Inching Closer... Still Not There

The House of Delegates voted (symbolically).  The budget got passed (sort of).  CTU and CPS are making contingency plans in case this thing blows up.  New test scores came in (and were largely ignored).  What not to say to Latino colleagues who aren’t ELL teachers.  Can someone send in a picture of this Placencia character or is she imaginary (which would be sort of cool)? Plus lots more — and other things I’m sure I missed.  More to come as the day continues.  DELEGATE VOTE

Sides dig in as Chicago teachers strike looms AP:  Teachers picketed outside a district office Wednesday in the shadow of a giant inflatable rat as school board members inside authorized spending $25 million in the event of the first Chicago teacher strike in a quarter-century….

Vote shows Chicago teachers’ displeasure with longer-day rollout Tribune: The delegate vote was largely symbolic — union leadership already had been authorized to call a strike. An open-ended negotiating session with the district is scheduled for Thursday, and union delegates were asked to assess the longer-day plans at their schools and report back Aug. 30.

Chicago teachers contemplate strike, but stop short of setting a date WBEZ: Hundreds of Chicago Teachers Union delegates met Wednesday evening for an update on contract negotiations.

Teachers move closer to 10-day strike notice Catalyst: Though they were not required to, Chicago Teachers Union delegates voted to give their leaders discretion to issue a 10-day notice of intent to strike. If the CTU wants to strike on September 4, the first day of school, notice would have to be given by Saturday.

Vote shows Chicago teachers’ displeasure with longer-day rollout Tribune:  In an indication that the compromise over the longer school day did little to appease teachers, the Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates on Wednesday gave its president the OK to issue a 10-day walkout notice at any time.


Strike contingency plan could cost $25 million Sun Times: Chicago Teachers Union officials Wednesday charged that nine months of contract negotiations have only produced “very limited progress’’ and so far, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s longer school day is not a better school day.

Chicago school board approves $25 million for strike backup plan WBEZ:  If the Chicago Teachers Union decides to go on strike, it may not mean kids will be stuck at home or out on the street.That’s because the Chicago Board of Education is allowing Chicago Public Schools to spend up to $25 million on a backup plan.

CPS, union both prepare for possibility of teachers strike Sun Times: Chicago Public School officials Monday were crafting contingency plans to keep students busy in the event of a strike, while Chicago Teachers Union members hoisted signs to kick off a week of planned informational picketing outside schools.


Schools budget up for vote, final plan still uncertain WBEZ:  The Chicago Board of Education must approve its budget by the end of August. But the $6 billion plan set for a vote Wednesday could still change a lot.

CPS budget approved, but changes are expected Catalyst:  The CPS Board of Education approved a $5.7 billion budget on Wednesday, though Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley said he is sure it will have to be adjusted once the teacher contract is resolved. Despite the uncertainty, the budget had to be approved. State law calls for districts to have a budget in place by 60 days after the end of the fiscal year. CPS’ fiscal year ended June 30.

CPS Board Meeting WTTW: The Chicago Public Schools board approves a budget and a strike contingency plan. How will the new budget affect contract negotiations? Paris Schutz reports.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Despite test gains, ‘we have a long way to go’ Sun Times: Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday basked in the glow of a dramatic increase in high school test scores, but scoffed at the teachers union’s claim that it’s proof Chicago Public Schools don’t need a longer school day and year. ALSO:  Mayor again asks pastors for support on school issues WBEZ: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is again asking religious leaders to support the changes he’s making at Chicago Public Schools.Hundreds of pastors from across the city gathered inside Greater Harvest Church on the South Side this morning for a back-to-school prayer breakfast.Many of them have been

PSAE, ACT scores at Chicago Public Schools Sun-Times: PSAE, ACT scores at Chicago Public Schools. August 22, 2012 2:44AM. Reprints. Search to find Prairie State Achievement Exam and ACT scores for all Chicago Public Schools from 2001-12. . Online Database by Caspio. Click here to load this Caspio Online …

Illinois’ composite ACT scores hold steady at 20.9 WBEZ: Illinois students’ ACT scores have held steady this year. They’re also the highest of the nine states that administer the college entrance exam to all graduating high school students.The state’s composite score for 2012 was 20.9, the same as the year before.


Only the best Tribune (editorial) : Illinois students deserve the most effective teachers. In New York City this year, nearly half the teachers eligible for job-protecting tenure did not get it. Take a moment to absorb that astonishing fact.

Back to school list: things not to say to Latino English teachers White Rhino: Do you teach Spanish?    Are you available to translate during report-card pick up?

