I'm am a very disappointed parent right now. I am especially disappointed in the Chicago Teachers' Union.
CPS offered many concessions giving the CTU what it wanted on some big issues. School board President David Vitale said the district changed its proposal 20 times over the course of talks and didn't have much more to offer. Here's a link to the current CPS offer. This includes a 16% pay increase over 4 years. Chicago teachers' salaries are nothing to sneeze at. According to a CPS spokesperson, the average pay for teachers, without benefits, is currently $76,000/year (the highest in the nation). And these increases will occur at a time when CPS really doesn't have the money for them.
Despite major concessions on the big issues, which apparently were agreed upon, CTU has decided to strike. Some of the factors stated for the decision to strike include job security, dissatisfaction with Health Benefits, and a new evaluation process.
What doesn't CTU like about the Health benefits? They reject a wellness program, which seems to me a great option to improve health and lower overall health care costs. The wellness program even includes an option for opting out of it. They also dislike a slight premium increase for families (as opposed to single and couple teachers).
Another "big" thing CTU mentioned in the strike announcement was the new evaluation proposal which would mean that approximately 30% of their members would be discharged in 1 to 2 years. I don't know exactly what the new evaluation process would look like, but it seems to me that if 30% of your members can't pass evaluation, they probably shouldn't be teaching our children. I certainly want my children's teachers to be good enough to pass their evaluations. And as they spoke out against this new process, I couldn't help but notice that one CTU representative (or teacher) couldn't even speak properly. Speaking of the evaluation process, he said, "Us educators have a real stake in that." If you don't know when to use a direct object pronoun versus a subject pronoun, what are you teaching our children?! Don't get me wrong, my girls have had some great teachers over the past few years. However, let's keep good teachers and compensate them fairly, while getting rid of teachers who can't do their job effectively.
Even if teachers get what they want, the only thing this strike will really do is hurt students. It will hurt them as they miss out on classroom time this week (and in the weeks to come?). It will hurt them if 6,000 unqualified teachers remain on the job. I'd rather see more teachers like those at Skinner North, who are qualified, enthusiastic, and take a real interest in teaching our children. Those teachers worked an extra 1.5 hours a day for our children last year against the wishes of the CTU leadership because they care about our children. I'm proud of the 10% of CTU teachers who voted against a strike. I only hope that the rest find a way to compromise quickly so that our children can get back to school. In the meantime, we'll be running a homeschool here...