Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Strike is Over: Who Were the Targets? Rahm, Barack, and Randi

There were comments out there that the CTU was being pressured to settle by Randi and the AFT. No doubt. Get this thing off the front pages, FAST, before it infects teachers all over the nation even more than it has.

I know, in this time of unity and joy we should all unite, but I can't resist.

This strike was a revolt against ed deform on all levels, including the national leadership of the teacher unions. A careful observer at the AFT convention would have noticed the tension between the CTU and the Unity Caucus UFTers who opposed Chicago on school closings, charters and testing resolutions. I heard the expression "assholes" more than once from CTUers (I have a great video I have to dig up of a CTU retiree who smashed them to bits).

The strike was not only against Rahm, but Obama, and most importantly for us, against Randi and the AFT and Mulgrew and the UFT and where they have helped lead the union movement.

Ravitch on Karen Lewis tonight -
The union was fortunate in having Karen Lewis as its president. She was one of them. She had taught chemistry in the Chicago public schools for more than 20 years. She is one of the few--perhaps the only--union leader in the nation who is Nationally Board Certified, a mark of her excellence as a teacher.
Sorry, I can't resist this obvious, perhaps unintentional) comparison to you know who.

Even Joe Nocera in today's Times (and though far from perfect, he is the best of the lot on education) put to bed the idea that the ed deform movement has any value (see below) yet Randi has slavered to convince the elites that she wants the unions to be on board, almost apologizing for the kinds of action Chicago took – before they struck, that is.

Randi will slither out of this, but must it gall her that Karen Lewis is being raved about and has become a hero to teachers all over the nation -- along with Diane Ravitch. Will Karen be a threat to Randi nationally? I'm betting not for a long time due to the way the AFT is structured - the control Unity Caucus exerts over it.

There are going to be lots of blog posts and all sorts of articles all over the place so I'll let you find your own. I'm interested in comparisons between Chicago and the rest of the teacher union world, in particular here in NYC.

Contract details
The details are posted  online below for  review before voting. Included are pay scales, frequently asked questions and a thank you flyer to the parents and students of Chicago. The text will be voted on in a few weeks. http://www.ctunet.com/for-members/strike-central

Reality-Based Educator commented right out of the box tonight:

Chicago Teacher Strike Suspended

I couldn't be prouder of my fellow teachers.

They stood up to the corporate reformers, they stood up to Rahm "F---ing" Emanuel, they put the Obama education agenda on trial, they got people talking about class size and liberal arts and humanities classes and the absurdity of VAM and the damage poverty does to children.

Then they showed how democracy works by taking the extra two days to read over the contract in detail, talk about this with their colleagues and families, then call for a suspension of the strike.

The concern trolls in the corporate media hated that last part.

How dare they show how a real democratic operation works rather than operate as some top-down organization wherein the members do what the leadership wants!
As CTU said in a statement:
“Our brothers and sisters throughout the country have been told that corporate ‘school reform’ was unstoppable, that merit pay had to be accepted and that the public would never support us if we decided to fight. Cities everywhere have been forced to accept performance pay,” the statement said.
“Not here in Chicago. Months ago, CTU members won a strike authorization, one that our enemies thought would be impossible. Now we have stopped the board are imposing merit pay! We preserved our lanes and steps when the politicians and press predicted they were history. We held the line on healthcare costs. We have tremendous victories in this contract; however, it is by no means perfect. While we did not win on every front and will need to continue our struggle into the future, we soundly defended our profession from an aggressive and dishonest attack. We owe our victories to each and every member of this rank and rile union. Our power comes from the bottom up.”
Are you listening, Randi?
How about you, Mike?
I know you are.
Because what happened in Chicago must scare the shit out of you guys...
Joe Nocera actually wrote some good stuff today in the Times, being one of the first main-stream columnists to lay the myth of ed deform to rest (unlike Kristof and Brooks to name two. And Paul Krugman, where you on education - fear of having to slam Obama?)
The Chicago teacher strike exemplifies, in stark terms, how misguided the battle over education has become... City Hall is fighting to institute reforms no top-performing country has ever seen fit to use, and which probably won’t make much difference if they are instituted. 
 Yes, Nocera is one of the first to say what Diane and Leonie have been saying for many years. Actually the "reforms" will make a difference -- and have -- negatively.

