The 2013 Budget: The Good, The Bad, and the Fugly

July 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm 544 comments

Ok, time to finally write about the 2013 CPS Budget.  The title of the news from CPS is:

CPS FY 13 Budget Protects Investments in Student Achievement

The “investment” element is the positive spin put upon declining revenue and increasing spending.

The GOOD news is that CPS has chosen to invest in early education (preK and full-day K for many kids) as an investment that will hopefully keep paying off as these kids progress.  Other investments include more SE sears, more IB seats, more STEM seats, and more charter schools (hopefully not crappy ones.)  There is also more effort to give schools more spending autonomy.

The BAD news is that make this happen, CPS has had to make some cuts (admin, programs, bussing, etc) but the big “news” is that they’re empyting their reserves to keep some of the good stuff (like our fabulous class size of n=28ish.)   This is similar to going to a “living paycheck to paycheck” mentality versus a “rainy day cushion” mentality.  On the one hand it makes sense because if we’ve got the money, we may as well spend it.

BUT, the FUGLY part is that there are several reasons to assume that revenues for CPS will stay steady (or even decline given the current economy) and that costs will keep growing (based in large part, due to pension obligation.)  So while we can cover the good stuff this year, it’s going to keep getting harder and harder to make it happen without a massive change in that pension/labor costs or more serious cutting of programs.  Or a money machine.  Or something that is similar to keeping the post office in business. Not sure how that happens.

My understanding is that we’re the only school district in the state who pays their own pension.  That the state budget covers the rest (but we get more state aid due to the poverty level.)  Anyone know anything about this?

It seem to me that allowing for an increase in the property tax level to support the schools would be a good idea, but I’m not sure how that would come about.  If only we could hire Stand for Children to do some sneaky maneuvering to work it out “behind the scenes.”  Seriously, that seems like the only way.

So what do you think?  Is it as bad as they say? (I have a friend who’s worked with the finance office and wrote to me this week “ho-ly shit… I had NO idea how bad things were financially there.”  Unfortunately I trust his judgement.)  The CTU seems to feel it’s all a lot of BS.  It may be partly BS (or PR) but I don’t think we can deny the fight of The Economy vs. The Pensions.  Simply stated, the equation doesn’t work.  FYI, that 2013 budget assumes only a 2% teacher raise and well…. that is an equation that is also hard to work out with a longer day request.

Here is the link to the Budget info which I will (maybe) try to slog through this week.

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544 Comments Add your own

  • 1. anonymous  |  July 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Rod Estvan has posted that the budget may change. Let’s hope so.

  • 2. Josh Kalov (@shua123)  |  July 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    WBEZ and Catalyst mapped out the school budgets:

    Also if you navigate around the “Interactive Reports” dashboard system on CPS’s page, you can find more specific school funding and position information.

  • 3. junior  |  July 16, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Brace yourself — that fugly budget is about to get a helluva lot worse.

  • 4. CLB  |  July 16, 2012 at 11:12 am

    @2 I wish those interactive reports were clearer. You can click on some of the items to get more detail, but it is hard to understand the real spending. But this is better than the segment report data that previous budgets had.

    The decision to drain the stabilization or reserve fund by the end of the year is the surprising decision. On the one hand, it shows political courage by Brizard to take such a financially risk move. He is putting educational quality ahead of prudence, and confronting the public with the real cost of education. On the other hand, it is a reckless move, and makes the decision to expand the school day appear impetuous. With the arbitrator’s report likely to call for greater salary increases, a balanced budget appears impossible.

    The commitment to reduce central office spending is commendable, but it seems that positions have increased there while K-8 art/music/PE/librarian slots have dropped by 34 people but there are only nine fewer schools. The central office has gained about 9 positions and $95 million, excluding the Chief Administrative Office, which assumed engineer lines and facilities costs from the schools. The Network Offices lost 57 budgeted positions. Much of the major central office reductions came in prior fiscal years.

    As much as I like SE, IB, gifted etc., if the system is in financial strain, I cannot see creating new seats in this area if it means that elementary students lose art/music/librarians or continue to lack them.

    It is clear that the state will need to provide more aid if CPS is to thrive, or other forms of taxation in Chicago are necessary.

    As for pensions, had the state and CPS paid in at the advised levels they would have a secure pension now. Benefit increases are not the cause of the problem; insufficient employer (CPS) and state contributions are the problem.

  • 5. chicagodad  |  July 16, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I heard that the Talent Dept has ballooned up to 94 people as part of the desired evaluation system?

  • 6. mom2  |  July 16, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I read the article in the tribune today about the arbitrator’s proposal. It sounds like neither side likes the recommendations. I understand why CPS wouldn’t like it because it offers something like 20% increases for teachers which CPS and tax payers cannot afford without cutting things important for the education of our children. But, since it sounds like CTU doesn’t like it, it makes me wonder what the real goal is for CTU.
    They apparently don’t like it because they realize that a 20% increase will mean that teachers will need to be laid off, so less teachers and class sizes will go up which is harder for the teacher that remains.
    If they know this, why on Earth would they ask for 30%? Because what they really want is to keep their very short school day that they have always had and because they want to keep their very short school year which they have always had? It is the only thing I can come up with.

  • 7. Mayfair Dad  |  July 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm,0,4290734.story

    Here’s your fugly, Junior.

    I can’t figure out CTU’s end game either, but mom2 might be close to the mark.

    Maybe they should tap Terry Mazany as the new mediator, a person respected by both sides.

  • 8. junior  |  July 16, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    @7 MFD
    Yep, that’s what I was referring to. Also agree w/mom2 — CTU knows that big pay raises = big layoffs, so they will use this as leverage instead on non-compensation issues such as shorter day, differentiated pay, tenure rules, etc.

    Good idea about Mazany.

  • 9. Cake for all!  |  July 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Brizard scolded teachers for voting to authorize a strike before the fact finders released their findings. “”The Chicago Teachers Union leadership pushed their members to authorize a strike before giving them the opportunity to consider the independent fact finder’s compromise report due in July. That’s a shame. The CTU leadership left the teachers with a choice between a strike and nothing — that’s a false choice. As a former teacher, I am disappointed that union leadership would rush their members to vote for a strike before having the complete information on the table.” — CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard

    Brizard claimed teachers deserved a raise.

    And yet CPS released a budget with a 2% salary increase (a decrease in pay in all reality) before the fact finders released their report. And now that the facts are out, CPS doesn’t like it. Can we scold him?

    Becky Carroll says the 10-15% pay increase is not fiscally possible. But her salary of $165,000 is a 26% increase (check my math), $34,617 more than her predecessor’s salary.

    I don’t need a 30% increase or a 26% increase. I am ok with a longer school day. My kids need. I wish CPS would gave more money for the programs my students lack. Just give me a little respect and when you ask me to compromise, be willing to support me and also compromise your own hefty salary.

  • 10. Cake for all!  |  July 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm


  • 11. mom2  |  July 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I sure hate all this game playing. I want to love and respect all my children’s teachers, but I’m having a hard time. I agree with them that more teachers and smaller class sizes benefits students, but shorter/shortest days, lots of days off and 10 minute lunches do not.

  • 12. Mayfair Dad  |  July 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    The war of words continues…

  • 13. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 16, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Well I think they should cut the budget by NOT giving charters and additional $75Million~that would free up money.

  • 14. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    *an not and

  • 15. Mayfair Dad  |  July 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    @12: Given the current financial crisis, it does seem as if Rahm & Co. have bitten off more than they can chew. There will be painful cuts made to programs, personnel reductions, overall fugliness. I am a bit shocked at the arbitrator’s recommendation but I can’t imagine the CPS brain trust didn’t see this coming. With the 90% strike authorization vote and now this, CTU has captured the momentum. A strike is inevitable.

  • 16. LTwain  |  July 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    With the specter of astronomical pension payments looming over the horizon, I think a lot of folks are looking at what United and GM did with their unions.I don’t think CPS is wringing their hands over this – it’s part of the process.

    By busting the union, CPS gets control of the pension, rewrites work rules, and continues the privatization of CPS. One has to ask oneself, is this a bad thing shutting down CPS as we know it? I would say it’s OK to decentralize and allow communities and groups to try to figure out how to best educate our kids. I’m not sure CPS will ever get to the point where we know that they are doing the best that they could do with the children.

  • 17. cpsobsessed  |  July 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    The arbitrator was ONE GUY? I thought it was like a whole committee. That seems odd to me…

  • 18. cpsobsessed  |  July 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I’m fairly charter neutral, but I have to agree that $75million seems like a lot to invest right now. I did hear that charters ultimately cost CPS 75 cents on the dollar versus the CPS-run schools.

  • 19. Danaidh  |  July 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Re: #16

    The fact finding panel is new because of last year’s legislation known as SB7.

    The panel is made up of one designee of the Board; one from the Union (Jesse Sharkey); and a third they can both agree upon who actually prepares the report because he is supposedly neutral. (We assume the Board and Union representatives are strongly partisan.)

    Re: #17

    It used to be so. (The charters raise alot of money on their own, especially from grants and donations.)

    Last fall, however, CPS signed a Memorandum of Agreement (it has something to do with a Gates Foundation grant thingie they are part of) promising to increase the per-pupil charter expenditures until they are equal to the per-pupil expenditures for district-run schools.

  • 20. chicagodad  |  July 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Mayfair Dad, Rahm would never accept Mazany (a great choice BTW) since Terry had this annoying habit of deciding operational things based on facts before politics and influence. I remember being shocked that Daley would let someone like that take the job, even for a little while.

  • 21. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    @ # mom2

    I believe that the union wants to open up discussion to “work rules” which SB7 has not allowed to be a part of the negotiation process thus far because CPS has been unwilling to bring up such matters at the bargaining table. We want a better day. I think it has been brought up many times that this is the goal for the CTU. We just have to look like we only want to argue over money as that is what we can do until CPS opens up the table. We want smaller class sizes, gym, library and libraries for that matter. We want smaller case loads for our social workers and nurses so they can perform their jobs. More meaningful time with the children and time to do some of our require paperwork at work.

    @ # 7 Mayfair Dad
    I know in the trenches we would welcome back Mazany in a heartbeat! Heck I have heard several people form several different schools/fields say they’d be happy with Huberman back at this point and I think everyone knew that there were many conflicts with him. Mazany would be welcomed back with open arms.

  • 22. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    *required paperwork, not require.

  • 23. chicagodad  |  July 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    No way will CPS let go of all the charters they want to do after changing the utilization formula and getting the per pupil spending bumped up. They use manufactured problems to advance their agenda, not back away from it. How else will they boot the hardest to reach kids back to neighborhood schools to further burden the public part of the system? The CPS ” portfolio” approach is a lie to cover for that. CPS admits they can’t run schools so they have to depend on charters? Oooops, I forgot, the union’s the problem, my bad. Bottom line is that money (capital funds too) would be better spent on helping existing public schools.

  • 24. CPS dad  |  July 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    This is in response to mom2 question as to what the CTU want. Every thing in this game is about strategy. Does it make sense for CTU to accept the fact finding report of 15-20% raise and risk mass teacher layoffs, not to mention the dreaded REACH evaluation system designed to punish and remove educators from the classroom? The CTU game plan is quite simple in exchange for the longer day and accepting a smaller raise under double digits, CPS would have to give up the evaluation system, rehire displaced teachers, stop school closings and end the residency requirement plus not to mention put a freeze on charter school expansion. I predict this is the real intention of the CTU. CPS has strategically screwed themselves and are now backed in to a corner with no options left. They have in other words lost the war.

  • 25. CPS dad  |  July 16, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    What’s also interesting is that the fact finding mediator is supposed to base his/her decision on the school districts ability to pay. Their decision blew a hole in CPS smoke screen budget and proved the district can afford the increase in pay. Not to mention what about TIF funding which was taken from the schools in the first place. Talking about hundreds of millions alone for the mayor to implement his corporate socialist welfare of propping up businesses.

  • 26. cpsobsessed  |  July 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Yeah, does the arbitrator have to explain where the $ is gonna come from?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 27. LR  |  July 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Ouch, a 15-20% raise? I bet CPS was not expecting to hear that. I’m guessing CPS is not going to accept the deal? I think they ought to give teachers a 15% raise in exchange for phasing out the pension system and going to 401k’s. Does it do anything for us in the short-term? No. But, I think we are far too focused on the short-term. Everyone has gotten so caught up in the longer day and how much teachers should get compensated. To be honest, I am way less concerned about the longer day and more concerned about making sure that we aren’t in this same predicament year after year with no end.

    And as far as the longer day goes…CPS just went about it SO stupidly this whole year. From the beginning, they should have just said, all students should have the benefit of a 6.5 hour day…not just kids at Bell or in other schools where teachers are voluntarily working extra hours and have been for years. They should have positioned it not as “lengthening the day” but rather “leveling the playing field.”

  • 28. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    @26 LR
    This is the huge problem with CPS. They do many things stupidly. They also do it without talking to us in the trenches and seeing what the real issues/needs of the schools are. Then again, many of us are feeling like they would rather turn away from the real issues. For the real issues are multifaceted and cannot be solved on the backs of teachers and/or the CPS for that matter alone. We are only one piece of the puzzle. If the whole process was dealt with a little bit more gracefully and respectfully from the top down, we might not have hit this impasse.

    As for the pension. I am not sure any of us with less than 10 years have any faith in the pension being there long term. I think we all want to at least be guaranteed that we get what we have paid into the pension out of the pension. Additionally, I think that we want “safer” and “better” vendors in which to invest. I believe we are not eligible for 401Ks, but can do something similar, a 403b. Keep in mind we also don’t pay into Social Security, which has been mentioned many times. We want what you want. To be able to take care of ourselves and our families when we reach retirement age.

    As for “leveling the playing field” I think it has also been stated that we never feel like we have enough time to get what we need to get done done. I am not sure how it is at Bell, but I worked at a school that was an extended school day and the teachers overwhelmingly voted to lengthen the day by 1 hour. We were paid for that 1 hour and it allowed all children to have recess as well as some extended instructional time. I think the 6.5 hour day would be acceptable IF we make sure that all schools have access to some form of the arts, gym and library in addition to a SAFE space for recess. There are many more things that need to be put in place to “level the playing field” knowing that different schools are dealing with different problems that need different solutions. It is important to remember that what is FAIR is not always EQUAL. Example, schools where children are subject to witnessing and being regular victims of violence need more counselors and social workers available to them. Schools where competitiveness has reached an all time high, may need Yoga or an alternative relaxation technique to help kids learn to take some of the anxiety away. Schools where we stopped serving the neediest of children when Pre-K and Head Start were cut to half time may need to bring back full day programs.

    It is getting late.

  • 29. CPS dad  |  July 16, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    The independent fact finder’s recommendation that Chicago Public Schools officials have been pinning their hopes on to resolve a contentious teachers contract dispute is finally in — but Mayor Rahm Emanuel may wish it wasn’t.

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    The report essentially gives Emanuel’s school board a tough choice: dole out double-digit teacher raises in the first year of a four-year contract, or roll back the mayor’s signature longer school day and year effort.

    Fact finder Edwin Benn found that CPS “caused this problem by lengthening the school day and year to the extent it did when it was having serious budget problems,’’ according to a copy of Benn’s long-awaited report reviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times.

    “The board cannot realistically expect that it should not have to compensate employees for the problem it caused by an almost 20 percent increase for the employees’ work time.

    “Because the Board has the authority to set the length of the school day and year, as an alternative, the Board can reduce its costs by correspondingly reducing the length of the school day and/or year.’’

    Benn described the talks between CPS and the union as “toxic.”

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    It’s questionable whether his recommendations will improve the situation. Since either side can reject his non-binding conclusions, the negotiations could go back to square one.

    CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll estimated the total cost of the 18.26 average teacher pay hike Benn is recommending in year one of a new contract at $331 million. The recommendation comes after CPS officials announced they plan to deplete their rainy day reserves to plug a $665 million deficit, a move that prompted a swift downturn in their credit rating.

    “It is clearly not a price tag that taxpayers can afford, given the state of the financial crisis that we are in today,’’ Carroll said of the proposed 18.26 percent raise.

    On the other hand, Carroll said, “Eliminating the longer day is not an option.” Chicago’s 5 ¾ hour elementary school day is so short, Carroll said, “Regardless of whether we have a surplus or a deficit, [students] need the additional time.’’

    Carroll contended that Benn went outside the authority granted him under a new law pushed by Emanuel when Benn ruled that CPS teachers should be paid more for working a longer work day.

    Benn tied the longer day to a 12.6 percent raise in year one and combined it with a 2.25 percent cost-of-living hike and another 3.41 for extra years of experience. Over four years, the raises he recommended would total 35.7 percent.

    CTU attorney Robert Bloch noted that CPS built up a huge expectation around the fact-finder’s report for months.

    CPS officials, Emanuel, and some school reform groups ripped into the union for not waiting for the Benn’s report before taking a June strike authorization vote. In a letter to teachers on the eve of that vote, Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard insisted that teachers deserved a raise, but “how much that raise should be is in the hands of an independent fact finder.’’

    “How long have they been running ads blasting the union for not waiting for the fact-finder’s report?’’ Bloch said. “Now that it’s here, they can’t run away from it fast enough.”

    “Now that they are unhappy with the award, now they want to criticize him and denigrate the fact-finding process.’’

    Chicago Teachers Union officials are taking Benn’s recommendation to their House of Delegates for reaction on Wednesday. CTU President Karen Lewis refused Monday to say if leaders would recommend it be accepted or rejected.

    That same day, Chicago School Board members are meeting in special session to vote on it.

    Benn also found that the “union’s rage is understandable’’ after being denied a promised 4 percent raise this past school year. He recommended that the upcoming contract not include an escape clause allowing CPS to cancel raises they cannot afford, and that if CPS were to cancel raises, “the union should be permitted to strike for failure to pay.’’

    Benn’s final salary recommendation of 14.85 percent for cost of living and the longer school day in the first year, followed by 2.25 percent, 2.5 percent and 2.5 percent was far closer to the union’s final offer of 25 percent over two years than the board’s final offer of 8 percent over four years. On top of cost of living and extra pay for extra work, Benn recommended an extra 3.4 percent extra per year for added years of experience—something CPS wanted to dump.

  • 32. ISAT 2012 Peformance  |  July 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    I wonder why my comment about test scores is being moderated…

  • 33. cpsobsessed  |  July 17, 2012 at 7:19 am

    FYI: comments with links tend to hang in moderation. I will check for it when I’m at my computer later. Thanks!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 34. anonymouse teacher  |  July 17, 2012 at 9:24 am

    For once, after reading the independent fact finding recommendations, I am speechless. Wow. What a strange road this is.

  • 35. cpsobsessed  |  July 17, 2012 at 9:25 am

    A-Mouse, are you referring to the arbitrator’s report?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 36. HS Mom  |  July 17, 2012 at 9:31 am

    @23 “CPS has strategically screwed themselves and are now backed in to a corner with no options left. They have in other words lost the war.”

    Pretty sad statement when CTU views any effort by CPS as “war”.

    “Their decision blew a hole in CPS smoke screen budget and proved the district can afford the increase in pay.”

    The fact finder mediator based was going to use funds generated by laying off teachers….No?

  • 37. mom2  |  July 17, 2012 at 9:51 am

    HS Mom – exactly. CPS cannot afford this increase. The independent mediator recommended that increase based on lengthening the school day and year and the previously promised raise and a cost of living raise. He didn’t say where the money would come from and it sounds like everyone including the CTU know that it would have to come from laying off teachers. So the CTU talk of how there is all this secret money was just a bunch of B.S.

    I agree that there end game cannot be about money, but with all their constant negative talk about CPS, I cannot believe that what they really want is anything that is best for the students unless it is also best for them. So, I still think they just want to do away with a longer school day even though they keep saying they want more time to work with their students.

    What about CPS getting rid of the longer school year (so going back to having Pulaski day off, etc. but keeping the longer day (since teachers claim they want that extra time each day)? No, I’m sure CTU will reject that, too.
    I know, we will end up having a 6.5 hour day for elementary schools with no option to put lunch at the end of the teacher’s day.

  • 38. LR  |  July 17, 2012 at 9:57 am

    @27: I think 6.5 hours at Bell was just from lengthening lunch and adding recess time.

    I agree it is vitally important that every kid have arts, library and gym; but, it is not a financial reality to implement these things in schools that have few kids. For instance, one school that a close friend of mine did a project in had only 80 kids total. Right now, just keeping this school open is nothing but a financial drain for CPS. They are paying money for staff (principals, counselors, teachers, etc.) and just to keep the building open (maintenance, electricity, heat, etc.) for only 80 kids. About 2/3 of the rooms there look like a scene out of hoarders – just old books and supplies that teachers have left behind (very depressing!). I understand that this school is the last good thing in a neighborhood that is mostly boarded up buildings, pawn shops and liquor stores, but if we ever hope to give these kids access to things like library and art programs, the school needs to close and these kids need to be relocated. It just doesn’t make sense to invest in these things for a school that has 80 kids. I only bring this up because closing schools is politically unpopular, but I see it as part of the equation for giving kids access to special classes.

  • 39. mom2  |  July 17, 2012 at 9:58 am

    @cpsteacher4321 – thank you and cps dad for trying to help me understand the end game of CTU.
    cpsteacher4321, you said, “We want smaller class sizes, gym, library and libraries for that matter. We want smaller case loads for our social workers and nurses so they can perform their jobs. More meaningful time with the children and time to do some of our require paperwork at work.” – In order to CPS to give you that, I’m thinking that they would need to give you no increase at all and still lengthen the time you spend at school and possibly cut other programs. How else would they have the money it would cost for that? Are you saying you would be willing to accept a proposal like that? You might, but Karen Lewis would not.
    cps dad – you said, “CPS would have to give up the evaluation system, rehire displaced teachers, stop school closings and end the residency requirement plus not to mention put a freeze on charter school expansion. ” – I think you are closer to correct about the end game.

  • 40. junior  |  July 17, 2012 at 10:32 am

    So, can someone explain how it is calculated that the extended day would add 20% hours to the teachers day?

    Here’s what I get —

    1. 5.75 hour current day.

    2. Move (non-working) 45-minute lunch to middle of the day makes the day 6.5 hours. (Lunch is off-duty, just like it is now, so no additional pay accrued.)

    3. Add 0.5 hours of instruction time to get 7 hour day.

    4. 0.5 hours added time divided by 6.5 hour day = 7.7% increase in official work hours.

    Did I miss something, or is this “fact-finder” failing to get even the basic facts correct?

    (And of course, if you accept teacher claims and surveys that they work 10-hour days, then the actual percentage would be much would be more like 5%?)

    Here’s some fact finding on the fact finder:

  • 41. cpsmommy  |  July 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

    @36 Seems to me that Rahm started this war a long time ago. He has deliberately tried to sway public opinion into outright hostility for teachers.

    June 2011 “Emanuel: Kids got ‘the shaft’ while CPS teachers got raises”

  • 42. Patricia  |  July 17, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Teacher4321 and CPS Dad, you are probably pretty close to the CTU end game. The priority of the CTU is (1) pension protection and (2) resist any form of teacher evaluation. All the talk about a “better day” is really just a smoke screen to try and garner parent support. I do think the good teachers truly want a day with art/music/ language/recess, but that is not the CTU agenda in negotiations.

    The core of the problem is that the very best teacher in the system is treated exactly the same as the very worst in the system. I think it is in the CTU bylaws to “defend this point to the death” so to speak. This is exactly what they are doing. That is the whole point of a union, right? Until this changes, no amount of money, longer day, art/music/gym/recess will truly improve education in CPS. Evaluations and pensions is really what CTU will strike about. Pensions can be kicked down the road one more year, so the big push is resisting evaluations. CTU participated in over 30 meetings on evaluations and bailed at the last minute and as a result $40 million grant is lost to test/pilot an evaluation system. Talk about strining someone along and leaving them at the altar.

    The pension bubble—-watch Illinois and the property values tank when we all go off that insurmountable pension cliff in 2014.

  • 43. LR  |  July 17, 2012 at 10:44 am

    From RYH: “CPS wasted our time this year battling about something we can’t afford.” Couldn’t agree more! Complete waste of time. And a waste of money that an independent fact finder had to be hired to confirm that. Hope CPS hasn’t printed the calendars yet!

  • 44. Patricia  |  July 17, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Mom2 is correct. Recess is completely at risk here. It is all about the adults right now and very easy for CTU and CPS to nix recess. If teachers really wanted recess, they would have embraced the chance to get recess for this year—-at ZERO cost. Yet, only 13 schools moved and hundreds were shot down trying. I do not mean to open an old can of worms here as there are many threads about the hassle of parents trying to get recess purely for the children at the end of last school year. I do not see any evidence that things have changed to make students the priority.

    A post above talks about why CPS did not just say everyone move to 6.5 hours and include recess. They tried exactly that at the end of last school year and tried AGAIN to make it mandatory across the board when Rahm took office. Guess who blocked it—the CTU. All part of their negotiation strategy—say NO to everything. Also, CTU filed a class action grievance about CPS trying to have schools move to the recess friendly open schedule. Yes, CPS is stupid in much of what they do, but they also get blocked by the CTU at every corner.

  • 45. Patricia  |  July 17, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Junior, your math is correct. I am baffled how the arbitrator fugleyed that one up, but maybe the details will be made public? I suspect he was going from the attorney/mediator perspecive of “precedent” and “years of labor negotiations in a 250+ page document”. This takes out the common sense aspect of looking at it being only 5-7% longer. Also, what world does the arbitrator live in with cost of living increase? Is there an alternate universe where those raises actualy take place in this shattered economy? To me, it seems 5-7% is where it should end up, with the longer day.

  • 46. cpsobsessed  |  July 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I wondered the same thing about cost of living increases. I don’t know anyone who gets those, do you?
    Most people do seem to get some piddly raise each year assuming they do a decent job throughout the year, but not just a “showing up raise.”. Then again, the whole “review process” takes a lot of time in the workplace. Maybe it’s easier to just give a flat amount and be done with it….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 47. Family Friend  |  July 17, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Charter School Funding Basics (in Illinois)

    The $75 million in “new” charter school money probably leaves MORE available to CPS for other things, not less. Here’s the basic structure of Illinois charter funding:

    – Every year, every school district in the state has to send an audited financial report to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
    – ISBE uses that report to calculate Operating Expense Per Pupil (OEPP). This is the funding number that most people refer to when they talk about a district’s per student spending. For 2010-11 (2011-12 results won’t be available for almost a year), CPS’ OEPP was $13,615.56. That’s the amount the district has for every one of its students, and charter school students are included in that total.
    – ISBE then deducts a long list of revenue categories to calculate a new number, Per Capita Tuition Charge (PCTC). For 2010-11, CPS’ PCTC was $9,126.93
    – The Illinois Charter Schools Law requires that charter schools be paid at least 75% of PCTC
    – In addition, charter schools receive funds loosely termed “categoricals,” which adds back some, but far from all, of the difference between OEPP and PCTC. Categoricals include things like federal poverty and teacher training funds, and special education funds.
    – Under the new “equitable” charter school funding plan per the Gates Compact, CPS will pay high school charters between $7,534 and $8,284. That’s between 83% and 91% of PCTC.
    – Under the Gates Compact, CPS will pay elementary charter schools between $6,027 and $6,777 per pupil. That’s between 66% and 74% of PCTC. No, that’s not a typo. Even with the new increased per-pupil numbers, CPS is not complying with state law in its per-pupil payments to elementary charter schools.
    – Categoricals will remain at about the same levels, with the exception of payments for special education teachers and clinicians. In the past, CPS has paid a flat $65,000 per special ed teacher, from which the charter school had to pay salary and benefits. The average salary-only cost for a CPS special ed teacher is over $90,000, which made it very difficult for charter schools to hire experienced special ed teachers without dipping into already limited general funds. The special ed teacher payment to charter schools will be increased to $95,000, with some limitations.

    It’s clear that charter schools get a LOT less per pupil than regular CPS schools. The difference between what charters receive and $13,615.56 per pupil (charter funding gap) is available to increase the effective OEPP for non-charter students.

    Additionally, charter schools usually start out with one to three grades, and add a grade each year. Even without adding new charters, the charter school population is growing. That means the charter funding gap will be multiplied by more students, yielding an even greater bonus to CPS’ non-charter students.

    Last year, there were about 46,000 students in Chicago charter schools. Assuming an average charter funding gap of $2,000 (and that’s a conservative estimate, given what I know about charter funding) and an increase in the number of charter school students to 50,000 (again, a conservative assumption), that’s $100 million in savings to CPS.

    So enough about taking the $75 million increase for charters and spending it on the other students – that’s already happening.

    By the way, it’s a myth that charters get a lot of money through private fundraising. There are a few outstanding fundraisers in the city, but most charters would be thrilled to raise $100,000 a year.

  • 48. mom2  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Patricia and Junior, I also agree that it seems to come out to at most 7% longer – unless you also include working the extra days that are no longer days off. Maybe that is where the rest of the percent comes from. That is why I’m thinking they might want to go back to all those days off and just do the “longer day”.
    Also agree that their “better day” comments are getting old and don’t ring true to me.

  • 49. anonymouse teacher  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:10 am

    CPSO, yes, that is what I meant.
    Junior, don’t forget to add in the time for the additional 10 days and the 90 minutes per week of required and additional PD time. And the idea that since we claim to work 10 hour days, why can’t we just fit the additional time required into that time? Sheesh. (I mean really, I have a car that can fit 6 people in it. Why in the world would I not be able to fit 9 in if I added 3 more people to my family? This seems to be the logic here. I should be able to squish them all in, you know, since my car is so big to begin with.)

    I’d be interested to know how much money the district is saving by:
    large numbers of retirements
    850 positions closed or eliminated
    all the teachers who have quit or left
    Newer teachers are cheaper and the district knows that 50% of all new teachers quit within 3 years, saving the district from ever having to pay them the top of the salary range.

    I also loved the arbitrators recommendation that all future contracts strike out the clause that raises can be rescinded any time the city decides it cannot pay them. I guarantee that there will never be a contract agreed upon ever again with that clause.

    I don’t think we’ll ever see the raise amount the arbitrator is recommending, nor do I think the city can afford that. And I still think the two sides are so far apart that a strike is likely. I also don’t think we’ll be having a 7 hour school day with an extended school year by 10 days. My principal will have to re-do our schedule again. It took weeks the first two times around. I am worried about her sanity. At this point, all I want to know is what our school hours will be so I can figure out if I need to hire morning childcare.

    I also want to see the ISAT scores. I have heard at least half of the “pioneer” schools dropped in scores while half increased in scores. Can anyone confirm that Skinner North dropped 10 percentage points from their “exceeds” category? Did schools with lower scores to begin with do better than those which were higher achieving anyway?

  • 50. anonymouse teacher  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:16 am

    On another note, regardless of anything else, I will be furious if recess is eliminated. Students need it. Crap, teachers need it! I am a happier person if I see sunshine at least once during the day! Even if we forget everything else, this is a small change that has big pay offs. 6.5 makes a heck of a lot of sense.

  • 51. Patricia  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Just for fun, let’s take an “arbitrator/precedent” view from a parent and student perspective. What I would like to see as a parent is “backpay” to the students for the precedent of decades that they got the short 5.75 hour day (which is clearly too short) and no recess and short lunch. We can then discuss the compensation when we are even again—-about 10 years worth I would guess. I admit this is looking at is just from a parent/student lenz and does not take into account what the CTU and CPS traded back and forth to get students such an awful short day. I would suspect none of the trade offs had students as the priority. Also, I know the good teachers were just following the rules, but the mediocre relished in taking their lunch the end of the day and want it to stay that way.

    Mom2, I see your point with not adding the extra 10 days, but that would be such a shame for the students and teachers. The new calendar is one of the bright spots in the past year. Parents, teachers, students and CPS crafted it and it would be a shame to see it nixed.

    annon teacher, I am glad to hear you are all for recess, yet I wonder why it was so poorly received when offered last year.

  • 52. CLB  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:33 am

    @39 I used CPS’s own interactive budget tool, and I balanced the budget while decreasing class size by 7 students in elementary and HS. Cut charter funding 50% and you go a long way to resolving the gap. Of course, that tool is no precise about exactly that you are cutting.

    From the Budget Book, FY2013 charter school spending is $482.9 million. By comparison, core instruction for CPS high school is $448.4 million (pp. 35-36) That’s apples and an oranges, but it gives you a sense of the magnitude of charter spending.

    If I cut average K-8 class size from over 30 to 25 students and gave the existing and new K-8 teachers 10% raises, I would need @ $390 million additional dollars. Cut the contracts and the central administration’s chief ed., admin, and portfolio office budgets by 10% from the FY2013 budgeted level and whack $147 million (30%) from charters, and I get that $390m. Not necessarily a great plan since there will be some overlap between the contracts and the central office budgets, but it shows that smaller class size and salary increases are not inherently incompatible. It depends on where you allocate the money.

    That said, both CPS and CTU would agree that better funding from the state — CPS receives proportionately low amounts of state aid compared to other urban school districts — would help matters greatly.

  • 53. anonymouse teacher  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Patricia, fwiw, it was never even discussed at my school or many others. The pioneer day was a separate issue, but I can tell you for sure, the idea of taking lunch in the middle of the day like normal people do and having recess, too, is an issue I had never even heard of until I got on this blog. No school I have ever been a part of has ever discussed it, let alone voted on it. I would venture a guess to say most haven’t. My former school never did, nor did the one I currently teach in. I don’t know why. Habit, I guess? The staff is overwhelmed with other things? Who knows? To be honest, I had no idea taking lunch at the end of the day was a CPS/CTU negotiating thing. I just always assumed the BOE didn’t care if I had time to eat AND pee. Now I know this was a double sided issue. On this issue, I am completely at odds with the way schools and the union have handled it. (and CPS too for not being willing to hire additional staff to supervise it)

  • 54. junior  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:42 am

    @52 CLB
    If you cut charter spending by 50%, how do you educate those 50% of children in charter schools? Seems like a false savings to me.

  • 55. junior  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

    @49 anonymouse teacher

    No, I’m not asking you to add hours to the 10 hour day that you work. Seems like teachers all around the country are able to handle much longer days than that of CPS with the hours that they have.

    Let’s be honest here. If the day is extended, teachers in all practicality will put in less of their own personal hours, so are they really working more? Not really.

    BTW, even adding your additional items does not get your near 20% increase in work hours. Apparently the fact finder now wants teachers to get paid for non-working lunch.

  • 56. donna  |  July 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I am sure that this fact finding panel has seen much more information than we, the public, have access to.

  • 57. anonymouse teacher  |  July 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I am hesitant to say that cutting charter spending will save money. It might. But since charters get less money over the long haul (I know they tend to get a lot for start up), I would think that would save money because if all those kids came back to their neighborhood schools, wouldn’t we be paying more for them there? I also believe the city WANTS charters primarily because they serve in communities that are lower performing no matter what. If they are in charters, the city can effectively wash their hands of those kids, claiming that they are the charters’ responsibility.

  • 58. anonymouse teacher  |  July 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Can someone point me to the instructional hours of a few other urban cities? Suburbs don’t count since they educate a very different kind of student. And I’d also be looking to see if class sizes are as large as CPS because that factors in also. Is there a link that provides that info? Not just starting and end times, but full information regarding instructional minutes. My spouse’s school is a full 8 hour day in the building, but he is only “instructing” slightly more than 5 hours a day.

  • 59. CLB  |  July 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    @40 @48, You’ve forgotten the 25 min. before the student school day for the teachers in the new 7-hour plan. So that is an additional .417 hours. The new school year is ten days longer. That’s 70 hours extra per year. Allocate those 70 hours across the existing 170-day school year, and you add .412 hours per day. So, with the .5 you have during the student instructional period, the equation is (.417+.412+.5)/6.5 = .205

    For all those who poo-poo the teacher claims of 10-hours per day, consider this. Do you believe that all grading, class planning, admin. paperwork, responding to parents, etc., if done conscientiously, can be done in 1:05 each day (remember, that one :45 period is reserved to the principal’s discretion). I see teachers at Mayer arriving early or staying late on many days. And I have had emails answered late on a Sunday night. If these jobs were so cushy, more of us would be seeking them out.

  • 60. Patricia  |  July 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    @59, the thing I struggle with is depending on how it benefits teachers, a different viewpoint/ancor is used. I understand the human tendency to always look at it from a personal benefit lenz, but it mixes apples and oranges and honestly, takes out the common sense factor.

    Yes adding 10 days back to the calendar is a change, but what about the perspective that those days should have NEVER been taken away from the students?

    Yes moving lunch to the middle of the day is a change, but what about the perspective that it should have never been allowed and stripped from the students?

    It is the flip-flop between treat me as a “salary” worker sometimes and as an “hourly” employee depending on the greatest personal benefit. I am not faulting anyone for trying to pull this off, the problem is that we make no progress and good change never happens.

    Lastly, the teacher that works 10 hour days is treated exactly the same as the teacher who works 5.75 and there will likely be a strike to keep it this way. I don’t understand why the good teachers tolerate this from their union.

  • 61. junior  |  July 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    @59 CLB
    How much time is allocated now to time “before the school day”? And why do we need that 25 minutes along with additional PD?

    Is it 25 *additional* minutes? Is that planning time? Why do we need 25 more minutes of time to plan 30 more minutes of instruction?

    Regarding PD time, I’ve always said it would be easy enough to study the effectiveness of PD time — just cut PD in half of the schools and see if there’s a difference in performance. I’ve heard many teachers scoff at PD as a waste of time.

  • 62. LR  |  July 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    @51: You cannot look at this as payback. So, my daughter’s teacher who is going to be in her 4th year of teaching should work extra time over the remaining decades of her career to pay back the time that the teacher she replaced didn’t work? No.

    If CPS wants the longer day, then abide by the terms of SB7 that they championed and accept the independent fact-finder’s proposal. Of course, that isn’t realistic, so I wish they’d not waste any more time on it and find a solution they can afford.

    What makes me really irritated with CPS is all the strife they gave teachers about authorizing the strike vote “early.” If that was premature, wasn’t it very premature to be changing our school hours and structuring our 7 hour day?

  • 63. junior  |  July 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    @60 Patricia

    Agree. Teachers (and the fact finder) seem to treat the current contract as some sort of baseline entitlement. But having the highest compensation of urban districts in the country for one of the shortest days is something that was a bad deal for the City and students for a long time. Perpetuating that deal as a baseline is bad policy.

    The city will probably need to force a strike if it’s going to take that position, and even that may not make a lot of headway.

