James goes on to look at the positive aspects politically - what wasn't won in the contract can be won. ICE blog.
GRADING THE CHICAGO STRIKE IS NOT EASYPeople have been asking if the teachers who were on strike for seven school days in Chicago won. It is a difficult question to answer. On the one hand, in their tentative agreement teachers gained a decent salary increase; they fought off merit pay while keeping their salary steps and differentials; hundreds of laid off teachers will be rehired; and they won an appeals procedure for adverse ratings as well as an anti-administrative bullying provision. These are solid gains that more than likely would not have happened without a fight.On the other hand, the fundamentals of privatization/school deform were not changed. School closings can continue so teachers remain as scapegoats. The Chicago Teacher’s Union agreed to cut the time their Absent Teacher Reserves are given to find a new job in a different school from ten months to five after they are excessed because of school closings/downsizing. Since their mayor plans on closing many schools and opening up more charter schools, many teachers could lose their jobs. CTU did get the administration to agree that half of the new hires will come from the pool of laid off teachers who were rated highly. In addition, the new tentative contract allows for 30% of teacher ratings to be based on student scores on standardized tests. This is the minimum allowed by Illinois state law but rating teachers based on student test scores is junk science and the strike could not stop it. There is also no solid provision in this contract to limit class sizes.
Summary of contract gains won through the strike by Steven Ashby
I've gotten requests from friends across the country to summarize what was won for students in this contract. I pulled this first part from the union's website, and also quickly wrote my own summary of gains for teachers (which are also gains for students, as we know, good working conditions are good learning conditions.) I thought I'd share to this list. This leaves out, of course, the extremely important less tangible gains: the transformation of 20,000+ teachers into activists, the CTU as the most member-driven, militant teachers' union in the country that is now a national model for organizing, the dramatically increased bonds with community and neighborhood groups, etc.....Steven (Ashby)What did we win through the strike that benefits our students?
- CPS must hire over 600 additional teachers in Art, Music, Physical Education and other subjects—helping to make the school day better, not just longer.
- The contract would maintain limits on class size—pushing back Mayor Emanuel’s threats to remove all class size limits and crowd 55 students into a class. We also won a small increase in funding to decrease class size and were able to add a parent LSC member to the class size committee for every overcrowded school, giving teachers a way to continue organizing and fighting on this issue with parents as allies.
- Needed textbooks will be available to students on the first day of school.
- Promoted racial diversity in hiring at CPS—fighting the loss of African American teachers in Chicago’s schools.
- Lowered the focus on standardized testing by beating the percentage of our evaluations from test scores down to the legal minimum. There will be more focus on teaching rather than testing.
- Provides more attention to students from their school’s Social Workers and Nurses. New rules will lighten overburdened clinicians’ workloads
- Provides a pool of funding for social workers, psychologists, Special Education teachers, classroom assistants and counselors in schools with high caseloads.This is FAR from enough. The strike, unfortunately, is NOT the end of the fight for the schools Chicago’s students deserve. We will have to continue to work with parents, students and community organizations to demand all students have access to the arts, world language, gyms and libraries. Our contract alone cannot stop the Mayor’s plan to close over 100 schools or force the Board of Education to stop starving schools in low income neighborhoods by denying them air conditioning, libraries, playground facilities or the resources they need. We could not have won this strike without our allies in the community and we will need to keep working with them as we continue a struggle for Educational Justice in Chicago.Plus, I would add --· 7% raise over 3 years, Board offered 2% over 5 years (PSRPs higher, 4%, 2%, 2% - Paraprofessional and support related )· No merit pay -- Emanuel wanted this badly· No increase in health care costs -- Emanuel wanted 2% increase· Keep steps and lanes, so experienced teachers and those with master's degrees earn more -- Emanuel wanted this gone.· Less time on paperwork, more teacher control of their lesson plans -- this received massive signs of relief and applause at Tuesday's CTU delegate meeting· More experienced teachers in the classroom, half of new hires must be laid off experienced teachers -- Emanuel wanted principals to have total power to hire only fresh-out-of-college, lowest-paid teachers, with no union history.· Anti-bullying language in contract to give the teachers more ammunition to respond to bullying principals· Evaluations include 30% standardized testing, which is state law -- Emanuel wanted far more· Unpaid labor with longer school day reduced from 20% to 3-4%· Board tried to eliminate definition of a "grievance" -- they were stopped; and disciplinary suspensions banned· $250 annual reimbursement for teachers buying classroom supplies· Teacher lunch has to occur within the same schedule as students; must be 45 minutes with no work responsibilities -- Big change· All students and teachers on same length school year, no more Track E and Track R schedules· Board can no longer cancel raises based on "financial emergency" as did in 2011 with 4% bargained raise.· Contract 3 years, ends in midst of mayoral election campaign -- Emanuel wanted 5 years· Previously won -- 500 new teachers (instead of unpaid labor) for longer school day· Previously won -- 7 hour longer school day, not 7 1/2 hours, in elementary schoolsThe complete summary is at: