Contingency Planning

Lots of news today — though not necessarily tons of information. I’ve chunked it as follows:  Strike No Strike (is it gonna happen or not?), Contingency Plans (what to do if it does happen), Merit Pay, Steps and Lanes (what they’re arguing about), and Miscellaneous.  What else?  Lots of interesting comments and suggestions about my Brizard post below, and a smattering of comments about how the first week has gone (which would make you think it was all horrible but I’m guessing that’s just self selection).  Tell me more!


Teachers union files unfair labor practice charge against Chicago WBEZ: The Chicago Teachers Union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the school district. It comes just days before teachers could walk out on strike. The complaint stems from the paychecks teachers received at the end of August.

For the Record: Injunction to stop a strike? Catalyst:  A section of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, added to state law during the 1990s, indicates that if a teacher strike “is or has become a clear and present danger to the health or safety of the public” the employer can ask for a legal injunction to stop the strike.

Chicago braces for possible teachers’ strike — its first in 25 years CNN: The Chicago Teachers Union said it filed unfair labor practice charges against the Chicago Public Schools this week. The charges, filed with the state labor relations board, come after changes in working conditions, the union said Thursday.


District picks schools, churches to stay open if teachers strike WBEZ: With just three days left before teachers could go on strike, Chicago Public Schools announced that it will keep 144 school buildings open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for meals and other “engaging activities” in the event of a walk out.

CPS releases list of 144 schools open in case of teachers strike Sun Times: Chicago Public Schools officials on Thursday announced the specific 144 school sites that will be open on a limited basis for students in case of a strike. The 144 schools will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays and provide breakfast and lunch.

Strike options for parents Time Out Chicago Kids: If you’re a parent of a kid in Chicago Public Schools, you’re probably scrambling right now, trying to figure out where to send your child next week, should the teachers go on strike. The district has set up a website with information on its “Children First” program …

59 churches to welcome students in case of Chicago teachers strike Sun-Times: Chicago pastors say 59 church doors will be open as safe havens for children in the event of a CPS strike.

Day care a costly potential option for parents of CPS students Sun Times: Taking the kids to a friend’s house or teaching them their ABCs at home might be options for some parents of Chicago Public Schools students as a possible strike by CPS teachers nears. Other parents, though, may get an unwanted lesson in economics if teachers strike.


The Chicago Teachers Union Strike Has Been Building For Awhile ChicagoMag: A crucial negotiating point between the CTU and CPS involves teacher rehiring and tenure. In the abstract, loosening restrictions might sound appealing, but a series of controversies over the firing of seemingly effective teachers has made negotiations much harder than they might look.

Headline here Chicago Sun-Times (opinion): Shame on the Chicago Teachers Union for resisting merit pay. Why would anyone who is truly trying to excel be opposed to the expectation that they perform the job for which they have been hired?

CPS board president joins contract talks with teachers union Tribune: Negotiations started at 10 a.m. and went into the evening, days before Monday’s strike date set by theChicago Teachers Union. Talks will resume Friday and go through the weekend if necessary.

Brizard: Teacher Contract Talks ‘Close To One-Yard Line’ CBS: The Chicago schools CEO said talks have been tense, but both sides are making progress.

Karen Lewis’s World Public League Blog: They want to get paid more for doing the same work. Or getting paid based on years of service not on how good you really are. It would be like giving A’s to all seniors automatically just because they have been in school for 4 years.


Chicago Is Failing Half Its Population: The Young Are the Victims Huffington Post: As I watched my son and his classmates graduate last June at the gorgeous auditorium theater in downtown Chicago, I realized how incredibly lucky we had been in our experiences with Chicago Public Schools.

South Loop Parents, Alderman Want More Access to Good Schools for Neighborhood Children ChicagoTalks:  The lack of a South Loop neighborhood high school could push more families than Jacoby’s out of the city. “Middle class families are leaving the area,” said Ald. Robert Fioretti (42nd).

