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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: Teachers will strike at midnight

For the first time in a quarter of a century, CPS teachers are on strike.

In announcing that negotiations had failied, union leaders emphasized that compensation took a backseat as they want this contract to tackle bigger education issues, include greater protections for displaced teachers and lessen the weight that test scores have in teacher evaluations.

“This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could avoid,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “We must do things differently in this city if we are to give our students the education they deserve.” 

But CPS Board President David Vitale said the district made the union 20 different offers over the many months of negotiations and painted union leadership as unwilling to compromise. By about 8 p.m., negotiations broke down inside the CTU’s Merchandise Mart offices.

At that time, Vitale said the last best offer was on the table and he was asking to talk to speak one-on-one with Lewis. When she failed to meet with him, Vitale said he assumed the strike was inevitable and left. He emerged at about 9:40 p.m.

Vitale was noticeably frustrated. “It is clearly their decision, we have done everything we can.”

Offering up anything more would “hurt the education agenda that we think is good for our children,” Vitale said.

Later, Lewis said she was on the phone and didn’t know he was waiting to speak with her. At 11 p.m., after the strike was officially announced, Lewis sent a text to Vitale saying she was still in her office. “Come on down,” the text reportedly said.

But both sides were done for the night.

Lewis spoke in broad terms about the union’s demands, but did not offer specifics. To the major issues of evaluation, job security and pay, Lewis added a laundry list of demands, such as a timetable for air conditioning in every school and smaller caseloads for the district’s social workers.

Recall/job security

With more than 300 schools under-utilized and plans to open new ones, it is widely predicted that CPS will close dozens of schools, if not more, over the next few years. This means that hundreds of teachers are likely to be displaced.

As part of the CTU-CPS interim longer agreement, in which the district promised to hire 477 more teachers to help implement the longer school day, principals were required to give a displaced teacher the position if three of them applied for a spot. CTU would like to see a similar system set up for future displaced teachers.

But CPS wants to make sure that principals keep their autonomy to hire the teachers they want. CPS is offering to give teachers of closed schools jobs in the receiving schools, if a position they are qualified for is available. Other displaced teachers could take a severance pay of three months. They could also choose to be in the displaced pool for five months where they would be given an interview for any job they applied to and an explanation if they are not hired.

Teacher Evaluation

A major trend in education reform across the country is to partly tie teacher evaluation to student performance on standardized tests. Like many states, Illinois adopted a new teacher evaluation system in order to be considered for federal Race to the Top grants.

Though state law requires some link between test scores and evaluation, the union wants to see test scores minimized. Lewis said as many as 6,000 teachers could be fired over the next two years because of poor ratings on the new evaluation system. And test scores, she said, are not a good indication of the quality of a teacher.

“There are too many factors beyond our control which will impact how our students perform on those tests,” she said. “Evaluate us on what we do, not the lives of our children, which we do not control.”

CPS offered to let CTU help implement the new teacher evaluation system and to make "adjustments as needed.”


Vitale said the district’s last best salary offer was three percent in the first year of the contract and two percent for each year after. CPS wants a four-year contract, but CTU wants a shorter contract. CPS also has backed away from merit pay.

In addition, CPS is now willing to give teachers’ raises for experience and education, called Step and Lane increases. CPS had tried to eliminate Steps and Lanes in this contract. However, the structure of these raises will be different and not as costly to CPS.

Vitale said this salary package will cost the district $400 million over four years.

The district also backed away from asking all employees to pay more for health insurance. Premiums would stay the same for couples and single people, but families would pay about $20 more. CTU does not want to see health care costs increase for anyone.

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said that while the union is not completely happy with the board’s salary offer, it is not a major sticking point. “If we resolve the education issues, we think the salary will follow,” he said.




Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

CTU's Karen said something that rang true tonight- - Mr. Vitale,

Yes, principals have had to go to the CTU for support on the new REACH process. Believe this. That is how bad things area with leadership at 125!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Will the University of Chicago Lab School take CPS students

tomorrow? Come on Rahm, make-em open their doors to all of Chicago's children.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

One roster for a children first school had 20 security guards

on it, 4 lunchroom attendants, 3 custodians, 2 assistant principals, a principal and no one else. This elemnetary school sounds like fun! I guess central office felt they needed a lot of guards for all those liitle kids!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

The CTU has parent support.

Teachers are putting CHILDREN FIRST and Rahm did not see this or care. His greed and hunger for power has caused this. Hard-headed Rahm had to have his 'F&^k U Lewis' thrown back at him. This will forever be on Rahm's resume! Vitali seemd confused and shaken--he should be. Where the hell has he been?

Chicago teacher & parent wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago


This is for all the neighborhood schools (west & southside) that have gotten the shaft over the last 25 no 40 years in Chicago. Read your history people. Chicago parents and teachers unite! AC for all! Libraries and smaller class size for all schools!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Every parent I know stands with the teachers. CTU is not making

a big deal out of a lot of little things. They--and we parents--are tired of that list of many "little" things. All those little violations reveal how much CPS disrespects its teachers and by extension, its students.
If you want to see a document that unintentionally illustrates this, check out the tips CPS published for the staff of the "Children First" sites. The Sun-Times offered a nice summary:
The instructions somehow manage to betray decrepit school facility conditions, disrespect for teachers' training and skills, and a woeful ignorance about childrens' needs, all in one! They inform staffers to "wear a watch, because many rooms don't have functioning clocks." And: "when correcting a student, keep it short, stand 3 or 4 feet away, and start backing away in the last one or two seconds of your communication," lest you invite a negative response to said correction. And: "bring 30 pencils and a personal pencil sharpener, and small incentives like stickers." Or my favorite, "read and internalize classroom management techniques." Everybody can be a teacher with a list of tips like these! The fact is, CTU is in the right this time.

KP wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago


CTU members,

I am a parent of a kindergarten student with special needs. This strike will disrupt our schedule and his transition to a new school. But, please know that my family STANDS WITH THE TEACHERS. Thank you for advocating for my child and all of Chicago's children. We will be wearing red and walking the picket line with you, teachers.

Observer wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Not Very Smart

Children will suffer. Is Lewis taking a pay stoppage and the rest of the leadership. Did I hear her blame a teachers results on poverty, homelessness an other social ills? If so, she is a poor excuse for an educator. I will be crossing the picket line because I believe we had a decent offer on the table. She does not speak for me.

Real wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

@ Observer

Lewis and the elected officers will not be paid during the strike.

Lewis did not blame teacher results on poverty, homelessness, and other social ills, but she did articulate what all the research indicates: these things have a large impact on student achievement.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago


Epic FAIL in leadership. Just epic. This is a sin and a shame that the adults (highly paid adults, mind you) couldn't figure it out. Just ridiculous. I want a rebate on the public school portion of my property taxes for the 2012-2013 school year. I pay my taxes for this MESS? Just ridiculous.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago


Keep the teachers, but throw the rest of the administrators who FAILED out! Every last one of them. Our children are being short changed on a decent education because the Board and the CTU couldn't work it out. You know what? Yes, we do need Turnarounds - for CPS.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

No taxes.

No labor peace, no taxes.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Media: Please ask about

Media: Please ask about collective bargaining rights! What the Board has publicized about their last offer does not mention them, but previous offers stripped CTU of them. This may be the real issue no one wants to talk about along with systemic poverty of course.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

(1) there needs to be fair

(1) there needs to be fair compensation for the longer day and year. Fair pay for the longer day. (2) we have no idea what they did to the step and lane system until they actually publish a detailed chart. (3) negotiate the evaluation system after it’s already in place? Crazy. Do it up front while we have the power. We’ll take less $$ for a fair system. (4) why should things like air conditioning and books on the first day of class even need to be negotiated? (5) children need wraparound services
I’m proud of my children’s teachers for taking a stand and showing my kids that it’s important to have a voice.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago


Your job is to instruct children in order to pass standardized tests reflecting what they have learned. If you can't do that regardless of other outside factors, than you AREN'T DOING YOUR JOB. Good riddance to you.