But Nocera also gets this wrong:
The teachers are fighting for the things industrial unions have always fought for: seniority, favorable work rules and fierce resistance to performance measures.
He lumps these new union leaders in with the old union bosses. Their fight goes so far beyond narrow industrial bread and butter issues. Funny how I get criticized when I promote the idea of social justice unionism -- "stick to the issues that concern teachers" -- like kids and their parents don't concern teachers. And yes this contract we help up partly by teachers who felt the kids were shortchanged but read The Catalyst for details of the debates that took place inside the union yesterday and today and other good reporting.

You might also check out Richard Kahlenberg at The New Republic:

Can the Chicago Teachers’ Strike Fix Democratic Education Reform?

Whatever the particulars of the final resolution to the strike, the dustup will be successful if it shakes up the wrongheaded, yet increasingly bipartisan, sense that teachers and their unions are what ail American education. Students in Chicago and other big cities face significant challenges, including poverty and segregation and, yes, some incompetent educators. But Democrats need to get about the business of real education reform that addresses all of these questions—without demeaning the vast majority of teachers.
How interesting that the writer of Shanker's bio which pointed to how much of ed deform Shanker signed on to and promoted (abandoning the real fight against poverty as a cause of poor school performance and signing on to the "you can improve schools without resources or reducing class size but by improving teaching" essence of the deform movement.

Substance does not have the stories yet but check this one out:

Chicago you are not alone... World-wide support grows for Chicago Teachers Union strike

Below is a full news article:


Chicago teachers agree to end strike, classes to resume Wednesday


LIVE VIDEO — Chicago officials hold a news conference to discuss the end of the teachers strike.
By NBC News staff and wire services
Updated at 6:42 p.m. ET: CHICAGO -- Union officials have agreed to end the Chicago teachers strike, and classes will resume in the nation's third-largest school district, according to NBCChicago.com.
The Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates -- nearly 800 members -- voted to end the strike during a meeting at Operating Engineers Hall, on the city's south side.
The vote comes after delegates had a chance to review a contract proposal solidified over the weekend and means roughly 350,000 Chicago Public Schools students will head back to class on Wednesday.
The action, however, does not mean an automatic approval of that contract. Ratification of the contract requires a separate vote from the union's rank and file.
"We feel very positive with moving forward," said Karen Lewis, president of the teachers union, during a press conference. “We couldn’t solve all the problems of the world with one contract …  it was time to suspend the strike.”
Ahead of the vote, hundreds of parents had gathered outside the Chicago Board of Education to stand with teachers.
"Whatever decision they make today on the proposed contract, we're behind them," Erica Clark, a Chicago schools parent told reporters. "Parents are asking for the same things teachers are asking for."
Hundreds of parents says that they 'stand behind' striking Chicago teachers, as the union prepares to vote on a new contract proposal. WMAQ's Emily Florez reports.
Chicago Public Schools teachers walked off the job on Sept. 10 after more than a year of slow, contentious negotiations over salary, health benefits and job security. The teachers' previous contract expired June 30 and both sides weeks later rejected a report assembled by an independent fact-finder.
While leadership on both sides continued the back-and-forth of contract negotiations, thousands of teachers and their supporters for days took to the city streets in a massive show of solidarity.
On Monday, Emanuel and CPS attorneys filed a request for an injunction to force teachers off the picket lines, claiming the outstanding issues, as publicly stated by the CTU -- teacher evaluations and recalls -- weren't legal reasons for a work stoppage.
A provision added to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act last year prohibits teachers from strike on issues unrelated to economic matters; those involving pay and benefits.
A Cook County judge declined the mayor's request to hold a same-day hearing on the injunction request. Instead, that hearing would have been held Wednesday. With Tuesday's action by the House of Delegates, that hearing is no longer necessary.
The proposed contract includes the following:
  • The CTU wants a three year contract, which guarantees a 3 percent increase the first year and a 2 percent increase for both the second and third year. It also includes the option to extend the contract for a fourth year with a 3 percent raise;
  • CPS will move away from merit pay;
  • The board will hire more than 600 additional "special" teachers in art, music, physical education, world languages and other classes;
  • One half of all CPS hires must be displaced members;
  • CPS will evaluate teachers based on 70 percent "teacher practice" and 30 percent "student growth." Additionally, the first year of implementation will not harm tenured teachers and there is a right to appeal the evaluations.
This latest strike forced busy parents to find alternative care for their children. Many said they exhausted available vacation time. Others made use of the nearly 150 "Children First" sites that provided students with alternative programming and meals.
As the strike entered its second week, some frustrated parents became more vocal in their demand that both sides end the stalemate. A small group of parents on Monday marched outside CTU headquarters holding signs that read "If you care about the kids, go back to work" and "350,000 CPS Hostages! Let our children learn" and "Don't say you care, show it!"
NBCChicago.com staff and NBC's Sevil Omer contributed to this report.


