Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Chicago Rules...

.... For Firing Teachers

.....has been circulating on ICE-mail (posted on Norms Notes.) No one knows the scene there better than George Schmidt. He comments here.

Chicago gave up seniority in hiring when the Chicago Teachers Union supported corporate "school reform" (and the original mayoral control model of governance) in 1995 during the debates over the changes in the Illinois School Code that were finally called the "Amendatory Act."

The details morph from year to year, but the drive since 1995 has been to create as large a number of "at will" workers in the school system as possible. This was one of the major dialectical thrusts of mayoral control from the beginning, and still is. With each passing contract (and each "reorganization" of each "failing" -- er, "underperforming" -- school) the pool grows larger.

The collaboration of the unions in the destruction of the bases of unionism here in Chicago is now a matter of history, although only Substance has reported it in detail. The AFT local here (the Chicago Teachers Union) just added a few more nails into the coffin of seniority rights in the new contract. But the nails had been driven in since 1995, under both the "old guard" (United Progressive Caucus) leadership (1995-2001; 2004- present) and the "reform leadership" of Debbie Lynch (2001-2004).

The executive model of governance, at the citywide level via mayoral control and at the school level via dictatorial principals' control, requires as many "at will" workers as possible, and as few true worker rights as possible. It's a mistake, in my opinion, to demonize some jerk like Jack Welch, since the policy he's teaching is being thrust on cities nationally (wherever the majority of children are minority and poor), an attack on teachers, and in most of those places there is no Jack Welch (but instead a committee of anonymous Chicago Boys types) to do the dirty work.

Strumming through some back issues of Substance (www.substancenews.net) can give you some of the details. But I'm going to have to write a book about it (after we reprint "The AFT and the CIA" and make some publication costs back on sales) to give people the full flavor. These people plan carefully and have a thousand bullshit versions of why it's "best" that way. They also exchange PR people to hammer you with "bad teacher" stories. That's one of the reasons why I warn people not to use the enemy's phrases -- like "Rubber Room".

George N. Schmidt
Editor, Substance

www.substancenews.net (archives at www.substancenews.com)


Anonymous said...

I'm looking at the 2nd para in the post, beginning with "The details morph from year to year" and am compelled to tell you that RW says Klein has been pushing that model for years. She says she negotiated full job security in the 2005 contract, she stopped him then and again in the 2006 contract. (I'm paraphrasing from a written text of hers.)

RW says bringing up this Chicago model of firing teachers is "fearmongering."

If a president of a union continues to think, or at least tries to portray to us that any part of any new contract is sacrosanct, she needs to question her skills. Especially with a track record of givebacks like hers.

RW likes to blame things on Norm and on ICE, but this Chicago model was first passed around by another group: TAG, whose members have been so DISmembered by the precious contract RW is so proud of. As an ATR myself, I posted it on ICEmail not out of fearmongering, but out of actual fear, that we who are now ATRs won't have any job in 2 years.

Not with this track record, and not with her intrests turned to other job offers at the national level.

ed notes online said...

Considering what has occurred, fear mongering is the right thing to do. It alerts teachers to the potential damage that can be done by the union itself and indeed may serve to keep them honest and unable to as easily sneak stuff by as was done in the 05 contract. I still believe the 06 contract would have been much worse if not for our fear mongering.