The historic closing of 49 elementary schools in Chicago left many parents bitter and feeling left out as they try to get involved in new schools. Yet parent engagement is essential for school improvement, and principals are faced with the challenge of building trust at schools that scored poorly on surveys of parent involvement.
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Strike Day 3: Negotiators report movement, CPS makes new offer
In the new contract proposal released late Wednesday night, CPS seems to have sweetened the deal for good displaced teachers.
It is unclear if the CTU is happy with this new proposal, but leaving negotiations, CTU President Karen Lewis indicated she is hopeful that on Friday students could be back at school.
In addition to teacher evaluation, a sticking point in this contract is the fate of teachers laid off because their school or position was closed.
In this contract, it is a major issue because CPS has over 300 schools that are under-enrolled. On Thursday, Board President David Vitale acknowledged that the district must take action to address its supply issue.
The district could move to close as many as 100 schools over the next few years, leaving thousands of teachers without jobs.
Initially, CPS wanted to reduce the protections for displaced teachers. While promising teachers could follow their children to receiving schools, CPS wanted to reduce the amount of time teachers would spend in the displaced teacher pool to five months from 10 months. They also were offering three months' severance pay.
CPS has fought hard against giving displaced teachers preference for future jobs—something the union is demanding. On Wednesday, Jean-Claude Brizard held a round-table with principals in which he again framed the issue as one of principal autonomy.
"As a principal, I lived and died by the folks in my school, my teachers," Brizard said. He said he has not been to negotiations, but instead keeping abreast of happenings and making sure the contingency sites were running smoothly.
Clemente Principal Marcey Sorensen said it is important to her to find the "best quality" teachers, not just to keep her job, but to make students college and career ready. "And I want you to send students to me who are high-school ready," Sorensen said to the elementary school principals at the roundable.
CPS did not change its offer for teachers laid off because their school is being turned around or phased out, or whose position is closed out due to low enrollment.
In the offer for teachers whose schools have closed, CPS would create something called a "quality teacher" pool only for teachers of closed schools. Teachers with good ratings would be allowed to stay in this pool for one year.
It is unclear how much this changed from Sunday night, but one thing that appears new is that principals would have to interview at least three displaced teachers to fill vacancies. If they rejected all of them, they would have to explain the move to the Talent Development Office and would have to prove that their reasons for rejecting them were not arbitrary.
The CTU wanted the principals to be forced to hire a displaced teacher should three apply for one position. It remains to be seen if the union will agree to this compromise.
Here is the district's latest offer.