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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

CTU opens strike headquarters

On Saturday, the Chicago Teachers Union began using a Teamster City building to distribute strike signs and union clothing. The union also held a press conference where parents and students spoke in support of the teachers.

Becky Malone of 19th Ward Parents (pictured) said she was “sick of hearing that anyone beame an educator to make a lot of money.”

She asked: “Why is it the union had to threaten a strike so they could get such sweeping concessions" like desks for school psychologists and textbooks on the first day of school?

Union negotiators reported there was little progress in contract talks.

Drew Heiserman, a TEAM Englewood math teacher, says many teachers are of the opinion that CPS concessions on issues like teacher evaluations could avert a strike – even if there isn't a pay raise proportional to the longer school day. “What I have heard from lots of teachers (is that although) they've talked about a big raise, like 15 percent, we would happily give up a lot of that for a better day for the students and more respect,” Heiserman said.


Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

As a CPS teacher , I for one

As a CPS teacher , I for one would give up the raise for less required testing. I work in a track E school in the Garfield-Humboldt Park network and we have spent most of our days since starting in August on testing. The city wide required testing of REACH and MAP are a joke. We have found tons of errors on the REACH testing and assessments and no one can or wants to answer our questions. For the MAP testing there was no clear directions on how to administer the assessment for the bilingual classrooms since the district did not purchase all of the testing in Spanish or other languages. Our Kindergarten students MUST take the test in English while they are learning totally in Spanish. How is this fair to the student and teachers (since this assessment is part of the teacher evaluation)?

Also, in our network the 3rd - 8th grade students have these ARS 17 tests which have been administered so often that we don't even have time to teach the skill before we have to assess the students.

Please give me less money and redefine the purpose and timing of all these assessments!

Hey teacher wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Totally Agree

I could not agree more. I am more than happy to be able to teach and allow my students to truly enjoy school. The REACH performance task was a joke, especially for bilingual . And Kindergartners that have never even used a computer were expected to navigate the NWEA test? Please. I am not worried about a raise at all... just let us teach!

George N. Schmidt wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

REACH, NWEA, DIBELS and the absurdity of CPS

My sons are not doing anything that will contribute to REACH. Sam is in 6th grade and Josh in second grade. REACH, DIBELS and NWEA are just the latest (and final) desperate attempts by the plutocracy to reduce the complex reality of educating human children to the oversimplifications (and dangerous mismeasures) of so-called "standardized" testings.

Twelve years ago, my own career as a CPS teacher was "ripped untimely" from me (as Sharon and I put it) because, according to Paul Vallas, Chicago's daily newspapers (they joined forces in the same day to call for my firing in editorials), and the ruling class because I had published the absurd CASE tests in Substance after they had been given in January 1999. The Board voted at its August 2000 meeting to fire me for that First Amendment effort, and the federal courts upheld their right to do so, saying at the time "Copyright trumps First Amendment." So, I became the only teacher in America ever first for "copyright infringement." That's how stupid things had become.

But nothing in Judge Posner's odious 19-page Seventh Circuit decision gutting the Bill of Rights was nearly as stupid as the questions on the CASE tests that our students had to answer in January 1999, and which we published so the world could see (Transparency, anyone) just how bad those tests were. That was after I had a 28-year career as an inner city teacher in Chicago's most dangerous and challenging public schools.

We have never looked back. The tests are inherently flawed, and now such test (the latest iteration of the same generic stupidity, "Common Core") can be allowed to reduce the vastness of teaching children (and children's humanity) to the "bottom line" on a spreadsheet or some stupid summary in Power Point.

So the fight goes one. We should be boycotting these tests, and forcing full transparency in all tests (after they have been given) at every state that claims to be doing "reform." Instead, from DIBELS to the latest "Common Core" sludge, we have continued to go in the opposite direction. But now we are drawing a big line, and it's going to be more and more fun.

I sat and watched the seven members of the "Chicago School Reform Board" vote to fire me at their August 2000 meeting, then listened to Paul Vallas deliver one of the more hypocritical speeches of his odious career justifying it all. We never looked back, but, sadly, Chicago has had to endure 12 more years of this nonsense, in part because my brothers and sisters in the reporting trade never demand that all the tests, upon which so much rests, be "fully transparent" to all people once they are used.

Why? Because every one of those tests, from DIBELS to the ACT, collapses when it is fully published. DIBELS has nothing to do with how children of that age learn to read. If anything, it is counter productive because it emphasizes nonsense rather than content (and human motivation; a key). And down there is the never never land of the EPAS, the ACT, once examined, proves to be a silly example of the rewards of two things: (a) middle class knowledge and (b) test prep (the more expensive, the better).

We talked about "ripped untimely" deliberately.

When I taught MacBeth to Chicago high school students, I taught that MacDuff was the real "hero" of the play. And you should have seen the look on MacBeth's face when he learned about that Caesarian after Burnham Woods arrived...

Well, if you've ever taught Shakespeare to real Chicago kids, you know the rest. And if you haven't, you can always calm yourself with a spreadsheet, some bottom line feeding, and a Power Point proving the latest iteration of your corporate reform nonsense — before hiding under the sheets and getting gooey with that well read edition of Atlas Shrugged they gave you in high school because you were such a bright young man.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Don't cave, CTU!

I just hope that, because we are now down to the final hours, that our Union leadership doesn't cave in on important issues. It's not about the money; it's about the language and the bad situations that they put our kids in. Is there any wonder we are not a first-rate school system? We are managed by paper-pushers who long to preserve their administrative positions (and even expand their departments) when the people who really work with the children are forced to do more with less!

Don't cave, CTU! Solidarity! Let's do this right! Let's make sure our kids get the resources and classrooms that they deserve! Let's make sure that they bullying of teachers and employees stops! Let's go back to those better days when teachers taught, and principals supported them, instead of micro-managing and flooding them with unnecessary paperwork. Let's end the age discrimination that is evident when they routinely turn around schools to rid themselves of veteran teachers, only to hire TFAs who have no intention of serving these kids for more than two years.

We've come this far! Let's make this meaningful!

George N. Schmidt wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Substance editor gets picture in Sun-Times

It's not every Sunday I can be reading the Sun-Times and nod (a) that the stories are pretty good and (b) that one of the pictures is great.

The story on pages three and four gets most of the facts about the CPS negotiating team straight. Hopefully they'll report more about why and how Cawley was dumped later. They also get some insider information about the CTU team that we wouldn't have published in Substance without talking it around. That's good, too.

But it's the picture on page six that caught my eye. Our delegates looked great, all that CTU red in the sun at Teamster City yesterday. And that associate delegate from Steinmetz High School is almost as cute as the baby wearing red in the stroller behind her (not our kid...).

Even if the major corporate media don't cover the idiocies (and the enormous costs) of the Scab Centers tomorrow, we'll have fun with that story for weeks. Bozo ideas from a bunch of clowns. But, really, the joke's not funny and it's on us. Chicago elected a lying bully for mayor (because he had Hollywood Swag, of all things) and now this.

We'll do fine, but we're going to have to do some work figuring out how much CPS will be spending every day keeping the Scab Centers open. And then the stories about how silly what goes on inside will be fun until somebody gets hurt when the gangsters realize they can take over without much opposition because of another of Rahm's brilliant moves.

But the greatest thing about the story

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