Special needs kids staying in traditional schools AP:  The high cost of educating students with special needs is disproportionately falling on traditional public schools as other students increasingly opt for alternatives that aren’t always readily open to those requiring special education….

College-Bound Latino Students At New High NPR: More Latino students are enrolling in college now than ever before, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center. But Latinos still lag behind other groups in preparing for and completing college. Guest host Viviana Hurtado discusses the report’s findings with Richard Fry of the Pew Hispanic Center and the College Board’s Jim Montoya.


6 former Illinois education officials face charges AP: Six former education officials from the Chicago area, including a former district superintendent and a Chicago Public Schools administrator, have been charged with corruption, authorities announced Wednesday. Cook County State’s …

Suburban superintendent stole thousands from impoverished schools: prosecutorsSun Times:  The former superintendent of the cash-strapped West Harvey-Dixmoor School District 147 was ordered held in lieu of $150,000 bail Tuesday for allegedly bilking thousands of dollars from the district and spending the money on steak and seafood dinners for his colleagues and trips for their families among other lavish items.

Education Pundits Parse the PDK/Gallup Poll PoliticsK12: A poll released by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup today reveals that while presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney gets the nod on the topic of public education among those identifying themselves as independents, President Barack Obama takes the lead among respondents overall.



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  • I'm preparing to go back to work on Monday and I'm really confused as to what is going on. I know the admin at my school was frazzled at the end of the year. Doing and redoing schedules...
    How is it at the Track E schools? Anyone want to share? I noticed on the CPS job website there are tons of those interim positions not filled for Track E or R schools? How is that extra time being covered?

  • In reply to displacedteach:

    Right now, at our Track E school, things are bad. You have Network Chief Placencia complaining about bulletin boards and people who wear jeans. You have the network mandating books to teach across the curriculum, including some Thomas Hardy and Silas Marner for 11th grade and a scholarly biography of Marie Montessori for 9th graders. Principals without contracts who are being tagged with the interim label so they can be changed at the whim of the Network Chief and, thus, cannot stand up to the powers that be. Let's also castigate the low quality of the REACH assessments that are tied to common core, while schools are still beholden to the PSAE. And of course, colleges want the ACT.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I'm sorry to hear that.
    I'm waiting for Monday. I know our assistant principal was tearing her hair out, trying to figure out this new schedule. I noticed an interim position (enhancement) for our school hasn't been filled. I'm just waiting to see what we're asked to do: cover lunches and recess, lost prep. Not to mention our leader told us that school starts at the same time for all (teachers and students), but that we're expected to come in early anyway (not that I don't).
    We didn't have the resources last year: no art, no computer lab teacher, part-time librarian. Too many special ed kids for one teacher, an overloaded social worker, and physical therapist. Can't wait to see what's going to happen this year!

  • In reply to displacedteach:

    Yes, at my school our start time is arrival and our end time is dismissal...not that we don't get there early and stay late anyways!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Check out this pic of Commandant Plascencia. Hubba hubba!

    While one can not clearly see from the side view, it can be inferred that a sizable to massive amount of cleavage could be seen from a full frontal photo. Compare and contrast her picture to the high collars of the officers and ROTC students. Wow.

  • The House of Delegates vote may have been unnecessary (as back in June the membership had already authorized Union leadership to call a strike), but it was still important.

    Despite that June vote in which those who voted were 98% in favor of authorizing the strike, there are still people who believe it is the radical leadership of the CTU that is strike-mongering, and not the docile membership. That view couldn't be any more wrong.

    Rather, it's 25,000 members working in the schools who are putting pressure on their Union leaders to stand firm against the Mayor's unreasonable and unfair contract proposals.

    And this is what the Mayor and his unelected Board of Education should know: In the next few days the delegates will meet in their schools with their teacher, clinician, and paraprofessional members to discuss the Board's current offer. On next Thursday, the House will meet again to act upon what the membership demands its delegates do (which may well be to set the date for a strike). This will be decided by the 25,000 working members, and not a "handful of radical unionists."

    Time is of the essence. If the Mayor truly does not want a strike, there must be some genuine breakthrough in the next few days.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    Well said Danny.

  • Dear Danaidh

    You are correct However the wild card may be
    legal action on the part of the Board to prevent
    a strike .it has been done before.
    I also know nobody has a true measurement
    of teachers feelings.If we go we will all go.

  • I am truly burned out on both the CPS budget and whether or not the CTU will strike. I will admit this much, CPS Board resolution 12-0822-RS10 passed yesterday, which authorized CPS to spend up to $25 million to effectively provide day care for children during any strike if among the most foolish resolutions ever passed by the Board. While I did testify yesterday relating to the budget, I did not discuss this expensive resolution because I read it only a short while before the Board meeting.

    CPS has zero legal obligation to provide these services to children in the event of a strike. In this instance, CPS, which has declared itself in a dire fiscal condition, cuts staffing for students with autism by 4.5%, has no money to pay sign on bonuses to fill the over 300 empty special education positions, and cannot even maintain a reserve fund until the end of FY 15, comes up suddenly with $25 million.

    I have no doubt some CTU members will be howling about this proposal as an attempt to break any strike. Here is how I see it. The City of Chicago may have some social obligation to provide the type of services to poor students in Chicago in the event of a strike that the resolution describes, but not CPS. In fact the entire $25 million should be coming from the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services and the City of Chicago, not CPS. But we have seen this before haven't we, when the City shifted the cost burden for police in schools over to CPS. It's part of a game being played over at City Hall to keep that budget contained.

    I was glad Alexander posted the Sun Times article on the indictment of Alex Boyd former Superintendent of West Harvey-Dixmoor School District 147. You want to talk corruption and schools please look at some of these south suburban districts. District 147 this year will spend over 1/2 a million dollars on its executive administration, meaning the Superintendent's office. This district only has three elementary schools and 1,429 students. It academic achievement level by grade 8 is well below the achievement level of CPS.

    This district is currently running a $2.1 million deficit on a total budget of about $19.6 million. District 147 is not alone in its fiscal crisis, many small south suburban districts are going down, and their property tax base is also collapsing. This story is not being covered for the most part in the Chicago metro area.

    Rod Estvan

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    In reply to Rodestvan:

    Simple. The BOE again shows its cards. Their overall REAL strategy is not education. It is baby sitting. Day Care. Nutritional supplementation. NOT EDUCATION.

  • In reply to M Wesoloskie:

    How true! Couldn't have said it better myself! Then the Board will blame the teachers because they had to spend money on daycare, once again "going 'round the mulberry bush".
    Money to provide two meals a day. Money to provide daycare, but no money to adequately staff schools, resources, supports, or materials.

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    In reply to displacedteach:

    A daytime police force...not world class educators...oh wait - they have world class ecucators at the Univeristy of Chicago Lab school where Rham's kids attend.....

  • In reply to M Wesoloskie:

    The only description I can give as to what is going on is to compare teaching in CPS to a horrible episode of "Iron Chef". The fast pace, running back and forth, grabbing ingredients trying to make a gourmet meal. Except CPS's ingredients are sub-standard, the utensils are broken or unavailable, and there is no sous chefs around to give you a hand. You're all on your own. And the judges are sitting there scowling at you because you're not producing.
    I love my students, I see their possibilities, I want the world for them, but I just can't do it all because there are so many of them, all really truly needy. Not to mention the fact, I'm being pulled in so many other directions: the administration, the Board, the testing, and so on.
    I'm sure the University of Chicago's "Iron Chefs" are making "great meals"!

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Thank you!! Incredibly insightful!! I wonder if you could post this on the cps obsessed site?

  • Dear Rod, the $25 million resolution is a CPS public relations stunt. When there is a strike, CPS will try to say they are looking out for students and parents and the CTU is not.

  • RP... EXACTLY!

  • Beautifully said!!!!!!!

  • Chicago Teachers Union Vs. Out-of-Town Billionaires

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    At last night's House of Delegates meeting, the officers presented to delegates this document outlining the substantive issues in contract negotiations and the most recent proposals on both sides.

  • In reply to JohnKugler:

    Page 9 says it all.

  • Headache299
    Just read page 9 and the CPS Board needs to go straight to hell!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    In some ways I thought that aspects of page 9 were more significant than the evaluation provisions on page 7. The performance evaluation Act drives much of page 7 and the CTU will only be able to limit to a degree aspects of that section. By the way Access Living opposed major components of the Act and wrote a white paper on it relating to special education teachers.

    But page 9 expands the authority of CPS in relation to forced overtime, this is a very dangerous section of their proposal. It could be used in many ways, of course we all know how rapidly CPS pays staff for extended day work now and the fact that there are teachers who will not do it because of how slow CPS has been in making those payments in the past. The CTU should be commended for putting this document out for all to see and the CPS would be wise to put out their version of a similar document.

    Rod Estvan

  • After reading the document I'm not sure I understand all of the union's positions. I certainly understand their opposition to the complete elimination of our work rules but I'm confused about others. I'm no expert but the wellness program seems like a pretty good way to keep health care costs down. Maternity leave (disability) is something that has been severely lacking and the only legit reason for banking sick days was in place of disability. I'm not a fan, in general, of "merit" pay but the plan that CPS has proposed has some good points. Higher pay for tougher to staff schools, educational attainment, hard to staff subjects, and a professional ladder all seem like pretty good things to me.

    Not only do these things seem good for it's members but they're also high scoring political points. The public hates the banking of sick days and the Suntimes has made a habit of "exposing" these payouts. Getting rid of the steps in our salary schedule seems like another concession that ends up as a positive. Many people in the public don't understand how teachers earn money just for getting a year older. With cost of living raises and the proposed lanes why doesn't the CTU spend it's time bargaining for the evaluation section of the plan to be worth as little as possible. Maybe it might just make the CTU look weak but I'm not sure. Compromise is necessary and some of these points seem like perfect places to give a little, saving our energy for the most important issues at hand. I sure hope that's what the union leadership is planning.

  • In reply to Evan Velleman:

    That was a loaded comment, I'm going to assume you are not a teacher. Where should i begin....
    Teachers do not "bank" sick days for the sole purpose of having a huge payout once they leave, retire or ...die. Just an example, a teacher w/ 5 yrs in and has 60 days of accrued sick leave, has had almost perfect attendance throughout each school year. I take my hat and sunglasses off to him/her because that is almost miraculous. Multiply that by 20+ years, of working w/potent child germs, various cold/flu viruses and then explain why is it shameful to receive payment for YOUR unused days?!
    I'm sure the male teachers would not appreciate the idea that pregnancy " the only legit reason for banking sick days" either....

    While the idea of " Higher pay for tougher to staff schools, educational attainment, hard to staff subjects, and a professional ladder" sounds really good on paper, it doesn't work in reality. The image that came to mind was that of neighborhood schools staffed w/ a revolving door of $$ driven teachers and still have numerous open positions. However selective enrollment schools would have an abundance of applicants and Principal favorites would be selected as the "leaders of the school" citywide.

    Addressing the issue of why Teacher A w/ 1 yr of experience should make the same amount as Teacher B w/ 20 yrs experience is easy. The 1st year teacher may be excellent(books/theory) but the experience you develop each additional year is priceless. I'm 12 yrs in and I will miss going to the 25+ teacher for advice and insight which goes beyond a textbook or watered down PD's. Now I see an increase of teachers who can regurgitate CPS lingo (rigor,modules,blah, blah) but lack the depth to explain how this can be reproduced in a classroom with 4 different levels, Sp.Ed kids w/o a teacher and a lack of resources.

    I'm not sure how this is going to turn out now that Emmanuel has decided to include himself in the negotiations. I can say if a significant part of that "document" becomes a contract, expect the next exodus of teachers out of CPS system. There are other ways to utilize a teaching degree other than w/children.

  • In reply to unknown teacher:

    Well your assumption is wrong. I am a teacher writing here under my own name as others who contribute here can attest. You seem to have made my point exactly: that union members and leadership seem to be more obstructionist than necessary. Where can we compromise? Where do we take a stand? By definition of collective bargaining we will need to compromise and the union's document seemed to be quite full of items to take a stand on and lacking areas of compromise.

    In terms of sick days maybe you've misunderstood me. I was speaking of short term disability in general and maternity leave in specific. The only legit reason to use more than ones yearly allotment of sick days was because of an extended illness (a birth for example is considered an illness in the US) and the lack of short term disability offered by CPS. Now, with a short term disability program there will be no need to bank sick days, unless you think they "belong" to you in some way other than being used for an illness. If I've misunderstood the suggested short term disability program please correct me.

    As for hard to staff schools if you think that money will enable teachers who can't hack in a tough environment suddenly able to perform you are woefully mistaken. In the toughest schools in the city, either you can do it or you can't. Those who can perform should be encouraged to stay by being paid for their rare talent and hopefully stem the already revolving door that plagues many tough schools in CPS. Other than this objection how are things like leadership positions for teachers and educational attainment bad things?

    To the issue of experience I said that the general public does not understand not that I don't. It's one of the major reasons why teachers get bashed publicly. Now, we could go on and on about how we know it's valuable but the general public will never accept it as a meaningful way to pay people. The CTU could gain some serious points in the general public by acknowledging this. Points enough that they'd be able to push hard to limit the amount that the REACH evaluations, and thus test scores, play into our pay. Something I think we all can agree is a terrible idea.

    There are certainly things in this document that I think the union *should* take a stand on. I doubt they'll be able to object to everything on the list and I was suggesting that prioritizing is important and potentially politically beneficial. If people have strategic reasons why this might not be the case I'd be interested to hear them.

  • In reply to Evan Velleman:

    And you do realize that short term disability does not cover time taken for adoptions, correct?

  • In reply to unknown teacher:

    Banking sick days is like banking nuts for the winter.
    I cashed in over 300 days when I retired after 41 years.
    Being a young teacher corresponded with being a young
    parent.Nobody at the Board cared about me or my kids
    there was no disability insurance available then.One
    car accident or serious sickness, that laid me up
    could have been disastrous. Banked sick leave was a
    protection for my family.
    When I started in 1969 there were 38 steps to full
    pay.Now i think it is 13 years.But the point is that a
    first year teacher works as hard as an old goat for less pay.
    Firemen Policemen and almost everyone else work a
    short probationary period, a couple of years, then they
    get full pay.I think we have been more than stupid to let
    this injustice exist so long.Three years probation then
    full pay.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    Where's the money coming from for the extra pay? Where's the money coming from for extra insurance? Two months ago there seemed to be a least some acknowledgement of tradeoffs and choices. Now it's wish lists from teachers, and the board hiring 500 employees with no obvious way of paying them beyond this school year.
    So full pay after a couple years, and plenty of insurance for your family. Gottcha. Anything else? How's did the twelve weeks of vacation work for you?

  • In reply to Donn:

    Why does everyone forget the word UNPAID right before the word vacation!???

  • In reply to district299reader:

    "UNPAID" is a slippery slope. That means that a group of people with a last reported average ACT of 19.5 have jobs starting at the equivalent of what, ~$60K?
    If you insist that your vacations are unpaid, then we overpay you for part time work.
    You get your time off because your students are needed as farm labor. Congrats to the union for keeping that going.
    It's not unreasonable that most of the public believes that you don't spend enough hours per year in front of students.
    The CTU can keep the top students who don't need extra time in school, and the bottom students who will only stay in school if the environment isn't too demanding.

  • In reply to Donn:

    I was just wondering what Abe Lincoln's ACT score was?

  • In reply to Donn:

    Why are ACT scores relevant again? A test I took when I was 17 is relevant why??? Why don't you average out the scores of all of the exams we took in order to be teachers, instead of a test we took when we were teenagers!

    Really? 60k?? We don't have a start pay of 60k! I've been a teacher for CPS for 5 years with a Master's degree and still don't make near 60k, get your facts straight!!!

    Part time!!! Ha! You're killing me here....I'm done with you Donn, I can't have argue with nonsense.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Until 1983 it was a layoff ,after that we banked pay earned
    over the 40 week year,without interest ,to be paid over the summer. every seasonal worker i know,went on the doll every winter.Our ten week layoff used to be a scramble to find work
    I know a lot of workers who get six weeks off every year,plus sick leave so it works out to eight years every year.
    please do not try a guilt trip on me.If your situation
    is intolerable do what people love to tell teachers,
    get a new job.You are right in inquiring where the Board gets
    the money to fund WHATEVER IT WANTS,instead of funding
    what the kids need.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    41 years? Obviously, you never taught writing!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I don't know if this is the situation for rbusch, but many individuals, particularly older folks often use adaptive technology to access their computers. I know voice-activated "typers" often result in a lack of spaces around commas and periods as well as strange sentence breaks.

    I would advise you not to use such flippant remarks as they often backfire and make the one using them look like a fool.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You are correct. But please remember that It is
    hard for me to use a computer.In fact if it wasn't .
    for spell check I would not be writing at all!
    Attacking the messenger is the sign of people
    who do not like the message.But thank you for the
    comment I will try to take my time

  • Are you aware that when you use up your sick days your insurance will stop after five months? I took a year maternity leave-unpaid even though I had ninety sick days. After five months I was dropped from the health and dental so I used my husband's insurance. I was advised not to use my sick days by a wise union rep who informed me of the insurance issue. This was at a school where three teachers died of breast cancer-two were sole support and the insurance was a big issue-COBRA is very expensive. This union rep called a meeting about this and brought up the existence of uncovered/friable asbestos in the school. He felt that the three women's cancer , who by the way were there the longest, was related to the asbestos at the school. I transferred so I do not know if the families sued or not.
    I do know that a teacher died of asbestos related cancer at a southside school and left a husband and young children. He did sue. One of the results of the lawsuit was that the janitors could no longer buff the asbestos tiles-remember the buffers in every hallway during school hours? Your sick days may be more important than you think.

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