I think you will just have to think more creatively about how to reach students instead of throwing your hands up and having the union defend your poor teaching ability. Oh wait maybe four months of summer vacay per year will help you think more creatively...No? Oh, my bad.

northside wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago


Your comments have been said a thousand times. Please come up with something orginal ....more than the summer break comments. Give us some other issues!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Yes, they have been said a

Yes, they have been said a thousand times, answered never....

Every teacher I ever met chose that degree as a 'fall back' option. Because they found real education too tough....ooh, and then when someone asks what real skills they have, they need a union to back them.

Plus you didn't answer my main, if you aren't getting your students to pass, then you AREN'T DOING YOUR JOB!!!

Here is an analogy...I am an accountant by trade, and what if I were doing your taxes when, "Oh, your taxes are really hard this year due to extreme circumstance, shifts in the market, losses on Capital Gains, lower revenue on rental income, and a loss on your mortgage....I came close, but I don't think any accountant could get your taxes correct."

Do you really think the IRS will accept that argument. Hell no, either you do your job or choose another field and quit complaining. And 'NO', you don't work half as much everyone else.

Chicago teacher & parent wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Where does this type of thinking come from?

"Every teacher I ever met chose that degree as a 'fall back' option." What? You actually know teachers? "Teachers use poverty and violence to excuse bad teaching?' Check the research. Publish these comments under your own name and stop hiding if you know these as facts.

Keeley wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago


My husband teaches in a class with 41 disadvantaged kids whose moms are out smoking crack and standing on street corners. Only about 15% of those parents actually care. The students have difficulty following a simple directive, such as, "please stand in line", or "please do not punch each other in the face", "please sit down". It is my husbands fault that these children are not responding to interventions. I would like to see you try and teach 41 students, most of whom have ODD and attachment disorders and are without social work services. You just don't understand. It is probably because you have never been to a bad neighborhood and run down school.

Keeley wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I meant to say (above

I meant to say (above comment) it is NOT my husbands fault that the students are not responding to interventions. He just needs more support. BTW, he is a new teacher and NO ONE has contacted him to welcome him to the wonderful (and messed up) world of CPS.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

And wow, your husband must be

And wow, your husband must be the worst teacher ever. How does he look anyone in the eye....and do you realize you just called all his students parent's crack heads...I am sure they would love to hear how he really thinks of them.

TW wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

This country learned an

This country learned an important lesson after the Vietnam War: It is not fair to blame soldiers on the ground for the mistakes of distant policymakers. Instead, we now rightly ask: Were they given the proper training? Was the mission reasonably achievable? Were they given the proper resources? Did we do our best to give them the conditions that would make success more likely than failure?

If you believe these are the right questions to ask about the performance of the military then you should be asking the same questions about education. You should be asking: Why have the distant policymakers passed a law the requires something no country on earth has ever achieved (100% proficiency in reading and math)? Why have the distant policymakers failed to reduce child poverty (the highest of any advanced, industrialized country) Why have the distant policymakers cut arts and music funding when research shows they improve performance across many subject areas? Why have the distant policymakers looked enviously at high-performing countries but then adopted policies that NONE of them use (using test scores to evaluate teachers)?