    As I see it, there is no real downside for the teachers in a strike. Their compensation may get deferred, but in the long run they get a lot more. And even days of work lost tend to get added back onto the end of the school year. So, really, is there much hardship from the teachers’ side in a strike? I think that’s imbalance in the dynamic that SB7 tried to remedy (and failed).

  • 64. CLB  |  July 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    @54 Ask CPS on the 50% charter cut effects. I was using their interactive tool, which actually shows a $380 million charter budget in the interactive tool, so maybe that’s how the account for it. I could also put the budget in the black with only a 20% cut to charters if class size was reduced by 5 students in elementary school and 3 in HS, along with other cuts I made.

    @57 It would not be a one-to-one effect. Money would come back and some students would return to schools that have fewer students per class now. In some cases, a new teacher would be necessary, but the money would be coming back with it. My criticism of charters is not that they take students out of a school (although that matters if the school is then closed and the kids who could not attend a charter have to go elsewhere), but that it takes the money out of the system.

    @47 CPS figures for FY2013 are that it will spend $482.9 million on 53,069 students, so a per-pupil cost to CPS of almost $9,100 (Budget Book, p.36). This is not the same as the per-pupil rate that CPS pays out to a charter school. That is lower as stated @47 (p.164). CPS uses a different enrollment figure on the latter page, 54,158 students. But the gap between the operational cost per student (total students divided by CPS operating budget) and the per-pupil rate paid to charters or even the per-pupil cost to CPS is not comparable to school-level funding in non-charter schools. CPS schools receive allocations based on an enrollment formula, not a per-pupil share of the operating budget. CPS itself may capture some gains, but the charters are not paying for pensions or CTU salary levels. Nor do they carry CPS’s debt burden. It is arguable whether charters should have to pay lease fees to CPS when a CPS school would not.

  • 65. mom2  |  July 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    @LR – I don’t think Patricia meant that comment as “pay back”. I think she meant that for however long it has been this way, it shouldn’t have been. Those that taught with those days, hours and salary were lucky to have had it that way, but it never should have been that way. So, let’s have it how it should have always been now.

    Also agree with Junior’s question about the time before school. CLB, are you saying that they are asking teachers to show up 25 more minutes before students start than they current have to show up? Teachers at my kids school already have to show up before the kids. If it isn’t 25 minutes more than that, you can’t count that.

    And I really don’t think parents think teachers don’t spend hours and evenings and weekends working on lesson plans and grading papers. That is part of the job of being a salaried teacher. Same as any other job where you may have to come in early, work late, work through lunch, work weekends or whatever to get the job done. Teachers aren’t special or unique in this area and these other salaried jobs don’t pay more when you have to work extra. I’m tired have that argument. I find it irrelevant.

  • 66. mom2  |  July 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    sorry about the double negative…And I know that parents realize teachers spend hours and evenings…

  • 67. CLB  |  July 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    @60 Whether they are FLSA exempt or not, isn’t really the issue. Either way, more time is more time. Sure some teachers watch the clock; and some stay late putting together materials for an in-class project or considering what the best reading for a particular class might be. Finding a way of rewarding the latter would be great, but it is also very hard, and may cost more — to provide the rewards and to administer the system.


    Is it 25 *additional* minutes? Is that planning time? Why do we need 25 more minutes of time to plan 30 more minutes of instruction?

    Ask Brizard. It’s his schedule, not mine. If he didn’t want PD, he could have removed it. Again, when do you expect grading, reading, course prep, etc. is supposed to get done? I’m puzzled as to why time to prepare and grade is considered unnecessary but extra instructional minutes are considered invaluable.

    If you want you teacher to spend less than two minutes looking over your child’s tests or homework each day, by all all means cut the :25 minutes before school. That might work for a 1st grade, but I expect a 5th grade teacher to spend more than two minutes a day on my child’s homework and schoolwork.

  • 68. Cake for all!  |  July 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Does anyone think they will encourage their children to be teachers when they grow up? What will you say to your child and why?

  • 69. junior  |  July 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    @67 CLB

    You didn’t address my question. How much time is allocated now compared to the 25 minutes in the new plan? You made specific calculations to justify the 20%, so I assume you did that based on some knowledge of the facts.

  • 70. Patricia  |  July 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    @67 CLB I don’t buy the cirucular argument threads keep having about grading papers, etc. As Mom2 accurately explained, it is part of the job, like any other job has its positive and negative aspects. So if you need to grade papers, you need to grade papers. Before school, during your lunch, during your weekly pd, in the evening or over the many breaks you get. Whatever works for an individual teacher. Also, going back and forth with “more time is more time”——but I work 10 hours a day anyway. I don’t get how that foots. You are a salaried employee working less than 8 hours on the premesis even with the longer day. (Of course we all know that some teachers take work home, etc.)

    Junior, well said with the false starting point of using the current mess as a baseline. I think that is where a lot of things get off track from square one and why it is so hard for many parents to understand how adding 30 minutes is insurmountable. It seems realistic when you look at it from a practical starting point.

    Thanks Mom2 for clarifying that I did not mean “payback” rather that it is absurd to be viewing our schedule today as a great starting point.

  • 71. anonymouse teacher  |  July 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Wait,#67, what? “That might work for a 1st grade”
    I teach kindergarten and I spend HOURS and HOURS each week designing small group reading lessons and interventions. And that is just for reading groups. That doesn’t include the other 5 hours a day. I get your point, but you are making a big assumption there. Early primary teachers need to spend just as much time, if not more, planning, researching, etc, than upper grade teachers.
    And #68, I would probably not encourage my kids to go into teaching, but really, it is their choice. But, there are a lot of other jobs I wouldn’t want my kids doing either. I don’t have a single friend, outside of the teaching profession, who actually really truly loves going to work each day as I do.

  • 72. mom2  |  July 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    CLB, the fact that you aren’t answering the question (about whether that 25 minutes you counted in figuring out the additional time (beyond the current schedule) was really additional time) basically answers our question.

    Of course teachers need time to grade papers and spend a lot more than two minutes a day on reviewing work and planning lessons. No one was saying anything to the contrary. It was simply a question about how they came up with 20% more when Junior was figuring 7% more. We know it might be more than 7% because of the extra days, but I think he got it right for the number of official work hours in one day.

    Teachers already work more hours than the official work hours and that is basically part of being a teacher and having that job. You can’t figure that into this conversation about getting a raise for the new longer day. Salaried exempt status means exempt from overtime pay. You work until the job is done for X per year.

    Anyway…you actually seem to be advocating for more money and I am pretty sure we started this conversation with the acknowledgement that CTU knows CPS would only have money to pay more if they lay off teachers and add more kids per classroom. They don’t want that any more than parents want that, so let’s move on to how we can avoid a strike and make a school day and year that benefits the kids and retains good teachers without breaking CPS or the city or the tax payers.

  • 73. cpsobsessed  |  July 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    In terms of a teaching career, if I were starting again and had an interest in it, I think I’d want to see where this pension stuff nets out before embarking upon a career. That is true for any public institution. I’d feel much better entering a field where i knew what to expect for retirement. I hate the unknown and the pension stuff seems so sketchy right now.

    On the other hand, the appeal of summers off is something that is so utterly appealing. My son told me as summer began, “I really wish you were a teacher or a snow plow driver so you’d have the summer off.” My job feels like I never really get a break. To have winter and spring break, plus summer almost overcomes the other difficulties. *Almost.*

  • 74. cpsobsessed  |  July 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    For parents who want to learn more & ask questions to CPS about the budget, we’ve set up a Tele-Town Hall tomorrow. Details below:

    WHAT: CPS Budget Tele-Town Hall, an opportunity for the public to ask questions and learn more about CPS’s proposed budget for next year, hearing directly from CPS officials.

    WHEN: 6:00pm – 7:30pm, Wednesday July 18.

    HOW: To join the call, dial (888) 886-6603, then 19457, and then the “#” symbol toll-free from any phone.

  • 75. Erin S.  |  July 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I just have to say, I work in a large, popular school on the north side and NONE of our classes in grades 4-8 were under 30 students. I don’t know where that 28 student class size comes from.

  • 76. junior  |  July 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Fuzzy math.

    Yes, teachers have a school day of 5.5 or 6.25 hours, but no one really expects that they work only those hours. So, when the fact finder calculates a percentage increase in their time worked, is it correct to base it on 5.5 hours, or should he base it on a more realistic work day, like 8 hours, which would dramatically reduce that % calculations? Isn’t it a little absurd to talk about % increase in time, when we don’t even know how much time is put in outside of school? It could be 0 or it could be 5 hours. Under the current calculations, the assumption of 0 hours put in outside of class means a much larger % raise calculated, since the denominator is much lower, and the assumption of a lot of hours put in outside of class suggests a small % increase — it’s a bit absurd, no?

    Why not just say let’s look at the average school day length and average salary in urban districts, adjust for cost of living, and use that as a baseline? CTU could put on the table all the accomplishments and initiatives that they have pursued as a body of 25,000 teachers that make their members above-average performers in order to justify anything above average pay/benefits.

  • 77. SutherlandParent  |  July 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    @68, if my kids truly want to be teachers and understand what the job entails, I’d absolutely encourage them to do it. I’d do the same thing if, for example, they want to become lawyers–even though practicing law can be brutally competitive and (with notable exceptions) often doesn’t pay as well as many people seem to think it does.

    Every profession has its advantages and disadvantages. As long as my kids can make a living at a job they enjoy *most* of the time, I’ll support them. Of course, if they find a job that makes them billionaires and they can support me lavishly in my old age, that would be fine too 🙂

  • 78. bookworm  |  July 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I don’t think my kid’s teachers take the summer “off ” totally. They are in and out of the school the whole time and busy working on new things or tightening up what they want to improve all summer. It seems like it never really ends for them in some ways.

    This summer they are battening down the hatches for the seven hour day trying to creatively circumvent more test prep. ( and not getting paid for it either)

    CPS should support the great teachers that are out there.
    My kid’s teachers are a usually always looking out for their students. Far more that the CPS non teaching central staff. Or the Mayor.

  • 79. CLB  |  July 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    @65 I was working off the baseline hours that Junior gave @40 and the principal’s guide for elementary schools on the longer day, which gives the 7:25 number (or 7:40 with :15 banked in the guide, not sure what that means). Maybe Junior has the current hours worked.

    If we stipulate that teachers work many hours outside the official school day, then we ought to account for this is discussions of compensation. Unlike many FSLA-exempt salaried workers, the boss (principal) cannot just let them go home earlier one day, or take an extra days vacation, something that many exempt workers get to compensate them for the longer hours outside the regular work day. Heck, I’ve had bosses give an extra week’s vacation as reward for 14-hour days, along with bonuses. That other bosses and employers do not do this only explains why workers form unions with salary scales when they can.

    Much of this debate seems to center around two things 1) the poor state of CPS finances and 2) the “fairness” of CTU salary demands.

    With #1, we can find items within the budget that we would rather have or not have that affect the funds available for general salaries. And since the revenue is the function of political decisions, we can always ask for more for our preferred expenditures (e.g.,charter, SE, class size, salary hikes)

    On #2 , some make comparisons to other teachers: for example, Chicago v. other large urban school districts, where Chicago is at the top or near the top. (Of course, Chicago has a city residency requirement; NYC, which is 2nd to Chicago in most pay areas, does not.) But others might compare Chicago v. other Illinois school districts, where Chicago is lower down. Or teaching v. another profession that pays more (or less). There is no correct answer. Indeed, if one believes in market-based economics, whatever salary the employer will pay and the employees will work for is the “fair” salary.

  • 80. junior  |  July 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Sorry, Chicago is in the very top of the state districts in pay also. Any way you slice it, CPS teachers are well compensated.

    To put things in perspective, CPS budget is around $5 billion, and if I read it correctly, teacher compensation accounts for more than half of that budget. So, large increases for teachers would have a major impact on other things that are currently provided. I think we’re already facing incredibly grim deficits for 2014.

  • 81. junior  |  July 17, 2012 at 5:00 pm


    So, how could you make a calculation of % increase in hours worked in the new plan, if you didn’t have an accurate accounting of total current hours worked?

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the fact finder actually used for his calculations. I hope, at $1,300-per-day fees, he was asked to show his work.

    Nonetheless, as pointed out above, % hours change is not a rational measure because no one expects that teachers only work 5.5 hours. It skews any discussion. If you take the 5.5-hour-day logic to its conclusion, then the average teacher in CPS is making $80/hour for their official hours worked. And if you take that one step further, for a full-year, 40-hour-per-week position, that would be the equivalent of $166,000 annually. But we have a CTU leader decrying slave wages. We can all play the numbers game.

  • 82. RL Julia  |  July 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    You can’t get blood from a stone -if there is no money to pay the teachers and they have stated they won’t work more without a pay increase, than you are at an impasse. IMO, this past school year did more to erode the goodwill of teachers than any that I’ve ever seen. Most grade school teachers that I know started the year being far less polarized about the wage increase v. longer school day etc… but by the end of the year, after a whole year of being bullied, disrespected by the central office, mis-represented and talked amck about, they are all pretty much ready to strike – and I can’t say I blame them. If nothing else, this mess that we are all in is a classic example of how to squander goodwill, discourage collaboration and generally get the worst out of everyone.

  • 83. TeachingintheChi  |  July 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    You can complain about charters all you want but they are in demand by parents as much as CPS. Call most charter schools and they have a waiting list a mile long. How many traditional CPS schools can say that outside of the selective enrollments?

    Charter teachers are not paid the CPS salary, pension or benefits. The 75% of pupil funding follows the student to the charter school. Charters across the board do more with less. Teachers at charters generally are paid less, pay into a 403B and pay significantly more for benefits than CPS. The upside? No union nonsense among other things.

    Also, in an earlier post there was a link to the gains in ISAT scores. Looked like charters had the highest scores. So while you all want to complain about charters, they are reaching a population and they are coveted by many parents. Regardless of test performance, they have a reputation of being safer, and most have FAR smaller class sizes than the neighborhood schools. Additionally, they have traditionally been hard on gang activity and parents appreciate a safe learning environment for their children.

    CPS as a whole could do all these things but don’t. They are too busy paying fact finders, and trainers, and report writers, and the horrible people that work at Elizabeth Street to really try to run schools. It’s a shame more people with experience in education aren’t actually involved in managing education.

  • 84. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    @42 Patricia states:
    “Teacher4321 and CPS Dad, you are probably pretty close to the CTU end game. The priority of the CTU is (1) pension protection and (2) resist any form of teacher evaluation. All the talk about a “better day” is really just a smoke screen to try and garner parent support. I do think the good teachers truly want a day with art/music/ language/recess, but that is not the CTU agenda in negotiations.
    The core of the problem is that the very best teacher in the system is treated exactly the same as the very worst in the system. I think it is in the CTU bylaws to “defend this point to the death” so to speak. This is exactly what they are doing. That is the whole point of a union, right? Until this changes, no amount of money, longer day, art/music/gym/recess will truly improve education in CPS. Evaluations and pensions is really what CTU will strike about. Pensions can be kicked down the road one more year, so the big push is resisting evaluations. CTU participated in over 30 meetings on evaluations and bailed at the last minute and as a result $40 million grant is lost to test/pilot an evaluation system. Talk about strining someone along and leaving them at the altar.
    The pension bubble—-watch Illinois and the property values tank when we all go off that insurmountable pension cliff in 2014.”

    I agree that I want to have some way of knowing that when I retire I will be able to support myself. I also agree that I want what was promised to me and what I paid into the pension for my almost 10 years of work is given to me in some way shape or form. I have been privately investing a small portion of my paycheck because I do not believe that everything will be there for me when I retire.

    I do not agree that the CTU’s goal is to resist ANY form of teacher evaluation. I think that the CTU wants a fair evaluation system that both sides can agree with. I don’t have any problem with an evaluation system, but teaching in a grade/subject that is not easily graded and doesn’t traditionally do formal testing, I want to make sure that I am being judged as well as the outcomes of my children in an age appropriate and developmentally appropriate way.

    As for the “better day” being a smoke screen. I do not feel that that is what it is. We’re all entitled to our own opinion. I have worked in a schools with an abundance of resources as well as one with an extremely limited amount of resources. I think all students deserve what is FAIR, not EQUAL. I also don’t think I am in the minority.

    Again unless CPS OPENS THE TABLE to other things, the ONLY THING WE CAN BARGAIN FOR IS MONEY. So I agree, it looks like this is “not the CTU agenda in negotiations.”

    It is also hard to qualify what makes the teacher the “best teacher in the system” vs “the worst teacher in the system.” There are some teachers in schools that are not respected, with limited resources that work their tails off to support their students and teach them from the level that they enter school. Though on paper, the schools are “failing.” While some of the teachers that “appear the best” have been dealt a different hand of cards in terms of where to start and outside influences. CPS does not exist in a vacuum.

    I do not think the whole point of the union is money, yes they should seek fair wages, but I see it as more than that. I see the point of the union to be there to advocate for safe working conditions, professional resources, appropriate resources for the students. I see the union advocating for resources that allow me to do my job to the best of my ability to include time and resources my classroom should have available for me to do my job.

    I also don’t feel I am in the minority in my desires for CPS as a professional.

  • 85. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    @ 39 Mom 2
    In order to CPS to give you that, I’m thinking that they would need to give you no increase at all and still lengthen the time you spend
    at school and possibly cut other programs. How else would they have the money it would cost for that? Are you saying you would be willing to accept a proposal like that? You might, but Karen Lewis would not.
    cps dad – you said, “CPS would have to give up the evaluation system, rehire displaced teachers, stop school closings and end the residency requirement plus not to mention put a freeze on charter school expansion. ” – I think you are closer to correct about the end game.

    I think that yes. A compromise is in order and possible. Firs though CPS has to get a bit more truthful about what is really going on. I don’t know if it will amount to no raise, more time at school and other program cuts. However there are definite places “fat can be trimmed.”

    I agree with the freeze on Charter school expansion until there is some proof that they are doing better than the neighborhood schools they are replacing with the same neighborhood children.

    I think the residency requirement should go too, but I’m pretty committed to live in the city and could apply for a waiver if I wanted, so for me personally it is not a deal breaker.

    I think that knowing I am slowly aging (aren’t we all) and how some of my colleagues who have been displaced some sort of deal does need to be reached with clear lines drawn about how the entire displaced teacher process works.

    I think school closings need to be done in a more humane way and with a closer eye and a clear set of criteria. I do think underutilization is a large problem in the areas that once housed high rise housing projects and other areas of the city. However, there are areas of the city (The area by UIC/Roosevelt Road comes to mind, where the ABLA projects were housed) where a series of school closings landed children in several different schools in the span of their career. There has to be some sort of continuity set up. Perhaps the teachers move with the students if a school is closed for underutilization after all the problem here is “underutilization” not academic failure.

  • 86. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    @44 Patricia stated:
    Mom2 is correct. Recess is completely at risk here. It is all about the adults right now and very easy for CTU and CPS to nix recess. If teachers really wanted recess, they would have embraced the chance to get recess for this year—-at ZERO cost. Yet, only 13 schools moved and hundreds were shot down trying. I do not mean to open an old can of worms here as there are many threads about the hassle of parents trying to get recess purely for the children at the end of last school year. I do not see any evidence that things have changed to make students the priority.
    A post above talks about why CPS did not just say everyone move to 6.5 hours and include recess. They tried exactly that at the end of last school year and tried AGAIN to make it mandatory across the board when Rahm took office. Guess who blocked it—the CTU. All part of their negotiation strategy—say NO to everything. Also, CTU filed a class action grievance about CPS trying to have schools move to the recess friendly open schedule. Yes, CPS is stupid in much of what they do, but they also get blocked by the CTU at every corner.

    Many schools already have “unofficial recess.” They did not need to be one of the 13 pioneer schools to do so. Many schools are creative and have already figured things out for themselves.

    CPS started playing a media game to portray teachers as “giving kids the shaft” last summer.

    The plan proposed was not just to add recess. The proposal this year was for a much longer day, I think 7.5 hours. Certainly it was not everyone move to 6.5 and include recess.

    Drive through and look at some of the “play lots” and “recess options” in Englewood, Austin and other high risk areas and see what “safe play space” you can find at some of the schools. These children are probably the children who need recess the most, but safety has to be looked at as a priority too, which is why schools need time to implement a safe plan for their area and pushing it down the throats of everyone in September was not going to be fair. My school has recess, with a safe play space and friendly neighborhood. I have worked at a school where the “playground” was blacktop full of broken glass. Again the disparities that need to be worked out.

    I do not disagree that the CTU blocked the vote at some schools from happening after a certain point. This is because of the unfair way the elections were happening at the first 13 schools.

  • 87. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    @59 CLB
    How much time is allocated now to time “before the school day”? And why do we need that 25 minutes along with additional PD?
    Is it 25 *additional* minutes? Is that planning time? Why do we need 25 more minutes of time to plan 30 more minutes of instruction?
    Regarding PD time, I’ve always said it would be easy enough to study the effectiveness of PD time — just cut PD in half of the schools and see if there’s a difference in performance. I’ve heard many teachers scoff at PD as a waste of time.

    Currently there are 30 minutes before the school day, usually one of those days is principal directed for staff meetings. Most teachers in my building arrive at school well before the required 30 minutes.

    Those 30 minutes are generally used not as PD. They are used to prep for the day, do IEP meetings, make phone calls, answer e-mails and collaborate with other teachers/clinicians.

    So we will have 5 minutes less time, not 25 more.

    As for PD. I’ve had phenomenal PD and horrendous PD. The PD is especially important now that the new areas offices are sending down yet new ways to teach and curriculums to be used. If anything in CPS stayed the same in terms of area office expectations and curriculum for more than a year at a time, the PD might decrease. However, like most fields it is important to stay up on “best practice” and PD helps to encourage that we are using best practice.

  • 88. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm


    “IMO, this past school year did more to erode the goodwill of teachers than any that I’ve ever seen. Most grade school teachers that I know started the year being far less polarized about the wage increase v. longer school day etc… but by the end of the year, after a whole year of being bullied, disrespected by the central office, mis-represented and talked amck about, they are all pretty much ready to strike – and I can’t say I blame them. If nothing else, this mess that we are all in is a classic example of how to squander goodwill, discourage collaboration and generally get the worst out of everyone.”

    This speaks the sentiments of what many are feeling.

    We have spent the year being bashed by all outlets of the media (except the Chicago Reader and Huffington Post). We have spent the year being bashed by our “bosses.” We have had countless changes and then reverts back to prior policies to the point where nobody seems to have a right answer about what is happening. We have lived this entire year with uncertainty.

    We sure don’t want to strike. However, we are being backed into a deeper hole by the second.

  • 89. AdmiringTeachers  |  July 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    @68 If my child really wanted to be a teacher, I would support her but I wouldn’t recommend it because being a teacher is much more than teaching. I would tell her if you’re going to be a teacher in an urban district, you need to be a social worker and a mental health professional as well. You better be a superb disciplinarian and people reader. You better be ready to figure out each individual personality in your room and what makes him/her tick so that you can motivate that sudent. You have to be able to connect with each student individually to get them to trust and respect you because you don’t just get respect because you’re the teacher. Then you need to figure out an individual academic plan for each student to get them to meet academic standards. On top of that, your’e judged by the same standards that teachers in schools with kids that don’t have the same problems that your students have are judged by. Most great teachers in suburban or “suburban like” schools wouldn’t be great teachers in urban schools. Teacher’s overall but especially those in urban schools don’t get the respect they deserve. I am in contact with them daily and I see the problems the students come to school with and the behavior they present. When teachers aren’t able to reach them, they are blamed solely. It doesn’t matter that their students put forth little effort and are unmotivated or that parents are uninvolved, it’s the teacher’s fault. Teacher’s have been unfairly demonized and blamed for the failure of society becuase it’s not an exclusive problem of the educational system as to why kids aren’t succeeding academically. As in any profession, there will be mediocre, average, excellent, and superior teachers. In my opinion there will never be schools full of excellent and superior teachers just like there will never be all excellent/superior attorneys, doctors, etc. Parents will just have to fill in the gaps! Sorry, I digressed and ended up on a soap box!

    It’s a job I couldn’t do.

  • 90. CLB  |  July 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm


    So, how could you make a calculation of % increase in hours worked in the new plan, if you didn’t have an accurate accounting of total current hours worked?

    Huh? As I said in @79: “I was working off the baseline hours that Junior gave @40”

    You gave 6.5 hour baseline for the current teacher work-day at your #2 and #4 in @40, no? I used the same denominator that you did in my equation @59. The difference was that you set new work day at 7 hours, and I said, based one the elementary principal’s guide, that it was 7:25 minutes, and that there were ten new 7:25 days for AY2013.


    Sorry, Chicago is in the very top of the state districts in pay also. Any way you slice it, CPS teachers are well compensated.

    For elementary teachers, sure. Anywhere but Chicago is down within IL or the 25 top urban districts. But for secondary teachers, less so. The pay is good, but there are over 20 districts with 10th year MA holders who get more than a Chicago teacher would. That’s not middle of the road, but it is not the very top. The stats are at

    Of course, the best measure is median salary, not average, to get a sense of what any district actually pays out.

  • 91. HS Mom  |  July 17, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    @67 – Don’t know of many teachers that actually grade homework. Usually, it’s reviewed in class, peer reviewed or just checked off as being done. I agree it was more critical for the 1st grade teacher to review the work. Ours had parent volunteers grade and file homework.

    61/63 – teachers are required to be in school before the kids. Not sure exactly how much time that is or if this is the first time they are actually defining it as 25 min. Most teachers are in class 25 min prior to start. Shouldn’t all be required to be there getting ready for the day or responding to parent/admin inquiries. I concur this is not “additional time”. Love to see the calculations defined.

  • 92. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 17, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    It has always been 30 minutes before students.

  • 93. anonymouse teacher  |  July 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    The data that is being released is not very informative, imo, on test scores. It completely by-passes English Language Learners which is a huge portion of the city! I was looking at some schools in my old neighborhood and was like, wow, they are making huge improvements until I saw that ESL kids are not included. Well, duh, when 90% of a school is ESL, it is awfully convenient to leave out those scores. The scores in the Trib are also misleading because they do not include our ESL kids. My school is largely ESL and I can tell you, the scores that are being released tell me pretty much nothing about our school.
    It always has been and always will be about spin. They’ve been spinning test scores since they started lowering the # of ISAT questions needed to pass and now they are making it appear as if gains are made by not including ESL students. I am so annoyed.

  • 94. CarolA  |  July 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    It’s very interesting to see the comments regarding recess and summers off from people who have no clue about the inner workings of a CPS school. I teach first grade. Who do you think supervises the children during recess? Who do you think supplies the jump ropes, balls, etc. for the children? Who supplies the LEGOS, board games, and puzzles when it rains outside and they have to stay in the classroom? Who gets the ice packs, washes off the blood, and puts on band-aids when they fall? If you guessed me, you’re right!

    As far as summers off… to my husband. There hasn’t been a day gone by yet that I haven’t been on the computer organizing for the next school year. I just went to Lakeshore Learning the other day to purchase over $300 of new materials and am ready to order the another $200 from other companies online. I recently found out that we will have to make unit plans for each unit of study we teach that connect to the new Common Core Standards. This is above and beyond the daily lesson plans. As a first grade teacher, believe me, it can’t be done during school time. It will take hours and hours of research since this is all new to us.

    @78 Thanks for recognizing that teachers spend A LOT of their own time in the summer at the school preparing the classroom for the new school year.

    Am I complaining… no. Please don’t take it as such. I knew this when I got into teaching. But parents PLEASE don’t insult me by thinking I’m sitting around all summer eating BonBons! And to the parent who thinks it only takes 2 minutes to grade first grade papers….think again. I have to give one math test and one reading test every week. They are multiple pages long and get graded at home. I also have to grade writing papers each week with notations for each child giving praise and ways to improve if necessary. Then I have to post those grades online promptly for parents to see. So again….PLEASE don’t insult me by thinking I can get all my paperwork done in 2 minutes just because I teach first grade. It’s actually harder. I can’t give me students a writing assignment and use the time they are working to get my work done. THEY NEED MY EVERY MOMENT to help them achieve success. Know what your saying before you speak.

  • 95. CarolA  |  July 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm


  • 96. CarolA  |  July 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Just thought of something regarding average teacher salaries. At my school, many of the veteran teachers whose salaries were quite high retired. I’m sure many other schools had a similar situation. I’d be curious to see what the average teacher salary is for this coming school year since new teachers make a lot less. That means there should be extra $$$ for CPS. I wonder what they intend to do with it. I also read that CPS used the money that the teachers were supposed to get this year to pay for extra security at schools. They were only suppose to take away our raise if they didn’t have the funds. They had the funds, they just chose to use it for something else. I’m not saying that extra security is a bad thing. I’m just saying that this is one of many reasons you can’t necessarily trust what CPS tells the public.

  • 97. anonymouse teacher  |  July 17, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Carol, as of yesterday, 10 of our relatively small teaching staff have retired, quit, moved or gone onto different school districts. (and my principal doesn’t know that two others are waiting to hear about other jobs–both outside of the education world– as well) These positions will be staffed nearly entirely with teachers that are brand new or newish to the district. Most schools I am familiar with are replacing large numbers of staff as well. I, too, am curious to know how many millions of dollars this will save each year and if that money has already been accounted for in the budget.

  • 98. junior  |  July 17, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    OK. Let’s try to calculate hours based on the new information. Thank you to those people offering clarifications of the new and old schedules.

    Here’s what I get —
    1. Current day = 5.75 hour instructions + 30 minute early arrival + 45 minute duty-free lunch (now moved to middle of day) = 7 hours
    2. Add 30 minutes of instructional time, subtract 5 minutes of time before school (changed to 25 minutes in new plan), and add 18 minutes of PD per day = 43 minutes (0.72 hours) of additional time worked officially.
    3. 0.72 hours / 7 hours original day = 10.2% increase in time.

    Again, did I miss something, or did this “fact-finder” fail to get the basic facts correct? (He based his calculations on 20% more time proposed.)

  • 99. CpsCounselor  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    I just have to respond to the recess inquiries. I am at a school (neighborhood) that has recess, and we have had it for the past 4 years. It is NOT an easy task. We are overcrowded and use the gym for lunch and hAve a staggered schedule to maximize time and space. There are 3 lunch periods to cover (45 min each), and 3 recesses to cover. We are able to swing it with current stAff members because our paraprofessionals take their lunches later. Our principal and AP are present at each lunch/recess. That is almost 2 hours of the day that must be staffed in staggered amounts. We also have helpful parents who come in daily to help us out. Teachers can’t staff lunch/recess, and trust me, none of them would without a stipend. Some schools probably did not discuss it because the logistics are quit difficult. We are a school of just 400. In schools over 1,000, there could be 6 lunch periods in order to accommodate everyone! (picked a random number, just for an example) our administration sacrifices a lot to have recess daily. We all agree it is worth it, but it is a challenge and if we did not have involved parents, it would be a lot more difficult to staff and manage. And I am sure this is an issue at many schools with less involved parents, right?

  • 100. Don Justice  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Junior: you’re also missing 10 additional days added to the calendar

  • 101. SoxsideIrish4  |  July 17, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    The fact finder report is suppose to come out tomorrow to the public. I can’t talk abt this any more~waste of time…but my prediction…the additional $76M to charters~gone and CPS will have a 6.5hr day!

  • 102. ELL Spreadsheet  |  July 18, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Someone mentioned above that ELL student’s ISAts weren’t released. That is not true! I only linked to meets/exceeds & exceeds because I didn’t think very many on the this forum had bilingual students. Go to CPS’ performance site for the ESL spreadshhet!

  • 103. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 6:52 am

    cpscounselor, you are correct. We have a school of over 1000 and lunches start early in the day and end late. It’s practically a full day of rotations. The planning that is involved is ridiculous. Extra staffing for coverage is nearly impossible and parents don’t really want to come and help. That’s why extended recess and lunch is being met with resistance.

    As far as the extra time: don’t forget to add in the extra 2 days that used to be holidays that we must now teach. In the past, we have had report card pick up day to meet with parents all day. Proposed is a half day of teaching with 3 hours of parent meetings. I don’t know how I will meet with parents in 3 hours. The 25 minutes in the morning are used to meet with co-teachers, meet with administrators, meet with parents, change bulletin boards, run off photocopies for tests, daily work, art projects, science and social studies materials, etc. It goes by quickly.

    I’m searching for the person who said they didn’t understand how it took 25 minutes to plan a 25 minute lesson or something like that. Let me tell you….for every lesson I teach, I must prepare 3 lessons. The whole class lesson is geared to the average child. I must prepare a challenge activity for those who already get the concept and an easier lesson for those students who are struggling. These activities must be things the child can do on their own in small groups while I work with rotating small groups. If you don’t think that’s a challenge every day, come visit my room. I welcome parents!

  • 104. GP  |  July 18, 2012 at 8:46 am

  • 105. HS Mom  |  July 18, 2012 at 9:15 am

    @100 and junior – weren’t the additional 10 days to the student? Some of those days were PD days that already required teacher attendance. This time should be accounted for within the PD allotment already figured within your number. Maybe 2 days for Pulaski and Columbus. Someone that has that info handy can correct me.

  • 106. Patricia  |  July 18, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Teacher 4321 I was NOT talking about the pioneer schools. The 13 were the very few who adopted open schedule in May/June of 2011 when CPS, under the then current and now expired contract encouraged ALL schools to add recess. It has been available for 30 years under the old contract. THIS is the class action greivance I was talking about. Yes, CTU also filed a lawsuit about the pioneer schools too. In the cases I am talking about, parents pursued recess at their individual schools and were shut down very hard by teachers and principals. So, I have no reason to believe it will be any different in this negotiation and students/parents do not have a voice at the table.

    Yes, schools have unofficial recess but cut into instructional time. That is unfair for the students who could have had both recess and more instruciton time over the last several decades. I wonder how our education system would look like if the student recess was not derailed way back when?

    No doubt integrating recess is a challenge, but those have retained it over the decades are some of the very best CPS has to offer—Bell, Lincoln, Ogden, LaSalle to name a few.

  • 107. Patricia  |  July 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Junior, thanks for keeping the calculation going, but I want to inject a bit of common sense too. The high number of holidays/days of student non attendance AND the 5.75 day for students should have NEVER been allowed. Yes, in this way the students have gotten the shaft, but I do NOT blame the teachers for this. I blame CTU and CPS and the politicians involved in past negotiations. We need to look at this from a reality scope of TODAYs world, TODAY’s economic crisis and TODAY’s workforce.

  • 108. mom2  |  July 18, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Patricia, I am positive that the independent fact finder did not take into account TODAY’s world, TODAY’S economic crisis and TODAY’s workforce. He doesn’t care if CPS, the state, the city and taxpayers are broke. His job appears to have simply been to determine what would be perfectly fair given past salaries, past promises and additional time added to the work year for teachers. Reality of providing quality education for students doesn’t seem to have been involved. Who cares if his plan means that class sizes will have to go up and teachers will have to be laid off.

  • 109. Patricia  |  July 18, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Yep, mom2, I am being naive that any dose of reality or putting the education of students a priority or rewarding the best teachers in the system would be important in a contract negotiation. It is easy to see how our education system has degraded over the years.

  • 110. CLB  |  July 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

    @71 @91 @94 I’m the one who wrote re tests and homework: “Under 2 min… That might work for a 1st grade…” I should have emphasized might. At Mayer, a Montessori school, 1st grade nightly homework is one page of a math exercise book and two-to-three sentences and/ or a picture of something the kid read. It can be readily reviewed in one minutes. I know. I review it before it is sent in.

    Now from what I have heard from parents, that would not fly at Blaine, not a Montessori school, where the homework load is staggering, even in 1st grade. To my mind, senselessly staggering but so be it.

    It would not work for kids taking several multi-page tests each week (though, I have to wonder at the rationale of a curriculum that imposes such burdens on a 1st grader).

    I was not referring to lesson-planning and the other work that goes into the actual instructional day. How anyone believes that could be done within the school day

  • 111. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 10:52 am

    CLB: You are SO right. It is a huge burden to these first graders to take test after test after test. Besides those (which are a part of the reading and math programs we teach), there is DIBELS testing which is done 3 times a year. It involves one on one testing and has multiple tests per testing session. I’ve now heard that CPS has developed assessment tests for various Common Core standards that are to be met. It is my understanding that those “real life assessment tasks” be given 3 times per year in addition to the above mentioned tests. It’s crazy! Sometimes I feel like saying….When is the teaching supposed to get done? Imagine if I also had spelling tests each week. I eliminated those long ago because students would study for the test like crazy, get an A, then spell it wrong the next week on a writing assignment. There’s no purpose in that. I instead have found a way to make spelling fun and part of our workshop rotations by making a game out of it each week. Practice makes perfect, not testing.

  • 112. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 10:56 am

    CLB: Keep in mind that even though you are able to review the homework in one minute, the teacher has 30 to review each day. In the least, the teacher is spending a minimum of 30 minutes to review homework. Whatever you do at home…multiply that by 30 for the teacher. Something we don’t always think about.

  • 113. CLB  |  July 18, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Reality of providing quality education for students doesn’t seem to have been involved.

    That’s how SB 7 was written. Thank the IL GA for that.

    @105, taking into account the additional ten days by my mark gives you a 10.8% increase with 7 hours as the current day and 7.412 hours as the new work-day. This is for elementary teachers. I don’t know about HS. So fairly close to Junior’s calculation.

    I’ve always been fuzzy on the closed v. open campus difference in terms of official time at school. I am unclear if the end of the day :45 lunch period meant teachers could actually leave campus for lunch, or go home, if they wished. If you subtract that :45 min from 7 hours, then you have a 6.25 hour semi-official day for some elementary teachers, and that would mean a 20.36% time increase.

    Again, when the fact-finder report is officially released, we will have a better idea what’s going on.

    The Tribune story today seemed to have the fact-finder saying “A pox on both your houses.”

  • 114. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 11:16 am

    As a teacher, I’m not even sure of my start and stop times. It’s my understanding that once a week we will have to stay after school additional time for PD. Supposedly that time is “banked” from our morning schedule so that we can start later than asked each day to add up to the minutes we stay for the one day. In theory, that works. In reality, no teacher who is worth their money can afford to come in later than asked. As many have said, there’s too much to do. I am in no way unique by putting in extra time each day either before or after school or both. I’ve heard an extra 75 minutes. I’ve heard an extra 90 minutes. I don’t even know anymore. Maybe I never knew. How sad.

  • 115. CLB  |  July 18, 2012 at 11:21 am

    @ 113 My mistake: I meant Skinner North, not Blaine.

