Tuesday, October 9, 2007
.... 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
www.substancenews.net (archives at www.substancenews.com)