* The Tribune played up the optimism…
The Chicago teachers strike enters its fifth day as “number crunching” apparently delayed a deal that both sides had hoped would be reached on Thursday.
Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union began the day saying they were close to a deal that could return teachers and students to the classroom on Monday, but officials left marathon negotiations early today saying they were still ironing out details.
CPS Board President David Vitale, who emerged from talks around 12:45 a.m., said the two sides had “another good day” of work and there had been progress. The two were moving past work on evaluations and focusing on other key issue, the recall of laid-off teachers, he said.
“We’ve got some number crunching to do overnight and we’re going to be back here tomorrow and see if we can’t finish this up,” Vitale said.
* The Sun-Times was slightly less so…
However, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was less optimistic.
“I hope he knows something that I don’t know,’’ Lewis told reporters.
While Vitale thought classes could resume for kids on Monday, Lewis said, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I certainly hope so.’’
* And here’s a very important section of the Sun-Time article…
Also incredibly sticky is the issue of a new teacher evaluation system, which eventually puts more weight on student growth than the 30 percent required by a new state law.
“The system they are using to evaluate people is based on an extremely complicated, esoteric formula to measure student growth — so complicated I think everybody on the CPS team will admit they don’t understand it,” CTU attorney Robert Bloch said. “Experts developed it but not educators.”
Of special concern is that 70 percent of CPS teachers do not teach a tested subject, yet up to 20 percent of their evaluation would be based on schoolwide test results, Bloch said.
Another at least 10 percent would be based on student growth on district-written “performance’’ tasks being used for the first time this school year.
In addition, the complicated algorithms used to determine student growth — called “value-added” — are being debated nationwide.
“The problem is, how do you hold teachers accountable for improvement when so many things that are used to evaluate them are outside their control or very complicated?’’ Bloch said.
“The science behind the student growth aspects of testing is untested and uncertain, and you’re going to risk a teacher’s career based on some guy in a back room writing algorithms or students who are not tested in the subject you’re teaching?
* Meanwhile, the Sun-Times headline on my latest column is “FOES OF STRIKE? OLDER WHITE GUYS”…
A good friend e-mailed me after I published a poll in my “Capitol Fax” newsletter Thursday which revealed that 55.5 percent of Chicagoans approved of the Chicago teachers strike.
My friend, a widely known pundit, wanted to tell me that he didn’t believe the poll, which was conducted by We Ask America.
After some back and forth about what the pollster could’ve or should’ve asked, I finally told him that as an older, white person with no kids in the public school system, he’s not supposed to support the strike.
The poll, taken after three full days of no school, found that a 52 percent majority of whites disapprove of the strike. Whites were the only ethnic group that expressed a majority disapproval of the strike.
African Americans approved 63-32 and Latino support was even higher at 65-32.
A majority of parents with kids in private schools opposed the strike, 52 percent to 43 percent, while parents with public school kids approved of the strike 66-31.
And senior citizens narrowly disapproved of the strike 47 percent to 46.8 percent, while all other age groups backed it. The older the person was, the less he or she supported the strike.
Indeed, a whopping 65 percent of older white males with no kids in public schools opposed the strike.
If you’ve been watching the teachers strike unfold on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, you’ve seen that a whole lot of striking teachers are bitter about their treatment by the media.
“People Who Can’t Teach, Write About Teachers,” is my favorite Tweet.
Like my pundit friend, most of the media types fall into the category of older white folks without kids in Chicago’s public schools.
Whites who didn’t flee the city after the schools were desegrated fled the schools. Less than 9 percent of Chicago public school kids are white. And few of those kids are not in charter or other specialized schools. The “real” schools, as Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called them a few days ago, have long since been abandoned by white folks.
With overwhelming poverty in black and Latino neighborhoods, parents simply can’t afford to send their kids to private schools. A whopping 87 percent of all public school students come from low-income families, says the school system.
According to the latest U.S. Census numbers for 2011, almost 843,000 Illinoisans lived in “extreme poverty,” which is defined as half the federal poverty line — about $18,000 for a family of three.
Can you imagine a family of three living on less than $9,000 a year? $173 a week?
The schools are all they have, and the teachers are some of the few decent role models their kids will ever see. Of course they’re siding with the strikers.
Rahm Emanuel used his close ties to President Barack Obama to win the 2011 mayor’s race with an overwhelming number of black votes. But his win was bankrolled by billionaires who are out to break, or at least hobble, the Chicago Teachers Union.
They are the very same people who pushed hard for a reform law in Springfield last year that was mainly aimed at stopping a CTU strike. Obviously, the new law didn’t work.
As an older white male who sends his kids to private school, Mayor Emanuel belongs to pretty much the same subset as my pundit friend.
Yet, Emanuel owes his job to support from black voters.
Somehow, the mayor has to improve the schools while alienating neither his political base nor his fund-raising base.
If he can do all that, my hat’s off to the man.
* On to the live coverage. BlackBerry users click here. Everybody else can just watch..