Also, your examples do not impact your ability to prepare someone's taxes. They are examples of what would impact your client's tax bill or refund. Here are some things that would make it harder to do your job: You don't have a working computer. You don't have the resources you need to research changes in the tax code. The windows in your office leak water on your desk when it rains.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago


As an accountant, do your job without being provided you with paper, or computer access. Please do it in a 90 degree room. Do it without books or internet access, if maybe you have a computer. Meet your client at the library because you don't have a space to use. Do it when you get current tax information on April 1st instead of November. Do it when your supervisor tells you they are going to evaluate you in a way we will decide later. Do it when your supervisor says your evaluation is based on how happy your clients are, or based on someone elses performance.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I do it with my brain and a

I do it with my brain and a pencil and paper. You would be surprised how little computers come into play. I am not some idiot off the street who works for HR Block. Extensive years of schooling. Countless professional exams. Minimal master degrees in a focus were you actually have to show up to pass. You really are comparing the vietnam war to education reform?!?! How sad and pathetic your argument is. A war brought on by the red scare to stop the 'spread' of communism is hardly the plight of teachers making the most in the country yet failing the most as well. All I ask is to put up or shut up. Let's see some result and then, maybe then, would you ever have the right!, I and everyone non union allows you to have, to negotiate a new contract.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Regardless, the example

Regardless, the example holds. You haven't refuted it. Can I claim I don't have paper to finish a tax return? No. Can I claim I don't have the latest tax code to prepare taxes? No. What a joke. Did you not learn what you teach in class? Can you not stand on your own mental fortitude? Have not the brightest minds ever, learn from the poorest of teachers. But no, your excuse is, I don't have paper. I don't have pen, I don't something else. Of, which you actually have plenty. Oh water drips on your desk. Boo hoo...are you a man, can not take that. Is water ruining your complexion. Did you thinki was going to be roses and rainbows when you went to work for the CPS. Do you throw up your arms and say enough is enough. What kind of person are you? How about instead of complaining like a the change you want to see in the CPS.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Oh, and by the

Oh, and by the compensation is directly based on someone else's performance. You clearly don't know many accountants otherwise you would know this.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

And lastly, you need to

And lastly, you need to realize, there are people in this city who are sick and tired of hearing the excuses. Sick and tired of seeing their tax money be wasted. And sick and tired of you sitting there like its no big deal while you take and take and take...,yet have given nothing, shown nothing for decades.

How much would it take to turn the schools around, huh? How much money to put in your pockets to make you better teachers. I want to know now. I will gladly pay, if you could answer me that one question.

northside wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago


when is the last time you dontaed 1000 bucks a year of your money to chicago kids? when is the last time you were told YOU CANT leave the city or you will lose your job? We pay taxes too in Chicago!'s not about the money!

TW wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

What It Would Take To Turn the Schools Around

Try reading this proposal to improve CPS:

You might find this interesting as well. Part of it explains the problems with merit pay.

"Now in its second year, New York’s [merit pay] system has shown remarkable inconsistency. In some cases, the New York system gives a single teacher very different scores based on different classes, even though he’s teaching both classes the same subject during the same year. How would you tell that teacher what to improve? Skills-based tests penalize teachers who emphasize learning to think rather than memorizing facts that can be Googled. In New York, more than 70 teachers of high-performing students received scores placing them among the worst teachers, in large part because they taught critical thinking, and used projects to teach higher-level reasoning, rather than drilling skills: at the end of the year the students’ amazingly-high test scores were slightly lower than their even-more-amazing scores the previous year."

Anonymous wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I read the sun times article

I read the sun times article but not the CTU PDF file. Will do when I have a chance despite the skeptism of reading a non biased document. My biggest issue with the sun times article, despite being mostly conjecture and loosely revelant examples, is that it emits the merit system works. Now if they basics that are so lamented over for lacking were actually taught at a younger age in a more test driven focus, wouldnt it stand to reason the students would have a better rounded understanding of the basic concepts. Here is the problem, how to assess whether you have taught a child how to learn. While my personal belief is that a child learns how to 'Learn' at a much later age secondary or even collegiate level, referring and supported by the concept of the four phases of learning (I believe that's what they are called, sorry my teacher education is a little rusty).

I am just don't see the reason in it nor do I think it is correct.

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