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What’s behind the CTU’s contract demands?

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015

* The Chicago Teachers Union believes that mass layoffs are coming to the school system, so they agreed to no cost of living raises in contract negotiations, but stuck firm on their evaluation demands. The Tribune has a very good story about what’s going on

CPS teachers are evaluated by classroom observers, and are ultimately ranked on a four-tier scale: distinguished, proficient, basic and unsatisfactory.

The union said it wants to strike the possibility of teachers receiving an overall rating of “unsatisfactory” if their classroom observation scores land exclusively at the “basic” level. […]

The union said it has suggested lowering the threshold needed for teachers to reach that scale’s “proficient” rating, in order to “address an inconsistency” in evaluations that the union says could lower the scores of solid educators.

“The current evaluation system has a flaw in it, in that the ‘proficient’ band is too narrow,” Sharkey said.

The union says that creates a situation where good teachers who consistently receive good evaluation scores — but an occasional low mark — risk getting downgraded to a “developing” rating.

And, in the context of potential mass layoffs, that downgrade could mean lots of teachers lose their jobs.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

36 Comments
  1. - Tourés Latte - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 8:38 am:

    Maybe instead of stilted, demoralizing performace evals, they could all get participation ribbons.


  2. - Stones - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 8:39 am:

    It seems that the CTU is probably on point with the notion that layoffs are likely. Still, it seems that there is a significant amount of wiggle room when it comes to negotiating over the ratings system. When it comes to negotiations, the devil is always in the details.


  3. - DuPage - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 8:44 am:

    If Rahm does not raise his low tax rate, lots of CPS teachers will lose their jobs. The evaluations are somewhat subjective, depending if the teacher is liked or disliked by the principal.


  4. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 8:45 am:

    1. The evaluation/ranking system is flawed.

    2. CTU and the IEA should have thought about that before signing off on the bill SB 7 in exchange for Quinn and Madigan leaving the pensions alone(note they tried to steal them anyway).

    3. It is not a cost neutral request. The concept between the tiers is to determine who can be terminated. This will limit the districts ability to do that and put seniority as a bigger issue. That means the district has to keep higher paid, less qualified teachers

    4. The teacher’s obvious and meritorious argument is the evaluator can give poor evaluations to teachers they just don’t like or they think can make to much to get rid of them, but the union agreed to the bill.

    It is a classic labor move. Agree to something in the legislature and as soon as it passes try to contract around it.


  5. - PMcP - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:04 am:

    Just tossing this out there but how does a teacher get a “developing” rating when that isn’t one of the rating scale options….


  6. - Very Fed Up - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:04 am:

    How many tenured teachers lose their job statewide due to poor performance?


  7. - Not quite a majority - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:06 am:

    All evaluations are subjective. And it’s usually in the interest of the management to rate everyone lower than they truly deserve. There are tons of reasons but the one I heard most often when I was stuck evaluating people below me was if you give high marks, and the employee performs poorly in the future, you have a much harder time ‘removing them’. In other words, give a person the mark they deserve and you can’t stick it to them in the future. I found that demoralizing and I was the one forced to do it.


  8. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:10 am:

    “Maybe instead of stilted, demoralizing performace evals, they could all get participation ribbons.”

    You mean evaluate them as if they were charter schools?

    – MrJM


  9. - walker - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:13 am:

    As described above, the teachers’ recommended improvements are reasonable. Too bad any evaluation system must be seen thru the lenses of likely layoffs.


  10. - Federalist - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:14 am:

    “The evaluations are somewhat subjective, depending if the teacher is liked or disliked by the principal.”

    Too often that can be the situation. And that is the problem in something as subjective as what makes a good teacher. Naturally I know what a good teacher is and others do not and I would never let personal reasons interfere with such an evaluation. Naturally everybody else feels the same way.

    Those who do not have tenure or CB, or both, often resent those that do have it. And as union membership declines the number who resent those protections increases. That is what the Rauner’s and Walker’s depend upon and want every employee to be in the same boat.

    The CTU and other teacher unions will have to be very careful to continually present a good case and yet be firm, even tough, in not selling out their colleagues and profession.

    This fight is not going away!


  11. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:15 am:

    Fed Up,

    SB 7 is a bootleg around teacher tenure law. It allows teachers to get a bad evaluations that drop them to the bottom tier and then they are on the top of the RIF list.

