Oh, goody. This is going to make everyone feel good. Chicago teachers vote on the contract tomorrow, and charter folks are holding a big rally to talk about the need for what they call fair funding. Dueling press advisories below. Also -- I spoke to a couple of Chicago charter folks about my post last week about the need for charter reform (which generated a lot more interest nationally than in Chicago) and the response was basically (a) we've been working on charter reform for a while now (at least in terms of quality), (b) we're not sure that districts like Chicago can do charter-like things effectively at scale without, well, becoming charters (remember AAMPS?), and (c) the strike makes things harder for charter reformers because it suggests that the district is stuck and limited, and that changes at the district level require all out war.
Teachers Take Vote on New Contract This Tuesday New agreement secures wins for educators, parents and students CHICAGO – After months of negotiations that culminated in September with the first Chicago teachers’ strike in 25 years, teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians are expected to vote on whether or not to ratify the new contract on Tuesday, October 2. Voting will be conducted in all schools where CTU members work and will happen before and after work hours. Members can also vote at union headquarters, 222 Merchandise Mart, 4th floor. CTU President Karen Lewis, NBCT, is expected to cast her ballot at 8:00 a.m. at Dyett High School, 555 E. 51st Street, where students are protesting “apartheid-like policies,” due to a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) regulation that requires them to enter their school “through an unchained back door.” The popular South Side high school was targeted by the District last year for phase-out and eventual closure. After voting has concluded, the Rules and Election Committee will begin counting ballots after couriers have collected and delivered them to union headquarters by end of day October 3. The votes will be tallied and then certified by the committee. The results will be made public on October 4. In the meantime, CTU leaders are confident members will do what’s in the best interest of their families and their students. The new contract has a number of significant gains for teachers, paraprofessionals, clinicians and parents who have advocated for smaller class sizes and more resources for their children. Should members vote to ratify the contract it will force the Board of Education to: · Hire over 600 additional teachers in Art, Music, Phys Ed and other subjects – helping to make the school day better not just longer. · Maintain limits on class size – pushing back Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attempt to remove all class size limits and threats to crowd 55 students into a class. The CTU also won a small increase in funding to decrease class size and was also able to add a parent Local School Council member to the “Class Size Committee” for every overcrowded school · Make needed textbooks available to teachers from the first day of work and to students on the first day of school · Promote racial diversity in hiring at CPS – fighting against the dramatic loss of African American teachers in Chicago’s schools · Lower the focus on standardized testing by defeating merit pay and beating the percentage of our evaluations from test scores down to the legal minimum. This will allow more focus on teaching rather than high stakes testing · Provide more attention to students from their school’s Social Workers and Nurses – under new rules to lessen workloads and prevent the growth of paperwork for our already overstretched clinicians. · Establishes a Workload Committee to investigate work load sizes for social workers, psychologists, SPED teachers, classroom assistants and counselors in schools with high caseloads. It also provides funding to alleviate excessive workloads. · Spend any new state money to fund school personnel to hire up to 100 additional social workers and clinicians · Provide new protections for special education students, making class size violations grieveable.
CPS and CTU Have Been Heard - it’s Time for Charter School Parents to Have Their Say
52,000 charter school parents made the decision to choose a charter school – thousands of their representatives kick off “Parent Voice for School Choice” fair funding campaign with rally.
CHICAGO, IL – October 2, 2012 – Thousands of parents and community members will make their voices heard on October 2nd at a citywide “Parent Voice for School Choice" rally on October 2 at UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Road, to standup up for charter school students and launch a fair funding campaign. Doors open at 6 PM and the rally begins at 6:45 p.m.
Charter public school parents represent the largest group of parents supporting public school choice in Chicago. They will be calling upon the city’s leaders to ensure that other families have access to school choice, and that public school dollars follow public school kids to proven education options that work. “My child’s education deserves to be funded at the same amount as every student in the city. Anything else is just unfair,” said Rhonda Coleman, parent of a student at a Noble high school.
State law allows CPS to fund charter schools 25% less per-pupil than traditional CPS schools, and additionally, charter schools do not have access to the facilities or teacher salary budgets that traditional public schools have. This amounts to a funding burden that charter school teachers and students are unfairly forced to shoulder.
With 52,000 students enrolled in charter public schools today in Chicago and another 19,000 on waitlists, charter school student populations are growing and many believe it is time to address the funding disparity. “School choice is an essential part of school reform,” said Juan Rangel, CEO of the United Neighborhood Organization which operates a network of 13 charter schools. “Parents want choice. That means charter school funding must be fair and brought into line with all other public schools.”
Beth Purvis, CEO of Chicago International Charter School, a 16-campus charter network, also advocates for equity: “Charter public schools are open-enrollment schools that serve neighborhood children; anything less than equitable funding unjustly punishes families who have exercised their legal right to a public school education.”
School choice advocates from across the city will call on leaders to ensure every child has access to a quality public education. “It’s important for elected officials to know that constituents want fair treatment for their schools and better options in Chicago and across the state,” says Andrew Broy President of the Illinois Network of Charter schools.
Parents, alumni, teachers and leaders will rally the crowd, celebrating high-quality public school options like charter schools, as well as sharing their stories about the importance of school choice and equitable public school funding.