  • 116. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the newspapers would publish the proposed daily schedules for students and teachers so we aren’t guessing anymore? Wouldn’t it also be nice if ALL proposals (not just wages) were written out for ALL to see? It would really help clarify a lot of things.

  • 117. Mom  |  July 18, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Many teachers have mentioned the extra time they need to put in to get their job done. It completely makes sense to me that additional work is necessary to do a good job. However, you can’t negotiate a contract based on the extra “not officially required” time that many (although not all) teachers put in. You would be comparing apples to oranges since the current contract is based on a set number of “officially required” hours. Instead, as others have said, the correct comparison is between current “officially required” time and future “officially required” time.

    If you must factor in “not officially required” time, then you need to add the “not officially required” time that teachers already claim to be doing to the current “officially required” hours to get a baseline for what this year’s hours are to compare to what will come to pass next year. The question then becomes what would the new hours be when considering the new “officially required” hours, plus the time already spent on “not officially required” hours, plus the addition of whatever “not officially required” hours would result from the ADDITIONAL “officially required” time (which is likely some, but probably not a significant amount compared to what is already spent on “not officially required” time). What does not make sense, however, is to claim you are currently working 6.5 or 7 hrs per day of official time but in the future will be working 7 or 7.5 PLUS all the additional time you already work outside of school which you feel should add to the tally. You already are compensated for that outside time by your current salary. The only change for next year to that outside time would be the small part of outside time that would be necessary due to the additional half hour of “official” time.

  • 118. CLB  |  July 18, 2012 at 11:36 am

    @112 Indeed. My point was about a rate.

    In higher ed, I explain to students in a class of say, 40, that reading a 2,000-word essay and making comments takes me :15 on average (An excellent paper requires less, and so does a horrid one but a good to mediocre one takes more explaining). So, that is 10 hours of work beyond the normal load. And since I grade “blind” — I don’t know whose paper I am grading — I need to log the grades & attached printed comments later.

    Now, if 5th graders had a 750-word essay, beyond content, I assume a grammar school teacher has to focus on spelling, grammar, punctuation, style, and other assorted writing tasks to a much greater degree than I do (though that stuff is sadly still problematic in tertiary education). And he or she cannot use proof-reading marks as I can and has to decipher the kid’s hand-writing whereas I require machine-type. So I’d gather at best :10 on average, or 5 hours to read and grade for a class of 30.

  • 119. CPS Teacher, CPS Mom  |  July 18, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I teach for CPS and all I really want out of this contract is a repeal of the residency requirement. I could save a ton of money buying a house just over the city limits, so it wouldn’t matter so much if we didn’t get a big raise. I truly hope CPS will consider this.

    If the residency law cannot be changed, another cost-free perk would be to allow teachers to enroll their own children in the neighborhood or magnet schools where they work, regardless of living in the school’s boundaries or being chosen in the lottery. Teachers who are also parents at the school will be even more devoted to school improvement than they already are. Please note that I am NOT suggesting this for selective enrollment! Just for neighborhood and lottery admission schools.

  • 120. cpsobsessed  |  July 18, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I think those are both great ideas and make so much sense!
    They could also be an easy (and free) concession on the part of CPS.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 121. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 11:57 am

    @117 Mom: It was hard to follow you, but in general I would agree with your reasoning. However, it’s my understanding that we will be doing more lesson planning above and beyond what has been required. It’s called unit planning and will take hours and hours to complete. So, in that respect, there will be more “outside” time. Perhaps these tasks will be completed during the PD days at the beginning of school, but it depends on how much is going to be required of us. I guess these things are “yet to be determined”. Let’s hope today’s report brings more clarity.

    @118: It’s amazing how the time adds up and just think….that’s only for one paper!

  • 122. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    @119: In my opinion, your thoughts are an example of what many teachers are thinking. For myself and those I’ve talked to, it’s not about some huge raise as much it’s about the “little” things. Maybe Rahm should listen when Karen Lewis says it’s about give and take. I’d hate to see the longer school day gone since most teachers are ready for it. So much focus is on the raise. You have great ideas. Let’s hope someone from CPS is reading this. If not, send an editorial to the Tribune so someone reads it.

  • 123. mom2  |  July 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    @119 – I totally agree with your thoughts on children of teachers being allowed to attend the school where they teach (as long as it isn’t a “test-in” school. It makes so much sense it is odd that it isn’t something already part of the rules.
    I sure wish those sorts of things, and other “free” demands could be offered and I wish Karen Lewis would accept these things in place of the demands that hurt everyone except some of the teachers. It would help in the public opinion of the CTU.

    When do we get all the specific details from the report?

  • 124. HS Mom  |  July 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    @117 – I actually follow you. The disappointment comes, IMO, in that families want and need more “face time” with the teachers even if it requires less “behind the scenes” time. This request seems to be fueling a feud with teachers/CTU and translated into the mayor and parents wanting teachers to work more and not be paid for it. I don’t expect teachers to spend hours on homework when it can be reviewed in class or by peers or parents. I don’t expect new lesson plans every year (as long as the current one is good). Use computer graded tests as much as possible. I do expect teachers to use class time to teach and move forward, for reading/writing/social studies teachers to read the papers and comment meaningfully and for schools to figure out how they are going to run and facilitate recess (even though its difficult). All these things should be part of the job and should be happening now.

    I also think teachers should be rewarded for their excellence – planning and tweaking over the summer etc. We have no system in place for that and I wonder how that can ever happen with the resistance to this.

  • 125. SutherlandParent  |  July 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    @CPSO (and to others mentioning the issue of the uncertainty of pensions in deciding whether teaching would be a good occupation), do you think Social Security is a better bet? I’m curious if I’m just overly cynical about that money being there. According to the federal government, Social Security reserves will be exhausted around 2033. I don’t expect to see a fraction of the money I put into Social Security.

    SutherlandSpouse and I have never discussed an actual retirement date. We sock away as much as we can into 401(k)s, but we’re still paying 7.5% of every paycheck into SS. We don’t have physically demanding jobs, so we figure we’ll be working well into our 70s–assuming that’s an option.

    Unless something changes drastically, I’ll advise my kids to expect to significantly fund their own retirement, on top of whatever goes into pension funds or SS.

  • 126. Peter  |  July 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    LTwain said: “With the specter of astronomical pension payments looming over the horizon, I think a lot of folks are looking at what United and GM did with their unions.I don’t think CPS is wringing their hands over this – it’s part of the process.

    By busting the union, CPS gets control of the pension, rewrites work rules, and continues the privatization of CPS. One has to ask oneself, is this a bad thing shutting down CPS as we know it? I would say it’s OK to decentralize and allow communities and groups to try to figure out how to best educate our kids. I’m not sure CPS will ever get to the point where we know that they are doing the best that they could do with the children.”

    And is 100% correct.

  • 127. anonymouse teacher  |  July 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Regarding the unit planning that Carol A mentioned: I went to school when units were a popular thing. The kind of units that are being required with Common Core are a completely different animal. I read a few this past week and am attempting to write at least one unit for my grade level team before summer is over, and I can tell you that one, 4 week, literacy unit that will take around 45 minutes per day to teach will take AT LEAST 40 clock hours to plan and write to do it well, and that doesn’t include gathering the books and supplies needed. (and there is no plan in place in the district to purchase the hundreds of thousands of dollars of things needed either)
    Essentially, we are being asked to write our own curriculum because the publishing companies aren’t ready to supply it (they can’t keep up with Common Core) and regardless, because we all need to tailor curriculum around the needs of our specific children, truly great curriculum is best written by the teacher who is teaching it. That said, it won’t be possible to both teach and write curriculum units of this caliber during the school year. We’ll do the best we can, but seriously, what is being required is not doable during the school year. I think what needs to happen is that teachers need to be paid to work during the summers, probably 4-6 weeks per summer, so that we can develop and use 4-6 units per year and add on as we go. But, that won’t happen.

    I am not sure I agree with teachers being allowed to bring their own kids to the school they teach in. On the one hand, I can see how great that would be and teachers there would be even MORE committed. But, seriously, we are talking about only a handful of schools where this is desirable. And then imagine the upheaval when a few lottery seats are lost each year to the general public at LaSalle, Hawthorne, Stone, etc. Plus, I might bring my own children to the school I teach in–it is a decent place. But what about the teacher on the west side? Not only does she have to deal with the most difficult students with the least amount of support, now her colleague with the good fortune to have landed a spot in a fabulous school at magnet school X ALSO gets the luck of their own kid getting a great school too while she doesn’t get that luxury? No way.

    I agree with doing away with the residency requirement. Right now, we are in a teacher glut where it is easy to get people with an education degree in the classroom. However, we are beginning to swing out of that cycle. Less and less students are registering for education majors and in the next 3-5 years we’ll be back to severe shortages in urban areas (this cycles around every 10-15 years and they’ll be filling vacancies with anyone with a pulse again. Eliminating the residency requirement opens up the pool of candidates that much wider so in times of shortages, it is easier to hire good people.

  • 128. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    @126 Trying to decentralize CPS??? Good luck with that. Our system is too large and that’s part of the problem. We used to have AMPS schools where there wasn’t so much overhead and schools could handle themselves for the most part. That was taken away. People were promoted/hired to oversee the principals. There are people who oversee them. It goes on and on. Where does all the money go? Look at the overhead. Teachers are at the bottom of that totem pole.

  • 129. CLB  |  July 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm


    If the residency law cannot be changed, another cost-free perk would be to allow teachers to enroll their own children in the neighborhood or magnet schools where they work, regardless of living in the school’s boundaries or being chosen in the lottery.

    Some Mayer parents made this request to the Blue Ribbon Commission in 2011. They misspelled the last name of the speaker at Lane Tech; it was Baum, not Bowman. The BRC report mentioned it but said it was out of its purview as an employee benefit issue: “The outstanding issue of preferring the children of teachers or staff should be referred to Human Capital if this is an employment benefit that teachers want to pursue”

  • 130. Mom  |  July 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I am not sure I agree that teachers should be given 4-6 weeks pay over the summer to implement common core. ANY change in the curriculum is going to require adjustments to lesson planning — and this is true now matter if change takes place while a current CTU contract is still in effect or, as here, right before a new one is negotiated. In my view, doing the required lesson planning is just part of a teacher’s job, regardless of curriculum. Some years it will be easier because the curriculum is the same as in years’ past, and you can mainly make due with what you’ve already done. Some years it will be tougher because you will have to create new plans due to the change. So, yes, there will be some extra “up front” work this summer due to the change, but it will also take the place of the planning that teachers would already be doing. To me, this should have nothing to do with what teachers are paid under the new contract for the new set of hours. Personally, I would be earning a fortune now if every time I had to learn a new email system, or our office switched from WordPerfect to Word, or I had to learn to implement any number of changes in internal procedures, I was entitled to more money for the extra work that learning the new system would require. I simply don’t agree that companies or schools should be faced with the choice of having to continue with obsolete past practices or having to bump their workers’ salaries for things that just go with the job.

  • 131. anonymouse teacher  |  July 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    @130, Of course you are entitled to your opinion. Were you aware that many other districts, at least the good ones, pay their teachers to write curriculum over the summer? And I am not sure that learning a new email system can be equated to an entire summer’s worth of work. (or nearly entire summer. 40 hours x 6 units is 6 weeks of full time work) This isn’t even like acquiring a new set of publishing materials. This is writing our own materials. From scratch. It is essentially creating, from scratch, a text book manual along with every single thing needed to reach all kids. It is simply not possible to do it during the year. Teaching is one full time job. Writing curriculum is a separate full time job.
    My principal wants us to spend 2 days on it during the first week of PD. We *might* get a small portion of a unit done if all three teachers in a grade level work on it, there’ll be tons of discussion and that takes a lot fo time. And again, this covers a months worth of one subject. As for some years being easier because you can re-use stuff, by the time 5 years passes, and I have an entire years worth of units written for multiple subject, I guarantee you that CPS will have discarded the unit idea and we will start over with something new.
    And it won’t take the place of the planning we were already doing. This is on top of.
    As well, there is the additional issue of WHO is paying for the materials and texts required for each unit? If CPS thinks I am going to personally go out and purchase a thousand dollars of materials—that would about cover it—for ONE unit, they are out of their minds. One literacy unit could easily require:
    3 big books (around $100 total)
    15 sets of fictional and non-fiction books (6 books per set) for leveled reading (around $500)
    25 read aloud books (around $150)
    Working with words materials (around $100)
    Art materials to integrate the arts into the unit (no CPS does not supply this currently) (around $50)
    Paper for writers workshop to integrate the reading and writing and extra copies that the school will not allow–yes, we have strict copy limits (around $50)
    There are NO dollars being designated for this, not even for the books and supplies and materials that will be needed for each unit, in each school, in each grade. And what I listed above is being frugal. I am not writing a unit that CPS won’t supply the materials before. And seriously, if someone tells me to use what I have, you seriously have no idea of what is and isn’t available within a school.

  • 132. cpsobsessed  |  July 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    So we’ve gone from “scripted curriculum” to teachers practically each writing their own textbooks?
    I can’t imagine everyone doing the amount of work required to make it happen. How will it work for teachers who aren’t/cant bust their butts to get it all ready?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 133. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    @131 You are right. In 5-10 years from now, this will pass and something “new” will take its place. I’ve always said… if you stay in the system awhile, everything will come back again with a new name. If you are there long enough…it will come back twice. I hope we don’t go back to “Whole Language”. Remember that? YIKES! What a shame to waste all our time on things that don’t matter in the day to day business of classroom teaching. If you’ve been a teacher long enough, all this busy work is strictly for the administrators. It is not something I’ll be using day to day as a reference. It’s for administration. What a waste of time.

  • 134. anonymouse teacher  |  July 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Yes, that is the direction we are going. It is crazy. I am a huge supporter of common core, but it would make much more sense to me to simple adjust what we currently have (and we will be doing some of that too) than to write what essentially amounts to a text book. My new colleague called me in tears when she saw what needs to be done and is on the verge of quitting. I am not sure we will be able to find another qualified bilingual teacher in her language specialty if she does.

  • 135. Tchr  |  July 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Just use the same lesson plans year to year! Your students and their needs are probably the same year to year! And your students are probably the same as my students as are students at Blaine as are students in Wilmette and Berwyn! Just give them worksheets! Just use the Reading Street teacher’s guide! Heck, that’s what school was like when I was in school and I turned out okay!

    Any nonteacher that would like to volunteer 1 day in my classroom of 25-35 students or observe me 1 day on the weekend as I modify lesson plans or would like to see my reciepts that add up, please let me know!

  • 136. cpsobsessed  |  July 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I totally understand the frustration. I’ve felt that way at work many times.
    But it also seems like the teachers have been complaining that they get no say in how to teach stuff. That CPS makes the decisions, then expects the teachers to meet the testing goals despite having no input in how to do it.
    So this seems like empowering teachers the way they’ve wanted, no? Or am I misunderstanding it?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 137. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    @135 I hope you are joking and poking fun in your beginning statements. I believe your point is that lesson plans cannot be used from year to year without adjustments for the children in front of you for the current year. That’s providing you even still teach the same great level. With differentiated learning a must, lesson plans cannot be used easily from year to year. Also, pacing is different from year to year. What took my one week to teach last year may take 3 days or 10 days this year. You never know.

    @134 Funny you should mention the new teacher about to quit. I just talked to another teacher from my school who talked to our 6th grade team. They’ve started working on these new units already and the new teacher on board did quit after 2 sessions.

  • 138. Mom  |  July 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I totally get that it will be a lot of work. I understand you are frustrated. But to me, it really does not seem different from any other salaried professional who is called upon to step up to help out the boss with a new project that might be slightly different from what you are “supposed” to be doing and that sucks up an inordinate amount of your free time. Happens absolutely all the time for no added compensation. I agree with “complaining away”; I don’t agree with an entitlement to be compensated for the hours worked on it. If we were factory workers and we had to learn a new factory system, they’d shut down the factory and train the workers during regular business hours. Because we are professionals the “extra” work has to be squeezed in around the real job because other deadlines and responsibilities don’t go away. And we don’t get extra $$ for it. This may stink, but it is the reality of being a professional.

  • 139. Chicago Teacher  |  July 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Unless you have been to common core development meetings, you have NO idea how much is being required of teachers as far as developing materials. Teachers who have not been on implementation teams most likely have not seen first hand how much planning and curriculum development will be necessary for full implementation. I have already gone through and entire case of paper, at home, preparing materials for the coming year. My dining room table has become a learning resource center. Our teaching team has met three times and plan to meet twice again before the new year. Our goal is to create at least 2 good units, with outlines for the remaining 6. Each unit requires three levels of distinct differentiation for review, activities, homework, formative and summative assessments.

    Regarding grading homework: I would LOVE to not have to grade homework. But think about the last time your child came home, after working on an assignment and told you that the teacher didn’t collect it or grade it. I have had parents call, email and visit me at school because they felt their child “wasted” time on a homework assignment I didn’t grade. Countless parents have asked me “why isn’t homework worth more?” and “can they make this up” when I do collect homework, grade it and it is not 100% correct. (think about those 7th grade averages)

    What’s really bizarre about this job is how many people believe they are experts at your field. I would NEVER dream of walking into an office and saying “Hey, that would only take me 2 minutes to do, I am therefore highly qualified to tell you how to do your job.” Or question someones expertise in a field. I am going to guess that the few schools that many parents have been in, or have connections to do NOT represent the true conditions of CPS. I have worked in a school that should have been condemned and now am blessed to be at one of the very schools parents on this site discuss time and again. I voted to strike because of what does exist outside of where I work. I voted to strike because I truly do believe that until we provide good neighborhood schools to all children, CPS will never get better. And, since I am on a rant, stop kidding yourselves if you think charters are going to provide for your children. These schools and teachers were not designed for the brightest of students. They are holding places for the middle of the road kids. There is a reason charters do not exist in places like wilmette, hinsdale or northbrook. The spin that the trib and brizard are putting on latest ISAT scores can easily be researched. Check out how Fiske grew in years prior to 2012. There is a reason why NO ONE on the school board has his or her child in a charter school.

    Whew. Time to go back to working.

  • 140. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    @138 I understand your opinion and it would make sense to me if, in the end, this made for a better teacher/better classroom. For me and many others, it will not. Maybe it will help a beginning teacher who is not familiar with the curriculum. Other professions may learn a new computer system, but in the end will use that computer system. I don’t see the sense of doing something that I will not be using and will not help the children. Maybe it’s for Rahm’s Board of Directors who are not familiar with curriculum and they need to know what is being taught.

  • 141. ThinkItover  |  July 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    139 – you were making sense until you got to the charter rant. Those schools do not exist in wilmette, hinsdale or northbrook because those suburbs have good public schools, taxpaying adults and mostly parents who care about their kids education.

  • 142. Nope33  |  July 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    139 – heard the charter nonsense before. I have a SIL who teaches in CPS and she is always complaining about the charters. But she is the laziest person ever, and uses a city address while living in the suburbs so her own kids can go to Maine South. So wrong.

  • 143. mom2  |  July 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    In the Tribune today,”…The report also criticizes teachers for failing to acknowledge in negotiations how well they made out under their previous five-year deal, during a time of economic upheaval for the country. Benn calculated that CPS teachers’ wages increased 19 to 46 percent from 2007 to 2012. In that time, the cost of living in the U.S. rose only 10 percent, according to the report.
    Teachers “did very well — indeed, they did extremely well … at a time when the U.S. economy nearly went over a cliff,” Benn wrote…”

    Wow, I had no idea that teachers had wage increases of 19 to 46 percent from 2007 until 2012. In that same time period, most people I know had between zero and maybe 4 percent increases on the high end each year. Me – between zero and one lucky 3 percent year.

    Any teacher that continues to talk about wanting a better school day, and what is good for the kids in this economy and then complains about all the extra time they have to work without pay (when everyone else in the professional work world does the same thing) and then asks for 20 or 30 percent more than they have been getting, well…it just makes me want to scream.

    I get it that it is “fair” to pay people more if you ask them to work more. But, that is not reality when compared to the rest of the world or CPS unless you want less teachers and larger classrooms. So, please stop talking about money and start talking about other things that maybe CPS can offer. PLEASE!!!

  • 144. anonymouse teacher  |  July 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    @136, I see your point, but I guess I see this as just another mandate. When I first heard they wanted us to write units, I was kind of excited. Excited to plan around my ESL kids’ needs by grouping subject areas. Those kind of units are simple, they can be tailored to what one already has and are written fairly easily based on standards.
    This new stuff is really and truly writing a teaching manual. You know, those giant books I carry home with me most nights that an entire team of former teaching professionals took a year or more to write, and it only covers a months worth of lessons for ONE subject. This is OVERKILL. We are reinventing the wheel. This isn’t a “project” that is going to slow down in 3, 6, 9. 12 months, unless it gets cast aside for something else that quickly. This is not helping the “boss” out with some new thing. This is being asked to work a 50-60 hour normal work week AND then being asked to go work another part time job, indefinitely.
    The only thing I can hope for is our new network chief is probably one of the very best administrators that exists in education today and possesses some common sense. She had a reputation for protecting her teachers from the BOE, yet challenging them all at the same time. Hopefully, she will bring some peace to all this chaos.

  • 145. CPS dad  |  July 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    The issue at hand is based upon CPS priorities in reference to the budget. Basically it’s broken down to budget needs and wants. When we as citizens do our own budgets we prioritize between the bills that have to be paid such as food and rent (needs) and going out to dinner or buying new clothes every month (wants). The same is with CPS budget. They (Mayor and CPS) WANT more expansion of charter schools, more school closings, expansion of IB program district wide, longer day and school year, which increases the budget deficit by hundreds of millions dollars. This explains the so called $600 plus million budget deficit, which is a direct result of their wants not needs. And come to think about it this has continued on year after year. CPS can afford to pay teachers more in regards to the raises but the problem is they don’t want too. Higher paid educators is not part of their (Want priorities).

    After an entire year of being denigrated in the media the CTU finally has the strategic upper hand. SB7 has been laid to waste with the 90% strike authorization vote. The fact finding mediator basically sided with the CTU and blamed the entire mess on the foot steps of the mayor. I get the feeling that teachers are mad as he@@. Who can blame them with a portion of their salary being stolen and give to the police department, ordered to work longer days indirect violation of their contract, blamed for every problem in the school system, common core being rammed down their throats which is quite rigorous and demanding especially when they have to design new units from scratch and etc. I like to think of the relationship between CPS and the CTU as a dysfunctional abusive marriage. More grown ups are needed in order to diffuse the hostile situation at hand. Despite the budget setbacks, CPS needs to put their pride aside and take a reality check. If not our kids won’t start school on time (track r) and the CTU will most likely I predict strike in order to force CPS hand to make concessions. In other words The 2 hour longer day is dead in the water.

  • 146. Tchr  |  July 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    It seems like a lot of people here think teachers are paid too much. I am curious what you think teachers should be paid and how you would come up with that pay. Would it be hourly? Salaried? Take into account neighborhood, grade level, content? Education? Years teaching? How would raises or bonuses happen? Should it take into account how many students you have? How many languages are spoken? IEP’S?

    What professions would you compare the pay to? Should it be less than others because teachers “can leave at 3 pm” and “have summers off” while other jobs do not? Should it be less than whatever your pay is because it is “not that important” or “easy”?

    Should it be more for teachers that choose to teach in high poverty areas to compensate for the greater difficulties and possibly attract good teachers? Or should it be more in high achieving schools because those are the schools making the grade!

    How many hours should teachers have to work each day? Should they have to work over the summer and log office hours? Should they use their own salary to pay for supplies or should they be able to save receipts and get reimbursed like businesses do when they take clients out to lunch or have to buy a box of pens to use?

    If it is going to be run like a business, can teachers show up a few minutes late/leave a few minutes early? Can teachers take personal calls at work? Leave their desk at any time to go to the bathroom or grab another coffee or sneak out for a cigarette? On Fridays can they buy from the drink cart?!?!? After they did a really good job teaching an awesome lesson can they get a day off as a reward? Can they leave to get a nice lunch?

    Should teachers be paid the same as doctors? No…. Lawyers? No. Plumbers? Sanitation workers? NBA all stars? Salespeople? Nurses? Cops?

    Can schools and businesses be compared?

  • 147. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Getting back to the budget….the reason for this blog….I hope CPS and CTU can come to a quick understanding that both sides have to give. I agree that most every other job has had to make sacrifices due to the economy. I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure others feel the same way. I can accept a small raise in exchange for changes that will create better schools and better classrooms. People have to agree that there must be problems far greater than pay raises for almost 90% of teachers to vote to strike. I said it before and I’ll say it again. Give us respect. I’ve talked to a lot of teachers and they all agree with me. We would have worked the longer school day last year (if a plan was in place before school opened) in exchange for the 4% raise he took away. He insulted teachers from the moment he started campaigning and never let up. He should have used this past school year to put everything else in place (evaluation system, unit planning,etc.) so that we could be ready for September. One step at a time, but quick steps.

  • 148. CPS dad  |  July 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    In reference to mom2 comment about what CPS can offer besides money….how about an end to school closing which disrupts neighborhood children and their communities, place a freeze on charter expansion which save CPS money, elimination of residency requirement , which doesn’t cost CPS money, push back the extended day to only 45 minutes to an hour, which will save CPS money, eliminate the value added evaluation system known as REACH, which will also save CPS money. There are plenty of things CPS can offer the CTU right now that doesn’t involve money in order to show good will and defuse the situation. The problem is the mayor is playing a dangerous strategic game that he knows he’ s losing.

  • 149. CPS dad  |  July 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Regardless of when a compromise will be reached and one will be reached I predict in favor of the teachers. CPS actually might have the last laugh at the end of this school year. CPS will announce mass layoffs in June of 2013 and cut the budget further. With a huge pension obligation they must pay next year and wage increases, they will have no choice but to cut positions in every school. I sure feel sorry for the rookie teacher that is hired this year. The mayor might have the last laugh after all.

  • 150. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    @148 I don’t think CPS is willing to do away with the new evaluation system, but in order to get school started on time, why don’t they develop the system first and have it implemented in the next contract. It’s hard to agree to a contract that has loopholes. I”m not against a new evaluation system. I would just like to know what it is before I agree to it. It’s a great idea to eliminate the residency requirement. That’s a big one and free to CPS. I’d hate to see the school day adjusted again. Everyone is expecting it and getting prepared for it. We don’t need to go through this again in the next contract. Rahm wants change, but he wants it all now. Pick the most important item….longer school day…. and add the rest later. Get it solved. Give a one year contract. Work out the other details. Give another one year contract. I know it sounds weird, but if all the changes can’t happen at once, pick the ones you want most and go from there. Life lessons. If I want a new car and a new house, but can’t afford both, I’d need to pick what’s most important and worry about the other one later.

  • 151. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    BTW….respect doesn’t cost a thing. Let’s start there. Last year I had a parent who asked for a meeting after school as her child was being dismissed. She didn’t schedule it ahead of time. I said sure if it was quick because my husband was waiting for me in the car. I brought her up to my room and we talked about her concern for 20 minutes. I finally said that I’m sorry to have to stop the meeting, but if she wanted to continue it at another time, she could schedule a day with me. I explained that my daughter was in the hospital and I had to get downtown. Again, I mentioned my husband was waiting for me. Do you want to know what she said? She said….I’m here, you’re here, I don’t understand why I have to come back another day. That was only one of many situations I had where I feel there was a lack of respect. It starts from the Mayor. If we aren’t getting respect from him, why should the parents or kids respect us?

  • 152. mom2  |  July 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Tchr – Were you referring to me? I hope you don’t think that I believe teachers make too much money. I think it is a very important position and teachers in Chicago appear to be paid quite well. Who on this forum thinks otherwise? My comments have nothing to do with my opinion on the value of teachers – I love and respect almost all my children’s teachers, but I am based in reality when it comes to the current cps/ctu situation.

    A teacher does have certain requirements that some other professionals don’t have – such as needing to stay in the classroom until someone can relieve them to use the restroom or make a personal call in an emergency. However, there are other professions with similar requirements (call center type employees, etc.) They are interesting questions and worth discussing, but I don’t know what your questions have to do with facts about our current fiscal situation.

    CPS dad, thank you for trying to answer my questions about other things CPS could offer or CTU could accept beyond pay raises.

    CarolA, thank you very much for being reasonable about many aspects of this situation and seeing the benefit of keeping the longer day as planned at this point so we don’t disrupt things further.

    CPS dad, Isn’t it just 30 minutes more per day? Where does it say it is 2 hours more? That is a very confusing statement.

  • 153. CPS dad  |  July 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    The original CPS proposal was to extend the school day by an additional 2 hours and 30 minutes. The mayor backed off and knocked off 30 minutes of the original proposal leaving 2 additional hours for the longer school day if I’m not mistaken.

  • 154. Tchr  |  July 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    So teachers should get raises when there is a surplus of money? Or when? When they are doing more work? I am sounding sarcastic but truly to get another perspective. If budget doesn’t allow it, should the day be extended?

    I agree with the wants and needs perspective.

  • 156. anonymouse teacher  |  July 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    A few things that would save money and time:
    *All parents access student grades online and all school communication online. If families do not have computer or internet access, they fill out a form in the beginning of the year and those families alone will be issued paper items. This will result in large savings in copies and paper. (I saved all the paper informational sheets I got from our former CPS school for a month during the height of fundraising season. It had to be at least an entire ream’s worth. Just for us.)
    *CPS has direct deposit for employees. But they still issue paper copies to everyone as a receipt. Why? Eliminate that. We all have access to computers and can see things online. This would save something, maybe not much, but something.
    *All CPS parking lots should be looked into as possible revenue raisers. Not every neighborhood will want this, but some will.
    *Some people will think I am kidding about this, but I am completely serious. Why can’t students be responsible for some of the classroom cleaning that happens? They are the ones making the mess. All kids, from kindergarten on up to high school can do something. Run a vacuum, sweep, take out trash, wipe tables. Japan does this. Why don’t we? (I don’t believe kids should have to clean bathrooms due to safety issues)
    *Eliminate the accumulation of sick days and the pay out for such upon retirement. This is being proposed in the new contract and though many teachers would disagree with me, I think it makes a small but important change. At the same time, if CPS is going to offer teachers 10 sick days per year due to being exposed to every single illness that walks in the door each day, then stop penalizing teachers for taking those days.
    *Solar panels and or small wind turbines. Can we look into the efficiency of these versus the cost? Has anyone done this?
    *Why is CPS paying the CPD for police presence? This does not make sense to me.
    *I still think bus service should be offered only on a sliding scale. No suburb I know of offers free bussing. Everyone can and should pay something, even if it is extremely minimal.
    *And last, many teachers would disagree with me. But at least offer me the option of NOT contributing to the pension. I know for sure a personal retirement plan will not pay out as much as a pension. But I am willing to bet my retirement that the pension system will be gone completely by the time I retire. Allow me the option of enrolling in my own savings plan. So I have something to live on when I retire. If I ever can.

  • 157. CarolA  |  July 18, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    @156: I agree with many (but not all) of your suggestions. In regards to the solar idea….splendid, however, my school earned one from a contest and the board told us it was not fiscally worth the installation of it so we had to decline. As far as the options on pension choices…..I thought that was a choice we were going to have. I remember hearing about it and deciding that because of the number of years I have invested it just makes sense for me to stay in the current program even if I have to pay more. But I remember reading about the option to do something on our own. Not sure what happened with that. Maybe you should contact the pension board and ask.

  • 158. HS Mom  |  July 18, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    @156, 151 – our grade school point blank refused to give out teacher/admin e-mails. Reasoning – they received “hundreds” of e-mails and it consumes their time. One other thing not mentioned is that it also put the conversation in writing. If you wanted to talk to the teacher about your child, you had to get to school early in the morning, hope to run into them and that they would be available to speak. This process could carry on for several days in some cases. Can’t tell you how much fun that was. A parent going on about their kid is not necessarily disrespectful of the teachers time. Maybe not the best judgment but were they provided a means to do it differently?

  • 159. Harold  |  July 18, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Three things: 1) having done this many times in the corporate world as a consultant, I can tell you how companies determine fair compensation. They look at what is being paid by other similar companies for similar positions and try to align their compensation to that. Factors such as cost of living, specialization of skills, hours, and other benefits are also taken into account. I just glanced through the fact finders report and was surprised that none of this benchmarking was done — numbers given are based entirely on cost of living and the hours worked with no consideration of whether the base salary is in line with other, similar cities. In fact, a quick google search showed that the average salaries for teachers in LA were $63k in 2008 so assume a generous 10% increase since then to $69k. This is well below the Chicago average of $74k. Houston was $66k, also well below Chicago.

    2) on the city side, why are increased revenues off the table? If it results in better educational outcomes, it is an investment with a huge return. We need politician with the temerity to put revenue increases on the negotiating table (e.g., if you give us pay for performance, we’ll push through a tax increase to pay for it and the longer day).

    3) The teachers union is in a strong position here but should heed the lesson from Wisconsin. Over the long term, they are employed by the people, and if the people feel like they are being held hostage, they will move to restrict the power of the teachers union through the ballot box. The other side of that equation is that if you want to hire the best employees into any position, you have to have competitive compensation. If the public overreacts, good people will no longer chose to teach and the best teachers will leave the profession or move to private schools / other cities.

    Sorry for the long post. Hope that is useful.

  • 160. Don Justice  |  July 18, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Many of you need to read Animal Farm. A lot of you sound like Boxer and Benjamin. And like them, you’ll be knackered, also…

  • 161. anonymouse teacher  |  July 18, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    @158, just to be clear, it wasn’t my intention that parent-teacher meetings would be held online. I was referring to all notices, notes, school events, etc. that seem to take up so much paper. Sorry about the lack of clarity.
    It sounds to me like you had a very bad experience in trying to speak with your child’s teachers. It needs to be very clear from the get go how a parent can get in touch with and make an appointment with a teacher. I get a principal not giving out their email because they get ridiculous amounts of emails. But teachers? That was wrong.
    I wonder, how did your school’s admin respond when you pushed her on the issue? What else did you do to resolve this issue? Did you try leaving phone messages and that didn’t work as well? What about a note in the folder, requesting an appointment? I can only assume you tried all of these and none of them worked. This would be the kiss of death for me, honestly. I couldn’t keep my kids in that kind of environment and I am sorry you had to deal with that.
    Fwiw, I wanted to give my home phone number to my students’ parents so they could contact me because I worry that they won’t be able to or that a message will get lost. Guess what? My admin told me I couldn’t. So much for that.
    My kids’ school was stellar on this issue. I got responses to emails ALWAYS within 24 hours and calls too. One thing to note is the CPS phone voicemail and or email is often screwed up, so don’t assume if you leave a message on her voicemail or email and she doesn’t respond that she ever got the message.

  • 162. Teacher4321  |  July 18, 2012 at 10:59 pm


    Otherwise, I had several thoughts in my head as I read all of these comments, but can’t keep up with replying to all.

    A few… @105 in addition to the holidays (Pulaski/Columbus), there are two additional days at the beginning of the year and two additional days at the end of the year. That is 6. Not sure about the other 4. I will try to do some research.

    @106 – Patricia. It is my understanding that the class action suit had everything to do with the pioneer schools. If there was something else I missed it. As for the schools having the option, with declining enrollment and declining paraprofessional support/auxiliary staff it has been hard for schools to staff recess and other needs. Like I said previously, my current school has “unofficial” recess and our test scores are quite good. So for us, there was no need to increase the day. I worked at a school prior where we added an hour to the day (but were paid for it) and overwhelmingly this passed every year- we voted yearly. We worked an extra hour. The kids had recess (which due to some law had to come with lesson plans for the recess period). However, we also had sufficient assistants at the school. As I said, those have been fading out, with the exception of sped aides, which are only to be used for kids they are tied to and come with a ridiculous paper trail. The schools you mention, Bell, Lincoln, Ogden, LaSalle all have something in common. They are in “nice/safe” neighborhoods, they have a strong parent contingency (that fundraises and volunteers), they are either magnet or serve a very high income population.
    For the sake of argument about the schools many of us are silently fighting for, take a “virtual drive” with me down central/parkside avenue through the use of google earth/google maps. We’ll start at DePriest school 139 S Parkside. You will see what looks like a brand new and beautiful school, but unless you count the adjacent park district with a basketball court next door- there is no playground. You can then look up 9-199 South Parkside on ChicagoCrime.Org/Everyblock and see the crimes that happened during the day. Okay. Move the tour up on Parkisde 3 blocks and you will find Ellington, 243 N Parkside Again, very nice new school. No playground, but at least they appear to have some green space. Two blocks north you will find Key. Yeah- They actually have a very small playlot. Brunson a few blocks north has a blacktop with some games painted on it. Limited play space, high crime, little ability for parents to fundraise at the capacity of the other schools you mentioned. All of the schools down centeral/parkside have about 88% or greater freed and reduced lunch. The schools you metntioned, LaSalle has the most free/reduced lunch with 22%.

    Closed vs. Open campus.
    If you are on closed, yes you can leave when the students do. It is a duty free lunch. My understanding is that on open campus, it is also duty free and teachers can leave for their lunch break. Yes our paychecks in elementary school are for 6.25 hours. With the new schedule I believe it is still proposed we can leave. However, since there are not adequate people to supervise recess, CPS is suggesting we volunteer on our duty free lunch to do so.

  • 163. LR  |  July 19, 2012 at 12:38 am

    @162 and others on recess: My daughter’s school has recess and the teachers have a rotating schedule supervising.

    I love the question about would I encourage my kids to become teachers. Are you kidding me? No way! If you would have told me 10 years ago that teachers were to become the villains of the whole financial crisis, I would have said you were full of it. But, that is what it really comes down to, right? Look beyond Chicago, at Wisconsin and other places. It used to be that unions were there to protect the worker. They were our friend, our ally, there to protect and preserve the middle class. Now, people think that unions are just protecting incompetent, lazy, greedy, overpaid workers…like teachers. I don’t get it and I don’t really know what the role of the union is moving forward. I just know that the general level of hostility towards teachers is ridiculous.

    @156: I like a lot of the ideas. Sliding scale payment for busing is a good idea. However, the policy should take into account families who have kids at multiple schools with similar start/end times. For instance, if you have 2 kids that start/end within 15 minutes and the schools are 30 minutes apart, busing fee for one should be waived. Pension opt out is intriguing, but is it possible? Would it affect the district’s ability to pay current pensions?

  • 164. CarolA  |  July 19, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I”m an early bird for bedtime so I’m just catching up with all the replies from last night.

    As far giving parents other options for contacting me….yes…there are many options starting from the first day of school. In a welcome letter, I tell them all the times I am available. On my website, I list the times again (which basically are all days before and after school). I also tell working parents that they should send an email and I’ll answer it within 24hours if that’s better for them. I”m not unique. I think most teachers adapt to meet with parents. Believe it or not, it’s hard to get parents to come in and talk, so any parent who wants to see us, we welcome them! Because of meetings we may have or personal situations, it’s just a nice courtesy if parents schedule a meeting if they plan to talk for any length of time. A quick, 5-minute meeting, is not an issue.

    @163 Remember, unless your child has special issues and that’s the reason they need to be in a different school, you made the choice to have your students in different Chicago schools. Not sure I agree that you should get a break on bus fees.

    I think I’ve really heard enough about average teacher salary. I challenge someone to figure out the NEW average teacher salary once school begins. Reason: MANY veteran teachers retired. New teachers have been hired at a much lower rate of pay. Therefore, the average salary of those working under this contract would be lower. I know I make a decent salary because of my years of experience. I, personally, am not on board with a huge raise. For me, just give me the 4% you took away and I”m fine. But I have to think about the teachers who make much less. My issue with the contract is all the other items that go with it (clarify the new rating system , which they can’t do since it’s not established yet, new unit development, etc)

  • 165. mom2  |  July 19, 2012 at 7:45 am

    CarolA, you give me hope for our current situation. You make a lot of sense on many levels and we should all hope for teachers like you for our kids.
    Let’s have the longer day since it is now already planned and is more in line with other school districts, give teachers a raise that CPS can afford, offer something “free” that the CTU wants, but hold off on things not yet clearly defined and let’s negotiate those things for the following year or years.
    I think any of us that talk on this forum about this subject should try to read that entire finding. I spent a long time looking at it last night but got very tired. At the end, you can read the dissent from each side. I found that the most interesting. I highly recommend it.

  • 166. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 19, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Wow, I decided to come back and catch up on this thread. Very interesting. I def want the IL avg of 6.5 since it will impact the budget very little. It’s doable and cost efficient. I think the teachers need raises and job security w/no VAM and I believe parents should pay for busing. From what I heard that’s a very real possibility that’s being thrown around but might not start (if it does until 2013-2014). I never thought there’d be a strike but now I’m think there will be as the negotiations are so toxic and so much time was wasted on a fact finder.

  • 167. Joel  |  July 19, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Just to clarify…teachers are not salaried. We are hourly wage earners. We swipe in and out every day, we are paid 6.25 hours a day. Not salary. Since I am an hourly worker, if my hours go up, I expect to be paid for those hours. Easy.
    Also, the pension mess is not the fault of teachers. The pension obligations were knowingly unfulfilled so that the state could use that money for other things, thinking that the good times would continue and they could just make it up later. Oops. Also, teachers do not receive Social Security. If you want to b*tch about us getting a pension fine, then let us pay into SS. Easy.
    These budget issues are never-ending, and will continue every year. It is a massive amount of time and energy that is consumed and wasted. I’ve advocated before on this board about eliminating compulsory public education, and I feel even more strongly about this every time a budget dispute arises. Nobody respects education or teachers in America anyways, so why not save our property tax money and then people can decide how they want to educate their children, since everyone except teachers seems to be an expert on that.

  • 168. CarolA  |  July 19, 2012 at 9:32 am

    mom2: thank you.
    I never gave the busing issue much thought, but you’re right. CPS could save a bundle on that. I know we have some parents at our school that live out of district, but have gone through proper channels to attend our school. The stipulation: They must get them to and fro on their own. What a great idea system wide! Other than special needs situations, if you opt to send your child to another school, you should pay or provide the transportation. In general, parents who have taken the time to investigate option schools, are involved parents and will find a way for it to work even if it means paying for transportation. It’s so hard to get into some of those schools that it’s really nothing to pay for transportation. People pay hundreds of dollars each year going out to dinner and amusement parks with their kids. Why not pay for something related to a good education! However, there would need to be rules in place regarding attendance issues. Your child would have to attend regularly or risk losing the coveted spot at the school. Unless there is documented, real medical issues, your child needs to be at school. I don’t mean some silly doctors note. I mean real medical situations. Otherwise, be at school!

  • 169. CarolA  |  July 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Here’s freebie that CPS should consider: How about finding several places in the city, perhaps district offices that have private firms offering daycare for the children of teachers? I’m not saying this is free of charge. I know several companies offer on premises daycare for their employees. Teachers would have to pay a reasonable fee for the care. It would not involve any $$ from CPS per say. Part of the thought behind the raise issue is that teachers will now have to pay for their own children to have extended daycare because of the longer hours. So their raise will go right into the daycare expense and not into their pockets for a nice vacation. If we want to start comparing teachers to other professions, let’s consider that option. Just an idea.

  • 170. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Joel, I’m unclear why we can’t switch public employees to SS. Of all workers, doesn’t it make the most sense for govt workers to be on it??

    Can’t believe your no-school idea hasn’t caught on yet…..perhaps you try getting a petition of people under the age of 18? That might be your best audience. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 171. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I’d go with a sliding scale for preK too. It doesn’t seem as focused on at-risk kids as it used to be.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 172. HS Mom  |  July 19, 2012 at 9:54 am

    @161 – thanks for your comments. Did a bunch of things – everything I could to stay on top of my child’s education. One teacher provided her e-mail and was particularly helpful. Few others provided open time in the AM that they were available for students/parents. Overall the “no e-mail” stance of the school made life difficult especially in view of technology use today. I’m just saying that I can see how the parent situation described above might happen and should not necessarily be viewed as disrespect.

    @163 – “It used to be that unions were there to protect the worker. They were our friend, our ally, there to protect and preserve the middle class.”

    Yes, a portion of the middle class is protected by the union and it is really hurting the rest of the middle class. Taxes raised, any city license or fee gone up, bottled water tax, school fees and charges for public education, the cost of doing business and driving a car in the city up…. yet wages and personal wealth has gone down. These things aren’t felt by the minority who have wealth but it’s tough on the majority of low/mid income people. The union does come off as the villain when they ask for a 29% increase so that we can afford to give our kids an enriched education – one that many argue should be something they should be getting anyway.

  • 173. CarolA  |  July 19, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Education costs money. I don’t know, but am just asking. Do the suburbs that have wonderful schools pay a much higher tax rate for education than Chicago does? If so, maybe that’s why they are better. I don’t want higher taxes either, but if that’s what it takes to be like the suburbs, than that’s what it takes. All I know is that I pay $4000 a year in taxes on my Chicago house and my friend in Glenview pays $12,000 a year. Granted, it’s a bigger house, but none the less. One has to wonder what % of the bill goes towards education compared to the percentage in Chicago.

  • 174. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Time Out Chicago kids has an article about Suburbs vs City living that discusses schools:

    A headline in the print copy I have says something like “the suburban high schools have unlimited resources for all kinds of things.” It really hit me in the gut last night, wondering why I am even entertaining the thought of CPS high school. I know a SE high school will be a good option, but that may not work out…. I was really contemplating a suburban move in 5 years last night, even told my son “maybe we’ll move to the suburbs for high school.” He winced (as was I inside.)

    But yes, I do think the general concept is that the suburbs (those with money) have higher taxes and use it to fund their schools. Of course they also aren’t paying for a lot of the other urban stuff that we are – huge libraries, big police force, the nyriad of other things we pay for to make sure it’s safe for suburbanites to visit. heh heh, I’m getting bitter now. I tend to be a “budget realist” in my own life and about public stuff. I don’t see how we can keep wanting things as a city and NOT wanting stuff cut, but nobody seems to want to pay for any of it. City, state, US — it’s all the same. I’m all for paying teachers more, but the money has to come from somewhere! (ie, us taxpayers.)

    Ok, rant over.

  • 175. LR  |  July 19, 2012 at 10:20 am

    @ 171: Agree with sliding scale for Pre-K. Pre-K is not required by the state, so I don’t think it should just be a foregone conclusion that your child gets to go for free.

    @168 CarolA: Luckily, the situation does not apply to me, as my childrens’ RGC’s start a half hour apart, which gives me enough time to pick both of them up myself, which I WANT to do. Hopefully it stays that way. By the way, what do you classify as special needs? Because my neighborhood school doesn’t offer a gifted program at all.

    The big problem with sliding scales in general, is you need to verify income. I don’t think you can just use socioeconomic tiers to determine who pays and who doesn’t. We have discussed the problems associated with this before. But, I guess if people are paying for things like busing and Pre-K, you could technically pay someone (or a couple people) to handle the paperwork. There still may be people who cheat. Also, aren’t the majority of CPS students low-income anyway? Exactly how much of a dent will this make if most people aren’t going to have to pay anyway?

    None of this means I’m against the sliding scale…I’m for it. I just have a lot of questions. The bright side is, if they are verifying income, they could incorporate it into SE testing instead of using the socioeconomic tiers that people despise.

  • 176. CLB  |  July 19, 2012 at 10:21 am

    @158 At Mayer the teachers and the assistants generally give out their emails to parents at the start of the year. Many end up using a non-CPS domain because off-site access was unreliable and sometimes emails would hang (maybe the new enterprise email will stop that). In most rooms, the emails of all the parents are given to each other; in some, parents also circulate their addresses and phone numbers. It’s quite helpful.

    I know at Alcott a parent praised their system where parents can enter the school before classes start to confer with teachers in their rooms. At Mayer — in part because the Montessori system encourages students to independently enter their room, even in pre-K — parents are discouraged from entering the classroom before school unless a meeting has been scheduled. You can ask quick questions at the outside drop-off and pick-up for pre-K through 3rd grade but the admin. makes clear that if you want a conference, you should schedule a meeting. After all, the pre-K through 3rd grade teachers are responsible for looking after their students on the lot until the parent or guardian picks them up. I don’t know how well this works for 4th-8th, since they enter and exit the building en mass rather than by class. We also use notes in the daily folders.

    Administrator emails are not posted but parents active in the LSC and Friends of Mayer get them if they need them. And the addresses are usually first initial last name so you can figure it out fairly quickly if you need to. I know the school does not have a general inquiry email account because the clerks said it would be too burdensome to answer the questions or route them to the appropriate person. There are some things that can be done more quickly by phone.

    When I called Mayer in summer 2010 as a prospective parent, my phone messages were returned promptly. Also true of Lincoln in the same period. And I recently called another school to ask about their before-care program and received a prompt call-back. Of course, principals might have more time in the summer than the fall.

  • 177. LR  |  July 19, 2012 at 10:33 am

    @173 and 174: I am from Glenview and my parents still live there. My mom works at Glenbrook South in the theater department.

    You should talk to my mom : ) The amount of money they spend on theater productions alone would make you ill (she doesn’t get paid a whole lot for doing costumes, but the fact that they even have a costumer says something). You should talk to her about the kids. Most are decent kids, but many have such a sense of entitlement it is disgusting.

    Furthermore, my mom just got their property tax bill. No big surprise, most goes to the schools. I was looking at per pupil expenditures for elementary schools in Illinois last week. I think the average in Illinois was just over $10K (which includes both money from the State and local property taxes), but there were some municipalities that spend $20K plus per pupil for elementary school. The funny thing is, for some of these big spenders, I’m not all that impressed by their rankings. Pleasant Ridge, the elementary school where I went in Glenview, is ranked in the 170’s. Bell is ranked 33. And we have double the amount of low income kids and spend less than half per pupil.

  • 178. another CPS mom  |  July 19, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Hi, What are some good afterschool programs downtown for a high school freshman this fall? Any suggestions?

  • 179. Patricia  |  July 19, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Teacher4321. Yes, the pioneer school effort resulted in CTU litigation to stop it. That is not what I was talking about. Your union ALSO filed a class action grievance (or made a clear threat to pursue) in May/June 2011 when CPS encouraged all schools to add back recess based on the then current and now expired contract. (the one that had open schedule as an option for decades) Thanks for the recess examples. There are great NFP groups like COFI and HSC that have helped struggling recess situations for years. I hope these schools are reaching out to them. Of course, Bell are outstanding schools with involved parents, fundraising, etc. That was not my point. My point was that the schools who kept recess are great schools and I beleive keeping recess contributes to their success.

    I also herd that the Attorney General finally made some rulings on the violation of open meetings acts when parents tried to get recess at their kids school. The AG sided with parents that they were shut out of the process. Not that it matters now, but at least these frustrated parents who felt their only option to have a discussion was to go to the AG have vindication that they were right.

  • 180. CarolA  |  July 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

    By special needs, I’m referring to students who have Individual Education Plans (IEP’S) meaning special education for those who have specific educational deficiencies.

    Proof would be needed if we are to have sliding scales. At my school, we have a $100 workbook fee that many parents try to get out of paying for economic reasons. These are the same parents who go to Key Lime Cove and their children are wearing expensive NIKE’s or I hear about the new video game they just got for no reason. My response to parents when they question the workbook fee is: Even if you take the educational value out of the equation, we are babysitting your child for 6.5 hours a day, 5 days a week. That’s a bargain basement babysitting fee! It makes me made when parents won’t pay if I know they really can.

  • 181. Patricia  |  July 19, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Mom2. I agree that we should keep the 7 hour day with recess that is already planned and seems to be funded ok at most schools. The discretionary buckets seem to be working well from what I can tell, but of course I am sure there are instances where a principal can’t make it work well.

    It seems there is a way to have the extra 30-40 minutes paid for and add some good items like the ones offered on this blog that don’t cost money. I think the problem is that both sides will not agree out of princiapal more than out of reality. I do really fear a strike is inevitable. CPSO, start looking for a perfect graphic for the “strike—now what” thread that will be needed in about 30 days.

  • 182. mom2  |  July 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

    If there is a strike, who will get most of the blame? I know teachers will blame Rahm and JCB, but I am thinking most of the public will blame the CTU. And, by the way, blaming the CTU is not the same thing as not respecting teachers – I see them as totally different things. Most teachers are amazing, work their behinds off, care for our kids better than a lot of their parents and have our respect because of that.
    Everyone PLEASE try to be reasonable and respect all the children in Chicago that need to go to school, need as much time as possible for education, have summer jobs that they must start when school is supposed to end, and a multitude of other potentially horrible things that will happen if school doesn’t start when it should.

  • 183. buy my house so we can move!!!,  |  July 19, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Unfortunately nobody wins and the real losers are the children. The board looks cheap, the teachers look greedy, what the world must think of Chicago is frightening……

  • 184. anonymouse teacher  |  July 19, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I think a strike is inevitable too. I doubt it will last more than a week, but who knows. I wonder if the chicago park district has been making any plans at all? My own kids are now in a different system so I don’t have this particular issue, but I wonder, what are other people planning to do for childcare?

  • 185. Teacher4321  |  July 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I read the fact finder report, but I haven’t yet read the dissents.

    I agree with the teacher above, CarolA. I would be willing to take less than the raise recommended, but I would want some concessions from the CPS. One of which is not nessicarially cost saving in the here and now, but in the future and it is smaller class sizes for the primary grades, (K-2) even if it we could do it only for the reading block. I think it would help us help struggling readers before it became a true problem. I also want the arts for all of our students and physical education. We want well rounded children. The other concession I would want would them to just stop acting like we are a spawn of the devil. I would also want some fairness in the way schools are treated. Like I have said before, I’ve worked both in a very under resourced school and now I work in a school with abundant resources. I have not forgotten the struggle of the teachers, children, administrators and families at my former school.

    @179 Patricia
    I guess I am unaware of the other deal you mention. It was never brought up at my school and I imagine many others. I am not intentionally ignorant, I have just never heard of it. My school has always had “unofficial” recess and our schedule is very tight. I would imagine that for my school it would have been a coverage problem. So what works for us is that teachers take their children out for 15 minutes before or after lunch. Our scores are great (if that is what you want to measure by). So it works for us.

    Several posters mentioned the Pre-K debate.
    First of all you may or may not know that CPS has 4 Pre-K programs and 2 additional if you count special education preschool.

    I will be brief as you can go to for more information.


    Head Start – fully based on income and income must be prooven. This program must follow CPS as well as federal guidelines. It is open to children 3 and 4.

    Preschool For All (some): This is the former state pre-kindergarten program. It used to be based on a screening process for entry which involved testing of the student and a lengthy interview with families. It was meant for children “at-risk,” but not just financial risk. Past involvement with DCFS, early intervention, speaking another language etc, were taken into account. Preschool For All changed the game a little and people try to “play a game” to get their children into the program. Poverty is still the top priority. Lots of people are dishonest.

    Both HS and PFA offer blended programs where sections of the classrooms are reserved for those with disabilities. Those with disabilities must have an IEP and are placed in the classrooms by central office.

    Child Parent Centers: Requirements for this program are living in a title 1 neighborhood. This program was studied for many years. Look at Reynolds’ Chicago Longitudinal Study. However, the program does not run as it did in the years of the study.

    Tuition Based Preschool – these programs are run out of about 10 schools. They are full day. 1/2 day tuition based programs have been discussed.

    Special Education has a program with children with multiple needs in addition to the blended model program.

    Sliding scale sounds like a great idea, but I’m not sure how it would be dealt with. People are already being dishonest on preschool applications in general from what I have heard from friends working in the program.

    Children may have other needs that make them eligible for a program such as special education needs.

  • 186. Teacher4321  |  July 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    As for the blame of the strike @182

    There are many grass roots groups joining in solidarity with the CTU. I am not sure what percentage of families. I know it is a growing number.

    I still don’t want a strike, but I think after yestrday it may be inevitable.

    I hope it will not be long. History shows that it is usually made up by working over parts of winter and spring break.

  • 187. LR  |  July 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    @182: I am with you about avoiding a strike, but the truth is, it is out of our hands for the next month. And who the public will blame depends on where the two parties are at at that point. Right now, after the independent fact finder’s report, I’d say CPS looks pretty bad.

    @180: I know what you mean. I think it is about misplaced priorities. Last year at our school, there was a family who purchased Nintendo DS’s for their children while their car wasn’t functioning. And the mom claimed they didn’t have money to fix the car.

  • 188. mom2  |  July 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    LR not sure I agree with you about who looks bad right now. If teachers received 19-46 percent increases since 2007, I’d say they have been treated more than fairly for a very long time and now – shorter days with the kids, less days per year with the kids and higher salaries than other large urban districts. Now, even though they are being asked to teach kids for 30 minutes more per day and be in the school building 10 more days, asking for 20-30 percent more money (while the economy holds on by a thread) makes them look greedy to many people I know.
    LR – also, when you compare Glenview to Bell, remember that Bell’s numbers always include the gifted program which you must test to get in and that partly skews results.

  • 189. Time to move...  |  July 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I disagree that the teachers look good in the fact finding report. With having the highest average income ($76,000) right now with the lowest amount of school hours worked, but yet they want A LOT more. Plus in the old contract they got basically (I think it was over 6% but please don’t quote me) cost of living raise, where I lost my job as well as my husband. We would just be happy with a job….

  • 190. NBCT Vet  |  July 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    There’s a big misconception working its way through this thread that the money for raises should, would, or might come through layoffs. That’s always a possibility, but the neutral, independent fact-finder – selected by the Board and approved by the CTU – is very clear on how the Board should handle this fiscal dilemma:

    “The Board caused this problem by lengthening the school day and year to the extent it did when it was having serious budget problems and the Board cannot realistically expect that it should not have to compensate employees for the problem it caused…

    …If the Board desires to lessen the monetary impact of the recommended compensation for the longer school day and year, it has a very straight forward option – the Board can simply reduce the length of the school day and/or the school year from its stated expansion.”

  • 191. Esmom  |  July 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    @177, I have to say that the “sense of entitlement” that you say kids have in Glenview is plentiful in many parts of Chicago, too. Including the Bell neighborhood, where neighbors are going bonkers over a proposed middle-income housing development. Just saying that city vs suburbs isn’t as black and white as some like to think.

  • 192. CLB  |  July 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    @138 @143 @146 @159 #1 @167 Some of this was discussed further up (my @79 and others).

    It is a convoluted notion of fairness to argue that because private sector workers in general have seen losses in real income on average that specific public-sector workers should also see such losses. Economic policy and private-sector management has imposed those burdens on most private-sector workers. The unionized private and public sector has sought to avoid them.

    Based on the fact-finder data, most of the teachers were part of the 168,000 Chicago households that had earnings between $50,000-$74,999 in 2010, according to census data. About 54% of households had incomes below them. About 30% had incomes above them. They were part of the 33.4% of Chicago residents that year who had a BA or higher. Those with BAs had a median income of $48,866 (+/-2,205) and those with higher degrees had a median income of $62,352 (+/-1,790). The upshot is that most Chicago teachers were compensated at or above the median income for their level of education.

    Real income for Chicago teachers was good (the real, or inflation-adjusted, earnings ranged from 9.6% to 31.6% w/ the step increase over the five year period, or annual average increases of 2.3% to 7.1%). Yes, many private sector workers in that income range would have loved to have had those earnings for 2007-2012. But those workers took the risk of not getting such returns for the chance of getting even greater returns. Unlike a non-unionized private sector worker, teachers always had their upside capped. It’s in the contract.

  • 193. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    #190~ITA…in the end, BOE will have to compromise on longer day/yr. What a waste of time. Many groups have already searched for places if the strike occurs, which will probably be after school opens. I think a strike is inevitable and regardless what the public thinks, doesn’t really matter, only the ppl at the table can write the contract.

  • 194. OutsideLookingIn  |  July 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    If the Board returned the school day and school year to 2011-2012 levels, what should teachers expect as far as raises?

  • 195. Just a Teacher  |  July 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm


    I think the fact-finder’s recommendations are reasonable: 2.25% to 2.5% cost of living increase with a retention of steps and lanes.

  • 196. SutherlandParent  |  July 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    @167, you say “Also, the pension mess is not the fault of teachers. The pension obligations were knowingly unfulfilled so that the state could use that money for other things, thinking that the good times would continue and they could just make it up later.”

    When it comes to Illinois politics, teachers–through their unions–have significant influence. According to, of the 10 largest donors to Illinois politicians in this election cycle, 3 are teachers unions: The West Suburban Teachers Union, the Illinois Education Association and the Chicago Teachers Union, respectively:

    Since 1994, these three unions have donated more than $21 million to Illinois politicians.

    This kind of money ought to come with some influence–otherwise, why would teachers unions be so generous? Do you think union leadership, and the teachers who elected them, bear any blame for not holding politicians more accountable to fund pensions for the rank and file? I have to wonder if the teachers’ union leadership were also counting on the good times continuing. Or, if the good times came to an end, they figured they could just stick it to taxpayers.

  • 197. anon  |  July 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Who is the greedy one here? Who is the one not tethered in reality? I don’t call a babysitter and book a table at a expensive restaurant with no money pay and then say the babysitter and chef are greedy for expecting me to pay. This is essentially what the mayor did. He needed the teachers to make the LSD work but he never reached out to teachers. He cut off the 4% raise for the last year of the contract even though the money was there. He is nothing but a politician, definitely not a public servant. He is about winning, not about children.

  • 198. Patricia  |  July 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Isn’t it the CTU who refused to participate on the longer school day committee? CTU chose not to give input. They wanted to wait until it was contract negotiation time which is a little late for planning needs. Teacher input was given by the VIVA teacher project which in large part recommended what the good new calendar looks like. Yes, the mayor did have a heavy hand that was not well recieved, but you can’t hold your union harmless in this mess.

  • 199. mom2  |  July 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    So you are saying it is greedy to want to give the kids of Chicago a school day and year more in line with the rest of the country?

  • 200. Cake for all!  |  July 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    The mayor doesn’t care about kids. He cares about being a bully. Any actions that positively effect kids -mere coincidence! Residual!

    IF he really wanted to give the kids of Chicago a school day and year more in line with the rest of the country, heck, better than the rest of the country, he’d be making sure the longer school day was a QUALITY longer school day.

  • 201. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    @cake: how would he go about doing that given the current budget?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 202. Cake for all!  |  July 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Take a pay cut.

  • 203. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    He must get paid more than I thought….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 204. mom2  |  July 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    CLB – you said, “It is a convoluted notion of fairness to argue that because private sector workers in general have seen losses in real income on average that specific public-sector workers should also see such losses. Economic policy and private-sector management has imposed those burdens on most private-sector workers. The unionized private and public sector has sought to avoid them.”

    So, do you believe that when the United States economy is suffering and in a recession, that only the private sector is affected? Are you saying the public sector is immune from the horrible financial troubles that the rest of the country face?

    The reason people have brought up a comparison between the teachers 2007-2012 increases of 19 to 46% and their own 0-4 percent increases is to show how unbelievably well treated the teacher have been (or maybe how stupid CPS was to approve the last contract) when the whole economy is horrible. This isn’t comparing private sector company policies to union promises or wanting teachers to see losses because they have seen losses. That was not the point.

  • 205. anon  |  July 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    If it was really about giving kids a longer school day the mayor would have gone about it quite differently, I would think. The contract already dictated the hours for this past school year so he should have focused on making it feasible for this upcoming school year. It is not fair to say the teachers refused to participate in a process that would break their contract. SB7 was designed by the mayor to stick it to the teachers and “rahm” through the longer school day, and ironically SB7 is now making his “dream” of a longer school day less feasible. Maybe he is not such a great politician because that seems to have backfired. If he is not willing to negotiate with teachers at this point and sticks with his “cut ‘um off at the knees” mentality, again, I think we know who is not tethered in reality.

  • 206. Patricia  |  July 19, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    @205 How does participating on a committee to craft the longer school day for NEXT year constitute breaking the current contract? I can see this argument for the pioneer program, but that is not what I am talking about. The CTU refused to sit on the longer school day committee that was for the 2012-13 school year. CTU was invited repeatedly and declined.

    You stated, “so he should have focused on making it feasible for this upcoming school year.” That is exactly what CTU turned down.

    The great calendar was created in this committee with parent, VIVA teacher, community group and education expert input. I wonder how today would be different if CTU participated in the longer school day discussions? It is a shame CTU chose not to participate.

  • 207. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 19, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    #198~actually, the plan was to take the mayor’s first year and plan w/the CTU how to implement the longer day so it could be incorporated for all schools at the same time with the same means. But then he started having pressers instead. That’s why so many parent groups have come out against him bc the longer day was the better day it was just more reading/math. My kids school is very fortunate to have many ancillary subjects and programs, but many schools don’t have that and should. We need to educate the whole child and let kids be kids and not little adults.

  • 208. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    @207~should read. bc the longer was NOT the better day

  • 209. Patricia  |  July 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    @207 The mayor did plan his entire first year for the longer day and yes, the plan was to do it not only with the ctu, but also community, parents, etc. The CTU refused to participate/help plan. There was planning this entire year for the longer school day that was pretty much independent of the pioneer program. You are right that it takes time to plan a longer day and that is what happened this past school year. Through the planning, more than just adding to core was added and one size does not fit all as some schools and communities are worried children can’t read. This led to the discretionary funds bucket. While I fully admit all is not perfect, there is a lot of planning for the longer school day and it seems many parents, teachers and principals are embracing it as a positive.

  • 210. local  |  July 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    “The CTU refused to sit on the longer school day committee that was for the 2012-13 school year. CTU was invited repeatedly and declined.”

    Did you see who that committee was stocked with? No wonder the CTU didn’t join it.

  • 211. local  |  July 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    How could there be a teachers strike in Chicago during the presidential election? I can’t even imagine it. Would Emanuel let that happen to his buddy Obama?

  • 212. Patricia  |  July 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Mikva students, COFI, pastors, VIVA teachers, Ingenuity (Arts), Tim Knowles, Chicago Park District, CTA………………what is so toxic about these genuine and credible participants?

  • 213. Patricia  |  July 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    @211 good point about Obama factor. Not sure. News and political cycles change daily, so the election is November and strike will happen mid-late August. Plenty of time to strike and give distance before November……………Ugh, that is if the strike doesn’t go into November!

  • 214. Teachers Rock  |  July 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Teachers cost about 2 bil out of the 5+ bil total budget. Where does the other 3 billion dollars go? Ok you need support staff and capex and debt servicing etc etc but really? Nonprofits get in trouble when their “administrative expenses” start going over 20%; CPS has a whopping 60%. Why has the whole world unquestioningly accepted Rahm’s statement repeated countless times that raises are not affordable? He’s running a government agency, not a for-profit corporation! He has more than enough money to give teachers a reasonable raise AND reduce property taxes.

    I really hope I’m wrong but I think this will get much worse before it gets better. Rahm shows every intention of suing the union when they strike, and he will take it all the way to the US Supreme Court if he can. He wants corporations to run the schools, and corporations don’t like unions. Rahm is just doing their dirty work.

    I think it’s critical for Karen to have an endgame. (I believe she does, but like any great strategist she can’t show her hand yet.) Let’s say the Feds come and force the teachers back into the classroom – what then? Legislative friends must be called on to take away Rahm’s personal fiefdom because he’s abusing his authority. Dismantle CPS; make schools accountable only to their community as was the intent of the original reform law back in the day. Those votes in Springfield have to be counted now. Teachers may lose in the short term – but hopefully we’ll all gain in the long run. Here’s to hoping.

    God bless the teachers,
    Keep up the great work!

  • 215. cpsmommy  |  July 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    A strike would likely start to coincide with the beginning of school for regular track schools – so right after Labor Day. Hmmm…the same week as the Democratic National Convention.

  • 216. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Catching up on the comments. I love this one from Teacher4321;

    The other concession I would want would them to just stop acting like we are a spawn of the devil.

    I’d love to see that in the contract. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 217. LTwain  |  July 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    What a pickle we’re in. Teachers have a profound influence on our children, yet we don’t reward them in proportion to their contribution to society. We’re upset now in this recession because we don’t feel as wealthy as we used to feel, so we end up being hyperfrugal on everything, even things we shouldn’t be frugal on. If we only had guarantees that our children were properly taught, then we would spend appropriately, but we know there are teachers, programs, interventions, principals, CO administrators who have a negative influence and impact.

    I would be willing to pay more taxes to pay for double digit salary increases for teachers, and I would be willing to cater to teachers’ every whim – provided that there are guarantees in place that my children are at grade level every step of the way, that my children are truly college ready however you measure them, and that can think critically, expressing themselves so in writing and speech.

    I think the guarantee part is the tough nut. CPS is trying to do it with REACH. But what if CTU said, We”ll police ourselves. We’ll weed ourselves out. We’ll make sure your students are academically prepared, but it will cost you.

    I’d say, it’s a deal.

  • 218. NBCT Vet  |  July 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    re: Emanuel’s planning for the longer day

    The mayor has not included anyone but his inner circle of “reform” funders in any meaningful way in planning for CPS. The invitation to the CTU to be part of that committee came after the committee was already established, it came through the media not through direct channels, and was a fairly obvious PR move designed to provide cover for what would turn out to be a largely unpopular, contentious policy change.

    The mayor has never indicated a willingness to actually work with the Union in a meaningful way. In fact, if you look at the totality of his commentary towards and treatment of teachers he is routinely derogatory, negative, and dictatorial.

    Forgive my cynicism.

  • 219. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    #209~Patricia, I heard the parents weren’t too embracing of the longer day. I heard a lot abt the committe. Rahm had a perfect opportunity to work w/teachers on this longer day that every1 wanted (just not the Longest day) but he played his had in the media with all the pressers and he lost big time. Not there will probably be a strike after school starts in Sept and this is already getting not just national but international press. He really showed himself to be a rookie mayor and a bully. When he could have participated to make real reform in the school and not become one w/the deformers. It’s sad and now bc of him and he will be held acctable by Obama & Axelrod, our kids will have to pay.

  • 220. Patricia  |  July 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    @218, absolutely not true. CTU was invited first and repeatedly to serve on the longer school day committee. It was not a PR move. EVERY single participant on the advisory indicated we need the CTU and almost all of them reached out to Karen Lewis personally. It was a missed opportunity for the CTU that they are paying for now.

    Since the CTU did not participate, the VIVA teacher project did and they were fantastic.

    Everyone can speculate and create their own individual fantasies about Rahm and his intentions. This not about HIM, it is about the students. I would rather focus on the students and ensuring they get the longer day and recess.

  • 221. NBCT Vet  |  July 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm


    Those repeated invitations you reference came after the media presentation and the dog and pony show. It’s fine that we disagree about whether or not it was a PR move. And yes, we are all entitled to our own fantasies, however naive they may be, aren’t we? But the fact remains that Mayor Emanuel has stomped all over teachers during his campaign and since his election. The longer school day is no exception.

    The mayor has refused to negotiate over what the longer day will look like. He has refused to negotiate over how it will be staffed. He has refused to negotiate over how it will be funded. He has refused to negotiate over richer and broader curricula and a better day. He has refused to negotiate over high stakes testing, mass terminations of qualified veteran teachers, school closures that leave whole swaths of the city (but only the poor black and brown parts) without any neighborhood school at all, and the wholesale sell off of community schools to private enterprise. The longer school day is no different. The mayor’s intent is, obviously, to impose his will. The mayor has a long history of this type of conduct, so it is not a fantasy as you seem to believe. The attempt to manufacture consent does not make his obstinance and dictatorial style any more appealing to those upon whom he steps.

    I take exception to your false dichotomy of student interests vs. teacher interests. Unfortunately, it is a common one seen in this blog’s commentary. One can be “about the children” and still stomp on teachers. Likewise, one can be “about the children” and uphold an obligation to fight for better working conditions for union members.

    Students and teachers both benefit from a great many common supports, many of which the Union has tried to bring up for negotiation in the current contract. The simple fact is that students do not benefit when teachers lose.

  • 222. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 19, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    #220~Patricia~Yes, it was even in the paper, the invites came AFTER his PR. And now look: The Civic Federation releases a report opposing the Chicago Public Schools 2013 budget proposal. He is screwing up royal.

    ‘This not about HIM, it is about the students. I would rather focus on the students and ensuring they get the longer day and recess.’~no matter how you look at it, Rahm is the mayor so it is abt him and his compromises to get a contract and Obama & Axelrod know it. I want a longer day, just now 7hrs…this should have been in the planning for the year, but Rahm screwed up so now the kids are paying. No other district EVER had a longer school day all at once, they did select schools over time (our district was too large), bc it cost too much money. Look at Houston…they had a long day and quit it the first yr bc it wasn’t beneficial, but tutors were.

  • 223. LR  |  July 19, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    @188: If the teachers are really greedy, I think they would have just accepted the deal. Say what you will, the report is a bit of a game changer for the teachers. I love Rahm saying, “Thank you for the report” on the TV sound clip. I can’t even imagine the profanities that were coming out of his mouth when he read it.

    Also, yes, I am taking into account Bell’s RGC. But we also have the hearing impaired program and 20% low income compared to Glenview’s 12%. So, things should kind of balance out there. I guess the point is, extremely high levels of resources don’t necessarily translate to extremely high results.

  • 224. junior  |  July 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I think the budget realities are lost on many people here. When we pay Chicago teachers at an hourly rate 20% more that of other cities, quite simply that means that we get 20% less teachers for the same amount of money. It means that our class sizes are 20% larger. It means that our kids get deprived of additional teachers for art/music/PE. It means that our day is the shortest in the nation. That’s what Rahm means when he says our kids got the shaft. It is not an elegant way of phrasing it, but it straightforward and accurate. There will be a strike over this, and probably a long, bitter one.

    Those of you who try to parse out better day vs. longer day — let me suggest that neither is possible unless we take the first step to be able to get value for every dollar that CPS spends on salaries. We will always and forever lag other districts if our labor costs are 20% more per hour, and we can have neither quantity nor quality of instructional day if pay the highest costs without even measuring and accounting for the quality of labor.

  • 225. LR  |  July 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Ok, my husband disagrees with me : ) He thinks that the CTU made a big mistake by not accepting the deal. He thinks they would have looked more magnanimous. The headline now is “Arbitrator comes up with deal, both sides reject it.” Had they accepted, headline would be, “Teachers accept deal, CPS rejects.” Right now, all people see is that the teachers just rejected a 15-20% raise, which could come off as greedy. They knew that CPS had to reject this deal and things would have gone into negotiations anyway. They had nothing to gain by rejecting it. They just look bad. I had never thought about it this way.

  • 226. KatieO  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:01 am

    This whole thread is depressing. I was at the budget hearing last week and Tim Cawley said it all (in between boos), “budgets are about priorities”. And CPS’ priorities are off. Their continued investment in charters, turnarounds, standardized testing, strong police presence in schools, a longer unfunded school day, and (early implementation) of Common Core is wrong.

    I am a teacher on a child/adolescent psychiatric unit in a hospital in Chicago. I have worked with kids from all over the city. Many of my students have significant emotional/behavioral disorders as well as mental health issues. The kids tell me story after story about being pushed out of the charters and turnarounds. To charter schools (the management, not the teachers themselves), these precious, but very ill children, are considered liabilities. In a free marketplace of school choice, children become either assets or liabilities. What parent would want their child to be thought of in such harsh terms?

    And I get why some parents are attracted to charters: they have glitzy advertising spreads and New School Expos and often better facilities and resources as well as caps on enrollment numbers. Basically, they offer the promise of resources too long denied many CPS students. But the actual teaching and learning that takes place (as my charter kids tell me–the ones strong enough academically to still be in charters) is nothing special. They use younger, less experienced often uncertified teachers who don’t know enough about reaching every child. In fact, their de-humanizing militaristic “zero tolerance” discipline policies make me cringe. Charters, even the “best”, aren’t doing anything miraculous, they just have easier-to-educate kids.

    Charters, testing, Common Core are not what my students’ need. (Here’s a post about what I believe kids DO need: )

    But all these budget debates take the focus off bigger, and more important questions. Why is Illinois dead last in terms of regressive school funding formulas ( and )? This means the children with the most needs, get the fewest resources. How ridiculous! Also, why don’t we (and CPS) demand that TIF funds get put back into schools where they belong? And, why are there people in our city-the rich and well-connected,-making serious money off the privatization of schools (like Juan Rangel)? Something is rotten in this town.

    Budgets are about priorities. Teachers prioritize effective learning conditions for their students. They want the supplemental support services and resources. They want the basic human rights of respect, dignity, and autonomy in their workplace. But CPS’ lack of investment in traditional public schools makes their job near impossible. I worked as a special education teacher on the southside for a year. I had never worked so hard in my life: I spent all my time planning, collecting and buying materials (we had no library, no textbooks), working on IEPs for my massive caseload, grading, differentiating, and collaborating with parents and colleagues. I worked 16 hour days, had little social life, worked most of my weekends. While it sounds like exaggeration, I assure you it is not. I often joke that I had to go to a psych unit to find sanity. The idea of a longer school day in that starved, sabotaged little elementary school would be unthinkable. I had no more to give.