Suit claims CPS teacher was fired over class size complaints Tribune: A former Chicago Public Schools teacher is suing the district and the principal of a school on the North Side after she was allegedly bullied, fired from her position and put on a “do-not-hire list” because she complained to the Chicago Teachers Union about her class size.

Bus troubles Tribune (letter): Our grandchildren attend Chicago Public Schools. It is our tradition to go to their bus stops to see them off the first day of school. What has also now become a tradition is the expectation that buses will be late the first day and beyond.

Don Moore’s legacy CMW:  Don Moore’s life had an impact far greater than many more famous and powerful people:  more than anyone, he was responsible for creating and defending Chicago’s Local School Councils, while demonstrating their value as the most effective vehicle this city has seen for improving urban education.


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  • CPS STAKEHOLDERS: The Chicago Public Schools will be closed starting Monday, September 10, 2012. There will be 144 "Babysitting First" schools open from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm if you need 4 hours of babysitting srvices (two meals included), out of the 675 Chicago Public Schools. The "Babysitting First" schools can serve up to 150,000 CPS students out of the 350,000 CPS students who will be affected. You can find the list of these schools at You can call CEO Jean-Claude Brizard at 773-553-1500 to let him know how you feel.

  • The Charter schools are open. Class will be held in 119 schools.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    But not for all the kids that the charters schools dumped out of their system because the charters gave up on them...

  • The "child first" site for Little Village Lawndale High School is Farragut? What happened to recognizing gang lines and protecting the safety of kids? Any LVLHS student going to Farragut is taking a huge risk.

  • I guess you are assuming the teachers will strike even if progress is made over the weekend? Seems strange to be so certain of it during heavy negotiations unless the CTU wants to do just out of spite.

  • The CTU just held a press conference at 6:00 pm and said there was still no real settlement to stop a strike. All CPS stakeholders should know that it is Mayor Rahm Emanuel who has caused things to be where there are. Thanking you in advance.

  • Are you at the bargaining table? It seems to me that only someone at the bargaining table or a blithering idiot not-it-all would say something like this. So if you are at the table, tell us what the issues are and who's taking what position. The public deserves to know, and as I am assuming you are not a blithering idiot and have true knowledge, speak up. The world want to know.

  • Brizard has to be persona non grata at 125 s. Clark and it time for him to go. Vitale is now attending negotiations (not Brizard), Becky Carroll is speaking for the district (not Brizard), Bird Bennett is running day to day (not Brizard) and Rahm's team is coordinating with community and the board (also not Brizard). What is left for him to do? Can we finally call a spade and spade and let him go? I predict nothing would change. In fact, it might be better.

    The point about the the LSD and negotiations being Rahm's mess is partly true, but Brizard is still the CEO and even if you buy into the fact that Rahm controls the public debate, take a look at what Brizard actually controls and how bad he is at even a sliver of his actual responsibilities. He has been on the job nearly 18 months and there still isn't a strategic or operational plan nor a vision for what CPS is to be under his leadership. His people have no idea what theory of action to coordinate around. He has gone through staff like toilet paper after a trip to Mexico. He has totally botched the relationship with principals (who despise him) and more than 98% of teachers disapprove of the job he is doing. The implementation of the Common Core, new teacher evaluation system and especially the Longer School Day have all been a mess. The contingency plan is a total joke and shows he can't plan his way to the grocery store. Finally, he is the reason negotiations even got to this point. He sat around doing nothing (apparently not even attending the negotiations) while assuming the fact finder would save his lazy tail. When that didn't happen it showed the utter lack of seriousness and preparation Brizard has put into the single most important part of his job in year 1. Brizard has demonstrated utter incompetence as a leader and a manager.

    Regardless of whether a strike happens next week, Brizard has failed Chicago. I am a CPS parent, an administrator and a believer in the district. I know nobody wants more turnover at CEO, but we are never going to fix this without a real leader. Instead the leadership vacuum lets the bureaucrats at 125 s clark fight it out, resulting in a completely disjointed set a commands that frustrate principals and teachers and create a culture of confusion.