  1. I was wondering when Randi would get her Hacks to disparage Karen Lewis.

    I only hope 30% doesn't really equal 100%.

  2. Please see Gene Robinson's column in the Washington Post from today "Stop Blaming Teachers":


  3. The CTU negotiators won a huge victory on the issue of what percentage of teacher evaluation would be based on VAM. While Rahm wanted more, 30% is the least amount allowed by state law. The law in question is Senate Bill 7 which was passed by the Illinois state legislature following the arrival in our state of Jonah Edelman as described in his now-infamous Aspen video. Senate Bill 7 requires local unions and boards of education to bargain a teacher evaluation system that has no less than 30% of value added measures. If the two sides cannot agree, it defaults to an Illinois State Board of Education plan that includes 50% of the evaluation based on VAM. Senate Bill 7 was supported by both state teacher unions - the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association, an affiliate of the NEA. The state union leaders pronounced the bill "teacher-led reform" and a national model. The CTU negotiators should be congratulated for bargaining the best evaluation procedure that the state law allows. The fight against that provision of Senate Bill 7 and other anti-labor provisions in Senate Bill 7 cannot be limited to contractual battles.
    -Fred Klonsky

    1. Thanks Fred for the background. As my follow-up post indicates there are people slamming this as a defeat but not taking into account certain realities. The CTU is much stronger not weaker and will live to fight these political battles. I think that Nocera slams ed deform is a huge change in the debate. It will be interesting so see how the strike affects education nation.

  4. I disagree with ednotes I believe that Karen Lewis or someone backed by Karen Lewis has a good chance to unseat Randi. There are many cities, Philadelphia, Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington,D.C, that are under siege by the reformers and the CTU has shown the way to fight back. The AFT while many delegates are from NY is a national organization and there is a good possibility that if several of the locals unite, then the/NYSUT/UFT delegates can be out voted. In NYC that is near impossible as Randi has incorporated the health care providers along with retired members to make the math too much to overcome.

    1. So let me clarify here. You need to know the numbers to get an idea of how the AFT works. NY State trumps all the other big cities combined. LA is not an AFT but NEA and sends very few people to the AFT. Washington has no presence and lots of internal issues. Right now they are lined up with Randi. Chicago sends at most 150 deleagtes (they only had 100 in Detroit). Unity sends 800 from NYC which was about a third of all the delegates and NYSUT -- think all the cities in the state that line up with Randi sends a batch that makes up almost half the total. Then Karen has joined the Progressive Caucus in the AFT which makes her a Vice President of the AFT.

  5. There are times when the truth is implicitly divisive, but this isn't one of them. From what I know, Randi/AFT called every CTU member on the first day of the strike and expressed and provided unequivocal AFT support, organizational assistance, and everything else that the CTU requested and needed. It is not contradictory and should not be problematic to applaud both Karen Lewis and Randi.

  6. I'm sure she did and the CTU people at the top do not speak badly of Randi and in fact one of them (not Karen) was defending Randi in a private conversation I had. There was a mantra that the support was appreciated but they were running things and would not let Randi jump in like she did in Cleveland, Washington, Detroit, etc. The CTU person felt Randi did what she had to do in those places because they were such weak unions, unlike the CTU. My response was what was done in NYC given the strength of the UFT. The CTU person sort of agreed.

    As we know there is what Randi says and what she does. The opposition from her people to the Chicago intitiatives on closing schools, etc. speaks volumes. I have video that I haven't published yet. Many CTU teachers said, "They automatically oppose anything we propose." I had to explain that this was policy not personal.

  7. My understanding is that the CTU has no strike fund. The true measure of AFT/ Weingarten support would have been a public pronouncement that the national union would step in to provide help to CTU members facing acute financial problems as a result of the strike, and to have done so should it have continued.


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