    Parents, if you want better schools, then we need to take to the streets and demand more for ALL kids. We need to take this fight to Springfield, to Washington. If we have trillions of dollars for wars, ridiculous amounts for prisons, then we could fully fund education if we wanted.

    Budgets are about priorities, so let’s prioritize quality, equitable, fully-funded schools for every child. Surely teachers and parents can unite behind that idea.

  • 227. Columbia Attorney  |  July 20, 2012 at 8:46 am

    @225. If the CTU had accepted the deal the teachers would have had to vote for the strike all over again.

  • 228. anonymouse teacher  |  July 20, 2012 at 9:25 am

    @225, isn’t it apparent to the general public though, that the CTU rejected the deal based on the fact that they understand the public cannot afford the raises the arbitrator recommended? It isn’t like it was rejected because the raise recommended wasn’t enough. Or am I misunderstanding?

  • 229. NBCT Vet  |  July 20, 2012 at 9:39 am

    @ 224, junior

    re: 20%
    Do you have a source or at least a rationale to support the claim that Chicago teachers earn 20% more than teachers in other large cities? Maybe even one that takes into account cost of living, non-salary benefits, health insurance costs, etc.? New teachers in Chicago are paid very, very well compared to other large cities, but veteran teachers in CPS are paid in the middle of the pack for large, urban districts.

    re: shortest day
    You are incorrect. Despite the mayor’s repeated blatherings the Chicago school day is not the shortest in the nation. High school students are in school nearly 7 hours. Elementary schools, with lunch in the middle of the day, are in school about 6.5 hours. The 5 hour 45 minute school day with lunch at the end of the day should be gone, but even so, while it is among the shortest school days, it is still not the shortest.

    re: salaries without accounting for quality of labor
    The CPS has almost total control over the quality of their work force – much more control than than highly touted metro area suburban districts. Perhaps you have some suggestions for CPS on how to improve their labor force. But I’m thinking that paying teachers 20% less to work in an extremely challenging, poverty stricken environment with little support isn’t exactly going to attract top talent.

    Also, there really is no evidence, data, or research at all to suggest that the problem with education achievement in Chicago is a function of the quality of the teachers. There are mountains of evidence that shows poverty is the biggest obstacle.

  • 230. Mayfair Dad  |  July 20, 2012 at 9:44 am

    @ 224: Right on.

  • 231. Patricia  |  July 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

    NBCT Vet. Fair points and we can agree to disagree on the pr stuff. IMO, CTU refusal to participate in planning the longer day was a mistake. That is my point. I guess in some ways it is all about the Mayor and there is obviously much anguish and anger over how teachers feel they have been treated. My intent is not to imply that it is teachers vs. students, rather that students are really not the priority even though both sides are saying it an awful lot. I do think as the arbitrator pointed out that both sides do want to improve education and going about it in very different ways. I hope the differences can be bridged and the longer day and recess retained.

    “The simple fact is that students do not benefit when teachers lose.” As pointed out on this blog, the interests of students and teachers do not always foot. I would rather see teachers forego a huge raise and hire more PE teachers. There teachers lose, but the students win.

    When teachers win, students don’t always win——Recess.

  • 232. Patricia  |  July 20, 2012 at 9:50 am

    @224 Junior. Thank you for bringing us back to reality.

  • 233. junior  |  July 20, 2012 at 9:56 am

    @229 NBCT Vet
    I’ve put the data on this site repeatedly. When you look at what we get per hour (using CTU logic), because we have the shortest day, shortest year, and highest salaries, the cost per hour becomes extremely high.

    If you’re saying that teachers don’t make a difference in kids’ education, then all the more reason to reduce the salaries since higher salaries don’t produce higher outcomes.

    I’m saying that getting a better day, reduced class size, recess, etc. is necessarily a better outcome — not one that can happen when we overpay..

  • 234. CPS Parent  |  July 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

    228. anonymouse teacher – I think the general public has no idea what is at issue with any amount of detail. What the general public has vague notions about are: the State and the City are “broke” (not true of course, operating at a deficit by borrowing is true), teachers want a 29% raise (an understandable negotiating tactic, but it makes headlines), CPS school teachers are “getting away with” shortest work day in the country (not true, if one is aware of the off campus lunch but the “kids are getting shafted” phrase sticks). I think most of the public is accepting of a small raise to bring CPS back to a perceived normal length work day and when they compare that raise to what their own recent experience is with raises something in the order of 4%-6% for the first year and 2% plus cost-of-living after that seems fair to them.

  • 235. HS Mom  |  July 20, 2012 at 10:07 am

    @229 “But I’m thinking that paying teachers 20% less to work in an extremely challenging, poverty stricken environment with little support isn’t exactly going to attract top talent.”

    This statement confuses me. Didn’t the mayor/CPS plan to pay teachers a premium to work in challenging conditions? Wasn’t this turned down flat by CTU?

    Yes – Junior, thanks 🙂

  • 236. Family Friend  |  July 20, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Charter School Costs

    Here’s another way to look at the relative cost of charter schools. Last year, 11 percent of public school students in Chicago enrolled in charter schools. (Source: Illinois State Board of Education biennial report on charter schools.) That percentage will probably go up this year because the total CPS student population is declining and the total enrolled in charter schools is increasing. But since we don’t know the new numbers, 11% is a good, conservative estimate. The total proposed FY 13 CPS budget is $5,162,800,000 and the total proposed FY 13 CPS charter school budget is $380,617,865. (Source: CPS proposed budget.) That’s 7.4% of the budget for charter schools. 7.4% of the budget for 11% (likely more) of the students. Reducing or eliminating charter schools would NOT result in more funds for teacher salaries, except in the aggregate. The funds available per teacher would decline, unless class sizes were to rise by more than 10%.

  • 237. OutsideLookingIn  |  July 20, 2012 at 10:55 am

    @228 anonymouse – I don’t think the public gets the impression that the CTU rejected arbitrator’s proposal because the size of the raises was too small. What is unclear is what are examples of what the CTU would accept, and are any of these examples possible to achieve given the budget.

    I think it is clear that teachers are interested in more than just money…ie working conditions that affect both students and teachers, such as small class size for early grades, air conditioning, etc.

    The problem is that the public believes that available funds are incredibly limited with no respite in sight. So despite what kids and teachers should have, the money isn’t there to provide it all.

  • 238. Kelly  |  July 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I don’t understand why the CTU had to do anything about the mediator’s report. Once CPS rejected it, it was back to the bargaining table.

  • 239. Mayfair Dad  |  July 20, 2012 at 11:47 am

    @ 238: By bringing the mediator’s report to the delegates for a vote, CTU leadership was actively listening to stakeholders.

    This is a foreign concept for CPS parents, since Rahm and his hand-picked board do any damn thing they want without listening to us.

    Now CTU is in a powerful position to negotiate non-paycheck items like class size; more music, art and PE teachers; realistic performance evaluations with measurements beyond test scores; more para-professionals and specialists – things that benefit our kids directly.

    It will be very telling to see what CTU does with this strategic advantage. In the end, I think it will all come down to paychecks, pensions and step raises, but who knows – maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • 240. Sped Mom  |  July 20, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Summer feels almost over and I need a new thread, I think. Trying to figure out the need for HS entrance exam test-prep, thoughts about that Time Out Chicago Kids cover story on urban v. suburban family life (lots on education/schools), and worries about enforcing an effective IEP.

  • 241. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 20, 2012 at 11:52 am

    More and more parents are coming out and saying they know the teachers are fighting for a better day to include art, music, wrap-around services, world language. More and more parent groups are now uniting into one and very disappointed that the mayor wants this for his kids but now CPS kids.

    #238~they had to vote.

  • 242. NBCT Vet  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    @233 junior

    Thanks for your conscientious reply and thoughtful comments here.

    re: wages
    It is safe to say that this issue has been beaten to death here and on other blogs. : )

    I am paid a reasonable salary for the work I do. I am happy with that, as I think most CPS teachers are. But as someone who works 60 hours/week during the school year I am not satisfied with a 2% raise for 20% more mandatory work hours.

    re: making a difference
    Teachers of course make a difference in kids’ education. My school has an outstanding staff – I’d put our teachers up against those form New Trier or Evanston or Stevenson any day. I just don’t feel that teachers are preventing students from learning – poverty, family, and systemic district problems present much bigger obstacles.

    re: improvements vs. pay
    We largely agree that a better day, smaller class sizes, recess, art and music, world language, P.E., libraries, etc. would be beneficial for students. Every single teacher I know – and that’s in the hundreds – would gladly take smaller increases in pay for more of those things I just listed.

    re: overpaid
    I take mild personal offense that I am overpaid. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I am a top-tier professional in my field. In the opinion of the administrators for whom I have worked they place me in the top 5% of teachers they have ever had. I am exceptionally well trained and have over a decade of private sector professional experience in my field of teaching. My students and parents consistently give me outstanding feedback. I have turned down multiple jobs form hoity-toity suburban districts. Frankly, CPS is lucky to have me and I’m a bargain at the price they pay. I don’t want to be rewarded with more money. I want to be rewarded with a system that benefits my neighborhood school students in the best ways that it can. Unfortunately, that has never been the case in my experience with CPS and I believe the Board is moving in many of the wrong directions, but I’ll keep trying to help make things better for my kids.

  • 243. IBobsessed  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    “By bringing the mediator’s report to the delegates for a vote, CTU leadership was actively listening to stakeholders. This is a foreign concept for CPS parents, since Rahm and his hand-picked board do any damn thing they want without listening to us.”

    So then are you a supporter of an elected school board MFD? Could we really be anymore disenfranchised with an elected board than we are now?

  • 244. CLB  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    We will always and forever lag other districts if our labor costs are 20% more per hour, and we can have neither quantity nor quality of instructional day if [we] pay the highest costs without even measuring and accounting for the quality of labor.

    The first independent clause is incorrect and inconsistent with the second independent clause. What matters is labor productivity — output per person-hours — and the cost per of labor. Highly productive labor may be more expensive than less productive labor, but the higher productivity may off-set the difference.

    We have results from ISAT, PSAE, and IAA for 2007-2011, and Chicago rose 6 points on the composites compared to 3 points for the state overall in that period, trimming the gap between Chicago and the state from 14 points in 2007 to 11 points in 2011. And over 80% of Chicago students are low-income v. less than 50% for the state. So despite have poorer children and less hours per year than most of other schools in the state, Chicago’s teachers, whose average salary* is 9.6% higher than the state-wide average, boosted tested performance at twice the state-wide level. Not bad.

    * I’m not a big fan of the average salary comparison — I much prefer knowing the median and modal salaries.

  • 245. mom2  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Agree with Mayfair Dad – it will be really telling to see what CTU really wants and what we end up with. If SoxSideIrish is right, and what they really want is what is good for the kids, then we should end up with a better day that is also longer than we have now (not just no more lunch at the end), limited class sizes, more art, music, recess, lunch long enough not to have to shove food in your mouth and leave, improved building facilities, more aids in the classroom for special ed, more autonomy for curriculum, improved email and grading system, etc. Only way I see all that happening is if teachers agree to give something up such as salary increases, paying more for their healthcare, etc. What are they willing to give up?

  • 246. cpsobsessed  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Well, selfishly (for all of us) I would be kind of cool if the CTU kept striking until chicago and the state found a way to really provide all those things. Getting all that AND good teacher pay IS in the best interest of the kids, but unfortunately we can’t have it all unless politicians have the nerve to take a stand and taxpayers are willing to give up a little more.
    There’s no other group this size organized enough to force a change….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 247. Mayfair Dad  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    @ 243: I generally fall on the side of more democracy, not less, so in principle I support an elected school board. My concern (a big concern) is the Citizens United ruling and how that plays locally – big monied special interests (charter operators, Gates Foundation, etc.)
    “buying” seats on the school board. If we could elect a school board and put campaign spending limits and oversight in place – that would be the ideal situation. But as long as money = free speech, I have serious concerns.

  • 248. junior  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    @242 NBCT Vet

    re: wages
    Kudos and a sincere thank-you to you if you work 60 hours per week during the school year. But my guess is that if your mandatory hours increased in the longer day by 20% (and I still haven’t figured out how that calculation is correct), then you’d probably still work 60 hours per week. The question becomes are the hours best spent in preparation, grading, etc., or are they best spent in direct student contact?

    If you are in the top 5% of your peers and work 60 hours per week, then you probably deserve every penny you get and perhaps more. However, not everyone can be top 5%. The problem that exists is that the top 5% must get the same pay as the bottom 5%. And those who work 60 hours must get the same pay as those who put in the minimum. And we have no incentives for the lower-performers to put in the time to become better performers. As it stands now, we are stuck dealing with averages — giving some people less than they deserve and others more.

    re: making a difference
    I think very good and very bad teachers can make big impacts. But you are correct in suggesting that the factors that most influence student outcomes are familial and socioeconomic. From a public policy standpoint, one could certainly postulate the idea that putting more money into getting incrementally better teachers is not a good use of resources, compared to intervening in some other way to remedy poverty. Poverty is certainly a bigger cause of failing education than poor teaching.

    re: overpaid
    Again, you make some statements about your personal value and worth as a teacher. It’s fair for you to take offense at being called overpaid (no offense was intended). Perhaps you personally are not overpaid; perhaps you are underpaid. But we don’t have a system that allows individual evaluations; we have a system that pays everyone the same, so the only tool we have is to evaluate the aggregate/average pay compared to other teachers across the nation. I support changing the system in a way that would allow you to get paid what you are worth as an exceptional performer.

  • 249. junior  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm


    CTU has already revealed their priority in the negotiations. Sharkey’s response in the press to the fact-finders report was that CTU objected to the findings on job security.

  • 250. NBCT Vet  |  July 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Cpsobsessed makes an important point. The only way to get all of those things that keep coming up for the kids is to fundamentally change how schools in Chicago are funded.

    CPS sets the priorities for the whole district. Given their current priorities there is no way to get all those things the kids need without actually *cutting* teacher compensation. Maintaining salaries, even with a much longer school day, just doesn’t provide enough cash to give students what we all know they need.

    I know the CTU doesn’t have many friends here, but they have worked very hard to organize with families, parents, students, community organizations, churches, and others to advocate for the best interest of students, not just teachers. This is a HUGE and radical change from the historical leadership of the CTU.

    I understand many still think the Union is only looking out for themselves. I ask them to remember that the CTU has an obligation to represent its members, but to also look at the larger picture of the advocacy in which the Union and its members are engaged.

    And at 30,000 strong, plus allies and partners, teachers are one of the few groups that can act as a compelling force on behalf of students.

  • 251. CLB  |  July 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    @218 @220

    Patricia is correct. CTU was invited to take part in the Longer Day Advisory Committee and declined. It opposed the composition of the committee (many union-unfriendly educational activist groups and parochial/religious school leaders on the committee) and its mission, which was to recommend how to implement the longer-day along guidelines set by CPS. It was not a forum to debate the length of the day or compensation.

  • 252. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    #249~but Sharkey also revealed they want smaller classes, ancillary subjects~a BETTER day for ALL kids; not just the longest.

  • 253. mom2  |  July 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    @251 CLB – exactly – they are complaining now that they were not invited to discuss how to implement the longer day to make it a better day. This is not true. The teachers don’t want a longer day unless CPS pays through the roof – all about them from the way I see it.

    Did you see the article in the Tribune today? I found these paragraphs the most interesting about a past strike. It sort of says what we all have been saying (on both sides) –
    ” • In 1984, teachers struck for 10 school days over a salary dispute and a board demand that teachers pay part of the premium for health benefits. A Dec. 4 Tribune editorial, “Bungling into a strike,” said: “Chicago’s Board of Education and its employee unions have bumbled their way into another strike that nobody can win. And once again, the city’s schoolchildren — and its reputation — will be the big losers.”
    That strike ended when the district caved, offering a 4.5 percent raise and dropping the premium demand.“The Board of Education has lost what little credibility it had left,” this page wrote on Dec. 24. “The 4.5 percent raise already makes it inevitable that the schools will face a huge budget deficit for the year starting next September. But who will believe board members’ financial figures next summer when they try to hold the line against additional spending?”
    And: “The teachers intend to grab up every possible dollar the school board can raise. And they shouldn’t be surprised that no one believes them the next time they say that they really care about the children or the city.”

  • 254. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    #247~Mayfair Dad~limited spending ~just for the very reason you stated~is already the planning stages~if it passes to have an elected bd.

  • 255. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    #253~Mom2~it’s a different era and union…this is what they asked for in Sept 2011 (almost a yr ago) when longer day was to be planned: and basically what they are asking for now.

  • 256. CPS Parent  |  July 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    An elected board in Chicago would be a disaster. A “parent” or two advocating for what is best exclusively driven by which grades their children are in. A few enamored by the access to power. More than a few who wish to accelerate charters – an easily achieved majority perhaps?. A lawyer or two who’s firms encourage this type of “business development”. And so on.

  • 257. IBobsessed  |  July 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Then you vote ’em out. What can we do now?? Nuttin.

    BTW, the alderman are currently debating an elected school board and have requested feedback from constituents. (OK, it’s probably a token debate, and they won’t challenge the Rahmbo) but at least it’s getting attention. So make your views known to your alderman.

  • 258. junior  |  July 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    What can you do now? You can vote Rahm out. Same principle.

    Right now there is no legal way to keep unlimited special interest money out of the process. Elected school board does nothing except diffuse responsibility, open process to special interests, and create policy stalemates. I could see having one or two elected spots, just to have an insider add some transparency to the process. But right now, the buck stops with Rahm, and I will vote for or against him in the next election primarily based on how well he manages CPS.

  • 259. anonymouse teacher  |  July 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    @Junior, before I respond to your post, I just want to say that I notice I tend to respond to you a lot and to say that I am not intending to single you out. Some of what you say I agree with, some I do not, but I do find most of what you say to be intriguing at the very least.
    In post 248 where you responded to someone else, you said, “The question becomes are the hours best spent in preparation, grading, etc., or are they best spent in direct student contact?”
    That is a thoughtful question and here is how I would answer.
    Let’s say I currently spend 25 hours of my work week in direct student contact and I spend another 25-35 planning, assessing, researching, etc. Of course, if my direct student time is increased, I will attempt to become more efficient and I will see which parents might be willing or able to take on some of the more mundane aspects of my prepping, so I can spend more time really planning for the children in front of me. But a good teacher, a really good teacher, cannot–let me repeat, cannot–expect to output excellent direct student contact without spending copious amounts of time in planning, assessing, research, etc. The planning time is the foundation of teaching. Without it, the entire structure collapses.

    What happens when teachers don’t have enough time to plan and must spend too much time directly in front of students is this: Winging it. Worksheets. Boring, lower level thinking skill time killers. This also is seen in less skilled teachers.

    When teaching time is properly supported by that planning time, this is what happens: awesome hands on science lessons like observing worms, measuring them, touching the segments they have, discussing which side their mouth is on, diagraming the worms, writing about them, reading about how worms aid in compost piles and creating a small class model of a compost pile.

    But it takes time to walk down the street to my neighbor’s garden to extract the worms. It takes time to plan out a science journal for the kids to write it, to go to the library to acquire books on the topic, to prepare higher level thinking questions to ask in advance, to figure out how to organize groups so that everyone can observe the worms in advance and planning what everyone else is going to do that is meaningful while waiting their turn. It takes time to convince my father in law to build us a mini-compost bin so I can bring it to school. THESE things set the stage for real learning. (and god knows, most schools don’t supply any of this–I am fortunate to now be in one where if I get prior approval, by principal would do her best to pay for whatever is needed)

    One possible way to use time more efficiently is for someone other than teachers to oversee breakfast and to be doing attendance. This is all clerical work and babysitting. It would save me 15 minutes each day to not have to do this. That’s 75 minutes a week. Someone with a high school diploma should be doing that kind of work, not a professional with a graduate degree. I don’t think this is feasible given our current model of education or logistically, but really, what a waste of my time. It isn’t that I think taking attendance is beneath me. It is that I have so many other more important things that I need to do to do the kind of work I desire to do.

  • 260. Tchr  |  July 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Mouse. You sound wonderful. I wish you were my cooperating teacher when I student taught years ago. I work in a very test preppy school. Blah.

    If you ever get into consulting or coaching outside of your school, do contact me!! …somehow.

  • 261. mom2  |  July 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Mouse, you sound that fantastic teacher. I wish you could be rewarded for your excellence and not the teacher that tells the kids to read chapter 4 in their book and then do this worksheet. Huge difference, same pay.
    I know how hard it is to come up with a perfect way to measure excellence, I really get that some ideas could actually backfire and hurt good teachers, but doesn’t it frustrate you just a bit that you are not able to be rewarded when you work so hard and do such great things for our kids?

  • 262. mom2  |  July 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    sorry typo – sound like a fantastic teacher

  • 263. anonymouse teacher  |  July 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks Tchr! What grade do you teach? Hang in there. In 10 more years, the pendulum will swing and tests will be out. We’ll all be doing portfolios again, though probably under a new name.
    I am working on something that you may find supportive. I hope to have it up and ready in the next few weeks. Will keep you posted somehow!

  • 264. Family Friend  |  July 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    @257: The aldermen’s debate is meaningless. State law requires the appointed board, and all the aldermen can do is grandstand.

  • 265. bookworm  |  July 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Annonmouse! Thank you for such a great picture of what it takes to make something special happen in a classroom. Many kids have never had this kind of experience. Few parents on this board had any idea what it might take to put something like this together.

    Many parents hare are also quite anxious to have their kids bounding to what they consider to be three grades ahead and attached to very rote methods.

    Would that CPS and the current administration had any desire to support this kind of teaching or learning.

  • 266. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    #263~you sound like a great teacher. I feel fortunate bc in my kids’ school they have something very similar for science and the kids really love it. While I really like the teachers at our school, you would make a great addition!

    #264~it won’t be grandstanding, Alderman can have it on the ballot that’s what they are shooting for and let City decide if we should have an elected bd like every other district.

  • 267. NBCT Vet  |  July 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    @259 anonymouse

    Thanks for providing that important perspective on what goes into creating a meaningful lesson or unit.

    For me one of the biggest challenges or frustrations of working 20% more hours, whether I am paid for it or not, is that I am going to have to make some very unpleasant choices about what to give up. More class time means less of everything else. I just can’t add 20% more work hours to my current work day.

    So, I will likely not have the time to do what my kids need most from me – all the types of things you mentioned: planning and collaborating, developing reflective assignments and self-analysis journals, helping students produce digital portfolios of their own work, etc. What I fear most is losing the time to work with students one-on-one or in small groups outside of class. The students who need me the most, and the students I feel I really do help “save”, see me outside of regularly structured class time.

    Losing PD days during the year is going to be especially hard on my kids because those days historically represent my most important and successful teaching time. I skip the PD sessions and work directly with my students who volunteer their day off – they ask me for it, not the other way around – to work with them.

    I wish our longer school day could have more of those types of opportunities. Unfortunately, at my school everyone will be taking a new test-prep class instead.

  • 268. CarolA  |  July 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    @259 Bravo! I couldn’t have explained it any better. And imagine…that’s the planning for only one unit. Multiply that by all the other wonderful lessons you do. That’s why MANY, not just the top 5%, spend hours outside the classroom.

  • 269. CarolA  |  July 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    In fact, just today I found something on Lakeshore Learning that I want for my classroom, but it’s $179. So I asked my hubby if he could build it for less. He said it would cost about $50 for him to build it. Guess what hubby will be doing next week! Who says teachers just relax all summer?

  • 270. anonymouse teacher  |  July 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    mom2,(and others), thank you for your kind words.
    I have moments where I see a few colleagues not working very hard or caring and yes, that bothers me. I have gone back and forth on this a lot.
    What it boils down to for me is while somedays I think, “yeah, I should be getting more money than so and so”, I am more afraid of the fallout of a merit pay system than of any rewards it might reap for me or for my many terrific colleagues all across the system. There are so many questions and concerns around paying some people more than others that it makes my head spin.

    I am not saying we shouldn’t keep discussing or keep trying to find something that could work. I am just aware of the many ways it could backfire and not just hurt teachers, but hurt students too.

    Maybe the only thing I can say is, yes, we need to find some way to reward our best teachers. But ONLY when we concurrently find a way to provide all our teachers with a path to potential success. I spent 3 years in a school where I would come home frequently telling my husband, “honey, I know it sounds paranoid, but I literally feel like I am being set up to fail.” I am in a much better place now, but those years were more than hard. And I am not sure if CPS is a place that as a whole can be fixed.

    Does any of this make sense or answer your question?

  • 271. anonymouse teacher  |  July 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Carol, I am not allowed into Lakeshore Learning anymore with anything other than cash. That place is like Crack for teachers, isn’t it? Kudos to all the spouses, parents, and others who contribute in these really important ways!

  • 272. CarolA  |  July 21, 2012 at 8:21 am

    anonymouse, you are right with Lakeshore. Great stuff, but you could leave broke. My daughter teaches kindergarten and we went the other day. We both told the clerk not to tell us the total, just shove us the receipt to sign! They say it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to know and live with a teacher! My sister-in-law shops all the clearance sales for me with art materials. CPS needs a budget, so do we. Thank goodness for clearance sales.

  • 273. CarolA  |  July 21, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Regarding merit pay: I agree with anonymouse. There are many concerns. Those teachers who work hard aren’t afraid of it if it’s done properly. But currently, at my school, the principal “has it out” for a well respected teacher. Not sure why. Every time he tells her he wants to see something in her room, she has it, but he refuses to look where she has placed it. He didn’t see it, so therefore it doesn’t exist. She asks him what she can do to make adjustments and his reply is always ” This is not the time to talk about it.” I worry for her. I think the writing is on the wall. I know parents and teachers alike will stand up for her because this is not warranted, so he may back off. However, this is the type of thing that goes on all across the system. In fact, I’m convinced that principals have been given a directive to “get rid” of some tenured teachers however you can. Sounds paranoid just like anonymouse says, but it’s true.

  • 274. mom2  |  July 21, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Mouse and CarolA – thank you for answering my questions about merit pay. I sort of understand, but when I see what it is like in the private sector where there are always cases of the boss “having it out” for someone while co-workers think they are great, I don’t think it is possible to make a totally fair system where the best are always rewarded and the others are not. Reviews are always partially or fully subjective, or the measurements don’t measure the things that really have the best impact on the company.

    For example, some companies pay call center employees more if they take more calls. That sounds right, but if the calls they take don’t actually help someone (wrong answers or quick to get off the phone and onto the next one so they are not polite and fully helpful), then did they really reward the right thing?

  • 275. mom2  |  July 21, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I have a new question for those that know. I know nothing about how this would work.
    Let’s say CPS agrees to cap class sizes in all schools at 28 per classroom.
    Now, school x, a great neighborhood school, currently has 2 kindergarten classes with 28 in each class and it is August 30th. They are 100% kids from the neighborhood. Now, on September 1st, they find out that there is one more kindergarten child moving into the neighborhood.
    Not only would this mean that they now must divide those kids into three classes instead of two? I guess then they have another kindergarten teacher (which I believe CPS must pay for), but they need another classroom which they don’t have. All rooms are being used.
    So, what would happen? Must they pay for a trailer for the classroom? Quickly build an addition on to the school and take away the parking lot or playground? What if this same thing happens in several grades? Would some kids be forced to go to a different, non-neighborhood school? Can you imagine the uproar from parents if that happened? Would they be allowed to have one class of 29 but they must get a full time aid? How would this work?

  • 276. Tchr  |  July 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    If I am not mistaken, and correct me if I am wrong- there is already a “cap” on class sizes. I believe my union rep told me that in K-3 it is 28, but because my class of 33 was not at 35, I could not file a grievance. Yes. 33 kindergartners in a high poverty school with NO aide.

    Due to lack of money, according to my principal, we could create split classrooms to alleviate the problem. Yes. K-1 classrooms, 1-2, and 2-3. Thankfully it didnt come to that and they moved another teacher down instead- which also cause that grade to be overcrowded. No easy solution anywhere. But 33 5 year olds? Awful.

  • 277. CarolA  |  July 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Tchr is correct. There is already a cap on K-3 of 28. However, that does not mean when #29 comes in they split the class just has Tchr explained. It needs to go up to 35 and even then it may be difficult. Classroom size in not what you think it is. Let me explain. When CPS publishes that School X has 26 children per classroom, that is not usually the case. They take the total number of teachers in the school (including gym, music, library, etc. who don’t actually have their own set of children) and divide that into the total number of students at that school. When you do those calculations, it allows for more teachers per classroom than actually exist since gym and music teachers don’t have their own class and special education teachers don’t have 35. It makes the “average” classroom have less than it really does. Does that make sense? So CPS would say that there are 26 per classroom and the reality is that there are 34 when you use their math. When there are no more rooms available (as happened in my school many times) here’s what happened through my years. Yes, this IS what happened.
    1. Lunchroom got divided up into 3 separate classrooms with dividers and you could still hear the people next to you. Students had lunches delivered in coolers and ate in the classroom.
    2. Next year, the lunchroom went back to a lunchroom, but now special education teachers with smaller numbers of children worked out of bookrooms and in hallways.
    3. Next year, they took a regular classroom and had a wall built to make two smaller classrooms. Wall was paper thin and you could hear everything.
    4. At one point when overcrowding was a major issue, we finally had an annex building built, but that filled up rapidly and in a few years we were overcrowded again.
    5. Teachers began having split grades meaning 4th grade and 5th grade being taught in the same classroom by one teacher, no help. (Getting an aide for anything is nearly impossible unless it is for a special education child and even that takes lots of pressure) Split grades benefit no one.
    6. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. It’s a mess.

  • 278. CarolA  |  July 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Tchr: I feel your pain. My daughter worked in a high poverty school and taught kindergarten. That particular year she ended up with 45 students and no aide. The principal tried her hardest to get another teacher, but CPS would not approve it for whatever reason. The principal was nice enough to somehow move people around and get her an aide for the first 10 weeks of school before CPS finally paid for another teacher. It was awful! Thank goodness that principal fought and fought CPS, but it shouldn’t have to be that way.

  • 279. CarolA  |  July 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Regarding previous post about % of house taxes of city vs. suburbs. I checked my bill and 53% of my taxes go to education vs. my friend in Glenview who has 67% of their tax bill going to education. Interesting.

  • 280. HS Mom  |  July 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    @279 – there are a number of things to consider, the raw %’s are not comparable. There’s the shear number of households, police/fire/municipal needs, cook county/city highways and hospitals. We have greater population per SF and lower average income so all our public services have greater demand.

  • 281. cpsICK  |  July 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    277 – yes, we dealt with CPS fuzzy math for years. School is still overcrowded, has been for years, gets great test scores, very involved parents + PTA, gym set up for lunch, taken down after lunch, library now a homeroom, etc. The principal’s office is basically a closet along with special ed taught in halls. what an embarrassment. Tried for many years for addition…not coming probably not ever coming. But drive past Onahan and see what’s going on there. Who do they know????? Son now in private HS, thank God.

  • 282. NBCT Vet  |  July 21, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    re: class sizes

    It’s so interesting to read what’s happening at other overcrowded schools. Thanks for sharing.

    At my overcrowded, 98% poverty school the implemented solution when I started there was to create three, and then four, different schedules, staggering student and teacher start and end times. This kept most of our core class sizes in the low 40s. The school has had overcrowding issues for decades. Our enrollment has declined a bit over the last couple of years so we’ve been able to maintain core class sizes in the range of the low to mid 30s recently.

    There were downsides to this staggered schedule strategy: P.E. classes with 50-60 students each. Lunch for hundreds of students as early as 9:30 a.m. or as late as 2:15 p.m. Late starters were unable to participate in after-school extra- and co-curriculars. Non-core, non-P.E. class sizes remained quite large, typically in the mid-40s. During the winter months large numbers of students did not get out of school until after dark. (Our school is in a pretty rough neighborhood.) Early-start students had difficulty getting to class on time and staying awake and alert. (Teenagers circadian rhythms are different from adults. All high schools should start later.)

    Like many other schools, we utilized every classroom every minute of every school day. There was just no more space in which to put students. I am so proud of our students and staff: despite this absurd overcrowding a U of C study several years ago ranked our school 5th in the city in cohort growth when they studied student progress over four years.

  • 283. cpsobsessed  |  July 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    CarolA summed it up well. I recall my earlier days as a naïve parent when we thought we’d get another teacher by surpassing the 28 kid limit. SO very far from the truth…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 284. CarolA  |  July 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    @280 Very true
    @282 Congrats to you and your school for great improvement despite poor conditions

  • 285. Teacher4321  |  July 21, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    The “class size formula” is quite complicated and not grieveable well in the 2007 – 2012 contract.

    You can find the old contract on ctu’s website it is on page 63.

    “A. Staffing:

    28 at the kindergarten level
    28 at the primary level
    31 at the intermediate and upper grade level

    1. The number of classroom teaching positions are provided to each elementary school will generally be determined as follows;

    a. the total number of intermediate and upper grade students will be divided by 31 on a whole number basis, i.e. the division will not be extended to a decimal place. If the division is uneven, then the remaining students will be included in the primary membership;

    b. the total number of primary students will be divided by 28 extended to one decimal place, and rounded up to the nearest whole number;

    c. the total number of kindergarten stunts will be divided by two, extended to one decimal place, and rounded up to the nearest whole number; this number will then be divided by 28, extended to one decimal place, and rounded up to the nearest half (0.5) number;

    d. the sum of a, b and c represents the total number of teaching positions which shall be provided to each elementary school;

    e. teaches assigned to the Intensive Reading Program or to bilingual programs will not be counted as part of the number provided to implement the maximum class size program in each school. ”

    “1. Elementary Schools WIth Space Available

    In those elementary schools in which space is available, the maximum number of students in classes will generally be as follows:

    27 – 29 in kindergarten classes
    27 – 29 in primary grade classes
    30 – 32 in intermediate classes and upper grade classes

    Implementation of these class sizes in specific schools may result in problems relating to class reorganization, single section classes, split grades and installation of experimental programs. Local school deviations for the class sizes indicated above may be made by the principal, after consulting the Professional Problems Comittee and the teachers involved, when necessary to implement special programs for instructional improvement or to need the needs of the particular school.

    2. Elementary Schools Without Space Available

    In those elementary schools in which space is unavailable to organize classes as indicated above, the additional teachers provided under the staffing in “A” will share the curriculum planning, instructional responsibilities, and all other related duties of teachers. Said additional teachers will be programmed in such a way as to provide maximum teacher-pupil contacts on a regularly scheduled basis to share instructional load of the classroom teachers. Said additional teachers should not be used primarily for:

    administrative assistance
    building security purposes
    clerical or office-type tasks
    discipline purposes
    lunchroom duty
    playground duty
    guidance purposes- adjustment and counseling ”

    Keep in mind in this formula, Kindrgaren is based on 1/2 day K, so it is 56 kids per teacher.

  • 286. mom2  |  July 22, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Thank you, Teacher4321 – I greatly appreciate the detail. It helps to see how we could end up with classrooms with up to 40 kids.

  • 287. Ltwain  |  July 22, 2012 at 11:33 am

    You sound like a very thoughtful teacher and I would want my kids taught by you. Would teachers like yourself jump at the opportunity to teach in schools where much that occurs in Chicago, CPS, unions, etc., is minimized somewhat? I would think that if other teachers and leaders of your ilk were disenchanted, you would open your own school, with much less of the distractions – where you could control much more of what concerns you, such as class sizes.
    That’s why it seems odd that contract and charter schools are less embraced. Aren’t these schools supposed to be one of the pathways that are an alternative to the status quo? CPS is definitely broken. As you’ve stated, it’s hard to fix. But there seems to be a way out with contract and charter, although the disdain to which these schools are held seems to be misplaced. If you don’t like Cps policies, and they won’t change, and there is an alternative, shouldn’t we be looking at the alternatives some more? I can understand that current charter operators are given preference, because they are further up the learning curve. But teachers like you, CarolA, can apply for a school, and end up with what you think is the proper way to run a school. Of course, there’s a chance you will be no more successful than a cps school, but at least you had the opportunity. Let me know, I might want to join you.

  • 288. CPS teacher  |  July 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I am a former charter teacher now at a SEHS. I would never go back to the chaos that I know charters to be. Turnover was horrible. Morale horrible. Administration didn’t know right from left. Two other teachers at my school were also at charters (different than where I was) and say the same thing.

  • 289. mom2  |  July 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    CPS teacher – other than the morale issues this year due to the changes CPS wants to make, would you say that the morale at your SEHS and the morale at most CPS schools is good? All I heard about this last year is how terrible the morale was for the teachers at many cps schools, so hearing that it is bad at charters schools makes it sound like morale is generally always bad for teachers, and I’m sure that isn’t true.

  • 290. anonymouse teacher  |  July 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    In reaction to the Sun Times article regarding how parents should not freak out just yet about a possible strike, I want to respond to the mother who said that there are people out there with MBA’s and graduate degrees and doctorates out of work who could take my job if I don’t want it:
    That’s all fine and good except an MBA or someone with a grad degree or doctorate is not qualified in any way shape or form to do my job. They cannot be hired to do my job in the state of Illinois because they are not licensed and credentialed in the field. If a person, out of work as she describes or otherwise, wants to teach, they are welcome to go back to school for 2-3 years and get a teaching master’s degree to do it. Otherwise, her argument is worthless and makes me very angry. People would say I was out of my mind if I wanted to go into a hospital and be a physician’s assistant merely because I have the same amount of education as they do. I have no training or skills in that field. It is no different with teaching.
    I do understand the mom’s frustration with the system and even with the CTU. I don’t blame her if she leaves the city. I don’t blame her for being upset about a possible strike or about teachers asking for a raise. But my incredibly smart MBA friends, my friends who worked for years to get their PhD who are fabulous at what they do, are simply not qualified to be teachers. If they are, then let’s stop having education programs at all. Let’s allow anyone who thinks they can teach in a classroom with no training and see what happens. I’d be curious to see how that would work out for Chicago.

  • 291. Teacher4321  |  July 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Excuse me in advance, I’m typing on my iPhone on the L and it is proving difficult.

    As for morale, I would say in general it has been quite high at my school until this past year. Prior to this year, we had AMPS status. Our administration treats us with the utmost respect, in return we are hard and dedicated teachers who put in what it takes to get the job done. Our administration is feeling the ridiculousness of this year right alongside of us. They have had to redo the schedule twice, which is quite time consuming. Have had much of their afterschool time taken up by rushed meetings, have used valuable resources like manpower, paper and ink to send home letters that come over the email at 2:30 to go home TODAY. They are worried about how the new evaluation system is going to impact their time to do other duties and they stand with us.

    That being said, I have heard mixed morale information from both charters and CPS schools. Each school and I imagine campus (for charters) have their own culture. It starts with the school leadership and how they handle the push down so to speak from above.

  • 292. OutsideLookingIn  |  July 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    @290 anonymouse – That mom’s statement was just hyperbole. Her point seemed to be that there are a lot of folks out there who have been unemployed for a year or more who would jump at a chance to have a job, even if it meant substantially more work for minimal extra pay.

    I’m sure it was hurtful and aggravating to read though.

  • 293. CarolA  |  July 22, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Ltwain: Thanks for your kind words. Would I open my own school with teachers like myself? NO. First, as explained earlier@290, I do not have the training to open my own school. I do not have my type75 (administration degree) nor do I wish to have it. My calling is as a classroom teacher. Second, it takes lots of $$$$ or high tuition to start up a new school. It is my opinion that when you get big sums of $$$ from people/corporations, there is something they may want in return. Then what have you really gained. Third, I really don’t have much travel time from home to school and that’s a big one for me. All in all, despite the complaining, I’m pretty lucky to be in the school I am in. Our test scores are great, but it comes at a price. The price is tons of tons of test prep and testing. Sad. I maintain that a big part of CPS ‘s money problems stem from too much overhead. As mentioned by someone else, my school too, used to be an AMPS school which was able to make many of it’s own decisions. Now, here’s the ladder of control: At the bottom, teacher assistants, up a step…teachers, keep going…assistant principals, principals, AIO’s (area instructional officers or as I like to call them E, I, E, I, O’s as in Farmer in the Dell), people above them, finally Brizzard and Rahm. So you can see that the people who are in contact with your child every day are very low on the totem pole. Again, sad.

  • 294. CarolA  |  July 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Regarding moral: Up until a couple of years ago it was pretty good. Each year there is more and more attention given to testing and pitting schools against each other via test scores creating pressure for principals which trickles down to the teachers. This past school year was a bad one. It seems each year there’s more and more testing. CPS even paid teachers to work this summer on more required assessments. This Common Core stuff is going to wipe all of us out. I think having the entire United States on the same page is a wise decision, but reading and math companies are already correlating their materials to the Common Core. Why do we have to do it besides our day to day lessons?

  • 295. NBCT Vet  |  July 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    re: morale

    Morale at my school was great for four or five years, but not so much now.

    We fought off CPS’s scripted curricula program (IDS), survived an obsessive control freak of an Area Instructional Officer who had nothing but bad ideas, got off probation despite massive overcrowding, partnered with an outstanding local neighborhood organization to provide extracurricular offerings and adult education classes to the community, continued to raise our test scores every year as we have done for ten years now, showed amazing cohort growth as I referenced above, and benefited from the highest teacher retention rate of any high school in the city – including the magnet schools.

    And then UNO took control of an elementary school two blocks away and opened a high school several blocks away. Our enrollment dropped precipitously necessitating layoffs. That really hurt, especially when we’re doing all the right things.

    Despite our location in a rough neighborhood, our school is filled with wonderful, respectful, hard working students. Only a very small number of students are truly problematic. As our enrollment drops, the students we lose are the ones with dedicated, involved parents who feel their children will benefit from the rigorous discipline of a charter school despite the fact that UNO’s academics and non-academic programs can’t hold a candle to ours. So, the ratio of bozos to great kids has changed. Frustrating.

    Now we find ourselves committing significant resources – time and money – to advertising, public relations, and recruiting to keep and attract students from good families in the neighborhood. It takes time and money from the important things we really need to focus on.

    The competition for neighborhood children is fierce. UNO won’t even let us in their building to talk to their students about our school. Other principals, despite our excellent work, refuse to even acknowledge that our school is an option for their middle school age students. That competition creates more than a little bad blood. None of this benefits our kids or our community.

    25-50 charter school push outs, behavioral problems, or poor academic performers arrive at our doors mid-year each year. Ouch.

    Still, the biggest morale buster of all is the Board of Ed and the Area Officers, now Network Chiefs. We’ve spent a decade fighting off their unproven math and reading fads du jour, their demand to suspend students for not completing FAFSA forms, and their comparisons of our school with various types of selective enrollment schools. They have refused to resolve our overcrowding issues in a way that supports the work we do, have denied us a 4% raise (within their contractual rights), have run rampant with privatization and threatened to close 75 more schools like ours. They think we should not be paid more to work a 20% longer day, have threatened us with teaching 6 classes instead of 5 (talk about a nightmare), have obsessed over high stakes exams that tell us a great deal about the socio-economic status of our students but little more, and have contributed nothing of value to make year’s longer day a better day for teachers or students.

    Teaching is a second career for me and I’ve only been around 8 years. I have almost left the district twice and last year I almost left teaching. My colleagues who have been around for 30 years or more say they have never, ever in their professional lives felt so disrespected by the Board. That’s really saying something.

  • 296. CarolA  |  July 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    NBCT Vet: My heart goes out to you. You tell a tale that’s oh so real. Despite morale being low, great teachers still put one foot in front of the other and continue wonderful lessons because it’s what we do. I think this forum has made it possible for information to reach the public that never has been voiced before. Thank you.

  • 297. CarolA  |  July 23, 2012 at 6:59 am

    Ltwain: So you peaked my interest and I though about your comments last night. Today, here I am re-reading your post to see if I hear what you are saying. You asked if I’d consider opening my own school. Then you said to let you know because you might want to join me in this new adventure. Are you planning to fund it or work side by side with me to develop it? HMMMMMM, tempting situation. Wouldn’t it be great to build your own school given unlimited resources and decision making freedom? Now you have me re-thinking my previous answer. Seems like we could have quite a staff with many members of this post. We could make history. I’m an experimenter so be careful. I just might be willing to take the risk. While we wait to see what happens with CPS, maybe we should at least start to develop a virtual school. How fun. Thoughts are racing through my head! Watch out Rahm!

  • 298. CarolA  |  July 23, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Anybody have thoughts about the pay scale changes? Should there be step and lane increases or should they be eliminated?

  • 299. Mayfair Dad  |  July 23, 2012 at 9:27 am

    @298: I support the notion that teachers should be incentivised (tuition reimbursement, salary bump) to obtain masters degrees and national board certification. I don’t support the notion that career civil servants should be rewarded for doing the bare minimum.

  • 300. CarolA  |  July 23, 2012 at 9:52 am

    The reason I bring this topic up is because I’m tossed on the issue. Currently, teachers get pay raises for extra education PROVIDED they already have a masters degree. That’s where it gets fuzzy for me. I choose to spend time with my family in my younger years, so I only have my bachelors degree. Therefore, even though my yearly ratings have always been Superior, I cannot get any more money. Sure, I could go back for my masters and actually did start at one point, but my experience during professional development days is that just because someone holds a masters degree or higher doesn’t necessarily make them a better teacher. I can count on one hand excellent PD days given by worthwhile presenters. I know many teachers who got their masters degrees not because it made them a better teacher and they utilize what was being taught, but simply because it gave the needed hours to get a pay raise. Is there a way to have incentives IF and ONLY IF it is proven that the hours made the person a better teacher. Hard to say if that can be judged properly which brings us to the new rating proposals. It’s all connected.

  • 301. Mayfair Dad  |  July 23, 2012 at 10:42 am

    @ 300: This is why the subject of tenure is so sticky. I don’t support people getting raises just for showing up, whether on the public or corporate side. In the education arena, teachers should set the example by obtaining more education and becoming lifelong learners. This, to me, is a worthwhile investment of my tax dollars. The highly qualified teachers should receive more compensation than less qualified teachers. In addition to this, actual job performance should be evaluated to ensure quality and consistency of instruction. This should be another path to salary increases. Any meaningful evaluation of a teacher’s job performance should include student outcomes. So the problems with this are:

    The quality of teaching Master Degree programs is generally very low, and not deemed as worthwhile by many teachers. Obtaining a masters degree does not always translate into superior teaching.

    There is no consensus on the methodology for measuring teacher effectiveness. I won’t repeat the entire debate here (teaching to the test, poverty, low parent engagement) but – this is the part where all of you teachers who are off for the summer and sitting in the air conditioning at Starbucks with your laptop won’t like – this is a cop-out used by the union to protect the weakest teachers.

    All of the passionate, hard-working, talented teachers I know would welcome a salary structure that recognized and rewarded their excellence. Maybe the approach proposed by CPS is inherently unfair, imprecise and out-of-whack with classroom realities, but smarter people than I could surely come up with a realistic plan to measure teacher effectiveness.

  • 302. CarolA  |  July 23, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Mayfair dad: I agree and to that end I’ll add that it doesn’t always have to be college classes and degrees that make for better teaching. Even though my education level is technically that of a bachelors degree +10 hours, I have attended numerous workshops through the years that have given me instant teaching ideas and valuable knowledge to bring back to the classroom. Example: I attended a full day workshop presented by the Science Guy who is sometimes on the Ellen show. He was marvelous. I received hands-on learning for myself to take back to the classroom instantly. I learned how to make science fun and educational without having to spend thousands on a science program. My day was well spent. I have no degree from it not hours to count towards the pay scale, but my mind was stimulated and I was energized.

  • 303. HS Mom  |  July 23, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    @302 – given the “rubber stamp” certifications that are available to teachers, I would certainly agree with you. As 301 suggests, there’s got to be a better way to measure.

  • 304. Teacher4321  |  July 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I think higher education depends on the individual and what they put in and take out of it. I found I learned more from my undergraduate education from the “extras” I signed myself up for such as various volunteering and job experiences with children.
    As for my Masters, I went to a very well known and specialized program and found the learning and processing I did there invaluable.
    On the other hand, I found the National Board Process to not be a good fit for me as a professional development tool.
    I am a lifelong learner, I read professional magazines and journals and find myself to be quite reflective.
    On the iPhone again. So sorry for typing mistakes and odd spacing.

  • 305. claire  |  July 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    @anonymouse You so succinctly put into words what I have been struggling to say . I’m tooting my own horn here, but I know that if all were fair (emphasis on the word) in teacher evaluation and merit based pay, I would come out on top. Would I like to be rewarded for being so much more effective than many of the teachers I encounter at district-wide PD? Yes! So why wouldn’t all great teachers want to be rewarded?! Why would 90% of teachers be against this? It is simply because teachers know there is no way to fairly do this…yet.

    Test scores would be disastrous and so completely inaccurate. Please read up on it! It is such dangerous and toxic thinking for our children. My students average in the 90th percentile…many in the 99th… on SCANTRON Assessments in the fall. Scantron gives them a “target score” to hit by the end of the year. If they don’t hit this score (even if their score increases, even if they’re only off by two points, even if they still remain in the 99th percentile) my “score” goes down. It is logged as “Student X did not make adequate progress.” In my class of 25 kids, if i have 7 kids of this nature, then my rating would say only 72% of students in my class made adequate progress…aka NOT GOOD. Even if they have jumped 8 reading levels and moved from C’s to A’s in math. Even if they moved from writing words without vowels to writing pages and pages of wonderful stories. Regardless, I would be labeled an ineffective teacher, even if my students’ days were filled with project based learning, reading authentic literature, and character education to create a caring classroom (aka the kind of classroom that every parents, I would imagine, would want).

    On the other side of the spectrum…one of my students might jump from the 65th percentile to the 85th percentile in 3rd grade. Yay for me! But wait! In 4th grade, he might steady a bit and end the year at a 87th percentile. Now, the 4th grade teacher will get penalized. Not enough progress.

    Not to mention, now the whole SCANTRON Assessment is now being cast aside and labeled inaccurate, which is funny because it sure was “accurate” a year ago!

    I would say base effectiveness on monthly principal observations, but- oh wait- CPS doesn’t trust its principals, with good reason for some of them! Ugh- what a mess.

    I’m not even going to get into the test-prep curriculum that will suffocate CPS teachers, students, and parents due to test-based pay. That just makes me too sad. For right now, I’ll just say that the good teachers are with you! We want to be rewarded! But not until they find a way to do it that is actually a reflection on our classroom and teaching skills. I haven’t seen anything yet but I am keeping an open mind.

    And CarolA- I am in for this new school! It reminds me of Manhattan New School in NYC. Look it up- it’s called a “teacher’s haven!”

  • 306. claire  |  July 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    One more thing…to those who say not every evaluation process is perfect, I agree. But most do not have the potential to be so harmful on future generations of children and educators. Oh, and most are not as completely ridiculous as this one.

  • 307. CPS dad  |  July 23, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Isn’t it interesting that when a crime occurs in a neighborhood the police who patrol the area aren’t blamed. Or their commanders don’ t lower the cops performance evaluation based upon the amount of crimes occur in their district. Of coarse not , since there are elements beyond the control of the cops. If a fire breaks out in a neighborhood are the fire fighters of Chicago blamed for it? No way, again there are elements that they could only so much control. So why is it that CPS teachers are expected to be held accountable in regards to their students performance when there are elements that are out of the teachers control such as poverty , drugs, gangs, abuse, and just plain bad parenting? The reality is CPS new evaluation is a Trojan horse designed primarily to remove veteran teachers. For those who don’ t know two unsatisfactory evaluations (SB7) within a 7 year period and your teaching license can be pulled and there goes your career. And people wonder why so many teachers are upset.

  • 308. Ltwain  |  July 24, 2012 at 12:15 am

    CarolA, If a contract or charter school was to be started, I’d be working side by side with, hopefully, others like yourself. Cps likes a team applying for such a school-several different hats have to be worn.
    I think the foundation arms of many corporations would jump at the chance to support those who have a vision and passion for what education should be like.

  • 309. CPS Parent  |  July 24, 2012 at 9:41 am

    CarolA – You do realize that the charter school you and Ltwain are discussing would not be operating under the CPS CTU collective bargaining agreement? Or any salary/benefit agreement for that matter.

    @297 “Watch out Rahm!” ahem… Rahm would kiss you on both cheeks…twice.

  • 310. local  |  July 24, 2012 at 10:57 am

    At what point will we see performance evaluations and required student outcomes hit the public universities? Will parents and students be as demanding (and talk about bucks invested!)? Such “accountability” is probably coming.

  • 311. been there done that  |  July 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Does anyone know when the parent portal opens up for the school year. I remember looking at it in August? At our school we are not told what teacher the student will have until registration. The portal is always an earlier way to find out who your child’s next teacher will be.

  • 312. CarolA  |  July 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Parent portal: Just keep checking it. That’s what I do to find out who is in my class. It gives me time to create name tags and such. Although we have an idea in June, some things get switched around during the summer (transfer in, transfer out, language, etc.)

    @310: I’m sure there will be more and more accountability measures put into place as the years go by.

    CPS Parent: Yes, I realize it would out of the CTU. I’m a dreamer and the appeal of working in a school with unlimited resources and decision making freedom is something that I don’t think exists even in a charter school. I looked up the Manhattan New School that claire suggested. It seems to be if a group of teachers with similar teaching ideas gathered together and created a school it would be a dream come true. I wish money would fall from the sky and we would be accountable to only ourselves. Student progress and success through real life scenarios ( not hours of testing ) would be a great indicator if things are going well or not. If teachers could use all the time spent on paperwork towards creating a better classroom it would be wonderful. I would love it if, in lieu of lesson and unit plans, the principal would stop by daily, unannounced, and check things out. Even if there was a day here or there that seemed off for whatever reason, as a whole, they would see great teaching and realize that lesson and unit plans are for THEIR use, not mine. So much more time! Some teachers might need detailed lesson plans as required. I need an overview to make it work. Just as we are required to differentiate the learning for the varied levels of our students, they should differentiate what’s required of teachers. Oh no! How we would evaluate that! It wouldn’t be fair!

  • 313. mom2  |  July 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    CarolA – if you started a private school that was about 1/3 the price of Latin and Parker, and wasn’t religiously affiliated, the money wouldn’t have to fall from the sky, it might fall right out of the pockets of many parents – lol.

  • 314. CarolA  |  July 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    mom2: Location, location, location. You are correct if in the right area. My school can’t even get the parents to pay the $100 workbook fee. lol

  • 315. junior  |  July 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Heard CTU and Rahm holding press conferences. Agreement in sight? Possibly rollback of longer school day to 6.5 should be good with parents and teachers.

  • 317. Mayfair Dad  |  July 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    More art, music, PE for the kids? I’ll believe it when I see it. They still haven’t told us how they will pay for it. If elementary teachers work the same length of day as they do currently, does this mean they can take their lunch at the end of the day and bolt at 2:45 PM?

    All this backpedalling while maintaining a facade of still being in charge is a very tricky ballet manuever for Rahm.

  • 318. LSMom  |  July 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I wonder what they’re planning on doing about recess.

  • 319. junior  |  July 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    @317 MFD

    Still a lot of questions. Reports that the new teachers will come from the pool of laid off teachers, but those teachers are not largely art/music/PE teachers, so what’s up with that?

    My guess is that they will put lunch back in the middle of the day since it can help lengthen the student day without requiring more work hours for teachers.

  • 320. CPS dad  |  July 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    *** BREAKING NEWS Everyone***
    Looks like CPS caved in and canceled the longer school day! Check out – article

  • 321. Portage Mom  |  July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    They didn’t cancel the longer day, just that existing teachers will not be working longer hours. CPS plans on hiring 500 teachers for Art, Music, P.E. and Language to accomodate the longer day which still stands at 7 hours for elementary students.

    This doesn’t make sense to me given CPS stated they will empty the reserve fund to plug the 640 million hole in the budget. If they can afford to rehire 500 teachers then something just doesn’t add up.

  • 322. junior  |  July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Incorrect. School day is still 7 hours for students.

  • 323. Teacher4321  |  July 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    So far it sounds like everyone is getting a bit of what they want and giving up a bit what of what they want. Sort of.

    CTU gets some displaced teachers rehired. Principals still get to pick from the pool who they want. However, they have limited time to pick who they want. Kids are getting an extra enrichment activity, though one of the press releases made it seem like it could be math or reading, so not for sure gym, library and arts for all (a personal hope of mine). Looks like we’re giving up extra preparation time we were promised in return for keeping our same hours. CPS gets to keep the longer day.

    Everything else seems undetermined. Many things still to be discussed.

    I was guessing a 6.5 hour day was happening. So glad IEPs won’t have to be rewritten again. At least it seems that way.

  • 324. junior  |  July 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm


    You’re right — it doesn’t add up. I guess it will cost taxpayers a lot for Rahm to keep his promises. But, in the end, isn’t this what everyone was clamoring for — more school funding and a better day?

    I’m gonna withhold judgement until a final plan and agreement are clear, but at first blush this seems to be good for the students, good for the teachers. How much this will cost remains to be hashed out with the CTU contract, but ya gotta think that there will be some TIF money returned to schools as well as some hefty tax increases over a few years.

    477 teachers added is around $36 million per year. Maybe not much compared to the projected $1 billion 2014 deficit. Of course, that’s not even one teacher per elementary school, right? Let’s see how this pans out.

  • 325. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 24, 2012 at 6:24 pm

  • 326. anonymouse teacher  |  July 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I can’t picture the logistics of this, but I am content to wait and see at this point. I would imagine this will require quite a lot of logistical juggling and I’d also imagine that teachers will be coming and going at various times during the week. But until it all gets ironed out, who really knows.
    This is a win-win for all. The city gets to keep its longer day, and since teachers won’t be working longer, they can get away with a very tiny raise and when kids are in school longer, crime will go down. The teachers win in that our work week won’t be extended, and a portion of the displaced teachers will have first dibs (if they had good ratings in the past) at those new openings. The kids win because they get recess and more arts/gym/whatever and when they are in school longer, fewer kids will get killed each year. (my opinion is that the push for the longer school day has far more to do with reducing crime than it ever had to do with improving student outcomes)

    This is just the start. There are many other things to negotiate. I am hopeful that both sides continue to operate with sanity because up until now I don’t feel we’ve seen that.
    I am very curious how this will play out. The other big issues are pay, how pay will be determined (new eval system and what percentage of ratings determined by test scores), health insurance costs, pension contribution amounts and school closings. But I think it is a hugely encouraging step that what has been negotiated so far came through. I’d really like to be teaching again come the day after labor day!

  • 327. Patricia  |  July 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Interesting turn of events that seems to try and let everyone save face—-which while a bit silly, in reality is necessary. I would be very interested to know if the “teachers do not have to work longer” means that they are starting from the 7 hours that they are already paid for………..or the shameful 5.75 hour day. If it is from the 7 hour day, I am fine with that. It allows everyone to claim victory and allow the fact that teachers are compensated for 7 hours, yet work 5.75 for decades be swept under the rug. I KNOW the teachers who are good and post on this blog work longer, but you are put in a bucket with all the mediocre and low performing teachers—-so as a taxpayer and parent, good move IF it is off of the 7 hour benchmark.

    On another note, there has to be merit pay and elimination of tenure. There has to be a way to do it fairly. I had the pleasure of having dinner with a CPS teacher who is a friend and fantastic. If all teachers were like her, we would not have an issue with education. She voted against the strike, has been chomping at the bit for merit pay and feels her salary is very fair. I was pleasantly surprised, although I would love her the same if she was pissed off. She said, she is a taxpayer and thinks this is all nonsense. She said she is paid fairly, completely understood she is paid for 7 hours and would welcome merit based pay because the mediocre or slacker teachers around her make her job harder. She is a gem in this system and I hope she stays motivated to remain. She said she is afraid of union retaliation because they put rats in peoples mailboxes……………..ugh! Let’s avoid that for the good ones!

    Lastly, I am concerned that CPS/CTU is now negotiating in “splinters” and it will be hard for the public to see who is really getting screwed in the negotiations, students? taxpayers? both? Makes me very leery.

  • 328. Patricia  |  July 24, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    @324 Junior. There are about 365 elementary schools and about 475 total with HS. So 477 is a significant headcount. Where the money comes from is unclear, but $50 million per year, vs. $355 million for 25% increase is comparatively cheap.

    I do have a very big concern that the first pool of job filling is the bucket of displaced teachers over the last few years. While there are sure to be some good ones in there, my guess is that most were opportunistic layoffs. Anyone in a company knows that with layoffs comes opportunity to weed out the slackers, pains in the but and low performers. So, filling 477 with this pool is problematic. But, hopefully the fewer good ones in this pool will get placed. As long as the bottom feeders don’t get placed, it is a good solution to let everyone save face and get the good ones a job again.

  • 329. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    There are actually far more than 365 elementary schools.

    474 Elementary, 106 High Schools (There are a few stand alone middle schools- but they aren’t reflected), 8 Contract schools (which I am 95.5% sure that they are part of the CTU contract

    As for the pool, I wouldn’t be concerned. Not all schools were closed for performance. Some schools were closed due to underutilization. Some positions were cut due to having less students than the year before, where “the last one hired….. ” So I think you maybe want to have some of these people put back into the schools. Yeah some probably aren’t the best teachers, but principals must interview 3 and pick the one they like best. They can keep them for a semester and then let them go without reason.

    As for the merit pay, I’ve said it several times, but there has been no fair proposal for my grade/subject for merit pay. The age/grade/subject I teach are very hard to test outcomes based on tests due to age/disability. Until something is hammered out where I feel I will be fairly judged based on the outcomes of my students I will be against merit pay. I go well above and beyond the requirements of my job and purchase a lot of my own equipment that my students need to get their needs met. However, you cannot come in and “test” my students to see these small victories.

    I hope our poor administration doesn’t have to redo the schedule fully again.

    I also hope we don’t have to rewrite IEPs a third time.

    However I am happy with some of the small victories that have seemed to happen.

  • 330. Patricia  |  July 24, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    @329 Yes, you are right if you add in the charters. There are more than 365 elementary.

    I still question the pool having lived in the reality of corporate consolidations in several industries over my ongoing career. Yes, school shut downs cause more instances, but can’t they reapply for jobs and the good ones are fine? Please be honest, the good ones end up with jobs. As I said, there are a few who get in the wrong bucket, but I find it hard to believe the natural dynamics of organizational behavior do not apply here.

    Merit pay and elimination of tenure. There has to be a way. Here is a basic back of the envelope solution. EVERYONE in a school knows who the low performers are. The principal, teachers, parents and students. Do a survey of these 4 valid stakeholders. Create a ven diagram to zero in on the low performers. Guess what, I bet it is spot on 99% of the time. Sure, put those in a pool to be rehired, I would be fine with that as long as the mediocre were out of my kids school.

  • 331. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    @330 No there are 474 CPS elementary schools. There are 87 charter campuses in addition to these 474 elementary schools.
    Here is the website link again for your reference:

    I think again, CPS is not a corporation though it is run more like one than most of us on the inside would like. Knowing friends in the situation of being shut out of underutilized schools there are many reasons that teachers are not picked up, not just performance. For many it is age. I am still on the “younger side” but I know one day I will be considered “older” (and it is coming along faster than I would like). Many are simply not rehired due to ageism. Many are not rehired because some schools have no openings. There are other reasons. The pool is much bigger than 477, each principal must interview at least 3 candidates and can “drop” the person at the semester. I am more worried that principals don’t really have the time to be interviewing and fixing schedules right now, than the quality of the pool. Principals talk. Those who are not worth it won’t make it in and if they do, they can be cut at the semester.

    As for the merit pay. We can agree to disagree. When we can come up with a fair way to judge PE, Special Education, Preschool, Art, World Language, Library etc. AND can eliminate the problem of the “Principal’s favorites” that exists at many schools out there (luckily not mine), AND give credit to those who are up against much harder circumstances than those at the Selective Enrollment/Magnet Schools I’ll be on board. It will take careful time, planning and input from many stake holders. Not a development in less than six months.

  • 332. Patricia  |  July 24, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    I am too tired to look at the website tonight, but I believe I will stand corrected. There are about 675 schools and about 150 HS, so high 400 sounds about right. I must be having a brain cramp or something, thanks for the correction!

    Merit pay, regardless of the situation, if you survey the principal, teachers, parents and students, you will eliminate the favoritism and anomalies and I bet you come up —- spot on who the low performers are in a school. It doesn’t matter if it is PE or math. The school community knows. No need for fancy evaluation systems. Just add honesty and reality. You sound like you would be fine in a survey like this. Yes, teachers would know who they are accountable to. How would that be a bad thing?

  • 333. cpsobsessed  |  July 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I always remember that the number of schools is roughly 666. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 334. Patricia  |  July 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    CPSO—–LOL! Of course it is about 666. I wonder if the free masons are somehow involved too 🙂

  • 335. k mom  |  July 25, 2012 at 12:14 am

    One of articles cites 750 teachers to be hired.

    If so, then the numbers (very rough) even make sense.

    250,000 kids (k-8) divided by 30 (kids per class) = 8,000 classrooms

    Extra person-hours needed =8,000 classrooms times 2 hours (40 minutes a day times 5 days a week) extra a week = 16,000 hours in a week

    Person-hours available =750 teachers times 30 hours a week = 22,000 hours in a week.

    Those numbers match, given that they are rough estimates.

  • 336. CarolA  |  July 25, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Keep in mind that teachers in the pool must be highly qualified for a position they apply for, so that may weed out many for particular positions. I believe there are great teachers, who through no fault of their own, were laid off. However, I’m sure there were also many who just did the minimum. That’s why it’s great that principals will be able to let them go at the end of a semester if they don’t get the job done. Unfortunately, it may be at the cost of the children for that semester, but it does make them step up their game if they weren’t doing it before. I also believe that any teacher who wasn’t doing their best prior to getting laid off WON’T be interested in stepping it up now. I’m guessing they won’t even apply. There’s a lot more to do as a teacher this year vs. past years. Lazy teachers won’t apply. Anyone applying would be stupid to think it could be business as usual. They will be watched like crazy….rightfully so.

  • 337. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 8:17 am

    #333 & #334~CPSO & Patricia~you guys made me laugh!!! 754 teachers will be rehired. The reason we are hearing 477 is bc 277 additional teachers had already been included in the budget from what I hear. It was a way to save face for both of them. However, I still feel it’s too long of a day. I realize I’m in a minority here, but I live in a great neighborhood where kids can ride their bikes and go out and have fun and no one really worries, the kids in Beverly really didn’t need a recess or at least not one that included a 7hr day. I still think there should be autonomy in the schools and the district should be divided up.

    However, that being said, by hiring more teachers they can maintain class size. The good teachers will be rehired…but it would have been less costly as a 6.5 day…

    But I really can’t say anything until we see the final budget!

  • 338. Patricia  |  July 25, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Nice that 754 teachers will be hired (and hopefully paid for). I read from Rod Estavan that the 277 already hired from the discretionary college ready fund are not subject to having to come from the displaced pool. Which is good as those hires are most likely already determined. (BTW—pretty cool that from the discretionary about 1/2 the schools hired a teacher.)

    Maybe CPS can hire enough PE teachers to finally meet the state requirement for physical activity. That would be a win-win.

  • 339. Mayfair Dad  |  July 25, 2012 at 9:05 am

    All of this bluster and acrimony to arrive at a conclusion Mazany figured out months ago.

  • 340. HS Mom  |  July 25, 2012 at 9:17 am

    @337 – you also mention that your kids get straight A’s (which is great 🙂
    so, yes – you are in the minority needing richer, better, more education. Although I’m sure your kids will do nothing but benefit.

  • 341. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 9:32 am

    #338~Patricia~I would love for my one son to have pe everyday but I don’t know how that could be afforded. While some schools offer pe 2x a week, I would love it everyday for the kids. My other son has pe everyday…I think it’s so beneficial.

  • 342. Patricia  |  July 25, 2012 at 9:44 am

    @341 I’m confused, aren’t we hiring 477 more teachers? If it is a PE teacher, doesn’t that translate to more gym? I am not sure how cps is affording the $50 million to pay for these teachers. Is that what you are talking about with not affording it?

    On another note, what about 20 minutes of PE daily? Some schools do it as an “energy PE boost”. The whole school can do it at once or in rounds. I heard one does 10 minutes mid moring and 10 minutes mid afternoon, calesthetics breaks. It helps kids refocus and get the blood flowing when they start dragging. There are creative solutions out there that work. Another option out there, a “drop everything and exercise/dance” effort like some schools do with “drop everything and read” times. I am sure there are other things working in this and other school districts.

  • 343. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 10:10 am

    #341~Yes, if your school hires another PE teacher your school might be able to have pe everyday depending on how large your school is. I don’t know how CPS can afford the $50M when they budgeted on draining the reserves and how sustainable it will be the following year 2013-2014.

  • 344. Patricia  |  July 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

    @343 2013-2014 Illinois will join Greece and other shattered economies and go bankrupt to fund pensions. Right? 😉

  • 345. CarolA  |  July 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Patricia: I like your idea of drop everything and exercise/dance. I know at the primary level, 5 minutes here or there to “take a break” really gives the energy boost students need to keep going. Sometimes principals don’t agree and want academics upon academics, but I agree that a short break here and there throughout the day stimulates the brain. Besides, a great teacher can incorporate a health lesson with it. Exercise + healthy eating.

  • 346. CPS Parent  |  July 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

    SoxSideIrish4 – The budget that was released in advance of the completion of contract was surely based on the assumption that the built-in 2% raise would not be enough. There is probably another 2% – 4% available. The money for those Art/PE teachers comes out of that pot.

  • 347. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    #344~Patricia~We are hearing that in order to hire displaced teachers schools will be forced toi fire newer teachers who have been working at schools less than 4 years. Have you heard that?

  • 348. Patricia  |  July 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    @347 Woah! I have not heard that, but that would be terrible. Why would this be the case if it is only for “increased” positions. Hiring 477 additional teachers. Why would someone have to be fired to accomplish this? I’m confused.

  • 349. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I find this terrible as well. But it seems like this is going to happen and other teachers will be fired. As of now, that’s what we are hearing.

  • 350. Patricia  |  July 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Why? If it is additional 477. No one needs to be fired. I don’t get it.

  • 351. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I don’t either, it’s just what we are hearing is being done. The only thing I can think of is if there is an art or pe teacher w/more seniority and they can’t place that teacher…that just doesn’t sound right to me. I’m trying to get confirmation from CPS.

  • 352. Peter  |  July 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    They aren’t firing new teachers to hire old ones.

  • 353. Peter  |  July 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    “However, I still feel it’s too long of a day.”

    That’s how long I was in school growing up. Seems good to me.

  • 354. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    #352~I hope you are right Peter.

  • 355. OutsideLookingIn  |  July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I’m trying to keep up here…
    Is CPS trying to push out experienced, more expensive teachers so that they can hire less experienced, cheaper teachers? (previous rumor)
    Is CPS plotting to hire back experienced, more expensive teachers and fire the less experienced, cheaper teachers? (today’s rumor)

  • 356. Peter  |  July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    You can’t keep up with the rumors?

  • 357. OutsideLookingIn  |  July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    The contradicting conspiracy theories.

  • 358. Peter  |  July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I know, I was trying to be funny.

  • 359. Family Friend  |  July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm


    “I think the foundation arms of many corporations would jump at the chance to support those who have a vision and passion for what education should be like.” Your thought makes great sense. However, the foundation arms of corporations are, in fact, NOT interested in supporting those who have a vision and passion for what education should be, despite many attempts by people in the charter movement who have scored outstanding successes. See my earlier post about the difficulty charter schools have raising funds. Those who are most successful in raising a lot of funds have supporters who are wealthy individuals. The ONLY significant corporate funder of charter schools is the Walton Family Foundation (Walmart). I always say that charter schools make strange bedfellows: they are founded by idealistic young white (primarily, anyway) liberals, attended by poor children of color, and funded by right-wing republicans.

  • 360. Family Friend  |  July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm


    The school that CarolA and Ltwain are discussing, if it were to be a charter school, would not be subject to the CTU bargaining agreement. State law expressly forbids it. Charter teachers may unionize, and some have, but they must have a separate bargaining unit.

    Most charter schools already have a longer school day and year.

  • 361. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    #355~as for the rumor today, it wouldn’t be cheaper teachers getting pushed out, just teachers that had 4yrs or less time at the school. So far we are still hearing this but CPS won’t say one way or the other.

  • 362. CarolA  |  July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Don’t think that just because I belong to the CTU that I support all its choices. Like anything, it has it’s good side and it’s bad side. I’ve experienced both. So, Family Friend, it may not make a difference to me if I was offered my “perfect school”. If it was perfect, I wouldn’t need anything else. LOL

  • 363. Magnetmom  |  July 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    So what does this mean for magnet schools that already have one “special” a day? My kids already get music, art, PE. Will the kids get an additional special? Does that mean our school will hire another art teacher, PE teacher, etc?

  • 364. SoxsideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Do you have world language? Is PE everyday? another teacher in art, pe coud be added. Talk to your principal.

  • 365. SoxsideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    We got confirmation from some principals that they’ve been told to let go of the teachers who have not been at the school more than 4 yrs to hire displaced teachers.

    Could others call or email their principals and find out if they’ve been told that as well?

  • 366. mom2  |  July 25, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Can someone help me understand this a bit more? The CTU web site shows that teachers no longer have to be at school for morning prep 30 minutes before the kids. They have to be in the building the same amount of time as the currently do. So, that explains how they can add 30 minutes to the currently paid 6.5 hour day. But it also says they don’t have to teach any more minutes than they currently do. So, the kids don’t have any more time with their teachers than they did before. These new hires will have to teach all the kids at the school for those extra minutes, correct? Will every school get enough new teachers to make this work? It seems so confusing to me.

    At our school, teachers would take turns watching the kids before school (until the bell rings) and would be there to meet with parents before school. I assume now teachers can just walk in when the bell rings if they wish. Those that come in before school and are willing to meet with parents would be those good teachers we all appreciate but others that don’t do that will not be in violation of any contract.

  • 367. mom2  |  July 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    @365 – that would be a real shame and horrible in many cases. We have had experience with some amazing new teachers in the last few years. It would be terrible if they had to be fired just to be forced to hire someone else that happens to have worked at cps longer. Makes no sense to me. If a teacher is wonderful, no one should be forced to stop them from teaching our kids.

  • 368. anonymouse teacher  |  July 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    @366 Mom2, yes, you are basically correct. In order to get the “no more time” in, they eliminated morning prep time. Of course, most teachers will continue to be there early, but no one will be required to do so. My guess is the teachers who were easy to get a hold of in the past will continue to do so. The other time recouped (for teachers and kids) is that “specials” will increase. Instead of 4, 40 minute preps/specials, kids and teachers will get 5, 60 minute preps. Classroom teachers will be mandated to be in the building for 7 hours, but will get a 45 minute duty free lunch (we’ll see if that pans out in reality) and a one hour prep period each day.

    I am pretty happy with the decision. I am thrilled to get a 5th prep and to have all those preps extended. And I am so freaking happy that I get a 45 minute lunch where I don’t have to choose between eating or using the restroom AND that my students get a much needed recess time. And schools are getting some extra staff. Honestly, to me, given this is CPS we are talking about, it feels like Christmas.

    The way it will work in terms of new/old hires, is that all those new/old hires will be used to staff “specials” in order to offer the 5 preps which will be longer. Things will work much like they did before, but just with longer lunch/recess (added) and longer and more prep time and no paid morning prep time. I can see where schools might not add an arts or PE period and may just add a reading or math enrichment teacher. Schools with lower scores, I can imagine, will be more likely to do this.
    As for outside supervision before the bell rings in the a.m., I wonder if PSRP’s will be doing this. Or perhaps there will be no supervision available. Parents who choose to drop their kids off on the playground (like some of our parents do) may do so at their own risk.

    I don’t believe that new hires will be pushed out in order to hire displaced teachers. Every year there are so many rumors that fly around CPS. I am just as guilty as the next person in believing some of them. But really, I don’t believe this rumor. These are new positions being opened. I have seen nothing to indicate that newbies will be displaced. I have seen older teachers displaced and then never find a position again, regardless of their quality.

  • 369. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 25, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    #368~thank you anonymouse teacher for clearing some things up. So far a principal said she will be doing this as this is what she was told and CPS said it was just a rumor.

  • 370. CarolA  |  July 26, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Anonymouse: Thanks. That’s the way I thought it might work so I’m glad to see I was on the right track. My daughter had a similar schedule in Arizona when she taught there and said it was wonderful. I agree with you that teachers will still be available if they were available before. I’m in school everyday at 7 regardless of what time I officially start. I’ll love the two break times (lunch and prep) in the middle of the day. They will be perfect for everyone (students included) to re-energize. It will be perfect for me to regroup and organize materials for the next part of the day.

    I also agree with you that they won’t be pushing out the new hires. I know my principal hired for all new positions already. Can’t imagine telling those people it’s not happening. Too much paperwork to change that.

  • 371. IBobsessed  |  July 26, 2012 at 8:59 am

    SoxSideIrish-“We got confirmation from some principals”. Who is “we” and how many is “some”? Are you part of some organization?

  • 372. Mayfair Dad  |  July 26, 2012 at 9:17 am

    @ 368 – Thank you for the explanation and a teacher’s perspective. Let’s hope the rest of the puzzle pieces fall into place so neatly.

  • 373. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    #371~I was talking about some other mothers and myself. We are all quite worried how this can be funded in the whole of CPS…We have heard Rahm say over and over that he can’t afford it and now they have $50M…sounds fishy. Since this is the same contract that was on the table for months and now he has an extra $50M???

    #372~I hope the puzzle comes together nicely as well.

  • 374. junior  |  July 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm


    At a cost of $40 million for the extra teachers, that’s the equivalent of shaving 2% off the teachers’ raises. Considering that the fact finder put the cost of raises for a longer school day at 15%, then the new approach is a far more cost-effective way to get there.

    BTW, I think it’s now pretty clear that the fact finder screwed up the work hours calculations royally. Let’s take CTU’s numbers on their own website:

    –onsite minutes worked in current day 420
    –onsite minutes worked in originally proposed full school day 460

    Percent difference = 9.5%

    Maybe a slight bit more for Columbus/Pulaski days added.

    Fact finder based his recommendations on 20% more work.

  • 375. CarolA  |  July 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Don’t forget the extra 10 days. It’s not just about the day to day, but also the school year.

  • 376. CPS Parent  |  July 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    373. SoxSideIrish4 – Nothing fishy about it – just routine bargaining.
    You can stop worrying now.

    As I said before: “The budget that was released in advance of the completion of contract was surely based on the assumption that the built-in 2% raise would not be enough. There is probably another 2% – 4% available. The money for those Art/PE teachers comes out of that pot.”

  • 377. junior  |  July 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    @375 CarolA
    I believe many of the extra days come from existing work days that were re-arranged in the schedule (e.g., PD and other non-student-attendance days, like report-card pickup), so they would not count toward additional work hours.

  • 378. mom2  |  July 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    So, junior, if you are correct, then the only additional hours that elementary school teachers would be getting this year would be 2 extra days of school? And that is only if they keep the additional days in school for kids that was originally announced. Is that right?

  • 379. mom2  |  July 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Also, does anyone know if this new agreement means that there will no longer be any schools with the closed campus plan? Must they have lunch in the middle of the day or is that still optional?

  • 380. HS Mom  |  July 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    It would be inhumane to put lunch at the end of the day and make a child wait 6.5+ hours to eat. Do the current closed campus schools provide a break or snack? I don’t get how this works. I find it very sad.

  • 381. junior  |  July 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    @378/379 mom2

    Yes, I believe 2 extra days of school, or about 1%. At least, that is what a teacher posted on a previous thread.

    My reading of CTU’s reading of the agreement is that the closed campus is officially history.

  • 382. mom2  |  July 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    junior – so 4% (from the crazy agreement before), 1% for 2 more days and 2% that they will want for cost of living? 7%? Seems like a lot in this economy, but we will see…

    HS Mom – with closed campus, the kids ate lunch in the middle of the day (for about 10-20 minutes) but the teachers didn’t officially have their lunch until after school was over. Way too rushed for most kids – hard for little kids, unhealthy for everyone. Glad to hear that may be history.

  • 383. junior  |  July 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Yes, closed campus is dead. May it rot in hell. Rot like the leftover lunches that my kid never had time to eat.

  • 384. cpsobsessed  |  July 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    “Rot like the leftover lunches that my kid never had time to eat.”
    Heh heh. So sadly true…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 385. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    #382~mom2~are you saying that teachers are asking for a 7% raise now, when technically they won’t work any longer than they have. I thought the 4% was dead from the last contract and may be 3% was on the table.~bc although I think every1 should be compensated for their time~7% seems extreme.

  • 386. CPS Parent  |  July 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Regarding cost of living adjustments, from the June report from the Federal Bureau of Labor Satistics:

    “The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased
    1.7 percent over the last 12 months…”

  • 387. JustanotherCPSparent  |  July 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    “Yes, closed campus is dead. May it rot in hell. Rot like the leftover lunches that my kid never had time to eat.”

    Amen, junior, amen.

  • 388. mom2  |  July 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    SoxSide – I have no idea what they are asking for now. I just sort of put myself if their negotiating shoes and tried to figure out what they would think. If they wanted 30% before this new agreement, I can’t believe they would be reasonable and ask for a 1.7 percent cost of living, but we will see… (1.7 being more than most people I know received this year)

  • 389. Teacher4321  |  July 26, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    There are additional days besides Columbus and Pulaski. From the calendars I’ve seen, two additional days before the school year and two after. Also- there was at one point an option floating around that would cut the morning prep time down to 10 minutes from 30, but principals still had a right to call staff meetings once a week 30 minutes early. Now ALL of that morning time appears to be gone, so I am not sure when staff meetings occur.

    In addition to the extra days, there are supposed to be 2 hour meetings after schoo for PD. Not sure if those are still on the table.

    The union I believe still has the power (all members) to vote on the contract and reject it once we see it and send it back for more bargaining, this does not mean striking. I jus remember we had a chance to vote for or against the contract last time. I bet a lot more people will be voting this time.

  • 390. CarolA  |  July 27, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Yes, we will get another chance to vote on the contract. Once it is determined, CTU will ask all its members to vote on it. I remember with the last contract that most people voted yes because they saw the 4% in each year. They neglected to notice the “opt out” part in case CPS didn’t have the $$$. In fact, that was there for more than the last year of the contract as I recall, so I’m surprised it wasn’t taken away sooner. Also, people voted yes even though the cost of medical insurance had not been determined yet. So, in the beginning, most of our raise was used towards medical insurance. I’m sure this time around, teachers will really look it over. That in mind, everyone I’ve talked to believes that the raise will be in the 2-4% range and we are fine with that. We will be required to stay longer in the day, but not necessarily be in front of children much longer. It doesn’t mean we will be sitting around. It will give us more time to prepare. This includes working on those unit plans that have been discussed here before. As far as staff meetings, last I heard, administration would be using at least one of the 60 minute breaks we get each week to meet with team members (e.g. first grade team). At my school, I’m sure there will be times that meetings will be scheduled after school on a volunteer basis. Most stay.

    My vote: As long as the medical insurance does not skyrocket or another big issue doesn’t come up, I’m on board with the proposal. In the rare case that we would reject the contract, I’m hoping that there would be another vote about the strike and I’ll bet we vote no because major issues seem solved. I’m on board with a new rating system as long as details are proposed BEFORE we vote.

  • 391. Parent and CPS Employee  |  July 27, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Any HS teachers hearing anything about the structure of the day from their principal? We heard yesterday that M, Tu, Thurs, and Friday will be 7.5 hour days and that Wednesday will be a 6.25 hour day — it appears they’ve cut the 75-minute planning time from the day on Wednesday. So, basically, longer instructional time with no additional planning/team meeting time built in.

  • 392. Teacher4321  |  July 27, 2012 at 8:57 am


    I believe in the last contract vote only about 5,000 votes total happened and the votes for the contract were not by a landslide.

    Union reps at some schools were trying to tell teachers they were voting for a strike, not just voting down the contract. Which was entirely false. I knew about the increases/decreases as well as the 5 year contract the board wanted, vs. what we wanted- but not many people did.

    I believe more people will be voting from the membership this time on the contact.

    I like what I am hearing so far. I too would like to prevent my “raise” from out numbering my health insurance increase.

    Personally I’d really like to see a capsize on class size at a smaller number for Kindergarten. This is not my grade level, but I think it would make a huge impact on the life of my students. I am not sure I will be seeing that. I won’t vote down the contract just because of this, but it is my hope.

    As for the merit pay, I still feel it is to far from a concrete way of effectively doing it with my grade level and subject. I want a plan created with members of my grade level/subject and taking in the importance of developmentally appropriate practice. I think I have mentioned before I teach preschool special education. When we had to “verify” students last year, the system did not even realize that we had “age cycle 3 and age cycle 2” children. They only had our 4 year olds. Then when it was corrected, our “age cycle 2 and age cycle 3 year olds” were all marked as 3. There is a HUGE developmental difference between a child that has turned 3 in August and one that turns 3 in May or June of the following year. The 2 year olds that come in at the end of the year truly look like “babies” compared to the rest of the children. I am running out the door, but skills we do in ECSE rooms are not always skills measured easy on a test or even by IEP goals. These children need social emotional help, (learning to play) etc.

    To be continued later……

    I am talking about “all staff meetings” at every school I’ve been to we’ve had at least one a week. I guess those can get replaced by email, but I like the “big picture” that all staff meetings give. You hear about what other grades are doing and get important information at once. Where people can Q & A to clear up confusion email sometime brings.

  • 393. Patricia  |  July 27, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Regarding the calendar and 10 additional “student” days of attendance. It seems to again be an issue of “teacher time” vs. “student time.” It is 10 more days for the students, but not for the teachers. When comparing the 2011-12 to 2012-13 calendars I get the following:

    Holidays = 10 old; 8 new

    Teacher Institute = 5 old; 4 new

    Professional Dev = 3 old; 6 new

    Staff Dev = 5 old; 0 new

    A loss of the 2 holidays of Columbus and Pulaski. More PD time and it takes place when students are not in school anyway. One less teacher institute day (now aligned to when quarters end). Staff development now takes place ongoing during the year instead of full days of student non attendance.

    Junior, you were pretty much spot on with it being mostly the issue of holiday. I am not sure anyone should be paid extra with a holiday shift.

    Link to calendar announcement (not sure if anything has changed since March).

  • 394. Patricia  |  July 27, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Very interesting and valid concern about health care insurance. As a reference point, in the private sector your heath care costs go up every single year and it is not offset by providing a raise to all employees. It is simply the cost of the benefit goes up—as it does for everyone because heath care nationwide is screwed up. Employee take home pay is technically reduced. Companies do try to provide trade offs with higher deductibles, etc. for employees to try and offset the costs. But that is about it.

    With cost of living, there is a measurement as posted above. The funny thing is that in the private sector over the past several horrid economic years, while there was a minimal COLA increase, it is never a given that employees receive any increase. So many just kept salary flat. While in effect without a COLA increase it can be viewed as a pay cut, in reality, many are thankful to have just kept their job.

    As posted above, is the CTU really STILL trying to get the old 4% back that was cancelled the last year of the contract? I hope not because the fact finder clearly illustrated how teachers got a 19-47% raise from 2007-2012.

    It is nice to hear the teachers on this blog working through the scenarios and what they would be comfortable with as far as % increase. I hope all teachers are as rational as you and really hope your union leaders do the same!

  • 395. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 27, 2012 at 10:17 am

    #394~Patricia~I hope no one is trying for that 4% raise~that should be a dead issue. Also, the teachers I’ve talked to aren’t happy w/the contract Lewis negotiated…they felt smaller class size cap, pd time would have been more beneficial and how will teachers and students start at the same time?…pretty poorly handled. I don’t see how Rahm or Karen could consider this a win…may be a small one but I thought more teachers would be on board ~ some were quite surprised.

  • 396. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 27, 2012 at 10:18 am

    FYI~most of the teachers were speaking abt gr K-4 for class size…

  • 397. Patricia  |  July 27, 2012 at 10:45 am

    IMO, the agreement focused on the right thing given the budget (or lack of budget). I would much rather have more PE, art and music teachers hired than reduce class sizes. The CTU should push through the current defined channels regarding the schools that have class size issues k-4. Not all schools do and this should be handeled via management, not contract negotiations. But, that is unlikely in our over legislated/negotiated school system. As I have posted before, I do not see how any class size negotiation gets implemented in reality.

    Better to hire teachers for those schools that lack enrichment. That said, I find it very troubling that it has to be from the pool of displaced teachers. The whole “recall” push by the union is simply for a “union victory” and will not be a “student victory”. It is already way to hard to get rid of bad or mediocre tenured teachers and now we are getting shacked with drawing from this pool to add enrichment. While there are sure to be some good teachers in that pool, overall it is not good for the students.

    Amen, may the 4% die the same death as the closed campus.

  • 398. CarolA  |  July 27, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I’m confused as to what some of you keep referring to as closed campus being dead. Are you trying to say that students and teachers will be able to leave the school during lunch breaks? Please explain.

  • 399. CarolA  |  July 27, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Patricia: Keep in mind that the “bad” teachers most likely won’t even apply. Even if they do and don’t get the job done in a few months, they can easily be let go. Don’t fool yourself if you think that principals won’t fall back on “you’re fine, but just not the right fit for our school” routine. I don’t see any worries with this. On the plus side, for those teachers that were good and let go through no fault of their own, it’s a win-win. It’s a quick and easy fix to the union demand because I don’t think the union was letting up on that regarding of what most people think. I was afraid the union would call the strike based on that issue alone, so I’m VERY happy to see it solved this way.

  • 400. cpsobsessed  |  July 27, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Closed campus just refers to (as far as I’ve known) as the system of eliminating recess and having teachers take their lunch at the end of the school day – results in our super short school day.
    I believe before this started, kids actually DID go home for lunch – at least they did when my sister in law was in elem CPS back in the late 60’s. Such a novel concept now. I don’t think campuses will actually open again for students. But I’d would be great if a teacher could run a quick errand or get some non-microwaveable food during their lunch break.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 401. Patricia  |  July 27, 2012 at 11:37 am

    CarolA thanks for the insight. I hope you are right. Tenure and recall make me very nervous as a parent.

  • 402. southie  |  July 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Whose kids will be coming home for lunch now?

  • 403. CarolA  |  July 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    CPSO: Thanks for the info. We consider ourselves closed campus, but teachers get a 20 minute break for lunch (combo of 2-10 minute breaks which I understand was in the contract, not sure). I was a product of CPS and back in the day we did go home for lunch. Today too many parents work and safety is a factor so that’s gone for sure. That’s why I wasn’t sure what the closed campus was referring to.

  • 404. cps alum  |  July 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I went home for lunch in 1988 in my CPS school

  • 405. Paul  |  July 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    This is a pie-in-the-sky post. I think the teacher day, student day, and teacher pay and benefits need to be considered separately so they don’t get in the way of modernizing and improving our education system.

    It’s silly to me that the union and CPS negotiated going from a 6 1/4 hour teacher day to a 7 hour day while experienced teachers report working an average of 10 hours a day. Undedicated teachers may clock in, clock out, and go home as required, while the dedicated teachers come in early, stay late, and work at home to make sure their kids get a good education. Teachers may be required to be at school from 8:00am to 3:00pm during the school day, but it’s silly to pretend like that’s all they work and are compensated for. The typical classroom teacher is responsible for teaching 30-some kids each year. That takes more work than 7 hours a day during the school year. Teachers should be treated as professionals and be expected to work full-time year-round with reasonable flexibility and autonomy to get the job done.

    It’s horrible that the length of the student day was a bargaining point between CTU and CPS. The needs of students should determine the length of the student day. I believe that experienced education professionals know how long students should be in school and what they should be doing. You can look at successful schools in the suburbs, private schools, and other large urban school districts that do a better job than Chicago to figure that out. But for CTU to use that as a bargaining chip to get higher pay, and for CPS to use that as a bargaining chip to force concessions from the union is horrible, in my opinion.

    Teachers should receive pay and benefits based on the market rate for their level of education, skill, experience, and performance on the job. That’s my understanding of how professionals are compensated. Teachers shouldn’t get healthy automatic raises when the economy is in the tank and the government can’t afford it. They shouldn’t be compensated well over their market rate. And, they shouldn’t get raises when they’re not doing a good job, i.e. their kids aren’t learning. They also shouldn’t be compensated on a part-time part-year per hour basis while only counting hours they’re required to be in school at a minimum.

  • 406. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    #405~Paul, the only thing I can disagree w/is if a child isn’t learning, the teacher is at fault. I know a teacher, a very good one, who spent her own money to provide a field trip for the class and a few of the kids just weren’t learning…they were in school a very long time…but they didn’t have that support at home…didn’t do their homework and didn’t listen in class. Many times things going on at home really affect a child in the classroom…that’s why they need those wrap around services so desperately.

  • 407. CarolA  |  July 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Paul/SoxSideIrish4: That’s exactly why the issue of a new rating system is a tough one. I agree, it needs to change. I agree, there needs to be accountability. HOWEVER, do not hold me responsible for situations beyond my control as explained by you above. Another example for me: I had a student who had a terrible family situation. He was always late ( and not by just a few minutes ) or absent. By June, his absences were over 35 days…almost a whole marking period. There was plenty of follow-up by administration, but there’s only so much you can do. When he was there, we gave him all the help possible. But when he wasn’t, well….how is that my fault?

  • 408. Mayfair Dad  |  July 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    @383. Beer through my nose. Thanks pal.

  • 410. CarolA  |  July 28, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Perfect piece. Thanks for sharing it anonymouse. Fantastic!

  • 411. anonymouse teacher  |  July 28, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    This article is about California, but from my understanding, this is happening all across the country. What happens in the next 5 years or so, when student enrollment is up yet there is a significantly smaller teacher pool to draw from?

  • 412. k mom  |  July 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    there is no private market for teachers who are teaching children whose parents would not necessarily pay for that education. By sheer definition of it. Thus there is no market rate for those teachers’ salaries. We have to stop using the word ‘market ‘ while talking about our country’s public education and start treating it as a ‘public good’. We have other professionals, not just teachers, in that category: police, public defenders, civil servants, you name it.

    I am not agreeing or disagreeing with the raises, btw, I am just trying to avoid comparing our cps teachers salaries’ to those of private school teachers, for example. Apples and oranges.

  • 413. CPS Parent  |  July 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Private school teachers are compensated less than public school teachers, at least in the Chicago “market”.

  • 414. EdgewaterMom  |  July 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I just had a chance to read the update from the CTU website. Why is the Union fighting so hard to force principals to hire teachers who were let go? If they are the best candidate for the job, great, then hire them. But just because 3 people who were let go (and have a Satisfactory rating) apply for a job, it does NOT mean that 1 of them is the BEST person for that job!

  • 415. CarolA  |  July 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    @414: Although you are right, there is an out for principals if that person doesn’t work out. I’m not saying it’s a great solution by any means. However, given all choices, I’m glad this wasn’t a huge problem to solve. I believe it could have been a deal breaker so I”m glad it got resolved so quickly. I must say that my first reaction was YOU HAVE TO BE JOKING! Why not Excellent and Superior rated teachers only. Then I thought about it and without spending hours telling a 2 year saga that happened to me, I’ll put it in a nutshell. About 10 years ago, I was voted to head several committees at my school because I was able to be the voice for those that felt they couldn’t say anything. I was happy to do so. Let’s just that the principal was making us donate to particular funds so that our school would be “tops” and I wrote a letter on behalf of the staff that voice our concern about it. We felt we shouldn’t be forced to donate. Well, she got so upset that we would even have the nerve to say anything and was convinced it was only my opinion so she lowered my rating that year to Satisfactory and gave me a 7 day suspension without pay. Keep in mind, in all my years in CPS, I always had the top rating of Superior ( including many years from her ). Of course, I fought it. It took 2 years. She had to prove nothing. I had to prove everything she said as false. In the end, my rating that year became a no rating year and I received a 3 day suspension without pay. Every year after that, I received a Superior rating ( even from her ). So you can see how one can have a Satisfactory rating, but not be a Satisfactory teacher. I truly believe, that if she could, she would have fired me on the spot and it had NOTHING to do with my classroom teaching. She was mad that somebody had the nerve to call her on her poor choices.

  • 416. Patricia  |  July 31, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Edgewater mom, agree. It is very troubling that principals are forced to hire from this pool. CarolA has nicely pointed out that there are some good ones in the pool, and I do belive that is the case. This part of the negotiation is clearly just a “union victory” not a “student victory”. CarolA pointed out, this point alone may have triggered a strike. This makes it very clear to parents the union priorities.

    Satisfactory and above is pretty much a joke. I bet 99% or more have this rating because almost every teacher for decades has gotten easy ratings. Let’s be honest, the current evaluation system for teachers is a joke and allows mediocrity to grow—-even fester at many schools, even the high performing ones.

    Accountablity has to be added to the equation for teacher evaluations. CarolA gave a good example how one student (or many) in a class can skew things. As a parent, what comes to my mind is—was there incramental growth in that child, even if they missed 34 days? Why can’t we measure that and use it for evaluations? My biggest concern is ignoring the impact on the rest of the class. Aren’t we in effect ignoring the rest of the students who have fewer or no “issues” just because we are saying it is hard to measure? As a parent, I can’t accept that, student growth has to be a part of performance.

  • 417. KatieO  |  July 31, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Even though as a less experienced teacher looking for work in CPS this agreement to hire back displaced teachers may affect me negatively, I am glad CTU won this important victory. I am glad that our great experienced teachers will not be passd over because of agism or because principals are trying to save a buck. Mostly, I am glad for the kids who deserve experienced, well-trained teachers. Experience is the single greatest predictor in teacher quality. Too often, cash-strapped districts try to save on labor costs by hiring unprepared or inexperienced teachers which is absolutely unfair to the students. This deal means that principals cannot get away with cheating the children. Thank you CTU.

  • 418. Peter  |  July 31, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    katieo, how do you propose that new teachers get experience?

  • 419. Patricia  |  July 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    @417 KatieO, fair point, but it doesn’t address what Edgewater Mom brought up. Why can’t we just hire the BEST person for the job regardless of tenure or displacement?

    I completely agree that being a good teacher AND experience are a plus for the student. But experience alone does not make a good teacher. We need to be able to make sure the students are benefiting from the best person for the job. Right now your union holds everyone to the exact same level—-catering to the lowest common denominator. This forced rehire process only perpetuates the problem. As you point out, it is a union victory. However, it is certainly not a student victory.

    I do believe the good teachers will be placed regardless of the union forcing a pool. I have seen the new hires at my kids schools and they are certainly experienced. I am glad they were hired before the principals being forced to hire from a fixed pool of displaced candidates.

  • 420. HS Mom  |  July 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Patricia – I hear you and agree in many ways. My question is are we making assumptions about the quality of the pool that may not exist. How many teachers are in this pool and what were the reasons they were let go? Was it purely budget or otherwise? Are the proper procedures in place to ensure that a “bad teacher” is not rehired. I don’t know and maybe someone does. As a concession to making the full day happen, I’m thinking it may be a good solution.

    What are the conditions of rehire? Do they come back at the same pay/status? I do think that the trial period should be long enough to ensure that the teacher stays up to speed with expectations.

  • 421. CarolA  |  July 31, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Peter: I think KatieO’s point was that experience DOES count for something. Agreed, experience alone does not make a great teacher, but inexperience does not either. One can only get better at anything if one continues to work at it and has the drive to succeed.

    Patricia: You are assuming all bad teachers will get hired. You say it is not a student victory. It is if it’s a great teacher. There’s always the down side that they could be bad, but I stand fast in the idea that bad teachers won’t apply. Worst case, they can be let go in a matter of months, not years. New teachers are allowed 4 years to prove themselves before they must be let go or tenured. So a few months is a pretty good deal considering all the options on the table.

    HS Mom: It is my understanding that it would be at the same pay/status. Let me tell you: I can tell a good substitute teacher from a terrible one in a matter of minutes. Within 15 minutes of the students in the room, the writing is on the wall about what kind of day it will be. The same goes for any teacher. Either they are organized or not. Either they can wing it when things don’t go right or not. Either they have control or they don’t. It won’t take long to figure things out. Just like my students. I can tell my the end of the first day, what kind of year I”m going to have and which students are ready to learn.

  • 422. Cake for all!  |  July 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Patricia, what evaluation system do you think schools are using now? Or do you think they are not using one at all? Several schools I have visited use the Danielson.

    Are you thoroughly familiar with this?

  • 424. CarolA  |  July 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    @423: Thanks for that link! Boy, oh boy, that really lays out the workload we have very well. I think it will be an eye-opener for some. Those of us who go above and beyond do fall into the top category and have no worries about this type of rating system. That said, the next category down still requires a lot of work on the part of the teacher. The difference: The top teacher makes the students think outside the box and that makes a great learning environment. Lots of planning, but big payoffs in learning. Lots of non-school hours needed to reach that top category. The question remains, “Will there be a difference in pay for those that go above and beyond?” Using that scale, there should be.

  • 425. KatieO  |  July 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    The reality of the trend in CPS is that the teaching force is becoming much younger, more inexperienced, and whiter (See for an overview.) When people ask, “why not just let principals hire the best person?” unfortunately, the evidence shows that there is significant discrimination going on in the hiring and firing process. And please don’t forget, a disproportionate number of displaced teachers are older, black women. The layoffs themselves were discriminatory. While the union’s compromise is certainly not perfect, it is important to fight against the systemic racism, agism, and cost-cutting measures happening in our schools. Too many schools will hire the cheaper, nontenured (and therefore less likely to speak out about injustices or bad school practices) novice. In the 80s, the modal number of years experience for teachers was 14 years. Today it is one. One year of experience. This new status quo is terrible for children, especially children with high-needs due to disability, English Language Learners, or living in poverty. Without the checks and balances of the union, the situation would be even worse.

    Also, I’d like to point out the fear of the “bad teacher” is more media-induced hype than an accurate picture of the reality of schools. While there are certainly some bad teachers, the numbers are very small. The real problems are bad teaching environments (large class sizes, few resources, few support staff), too many inexperienced teachers coupled with unacceptable churn and upheaval in our teaching force, and the blatant inequality within the district and between districts in Illinois. Good principals hired by conscientious LSCs will do the work of supporting the teachers and letting go of teachers who aren’t improving. But the focus really needs to be on the support side, not a witch hunt as Michelle Rhee types love to push.

    Every parent wants great teachers for their kids. But right now, the policies being pushed by CPS are driving great teachers away in droves while filling in the spaces with inexperienced, cheap replacements. The battle is to fight for great teachers for all. And I believe that is exactly what the CTU is doing.

  • 426. KatieO  |  July 31, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    @Peter In regards to getting experience: Simple, tell the Mayor and his appointed-board to stop laying off teachers. This means both pushing back on the corporate interests trying to close schools and replace them with privately-run charters or turnaround operators but also pushing back on local, state, and federal level government to shift their priorities to fully-funding education. If we have enough money for major wars overseas, tax-breaks for the rich, and the handing out of TIF funds to politically-connected elites here in Chicago, then we could fully-fund education if we chose to. Budgets like this one are not a foregone conclusion, they are a result of deliberate political choices.

    Also, I would up the pressure to stop hiring uncredentialed teachers through various alternative teaching programs. We don’t have teacher shortages and do not need well-intentioned, but completely unprepared novices.

    Unfortunately, CPS has demonstrated again and again that they care more about cutting costs, breaking the union, privatizing schools, and creating unequal educational opportunities largely determined by race and socioeconomic status than helping improve learning conditions for all our kids. In today’s political climate in education, every teacher needs to be an activist teacher alongside parents, students, and community members. We won’t ever get great schools to teach in, if we don’t stand up and fight.

  • 427. anonymouse teacher  |  July 31, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Here is an article that doesn’t just talk about “bad teachers”. It also talks about irreplaceable teachers. The ones that do so much good they are irreplaceable.

  • 428. CPSTEACHER4321  |  July 31, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Looks like some others have chimed in on the “bad teacher” hiring pool debate.

    I’ve said lots of it already, but I’d like to add another perspective.

    A few scenarios that are real, but you might not be thinking about.

    These “displaced” teachers could have simply been displaced because…

    1) The school suddenly decided/needed to redefine the definition due to ELL/Bilingual needs. The need exists for many languages other than Spanish. Check out some of the schools in Albany Park for a reference.

    2) The school was closed or positions were lost due to enrollment purposes. (This can include loosing “prep positions” as well as general classroom positions).

    3) The “turnaround” process could have also left teachers without jobs. Just because the school was turned around does not mean that the entire school is full of “bad teachers”. Some of the teachers in these schools are very high quality and hard working teachers, just working as against the grain as possible (in terms of lack of resources for the classroom and families they serve). Or perhaps they were teachers trying to “get experience” that has been discussed above. Often times in CPS it is easier as a first year teacher to get a job in Englewood or Austin than it is in say, Lincoln Park or Lincoln Square. In the current climate- it is harder for a teacher in this situation to feel like they could have their entire teaching career happen in a neighborhood like Englewood.

    To reiterate again. These teachers will be given a chance for a semester. Then they can get “clicked off” in the same fashion 1-3rd year non-tenured teachers can be.

    I agree that this union is fighting for better schools far more so than the previous union leadership. I don’t always agree with the way they get their point across, but I do believe they are trying to set a precedent about what is best for students and teachers long term. I also believe that they are open to suggestions from the rank and file and are working hard to create a less hostile work environment within the CPS. I don’t believe they are trying to “hold on” to bad teachers. I could be wrong as my history with the board is less than 10 years, but I believe that this is the first time in awhile that the union has worked so closely with family and community groups.

    I will try to look at the links posted above shortly.

  • 429. CarolA  |  July 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    @427 and @428: Good points.

  • 430. EdgewaterMom  |  August 1, 2012 at 7:15 am

    I am not implying that ALL of the teachers in the pool are bad teachers. I just don’t like the idea of forcing principals to hire teachers from a specific pool, when they might not be the best candidate for the job. I guess I have faith in the principals to hire the best teacher for the job.

  • 431. CarolA  |  August 1, 2012 at 7:29 am

    EdgwaterMom: You tend to look negatively at the situation and maybe there’s a reason for it. Why not take the high road? Rather than assume terrible teachers will be hired, go with the idea that a great teacher will get another opportunity to reach children! Life is better when you look at the bright side! If anyone should be discouraged with CPS it should be me, but I want to be happy in life so I’ll go with the positive! Don’t anticipate the worst. The worst would be over in a few months if that’s the case. Go with the best and deal with the worst if it happens.

  • 432. NBCT Vet  |  August 1, 2012 at 7:51 am

    re: displaced applicants

    In the case of these 477.5 positions principals must first hire teachers from the displaced teacher pool. But, they are only compelled to do so if there are at least three qualified applicants from the pool. I think there are three reasons why principals will rarely get three applications from the pool.

    1) Given that many of these positions will be in the arts or in areas specific to a school’s unique needs, there may not be many displaced teachers qualified and credentialed for each position.

    2) It is very late in the year to pursue hiring new teachers.

    3) Displaced teachers only have five days to apply for these 477.5 positions.

    As others have pointed out, displaced teachers who are hired still have a probationary period. In my experience, more often than not experienced teachers are better than brand new teachers simply because they can rely on that experience in a new position, in a new program, in a new school. It is also easier, I think, to more quickly determine the efficacy of a veteran teacher versus a newbie simply because veterans have matured as professionals over the years. A principal can determine in a semester how a veteran will likely perform over the coming years. It takes much more time to determine the likely future success of a new teacher because they need time to figure it all out. This policy will work out just fine and I actually believe it is beneficial to both teachers and students.

    re: principal discretion

    On a system-wide long-term basis, the residency requirement restricts principal hiring discretion far more than this temporary, short-term agreement. CPS also creates more restrictions than this recent policy does when it enters contractual agreements with TFA to hire a certain number of new teachers each year, teachers who will abandon the profession at a much higher rate than either displaced teachers or those traditionally certified. So, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t this policy is that big of a deal.

    re: retention

    At my neighborhood high school we have a very high teacher retention rate, higher even than any of the magnet high schools. I cannot emphasize enough how important that stability and experience has been to our school’s and our students’ success.

    re: good vs. bad

    In all this talk of excellent vs. terrible teachers we should remember that the vast majority of teachers in the profession will be average. Despite Arne Duncan’s commentary about how every teacher should be in the top 25% of the profession, it just isn’t going to happen.

  • 433. EdgewaterMom  |  August 1, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I agree with you that the residency requirement ends up restricting the pool of applicants. I don’t understand why we need it – it is not like people are fleeing from the city of Chicago in droves. This would be a “perk” that the city could offer to teachers that would not really cost the city anything.

    In the grand scheme of things, forcing principals to hire from the pool is not that big of a deal. It just stands out as a way for the Union to protect all teachers, regardless of their skills.

  • 434. Peter  |  August 1, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I don’t think the residency requirement restricts applicants in any meaningful way.

  • 435. CPSTEACHER4321  |  August 1, 2012 at 9:12 am

    It restricts people who cannot afford to live in the city or do not wish to live in the city.

  • 436. cpsobsessed  |  August 1, 2012 at 9:17 am

    What’s the rationale behind the residency requirement? Just a way to boost city population?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 437. CPSTEACHER4321  |  August 1, 2012 at 9:21 am

    As far as I know all city employees have to live in the city. I believe the real rational is that we will stay here and spend our money here and then the city will benefit in taxes. Though many city workers live on the far edges of the city and spend their money elsewhere. Also it impacts those hired after 1996. You can get a residency waiver if you teach a high needs subject, but waivers are subject to revocation after a few years if the subject is no longer deemed high needs.

  • 438. CarolA  |  August 1, 2012 at 9:26 am

    CPSO: I think it’s to make sure the city gets tax revenue. Odds are that your police, fire, and teachers will be paying their taxes. Not sure if everyone else is. Rahm needs to think about the next election and get all of us out of here so he doesn’t lose votes! LOL

  • 439. CarolA  |  August 1, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Another thought: By keeping the teachers in the city, when the weather is bad, it can’t be an excuse that they are stuck at home. Get on a bus!

  • 440. CarolA  |  August 1, 2012 at 9:32 am

    NBCT Vet: In regards to your comment regarding most teachers being average….don’t you think that’s true in most professions? For every doctor that graduated at the top of the class, there had to be someone at the bottom and many in the middle.

  • 441. cpsobsessed  |  August 1, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Someone once told me a joke; what do you call someone who graduates last in their class in medical school?
    Answer: Doctor.


    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 442. local  |  August 1, 2012 at 9:46 am

    @ 437. CPSTEACHER4321
    I thought ONE major rationale for the residency requirement is to keep some middle-class neighborhoods integrated with white workers to stop “white flight.”

  • 443. Patricia  |  August 1, 2012 at 10:20 am

    @422 the Danielson evaluation you mention is a pilot in 100 CPS schools and has been used as input for the REACH evaluation currently proposed. The CTU participated in over 35 meetings to create REACH and pulled support at the last minute. I think this is why CPS lost the federal $30+ million dollar grant to pilot the new evaluation system.

    My understanding is the current eval system in most schools is a 40 year old form. Here is a link from WBEZ to the form.

    Quote from Trib article about the current eval system, “In Chicago, teachers are currently evaluated using a 40-year-old form — a checklist that principals mark off for vague achievements, such as establishing “positive learning” expectations for all students and specific evaluations of teachers’ appearance, such as whether a teacher dresses professionally and uses proper diction and grammar.
    Teachers also negatively characterized the current evaluation system as having one “five-minute” observation.”

    The fact that “The vast majority of Chicago teachers were rated either “excellent” or “superior” under the current system, which was part of the impetus for change.” in WBEZ article.

    Can we all agree that we need to bring teacher evaluations into this century? It is currently archaic and causes more problems and offers no solutions.

    The struggle is to maintain status quo which will breed mediocrity in our schools. Your union is pushing to protect the lowest common denominator teacher and resisting letting the good teachers rise and get paid more. This is an injustice to the students.

  • 444. RL Julia  |  August 1, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Hey my degree in public administration is actually going to come in handy – residency requirements are relatively common in municipal governments. They are based on the idea that muncipalities (and other forms of government – states and the federal government) are self governing which ultimately means that they are governed by their own residents. As a former colony, governed by non-residents, residence as a criteria of participation is a big deal in the founding documents of our country. This is why you have to be a natural born citizen to be president and have to reside in the state you represent (for Congress, governor etc…).

    While it might seem a little odd when it trickles down to teachers and fire fighters, police and general muncipal employees. They are de facto representatives of the government- in theory at least. On a more practical level, I do think that municipalities are correct in levying this requirement. Goverment workers are generally a stable bunch of people – economically speaking and I do think that people look at things differently when they are vested both personally and the outcome..

  • 445. Patricia  |  August 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

    CarolA, agree that it is a student victory when students get a great teacher. I couldn’t agree more! I still do not like the restriction of the pool and do believe the good ones will get hired without the forced pool. So the forced pool is really designed to help the ones that shouldn’t be hired. But, you and other smart posters on this blog seem to think it will work out fine and not be a big deal. I hope this is the case.

    An underlying reason for my concern over the forced hiring pool is that they are negotiating the contract in pieces. Given the current hostility, I understand why, but it makes me nervous. The students get lost in the shuffle of concensions that benefit the teachers and CPS. This has been a recurring theme in contract negotiations over the decades and is how students lost recess, got a shortened school year and many other vague outdated policies that impede change and progress.

    @444 RL Juia. Thanks for the background on policy!

  • 446. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 1, 2012 at 11:00 am

    #445~Patricia~’The students get lost in the shuffle of concensions that benefit the teachers and CPS’~I couldn’t agree more. At this point, I only see the benefit for CPS & CTU, but not the kids. As both CPS & CTU are being hostile & at the same time trying to ‘win’ and save face…no one is considering the children, not really. Right now, it’s all abt power, not abt the kids.

    #441~CPSO~thanks for the chuckle!

  • 447. CarolA  |  August 1, 2012 at 11:39 am

    SoxSideIrish4 and Patricia: Do you know something I don’t? How do you know that CPS and CTU are continuing to be hostile? They were hostile, agreed. But now, I haven’t heard a word. Have you? I always believe that when things are too silent, something is brewing. I choose to believe that a settlement is brewing and both sides are considering all angles. Yes, the teachers are looking out for their own futures. Doesn’t everyone want to take care of themselves and their families as best they can? And yes, Rahm is looking out for his reputation and making a name for himself. But, don’t you think both sides are thinking about the children? The union is fighting for art, music, library, etc. Do you think that’s for the teachers? The union wants recess to give the children a chance to regroup. Is that for the teachers? It’s nice that I’ll have a longer lunch and prepping time, but I’d rather get out early and prep at home in the comfort of air conditioning and decent heat. But, as a teacher, I know it’s super important for the children. So I vote yes on recess. Yes on art, music, and library.

  • 448. CarolA  |  August 1, 2012 at 11:48 am

    And YES to a new rating system. Maybe all of us should be in on that decision. I think we have good points to share!