    I am going into a weekend where I am scrambling to figure out what ifs for Monday. I shouldn't be in this situation. Either the negotiations should have been done already or the contingency plan should have been more than a last minute attempt to not look totally unprepared. We need either a leader and/or a manager at the top. Rahm will be Rahm, but that should be no excuse for failing to do ANY part of the job of the CEO. Brizard must go.

  • In reply to d299reader:

    Dear d299reader, AMEN. I totally agree!

  • In reply to d299reader:

    Yeah, the contingency plan is just the biggest form of bad planning I have ever seen, a complete waste of time and money. I would like to see a CEO with some real vision, and a BOE elected by the people.

  • In reply to tonyloeb:

    This has been said, but I think it is very ironic that they are limiting the staff to kid ratio in contingency plan at 30 students. They don't expect to handle more than that but our classrooms can. The other irony is they are choosing schools with air conditioning. I guess they think those things are important since they will be running things, but not important when teachers have classes. Ugh!

  • In reply to d299reader:

    Totally agree. It is clear that heads need to roll for CPS to move FORWARD. Brizard for dereliction of duty. Winckler for the negotiation debacle. Cheathem for demoralizing principals and her total mismanagement of implementing the LSD, REACH or common core. Clearly these three strikes, coupled with her failure as a chief, should put her out. You could probably add Gehring and Carroll, just for general incompetence.

  • In reply to westofwestern:

    What was it Madame Cheatham said about CPS Special Ed teachers? I think it was reported that she said that they have too low of expectations for their students. I bet negotiations went swell after that comment.

  • In reply to katniss:

    If Ms. Cheatham did say this, which is an unfair generalization about special education teachers, it needs to be prefaced by the fact that CPS as a school district has had low expectations for disabled students for a long time. When programs are repeatedly cut, aides denied, assistive tech evaluations can take 6 months and result in virtually no assitive devises for children, low expectations for students with disabilities can become infectious?

    Low expectations for students with disabilities are usually not the reason someone becomes a special education teacher, low expectations are created by the environment these teachers find themselves in. After several years of teaching at Calumet HS I must admit my expectations for the outcomes of my students clearly dropped. I never stopped trying but my expectations clearly declined, in order to save myself I had to eventually stop teaching really difficult urban students.

    But yes there are some special education teachers with relatively low academic expecations for their students. This is driven to a degree by knowing the kind of intense services that these students may need and you simply don't have the time to provide and a longer day won't solve that problem. Teaching urban kids with disabilities is not an easy job and having a child with a disability attending CPS is also not a great experience for parents either at many schools.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    In particular regard for the Board's support or lack their of for special education teachers and ultimately special education students there is not a single mention in the "Make a teacher" packet of 24 pages dealing with special education. Similar to the fact that there has been little discuss of special education in general in the contract talks or guidelines for the REACH performance tasks. Maybe we would be able to consistently have high expectations if we actually got support and resources instead of constantly being forgotten about until the last minute.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I have low expectations of my disabled students. This is because, as you suggested, I get no resources. IEP teams write minimal IEP's so that they don't have to do as much work. I understand that they are trying to create a workable caseload but I think we should go the other way. Write good, lengthy, appropriate IEP's with a lot of services so that CPS has to acknowledge when it cannot meet the needs of huge caseloads. I saw an IEP the other day with 5 minutes of consultation per month with the Social Worker. What is the point in that? I am a Social Worker, could I provide anything in 5 minutes to help a teacher. I also see kids thrown into rooms in holding pattern until real placement is found. They do not recieve services in this case. I saw a classroom that did not have a special education teacher for a year, while special education students continued to be placed there. If we keep rising to the occasion and provide crappy service(because we don't have time for quality service) then administration sees it as working. Hey you acheived 90% compliance, even though your caseload is not manageable. UGH

  • In reply to Todd Siegel:

    Yup, I have to agree in that department. Each year, I start the school year expecting a lot from my special education students, but it wanes greatly as the year goes by because we have no support.
    It's only the first week of school and I've already lowered the bar, not because I personally want to, but this better/longer day has already gotten to my students.
    My caseload has gotten bigger and I have many more students with emotional disorders versus learning disabilities. There is no protocol being followed for my students with behavioral management plans because no one is around: they're all doing recess/lunch duty for 75% of the day.
    These kids know it and are taking full advantage of it. Previously, if a student refused to come to class, wandered the halls, or had a meltdown during "enrichment", security would pull them. But now security is outside for most of the afternoon supervising recess ( a time when my kids are melting down). So I'm the one chasing them through the halls. Meanwhile, my students who have learning disabilities are sitting in classes with no support.
    When my EMBD kids do come to class, I'm lucky to get 15 minutes of learning time in an hour. So as not to make waves, my kids with emotional disorders have computer time. That way I can actually teach my other students. This year especially, I am more warden, disciplinarian, and "hall chaser" than I am teacher.
    Go CPS, keep doing what you're doing! A whole lost and wasted population of children, but I'm a greedy teacher, what do I know!
    BTW... Mike Klonsky posted the "Children First" manual for supervisors (I want to see how well that goes over for some of my students):$6wU9GSUcqtd9hs3TFeZCn0vq69IZViKeqDZhqNLziaXiKG0K_ms4C2keQo54&CONTENTTYPE=application/pdf&CONTENTDISPOSITION=strikeguide.pdf

  • Evanston Review compares starting, max salaries for CPS and surrounding districts

  • The Chicago teacher who ate cafeteria food every day for a year and wrote a book about it has quit her job

  • Illinois charter school leader describes how labor and management can come to agreement

  • Board, mayor force first public schools strike since 1987 on Chicago... Union leaders promise to continue negotiations through the weekend

  • Rahm al Ghoul is shit-talking the teachers.
    Nobody in their right mind would co-sign on so obvious a fail.
    How about separating the ones who know how to behave and want to learn from the others who show up just to f--- it up for everybody else?
    Send the criminals to the charter schools and let the decent, want to learn kids attend regular CPS...
    Bet your ass test scores will climb by leaps and bounds and criminal activity in/around schools will decline.
    Of course the big money demo-commiecrat contributors, fund-raisers and kick-back artistes extraordinaire hiding behind the curtains at the charter schools, will scream as if their souls were snatched from them through the orfice in their hind parts if such an "unfair" thing were done to them.
    Whoops! Oh sorry! That'll f--- up Rahm's plan to bust out the teachers and steal their pension money from them. You know Chicago politicians can't stand the thought of a pot of money they can't get their claws on.
    Public education for profit + funny arithmetic x money kicked back for political war chests = tax payers getting shit on.
    Follow the money...
    But alas, this is the new normal in Chicago.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Did you take your meds this morning, honey?

  • Who’s worse? Kate Grossman or Mary Mitchell?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Why would you post this mean bu meaningless kind of trash talk -- "Who’s worse? Kate Grossman or Mary Mitchell?" -- without even giving a reason? Think: who would possibly want to read this kind of comment?

  • In reply to chicago:

    here's the motivation -- Editorial: If Chicago teachers strike now, it’s the union’s bad call - Chicago Sun-Times

    "No issue still to be negotiated justifies Chicago Public Schools teachers striking on Monday."

  • Headache299
    Dr. Michael Hudson mentions Rahm Emanuel on the subject of Fictitious Capital at

  • Editorial: If Chicago teachers strike now, it’s the union’s bad call - Chicago Sun-Times

    "No issue still to be negotiated justifies Chicago Public Schools teachers striking on Monday."

  • Headache299
    Same Sun-Times Teacher Trashing, different day
    The ability to keyboard Command C and Command V seem to be the only writing requirements for the Sun-Times editorial staff.

    Call Jim Kirk, Sun-Times editor in chief, or Tim Knight, publisher & CEO, at 312-321-3000 and tell them to stop their steady spoon feed of teacher trash talking.

    You might also tell CEO Tim Knight, former corporate attorney for Wall-Street law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, to report on exactly whose interests he is paid to promote.

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