students in the Waller High School (now Lincoln Park High) auditorium hostage and shot 4 rounds at a teacher from a 30-06 rifle with a scope. The student purposely missed the teacher. At Austin high school in the early 1960s there were on going race riots and both black and white students were shot. In the great race riots of Chicago around 1919 dozens of CPS students were killed by black and white mobs or police/national guard troops.

    Families were in some cases just as messed up as they are now throughout the history of Chicago. I would agree with your father that teachers were rarely disrespected in the late 1950s and 1960s at the elementary school level. But it did happen and when it did students were treated harshly, although corporal punishment was banned in the CPS well before the 1950s it was still practiced in many elementary schools. As I have publicly stated on this blog it was practiced at one of the city's best elementary schools up to 1967 because I lived that reality.

    We should also recall that it was largely the supposedly disciplined CPS students in Chicago who in 1968 during the King riots that burned down vast parts of the city. As for teachers in the 1950s and 1960s not being held accountable for the academic growth of students, I agree that was true. We were tested extensively and if our scores were low the failure was considered to be our own responsibility not related to instruction.

    Then based on those test scores we were tracked, please recall special education as we know it today did not exist. Students we would today consider to have a serious learning disability were placed in low level remedial classes and they rarely ever escaped them. They were formally called slow learners, to be truly disabled a child had to be examined by what was called the bureau of child study and if found to qualify were shipped out of the regular schools to either special schools or separate wings of regular schools for complete academic segregation. Blaine elementary school used three rooms on the third floor of the building for these programs, other schools had similar programs.

    That system was wrong in so many ways and it should not in any way be glorified. Without question back in the day white students in CPS got a better education than did black and Hispanic students did. The NAACP and the Urban League were able to prove this in a court of law in fact. Because I am white without question I got a better public education than did most black students during the time I went to CPS.

    I have seen not just Jennifer attempt to create an educational myth of the past on this blog, it has been done repeatedly. The reality of history is always more complex than it appears.

    Rod Estvan

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