    To answer your questions, not many. But with the budgets being what they are, there are a lot of tenured teachers being “RIFed” that otherwise would have been secure and less experienced teachers went first.

    It was a very Bad bill for teachers and the union signed off on it to prove their that in the chart of who is most important, Mike Madigan was way above the classroom teacher.


  12. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:15 am:

    Is it a reasonable premise that there will be “mass layoffs” of teachers in a world-class city in the 21st. How would a big increase in class sizes get past the voters currently raising kids in Chicago, given all the hype about the value of education in securing a good future for your children. These voters count. Rauner didn’t exempt school funding from the state’s current “fiscal crisis,” because he loves education, even if he does. It was a political move.


  13. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:16 am:

    Nothing really new here, teacher unions try to do this all of the time with the performance rankings.

    CPS does not have to agree, but they do have to at least have the discussion as it is subject to bargaining.


  14. - anonnymouse - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:29 am:

    A lot of teachers WILL lose their jobs since CPS will have no $$$ to pay them.


  15. - From the 'Dale to HP - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:34 am:

    @DuPage, CPS is subject to PTELL just like all the schools in DuPage so not sure what you’re getting at.


  16. - Gooner - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:34 am:

    About nine months ago, Karen Lewis was talking about her huge win on the contract and about taking over the city.

    Now, CTU has lost badly, picking up just a few seats, and is likely to face massive lay offs.

    Wow, so much for Karen’s big win.


  17. - From the 'Dale to HP - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:36 am:

    Gooner, CTU effectively ended Rahm’s national career, so they have that going for them. And Rahm, not the CTU, is going to wear the hat for the cuts coming.


  18. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:41 am:

    Well, if Mayor Rahm is toast anyway, why not raise property taxes in Chicago.What’s to lose. And he might end up a courageous hero. That would take care of any “mass layoffs,” which I really doubt would happen in any case, at least for teachers. Administrative staff maybe, but that would be a good thing.


  19. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:57 am:

    ==but that would be a good thing==

    It’s pretty crass to say somebody losing their job is a “good thing”


  20. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 9:59 am:

    Teachers are human beings teaching little human beings. After decades of hearing horror stories about monsters in our classrooms, we’ve began applying standards. After decades of hearing how much education costs, we’ve started coupling those standards with performance measurements used in business.

    We aren’t talking about manufactured productivity. Teaching 20 children every day, rain or shine, in illness or in health, among all 21 human beings, and expecting some kind of performance measurement out of it, is foolhardy.

    Yet that is what we’ve been doing to teaching over the past few decades, thinking that somehow we’ll get better education out of it. We now have a huge retiree generation sucking up our budgets, who haven’t had children in school in a decade or two, who have no connection with their neighborhood schools, except through their tax bills. Consequently, they don’t see any value in what teachers are paid, how schools are ran, or what home conditions are effecting school children. We have a growing population of adults without children who can only relate to society’s education issues abstractly and from memories.

    So as we shift from citizenship values to consumer values, tax payers are no longer willing to sacrifice towards community schools. All these performance measurements and all these standards applied over the years are opening salvos in a society no longer committed to unquestioning community sacrifice.

    As our society shifted towards consumerism, school boards resolved conflicts and controversies with increasing oversight, bureaucracies and legalese. The results are seen today. Schools cannot turn out education like iPhones. There will always be a student or a teacher displaying human shortcomings. Yet the consumer market values being embraced by our society today, expects schools to produce education like these kids are Toyota Corollas.

    Consumer mentality is telling us that we need to privatize education. That we need to make public schools compete. That we need vouchers. On and on. What is really the problem is that our people are no longer willing to accept themselves or their neighbors, as human beings.

    Human beings need citizen rights because when your money runs out, consumer market values won’t let you buy them.


  21. - olddog - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    === Is it a reasonable premise that there will be “mass layoffs” of teachers in a world-class city in the 21st. ===

    Yes. Here’s a couple of links to get you started reading up on it.

    http://www.wbez.org/news/education/after-massive-layoffs-cps-suggests-teachers-contribute-more-their-pensions-108125

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/03/01/state-layoffs-loom-early-retirement-plan-falls-short-official-says/9My4pQCjphdD3WZWJOhx0H/story.html

    http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2014/06/state_high_court_agrees_to_hea.html

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2015/03/18/3634306/students-teachers-brace-scott-walkers-devastating-education-cuts/


  22. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:12 am:

    I don’t accept the premise that no worker anywhere should ever be laid off ever. And administrators, middle managers broadly speaking, are increasingly obsolete in the computer age. Government is not a jobs farm, as even our last governor reported ly said. Many in Illinois state government still believe it is, though.

