Chicago is now ground zero in the nation’s debate over education reform. Teachers have filed a 10-day strike notice, meaning they could walk off the job for the first time since 1987. The district is led by former Rochester superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard, but the city is under a mayoral control model.
Teachers in the country’s third-largest school system are angry about pay, evaluations, longer school days and a general lack of respect. The Huffington Post reports:
(Union President Karen) Lewis claims the public schools administration “seems determined to have a toxic relationship with its employees,” saying teachers have been belittled and demoralized. She pointed out that a previously negotiated raise was canceled and changes have been made to the way teachers are evaluated.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard issued a statement saying students “cannot afford to be removed from the classroom” just as they’re starting a new longer day, and said the district will meet every day with the union to try to avoid a strike.
The school district has offered teachers a four-year contract with raises of 2 percent a year, which school board spokeswoman Becky Carroll said would cost $160 million. Lewis has repeatedly said the raise offered by the board is not acceptable.
The district may open for half-days if teachers strike. That puts parents in a position to decide if they will cross a picket line. The district is asking the state athletic association to waive a rule canceling sporting activities if there’s a strike.
A strike could provide super fuel to critics of teachers and unions. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took aim at teachers during his convention speech, saying, “They believe in teacher’s unions, we believe in teachers.” If the vast majority of teachers in a large district support a strike, will Christie believe them? Something tells me, no.
One thing is certain: Strikes are incredibly hurtful and divisive to all parties.
UPDATE: Brizard may be fired. The Chicago Tribune reports high-ranking city officials and the school board are angry with his handling of a myriad of issues.
Links of the Day:
– Rochester and Buffalo are “underrated hotbeds of innovation.”
– The Dome Arena in Henrietta is for sale and the Monroe County Fair has to move. My guess is a new buyer will knock it down and build housing and retail.
– When a mall declines, communities suffer. Taxes go down. Buildings deteriorate. Hoping to prevent another Medley Centre, Senator Chuck Schumer demanded answers about redevelopment and future plans from the owner of a mall in Syracuse. No one did that for Medley or Midtown.
– Both Syracuse and Rochester have arenas managed by SMG, but the deals they cut with local governments remain secret. Open records experts say that’s baloney.
– Assemblyman Vito Lopez allegedly likes his staffers to leave the bras at home.
– The Jonathan Child House in Rochester is undergoing renovation.
– Go to 1:08 into this video. It’s so me.