    If you are short on education money, spend what there is on teachers.


  23. - Gooner - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:15 am:

    Being forced to a run off ended a career? If that ended a career, there wasn’t much of a career.


  24. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:17 am:

    =SB 7 is a bootleg around teacher tenure law.=

    Since the passage of SB7 there have been several pieces of “trailer” legislation that have weakened the original law and its intent.

    The original legislation was intended to eliminate the practice of “bumping” but that was almost immediately changed. Recall rights have changed as well. Now, those with a “needs improvement” have recall rights.

    The concept of vindictive evaluations is far less prevalent than many believe. No doubt it happens, but far less than people think.

    SB& proved to have much less impact than was desired or expected. Same goes for the new evaluation process.


  25. - Sunshine - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:18 am:

    It is the union’s obligation to protect the good and even the worst of it’s members, whether it be an employee late for work or goofing off, or a poor results teacher.

    Unfortunately those who work hard, love their profession, and contribute meaningfully to the child and community will be hurt….by like or dislike, or simple politics, when it comes down to who stays and who goes. As wages and benefits increase and revenue decreases the winners are the ones in the union hierarchy. Lets you and him fight!


  26. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:20 am:

    Cassandra:

    You continue to harp on technology but have little understanding of the technology available in state government. Just because you say it’s the 21st Century doesn’t change the state’s capabilities. You act as if a switch can be flipped and the state could do without hoards of people because technology is available. It may be but it doesn’t currently exist in state government and it isn’t something that just happens overnight. You can continue to be flippant about people losing their jobs but I frankly find such attitudes morally questionable. It’s easy to look at somebody else losing their job and saying “oh, well.” I have more compassion than you apparently have. I’m sick of the indifference people have towards others in terms of employment. How about this Cassandra. You give up your job. I’m sure you’d be really happy about that since you seem to be so keen to take away the jobs of others. It’s sickening.


  27. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:22 am:

    To add . . .

    I wish I had the ability to lack all emotion when speaking of other people. I was raised better than that. I was raised to have, you know, feelings. And don’t give me your garbage about the hurting middle class. Those people you want to make unemployed are part of that middle class. Enough already. I’m sick of all of it.


  28. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:24 am:

    “I don’t accept the premise that no worker anywhere should ever be laid off ever.”

    straw man n. a logical fallacy committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position.

    – MrJM


  29. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:27 am:

    Government is not a jobs farm, as even our last governor reported ly said. Many in Illinois state government still believe it is, though.

    Hear that? Someone is phoning you, using a 1930’s style candlestick telephone and wants their Anti-New Deal, FDR line of attack back.


  30. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:34 am:

    =And administrators, middle managers broadly speaking, are increasingly obsolete in the computer age.=

    Completely, wrong.

    @Demo, MrJM, Vman- Thanks, well put and on point.


  31. - Elo Kiddies - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 10:53 am:

    The reporter actually wrote, “The union said it wants to strike” ??? As if there were no othwe words available? Someone skimming the paper could easily get confused.


  32. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 12:21 pm:

    Johnny can’t read and write in Chicago. Scores keep declining in spite of increased spending per student. I recognize there are many causes, but the teachers are not blameless.


  33. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 1:46 pm:

    “Scores keep declining in spite of increased spending per student.”

    FALSE. http://iirc.niu.edu/Classic/District.aspx?DistrictID=15016299025

    – MrJM


  34. - nixit71 - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 3:02 pm:

    White CTU agreed to no cost of living raises in contract negotiations, it’s important to note they want to continue the 7% pension pick-up by CPS. Also, lack of COLAs doesn’t mean lack of raises as the normal step increases of 4.5-5% (for those eligible) would still hold true.


  35. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 4:49 pm:

    So nixit71, you want them to not ask for a COLA AND agree to get rid of the pension pick up AND freeze step movement. Got it. I’d fire my negotiators immediately.


  36. - Tone - Tuesday, Jun 30, 15 @ 6:17 pm:

    I’m very afraid for the poor and minority students in CPS. They will be bearing the brunt of CPS financial problems.


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