  • 449. anonymouse teacher  |  August 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Wait, kids get a 7 hour day with recess and more art, PE, music, etc, and somehow the kids aren’t going to benefit? Isn’t this the very thing everyone wanted? I don’t get it.
    As for the new rating system, it is here already. Everyone MUST use Danielson next year. Its a done deal. And while too high of a percentage of teachers got excellent or superior ratings, whose fault is that? The principals, no?

  • 450. HS Mom  |  August 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    @444 RLJ – Yes, what you’re saying makes sense. City jobs should be for city residents. City jobs boost businesses within the city, the housing industry and entertainment industries. Another reason Rahm and mayors before try to create jobs in the city – to support it’s residents.

    Patricia – thanks for that evaluation info, I do see your point. IMO “bad teachers” do exist in the system, not just the media, and still have jobs. @432 teacher does have a point, this pool may be largely used to fill arts positions (who doesn’t know of a great arts teacher let go and still in need of employment) or secondary fill-in type positions. Like your school, I’m guessing most are already “staffed up”. I guess to me the gain in terms of longer day, teacher happiness while a win for adults translates to a win for kids.

    I am in complete agreement with you and make no bones about it – “bad teachers” can significantly harm a child’s education/future. They need to be gone, not protected. Good teachers need to be evaluated and rewarded. We need more “great teachers” and a system that inspires them to become that.

  • 451. CarolA  |  August 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    anonymouse: I did not know that Danielson was a done deal. Thanks for the info. You are right….who is to blame for all the excellent and superior ratings that should not have been given….absolutely the principals! I actually talked to my principal about that. I was upset that everyone wasn’t pulling their share and his response was and I quote…”Not everyone is a superior teacher.” And my response back to him and I quote….”Yet, everyone seems to have a superior rating!”. He didn’t know what to say. I’d like to think I had something to do with some people getting a little more scrutinized (spelling?) last year.

  • 452. NBCT Vet  |  August 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    As others have mentioned, the Danielson framework is the foundation for the new evaluation system. It is going to be a HUGE change for teachers and administrators alike.

    re: bad teachers, CarolA
    Yes, I agree. By definition the largest majority of people in any profession are average. There seems to be this push when it comes to education to label teachers either as superstars or as pathetic embarrassments to the profession. I think that’s misguided on both accounts. It’s true. Similar to the joke CPSObsessed shared about doctors, half of all teachers are in the bottom half of their profession.

    There are bad professionals in any and all businesses. Education does not have a monopoly on poor employees. I know this may pain many people here, but you will never eliminate bad teachers from the profession. There will always be a bottom 5%. The answer to improving overall teacher quality lies not in evaluations and lack of job security, but in teacher training, teacher collaboration, and meaningful professional development.

    re: bad teacher protections
    I know this has been beaten to death, but nothing really prevents principals from removing bad teachers in CPS. I know many people claim it’s darn near impossible, but they are wrong. My principal and others have done it with little to no trouble. If a principal keeps a poor teacher it says far more about the principal’s administrative and leadership skills than it does about any fictonalized union job protections. Tenure in Chicago is incredibly weak compared to the suburbs. And the suburbs seem to do ok, yes? Due process protects all teachers – great, average, and bad – equally.

    re: evaluations, Patricia
    The Union did not pull support from the new evaluation system at the last minute. CPS and CTU failed to come to an agreement. After 90 days CPS simply decided, in accordance with state law, to impose its last best offer without further negotiation. That’s a far cry from the CTU pulling its support at the last minute.

    The vast majority of teachers I know really like the Danielson framework. But there are major flaws with the new evaluation system. The Union has focused on two of the issues that are most unpalatable: a) the use of high stakes standardized tests in teacher evaluation, a purpose for which the tests are neither designed nor valid, and b) the use of the highly unreliable value-added methodology.

    Perhaps the single largest concern among teachers is abuse of evaluation procedures and outcomes. In response the Union has requested, and continues to ask for, a widely accepted peer review component popular in many districts. Peer review is useful in many ways, but especially so when evaluation results are hotly contested. CPS has repeatedly declined to consider peer review.

    The $30 million in grant money CPS lost resulted from their pursuit of a merit pay study to which the Union did not agree. CPS decided to continue their pursuit of the grant, which required Union partnership, anyway.

    I apologize for my long post, but I really enjoy this blog and forum – I just can’t help myself! Most folks here are thoughtful, rational, reasonably well informed, and polite. Thanks!

  • 453. Tchr  |  August 1, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    We use the Danielson and I do like it because it actual my gives me goals to work on and think about. We have coaches at my school and while they are great(!), they are stretched thin! Before I worked in CPS, I worked in an awful, awful charter school that was only worried about saving money. (There were conferences and meetings and power points to exclaim how much money each school spent and how much more money they saved. Awful!). While saving all that money, there wasn’t really any extra to hire coaches or pay teachers to be mentors to the very young, inexperienced teaching staff. I did not learn anything about being a teacher my first year except that I needed to go somewhere else.

    The Danielson let’s me think about what I need to do to be better and explains why this is important for my students.

    Cps should spend more money on using the framework to help teachers rather than it just be a checklist.

    To those who worry about “bad teachers”, what has been your specific experiences with them? Do you believe there is hope to help them get better or you just want them gone? I ask because as others have said- experience matters! I was a BAD TEACHER my first and probably a bit of my second year. And probably a few days here and there now in my fifth year. Not because I didn’t or don’t care
    about my job or my students- I just didn’t know any better. It takes a long time and a lot of help to be a good teacher. Can’t wait to get there.

  • 454. Tchr  |  August 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    iPhone fail. Forgive my typos.

  • 455. mom2  |  August 1, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Tchr – I can’t speak for others, but our experience with “bad” teachers are mostly with very experienced teachers (and some with very new). Those with experience, the issues are things such as:
    1. lecturing about things that are off topic from the lesson, wondering off in personal interests or losing track of what they already said or never said and then expecting students to teach themselves by reading the book, 2. having the ability to teach to the general population but unwilling to do anything extra to help those that are struggling (actually had a teacher said there was nothing they would do to help), 3. teachers that bully the students verbally, 4. Teachers that lose students work, never fill in grades in the portal until the last minute or never, and are very disorganized, etc. These teachers have had tons of training. I actually think the issue is that they are burned out but unwilling to leave or change grade levels or subjects.

  • 456. CarolA  |  August 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Tchr: You will get there if you aren’t already. Being able to reflect on your teaching and make changes is what it’s all about. Good for you!

  • 457. CarolA  |  August 1, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    mom2: Unfortunately, I have seen teachers like you describe. My questions would be…..did you talk to the principal? Did you bring it up at LSC or PTA/PTO meetings? Believe me, parents have a lot of power and if you gathered enough parents to support the cause, the pressure would be enough to make the principal act. Remember, the LSC is in charge of the principal’s contract. As far as unwilling to change grade levels or subjects: At my school (and at all the other schools where I have teacher friends), the decision on what grade level/subject a teacher teaches is NOT up to the teacher, but to the principal. We get to select 3 choices in order of preference. We have to submit a copy of our certificates. The final choice is not up to us. In fact, several teachers at my school did not even get ANY of their 3 choices.

  • 458. mom2  |  August 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    CarolA, yes, I and several other parents talked to the principal about several of these. The reply was everything from they will look into this, agreement that this needs some work, asking for patience until the end of the year, it will be better next year, etc. All the teachers are still teaching and still teaching the same grade and same subjects.
    I do want to say that most of my experiences with teachers have been outstanding. I am almost positive that you would fit into this category. Thank you for being so rational and independent in your thinking and posts.

  • 459. mom2  |  August 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Oh, and PTA meetings would only be a bunch of parents agreeing on these things. They would never end up going anywhere where something would get done.
    I would be terrified to bring up what I feel is a personnel issue with the LSC. It seems too public. I am not looking to hurt someone. Just looking to help my child, other children and the school.

  • 460. cps alum  |  August 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    @432- Did Arnie Duncan really say that !?! It is a very innumerate statement.

  • 461. EdgewaterMom  |  August 1, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    @460 Arnie must have been talking about the teachers in Lake Wobegon (where all the children are above average). 😉

  • 462. confused  |  August 1, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I guess I’m still confused by this CPS/CTU deal. Is it accurate that each school is getting one additional teaching position, and that this one teacher is meant to relieve all other teachers of an hour of their school day?

    What about schools, like Disney, that have over 1,000 students? How is one teacher going to service so many different classes? Will as many teachers be hired as necessary to make sure no teacher works longer than stated in the contract? Won’t this end up costing double or triple what they are projecting?

    Am I missing something? Hope so!

  • 463. EdgewaterMom  |  August 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    @453 Thanks for your thoughtful and honest response. I do think that there should be a better ‘mentoring’ system, where the good, experienced teachers can help younger teachers learn their craft and I realize that, like in any profession, there is always a learning curve.

    Having said that, one of the best teachers we have had was a first-year, and one of the worst had about 30 years of experience. Experience does not necessarily the difference between a good and bad teacher.

    I admit, we did not try to do anything about the bad teacher. By the time we realized just how bad she was, we were well into the school year and did not think that there was much that could be done about it that year.

    We weighed the pros and cons of complaining about her and decided that it was not worth it, especially because she was close to retirement. I admit, we were looking out for the best interests of our family, rather than the best interests of the entire school. We did not want to run the risk of being seen as one of “those parents” by the administration – we choose our battles carefully and try to work with the school. For the most part, we have had a wonderful experience and we do make sure that the good teachers (and the principal) know just how much we appreciate their hard work.

  • 464. EdgewaterMom  |  August 1, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    @462 Here is a link to the open positions at each school (that I just got in an email from Raise Your Hand). I have no idea how it was calculated for each school, but most schools seem to have more than 1 opening. I also am not clear if these are only the new positions that were added, or if some of them were existing openings.

  • 465. NBCT Vet  |  August 1, 2012 at 11:20 pm


    Dealing with such poor administrative response to your experience with bad teachers must be incredibly frustrating. Going to the principal or AP is exactly the right thing to do. (Well, going to the teacher first is probably best.) All those answers you received – and I’ve heard all of them before – represent a simple lack of administrative will to make a necessary change. So sorry you and your family had to tolerate that.

  • 466. Patricia  |  August 2, 2012 at 1:26 am

    @447 Did I miss the group hug between Rahm and Karen? 😉

  • 467. CarolA  |  August 2, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Patricia: LOL No, I don’t expect any big hugs, but you sure gave me a big smile on that one! They both need to save face at this point and I truly believe they are working hard to make this school year start on time. Neither side is looked at favorably by the general public, so it’s best to get this done.

  • 468. CarolA  |  August 2, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Regarding any parent who thinks they shouldn’t ruffle feathers or continue to knock on the principal’s door about an issue….PLEASE DO! I repeat….parents have a lot of power! If you are standing alone on an issue regarding something in the school, I agree, you might as well just close your mouth. But if you have a large group behind you, your voice will be heard. I know that many times the LSC is padded with people who are close to the principal and chances of them turning against him/her is slim, but you need to get heard. It’s a system that frustrates both parents and teachers alike. I used to be the teacher rep on our LSC until I realized that it didn’t really matter what I said, it was going to be the principals way regardless.

    Whenever I have a child who needs special help (speech, learning difficulties, etc), my school barely listens to me. I ALWAYS tell parents that the law is on their side. The school MUST follow a strict schedule to test your child once you fill out the proper forms. The trick is to get those forms filled out and DATED. I tell my parents….call one day every week until it gets done. It’s true: The squeaky wheel gets the oil. I know you say that you don’t want to cause trouble, but it’s about YOUR CHILD. When my daughter was at Lane and had issues with a teacher that barely spoke English, I sat in the office until someone came to talk to me. I had an appointment, but when I got there, supposedly something came up and they couldn’t meet with me. When they saw I wasn’t moving, all of a sudden, someone was available. Interesting. I’m not saying to be rude, but I think parents have a voice if handled correctly. My child was not going to learn a thing in that class. End result: She was transferred to another teacher. She got an A.

  • 469. been there done that  |  August 2, 2012 at 7:54 am

    The drum keeps beating for an earlier start for school. Can kids please have their summer back!
    Learn Charter August 1st start date was all over the news yesterday. Maybe Learn Charters population needs this but my child does not. One size does not fit all. I am get sick at thought of Track E or Learn Charter taking over in the near future.

  • 470. CarolA  |  August 2, 2012 at 9:04 am

    If we had air conditioning, I’d be all for year round school. The students lose too much over the summer. Many parents keep their kids reading and challenged, but most do not.

  • 471. EdgewaterMom  |  August 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

    @470 I agree with you. I think that many kids are bored by the end of the summer, and many do lose skills if they are not doing some work during the summer.

    I think that a 6 or 8 week summer break would be long enough for kids and teachers to recharge. Having a week long break at the end of each term would also be nice.

  • 472. anonymouse teacher  |  August 2, 2012 at 9:40 am

    @462, No, not all schools will get just one teacher. Some might only get a .5 position, some might get a few positions. It depends on a variety of factors. Those additional teachers will be part of the existing set of teachers that relieve classroom teachers for one hour a day. Previously, teachers received 4, 40 minute prep periods (if they were lucky) and a 20 minute “lunch/break” time during student hours. Now, we’ll get 5, 60 minute preps and a 45 minute lunch during student hours. (again, in some schools, if they are lucky. There are more than a few schools where substitutes will not work in and so if more than one or two teachers are absent on a single day, the music teacher or the gym teacher will have to “sub” in a classroom and then his or her “special” is cancelled for the day for the whole school)
    The way it will work is this: At my school, last year, we had music, PE, and library. This year, we’ll have music, art, PE, library and computer. Those specials teachers will collectively relieve classroom teachers for their hour prep, and likely will also have at least a few periods a week where they do lunch/recess duty. The specials teachers also must have an hour prep and 45 minute lunch of their own. Without the added teachers, this would have been impossible. My school already has both principals, the clerks, the security guard, the case manager and many parent volunteers doing lunch duty(we don’t have a lunchroom, which has meant lunch must happen in classrooms). With the added time needed for recess and lunch supervision, we desperately needed a few extra bodies to make it all work. The added positions will help fill out a “skin and bones” staff to make the CTU/CPS agreement possible.
    Does that help at all?

  • 473. anonymouse teacher  |  August 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I second the idea of year round school and by that I mean truly year round, not track E nonsense. But, ONLY if we all had working AC. Working being the key word here. I have spent a lot of time in my classroom this summer and the air was not working and it was an oven any day over 85 degrees.
    I’d love a 4-5 week summer break with every 6th or 7th week of school being a week off. We could have a 1-2 week break in October, December, March and May and then a summer break from the very end of June to the very beginning of August.
    But seriously, only with properly working AC. On the second floor of my school, all the 3rd grade teacher’s crayons were in a puddle this summer. It was so hot it turn them to liquid. That was with the windows open.

  • 474. local  |  August 2, 2012 at 9:48 am

    With the new rules about not accumulating vacation days for an end-of-career payout for teachers, I think there will be more teachers to decide to take their vacation days during the school year. Is this correct or have I mucked it up?

  • 475. NBCT Vet  |  August 2, 2012 at 10:01 am

    @474 re: leave

    Teachers do not accrue vacation days. Teachers receive one week of paid vacation over winter break, one week over spring break.

    CPS teachers historically, and in every district in Illinois I know of, accrue sick days that are paid out in some form or another down the road.

    There is no new sick leave policy as of yet. That is a part of ongoing negotiations. The trick is balancing changes to the current policy with the need for some sort of short-term leave.

    I think you are correct – a use them or lose them policy will mean higher teacher absenteeism during the school year.

    I haven’t missed a school day in 8 years. But I confess that under a use them or lose them policy I most certainly will not have perfect attendance for the next eight years.

  • 476. CarolA  |  August 2, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I think you are right. Most teachers will certainly take at least a few days off if they are going to lose them. In the end, that will cost CPS more than if they let us save them for a payout later. They will have to pay us and pay a substitute. Who loses? The children. Some subs are very good, but only the regular teacher can make the day seamless.

    I wouldn’t care if that payment at retirement wasn’t in a lump sum as it is now. Pay me in increments over the course of several years if that helps, but don’t make me lose them.

    You can be sure that the new rating system will include a section for teacher attendance (as it should) and that may discourage some from taking off. However, if I’m doing a fantastic job all school year and my only fault is a few days off here or there, I’m not sure that would warrant a lower rating. Maybe it will. Yet to be seen.

  • 477. anonymouse teacher  |  August 2, 2012 at 10:17 am

    What makes the “use them or lose them” thing so tricky now is that principals get rated partly on staff attendance. A staff as a whole must have a 97% attendance rate for the principal to get that portion rated well. This means teachers can’t take more than 5 days off per year. I know I come into work unless I am vomiting, or have a super high fever or my kids are sick, even if I really should stay home. I’ve even come in knowing I had strep throat and was contagious because I knew I needed to save my sick days for something where I couldn’t function all because of this 97% policy. I know some people might say that 5 days are plenty for someone only working August-June, but I say not when little people are sneezing, coughing and occasionally puking on or near you throughout the year. This past year I was sick literally every 3 weeks. I had many days where my voice was pretty much shot. I could not stay home to recover. There was no way in hell I was going to get a MY rating lowered because I stayed home sick.

  • 478. Teacher4321  |  August 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I have also heard that if your days off drop to more than 5, your rating will be lowered. I am not sure this is something the principal will have direct control over.

    I too limit my days off to stomach flu. Many many parents insist on sending their children to school sick (or with lice), which is really unfortunate for everyone involved in the situation. Especially in the primary grades where it is more difficult to contain illness.

    I am not one to use or abuse my days, but I think that the new policy, if passed will cause those who don’t normally take off to use at least 5 days a year. After all these days are accounted for as part of our salary. It is sort of like giving your employer back 10 days of your pay if you can’t bank them. Right now it seems as if we will have to give up 5 of those days if we do not want our rating to be lowered.

    CarolA’s point rings true for me too. I wouldn’t care if they paid them back over a spread amount of years. I also think part of the problem that happens to CPS is they pay the days out based on your hourly rate at the time you retire, not the time you earned them. I would be fine going forward IF CPS could come up with a way of tracking the days year to year AND showing me on the online payroll system how many days I have and at what rate of pay. For the sake of argument for example in 2012-2013, say my hourly rate is $10.00 an hour, then I get 10 days at 10 dollars and hour, but for 2013 – 2014, I will get $12.00 an hour for my days.

    Additionally, the sick day policy got a really bad rap last year when they said how much executives like Arne Duncan was given when he left to go to DC. Really not fair to talk about Arne Duncan’s gain off of the sick days and then throw it back on us to make it look like we are getting the same amount of information that Arne is getting.

  • 479. Teacher4321  |  August 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Sorry money, not information.

  • 480. Teacher4321  |  August 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    And Arne Duncan was given not were given.

  • 481. CarolA  |  August 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I just saw an article from the Chicago Tribune about parents in California taking over a school and legally making it a charter school. Scary. Thoughts?

  • 482. RL Julia  |  August 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Was this the school in Clayton California?

  • 483. CarolA  |  August 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    No, in Adelanto, just north of LA. They enforced something called the “trigger law”. The article said that Rahm was trying to push for an Illinois trigger law before all this CTU stuff happened. HMMMMMM.

  • 484. RL Julia  |  August 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I think the Clayton CA high school also recently became a charter as well – although I am not sure how or why.

  • 485. Teacher4321  |  August 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I think the movie coming out with Maggie Gyllanhall is about the trigger law.

  • 486. Ltwain  |  August 4, 2012 at 9:51 am

    If anything, rumblings at a school to put the trigger law into effect might increase the responsivess from the district to improve conditions. But what type of arguments would persuade parents one way or the other to pull the trigger? It seems it would include test scores, climate, and culture. (So getting away from test scores is tough.) Yet, I imagine the trigger would be pulled if parents got really incensed – if their voice wasn’t heard or ignored.
    I think the trigger law would be great in Chicago, although I am mindful that things can get too emotional, and that making decisions by committee can be challenging.

  • 487. Joel  |  August 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    The Wall Street Journal has been an active advocate of the trigger law, and for those of you who know my view on compulsory public education, you can guess my position: I’m all about the trigger law. Parents and community members would be able to see the challenges and excitement of being an actual active part of a school, not just a complaining bystander. If anything, it will open people’s eyes to the struggles and successes that occur on a daily basis within a school. I’m sure it would be a mess in Chicago, but I think it is a step in the right direction.
    And as a certain Mr. Obama said recently, “Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own,” ” So parents, please join the fun of education; we need you!

  • 488. KatieO  |  August 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Strong parent voice is absolutely essential in schools. But parent trigger is not parent voice, it is parent exploitation. After a school is handed over to private operators, parents will never have voice in that school again.

  • 489. Cake for all!  |  August 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Good luck to track e!

  • 490. anonymouse teacher  |  August 5, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    #489, I normally don’t pay a lot of attention to substance news as I have found it to be so far to one end of the spectrum (just as CPS’s release of news is too far on the other for me). But in this case, just reading through the basic questions that could not be answered–this was appalling to me. Chicago is so messed up it is a wonder to me that any child learns anything at all.

  • 491. SMH  |  August 6, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I agree with anonymouse. I have a tough time reading Substance News. Skip to the italics in the middle of the “article” and read the questions that our beloved leaders could not answer. This webinar was crazy!

    A few select questions that could NOT be answered:

    — When will high schools receive school data from last year’s EOY Explore and Plan assessments administered in late May, early June?

    — Where is the assessment calendar and this PowerPoint located?

    — Did I understand that there will be optional interim/quarterly assessments at no cost to schools and if so what assessments?

    — What are the NWEA Training Dates?

    — What kind of backup plan is in place for the on-line assessments in case there are problems with too much usage and the systems crash (as they did last year)?

    — When will 8th grade Explore scores be made available to the receiving high schools? [School starts in a week and we don’t have them!]

    — The REACH performance assessments are given to one section in one subject per teacher? For example, if a teacher teaches 4 sections of 7th grade math, does she administer to one 7th grade class?

    — If, as is now claimed, the mClass assessments are optional — will they be used to evaluate me/my school on the school report card? What if I only use mClass for SELECT RTI students (rather than with EVERY student) — which means my mClass scores will be skewed LOW… will I be penalized?

    — Which assessments will be electronic?

    — When will high school performance tasks for non-core courses be available? [These tests are supposed to occur in the first three weeks. School starts in one week and we still don’t have them!]

    — Has the EPAS data from last year been made available to schools?

    — Which course curriculum are the REACH performance tasks aligned to?

    — I don’t see CCSS assessments on your assessment calendar. Have they been phased out or are they now called something else?

    — If EPAS is the way we measure on track to college and career, what is the plan for processing EPAS tests quickly? In the past, it has taken several months to get feedback.

    — This is a lot of assessment. Are we sure that testing K-2 students in NWEA will help to inform instruction?

    — I thought the interim quarterly assessments where aligned to the CRS not the CCSS! Which is it? Is there training for the core subjects performance tasks? Do they take BOY and EOY assessments too?

    — On the REACH performance tasks do only 1, 2, 4 and 7 take the art, music, etc performance tasks?

    — Do we need headphones for all of the NWEA assessments?

    — Which assessments will be on our score card when the school rankings go up on the Web?

    — When will high schools receive access to the CPS-provided Type III Performance Tasks?

  • 492. CarolA  |  August 6, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I agree with the previous comments regarding Substance. It’s a little too crazy, but not being able to answer these most important questions is even crazier. Shameful!

  • 493. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 6, 2012 at 7:35 am

    The substance article has been ALL over the web and pple from all over have commented…laughing/disgusted…How can track e even start next monday, when CPS can’t even answer any of these questions. CPS is a joke and all of the other districts nationally are laughing. It’s so screwed up and embarrassing. HS don’t have the 8th grade EXPLORE test. CPS tried to do too much in too little of a time and now they have very little answers

  • 494. CarolA  |  August 6, 2012 at 8:01 am

    And now people can start to better understand WHY teachers are tired of this junk (trying to remain professional there, LOL). There’s so much more to the CTU stand than most people think. I’m SOOOOOOO happy this article came out. This is just the tip of the iceberg as they say.

  • 495. HS Mom  |  August 6, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Since when does CPS furnish Explore results to high schools. It is up to the student to furnish this info, if requested. CPS doesn’t even know what high school you are going to. We received our results well before the last report card pick up. Makes me wonder about the rest of the questions, especially considering the source.

  • 496. EdgewaterMom  |  August 6, 2012 at 9:43 am

    @495 Why would CPS not know which high school a student is attending? Doesn’t the student have to enroll for high school? It would seem logical that CPS would provide the test results to the appropriate schools, but maybe I am missing something.

  • 497. HS Mom  |  August 6, 2012 at 9:51 am

    They do not – kids go all over – to private, suburban/out of state, sign up at multiple schools, last minute changes.

    Selective enrollment schools do not require an explore test or valuation. LP IB asked to see the results which we brought in.

  • 498. Teacher4321  |  August 6, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Oh but they do if they go to a CPS high school because the student will have to be transferred out of their elementary school before they can enroll in a CPS high school. The sending school lists the school the child will be going to in IMPACT. Test scores are also in IMPACT I believe.

  • 499. Teacher4321  |  August 6, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Also you can’t be actually enrolled at more than one CPS school at a time.

  • 500. HS Mom  |  August 6, 2012 at 10:53 am

    @498 – test scores on Impact? Where is that? What about kids coming from private and non-CPS schools? Do they take the EXPLORE? Can’t register to more than 1 CPS school – then how could CPS get the information to the schools when registration is at the end of August? Explore was not part of the transcripts unless that has changed.

    Point being too that we did get our results months before the end of school and that Explore is not required by high schools.

  • 501. Teacher4321  |  August 6, 2012 at 11:46 am

    IMPACT is an internal system, I don’t think the public has access to IMPACT, but schools sure do.

    From the elementary school, all of the students are transferred out and projected towards the school they will be going to before school ends. Or at least they should be.

  • 502. HS Mom  |  August 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    so, @501 you’re saying that Impact (which is available to parents through the parent portal) holds testing information that is not viewable by parents? Parents can only see the hard copy with report cards etc?

  • 503. Teacher4321  |  August 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I do not know what parents can or cannot see on IMPACT, what I do know is internally, different users have different privileges of what they can see depending on their title and how they are coded into the system (I.e teachers vs. admin. vs. case managers vs. nurses). There is an area for test scores, but I imagine downtown has to first authorize their uploading. Also “IMPACT” has several different log ins on our end for different purposes depending on our role in the school.

  • 504. HS Mom  |  August 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    @503 – I can imagine that there are all kinds of levels. So it is unknown if EXPLORE or PLAN is on impact and if it is, who would have access. So the question above about when will a school get access to EXPLORE or PLAN isn’t really meaningful because the teachers don’t have access to this information anyway nor are they supposed to be evaluating their students based upon these tests. In addition to that, not all incoming freshman take EXPLORE in 8th grade.

  • 505. NBCT Vet  |  August 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    @ HS Mom

    I want every tool at my disposal to help me evaluate my students, especially incoming freshmen. I want to know as much as possible about my students and know them as thoroughly as I possibly can. The better I know them, the more effectively I can meet them where they are and take them where they need to go. EXPLORE and PLAN are helpful in that context and I wish I had access to the results. Tests are most useful when used as a diagnostic to inform instruction. Unfortunately, that’s not the way CPS looks at testing. It’s more of a club to beat teachers and principals over the head with than a tool to improve practice and outcomes.

    But even if teachers don’t get the test info, principals surely want it. Even without the intense reliance on test scores for principal evaluations, but especially with it, the EXPLORE and PLAN tests are important to administration, counselors, and grade level teachers in thoughtfully planning for the fall, scheduling students, assigning teachers, and anticipating interventions.

    Good teachers and administrators don’t just wait until students finally reach the classroom in the first week of school and then make it up as we go along.

    Whether or not this particular question is meaningful (and it is) does not speak to the larger issue of the inability of top CPS administrator’s to answer basic, fundamental questions from building leaders. I am highly disturbed that the CPS instructional leader cannot answer these types of questions.

    Even if the questions are not relevant (though nearly all of them are) an instructional leader should still have a helpful response beyond “I don’t know” or “Well, I’ll just have to get back to you on that.” It is a clear example of how completely disconnected CPS administrators are from the reality of what happens in schools and classrooms.

  • 506. CPS Parent and Counselor  |  August 6, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Yes, indeedy. As a counselor, I want — rather, I NEED it. I use that info to know how to program a freshman — a 2-period Algebra class if he/she shows need in math, 2-period English class if he/she shows need in English, etc. So yes, it is a relevant question.

  • 507. HS Mom  |  August 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    These tests are presented to the parent/student as a “practice ACT”. Specifically told that these are not and cannot be used to evaluate the student. In many cases taken during a math or English class very informally without adjustment for student accommodations etc. Since you are using them for student evaluation, is this discussed with the parents? Do you require all incoming Freshman to take them?

  • 508. CPS Parent and Counselor  |  August 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Most incoming freshmen, whether they’re coming from CPS, another Illinois school, or outside of the state, have taken some type of assessment in their 8th grade year. It’s not required for high school, obviously (at least, at my non-selective high school), but those test scores, along with grades from prior years and any other tools of evaluation they come in with are all used in order to program students to maximize their success their freshmen year. Parents of the students at my school are aware how their child is programmed, yes. Is that what you’re asking?

  • 509. anonymouse teacher  |  August 6, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    I can speak to elementary early grade questions that were referred to in the substance letter.
    First of all, knowing which tests need headphones are important. You can’t give the new NWEA tests without them and not all schools know this. Second, it is super important to know the testing schedule for the year. It is August for crying out loud and a testing schedule should not be a difficult thing to provide. Third, every school and parent should know ahead of time which tests will be reported on the school report card. This is a transparency issue.
    Training dates for NWEA and performance task training should have been decided by now. This is a huge headache when we get notice about a training we need to be at from 4-8 p.m. THE DAY OF THE TRAINING. This kind of late notice happens all the time. I can’t arrange for childcare for my own children without at least a week’s notice! I won’t add to this very long post by referencing other important questions they cannot answer.

    Then, the the question about too much testing for K-2. Here’s the list of tests I have to give this year:
    Mclass math, 3 times per year, 4 test parts. Then progress monitoring based on results. Plus, for me last year, 15 of my kids needed to be retested at least once a month, most of them once a week or every two weeks. Granted, this progress monitoring takes about 3 minutes per kid, you can see where it adds up.

    TRC test. Given 3 times a year individually. Can take about 20 minutes per child.

    Dibels testing. Today they say we only have to give it if kids are not proficient on TRC. That directive, likely, will change at least 2 more times before school starts. Dibels happens 3 times per year, with 3-5 individual one to one tests, and progress monitoring happens as in Mclass math.

    NWEA tests. Whole group, all on computers with my 5 year olds, many who don’t speak English and who have never seen the inside of a classroom. Um, yeah, that’s gonna be successful.
    Performance tasks quarterly in only god knows how many subjects. These are similar to portfolio type assessments. How or what to give is, at this point, unclear.

    I will say that I totalled up all the tests I gave last year to my kindergarten class. Here is what that looked like:
    27 kids x 3 times yearly Dibels and Mclass x 8 individual tests total = 648 tests. 648 x 3 minutes per test = 1944 minutes
    Progress monitoring total for Dibels and Mclass for around 15 kids either monthly, bi weekly, or weekly, you are talking about another 500+ 3 minute tests= 1500 minutes.
    Then TRC’s @ 3 times per year x 37 kids x estimate of 20 minutes each = approximately 2220 minutes per year on those.

    Dibels, mclass and all progress monitoring = 1944+1500+2220= 5664 minutes total testing mandates by those at the top. That’s 94 hours worth of testing last year. For kindergarten. If you assume (let’s be generous here) 4.5 hours of instructional time total after preps and lunch/recess, that works out to be nearly 21 school days spent testing. That’s more than 10% of the total year. That doesn’t include massive test prepping (if my pay is going to be tied to test scores, you can sure as heck bet I am going to make absolutely sure that my students can ace those tests!) which I’d estimate takes another 20% of the year. And then we are adding NWEA and performance tasks too? Really?
    Is this what people want for their kids? In kindergarten? And that doesn’t include other tests given by the teacher in areas other than reading and math. We are in testing overkill in the early grades especially for reading and math. But our policies are all headed in this direction.

    This is not best practice by any stretch of the imagination. I suppose this is how doctors feel in dealing with HMO’s. They must compromise patient care in order to get paid and I must compromise student care in order to meet district demands and get paid according to whatever new “merit pay based on rating and test score” system that comes out.

  • 510. NBCT Vet  |  August 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    @ HS Mom

    Everything a student does is used to evaluate him or her. Literally everything. Good teachers are constantly assessing the students in their care. If it’s “practice” it better darn well be used as a diagnostic to determine strengths and weaknesses and to inform instruction. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    Evaluation of a student does not necessitate a grade or a formal record of the results. Though communication with parents is essential, it just is not practical to discuss every single assessment with parents. There simply isn’t enough time in the day for that.

    We don’t require all freshmen to do anything – we’re a neighborhood school. We’re not allowed to do that type of thing. Only charter schools and other selective enrollment magnet schools can mandate requirements like that for admission.

    Your post @507 definitely sounds concerned. Do you not want your child to be evaluated? Are you concerned about teachers, counselors, and administrators having information, either formal or informal, about your child in order to better serve his or her needs and maximize growth? Are you worried the information or “data” might be misused?

  • 511. CarolA  |  August 7, 2012 at 7:11 am

    I find it interesting that some parents are concerned about test scores being used to evaluate their child’s academic progress, but find it OK to let those same test scores evaluate teachers. HMMMMMM, double standard?

  • 512. RL Julia  |  August 7, 2012 at 9:58 am

    In general testing is useful but to 509’s comments, 21 days out of 180 days of school is too much testing – really for anyone. Also – while I am interested in measuring teachers in some one- if only to provide appropriately guided feedback, I don’t think it is fair to use student achievement as a sole measure of teacher success. There are too many variables to hold teacher’s completely accountable.
    What might be the most helpful is measuring the gain a student makes in a given period of time – if it is less than anticipated, there should be a series of readily available interventions etc.. for that student. Since I suspect this is how the system is supposed to work – but doesn’t – I don’t think you can really hold teacher’s accountable for a student’s lack of progress when help is not given.

  • 513. HS Mom  |  August 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    @510 – At selective schools Freshman classes are pretty much a given unless your child tests above class level and they certainly do not use an Explore test for that. I would have a major issue with my child’s skill level being evaluated based upon one “practice” test, in particular the Explore. On the flip side, my teen scored near perfect but really, I would not expect him to be advanced based upon this, nor does he qualify. I would also be opposed to the teacher knowing EXPLORE results, potentially pegging a student before they have even had a chance to perform in class.

    Double standard? I don’t expect teachers to be evaluated on the EXPLORE, particularly, since most 8th graders have not even had algebra or geometry. There is a need for accountability with all the peer review suggestions etc. Testing has it’s place as a tool to evaluate teachers and students but not as a sole indicator. When something is billed as “practice”, not to be held against the student then it should be just that, not become the basis of where your talents lie and what classes you should take at what level etc.

  • 514. CarolA  |  August 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Apologies from me. I am not familiar with the EXPLORE and should not have made that comment. I was referring to tests in general. Teachers and parents alike are frustrated with all the testing. @509: It sounds like you refer to full day kingergarten. Imagine doing all those tests in a school like mine where kdg students attend only 4 hours per day. And isn’t that weird that around the city, each school has different kdg programs? Partly because in Illinois kdg is not mandatory I suppose.

  • 515. CPS Parent and counselor  |  August 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    @513, I think part of the confusion you have on this issue is your classification of the Explore as a “practice ACT.” It is supposed to be more than that. This link might be helpful.

  • 516. NBCT Vet  |  August 7, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    @ HS Mom

    You seem really concerned about tests being used against students. Though administrators and district leaders often view tests as punitive, teachers rarely do.

    We use them to help our students and to improve our ability to serve the individual needs of each student. Even when used as guidance for course selection tests are certainly not a sole or even determining factor. They are one part of the puzzle of piecing together the best way to move a student forward. This is why counselor and teacher to teacher communication, common planning, and collaboration are so important.

    Can you share why you are so concerned that a test would be used against a student and under what circumstances that might happen?

  • 517. SE teacher  |  August 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I have been waiting for the PLAN scores for my former sophomores to post so that I can finalize my unit plans for the year. I can see which skills they need to review, where they have strengths and what I need to teach. Good teachers use data for the benefit of their students. I certainly do not need a dozen tests a year to do this, but I like to have something to work off of to plan the start of the year. This is where many parents do not understand the planning aspect of teaching. It’s not just about opening the book to page one on day one and going from there. Furthermore, I certainly would be frustrated, as a parent, if my child was tested and the results were not given to the person responsible for him/her for the school year.

  • 518. HS Mom  |  August 8, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I apologize in advance for any digression

    @516 – A few examples. Back when individual gifted schools had their own tests, our experience at Decatur was that they asked my son if he knew how to read. He said “no” and was out of there in about 2 minutes flat. Later, a test (don’t know which one) given in 1st grade resulted in his teacher putting him into a special reading group. Her response to me was “he doesn’t belong there but I have my hands full”. His homework in both reading and writing consisted of filling in blanks where the other kids were writing out full sentences and reading and writing about books that they were reading. I realized that if he were to keep up with the rest of the class I would need to tutor him and not rely on the school to teach him – which I did. He was fortunate to have an extraordinary 2nd grade teacher who realized that he was not being challenged and was willing to work with him. My son was totally content to “go with the flow” and loved having less work and having a tea party instead of writing about Alice in Wonderland and cried when he was pulled out. Not bragging here, but this should be taken in context that he is actually a gifted reader, devours books. Other than that one test, he has tested well so no further issues like this.

    Something to add about our experience with 8th grade EXPLORE – there is an interview section about interests, skills and what they want to pursue in college. Because a talented and creative friend was into the arts, he decided he was going to be an artist. He was totally stuck on this for a year even though I point blank asked him not to be. We received a complete analysis of how his performance on the test positioned him for a career in art and how he would fare in a college art curriculum. Planning freshman classes based upon this test would have been a complete disaster. In my opinion, the only thing that the EXPLORE or PLAN is good for is ACT prep/practice.

    I understand that kids need to have certain skills in place in order to proceed to the next level. Isn’t a pattern in grades and ISAT exams a better indicator of ability than a single test that contains college ready material? High school is a chance to start anew and take on challenges without prejudice from some teachers opinion or a test gone awry.

    I can see the benefit of using PLAN results to upgrade curriculum. As a parent, I find the PLAN results from the fall test useful because I can plan summer prep according to areas of need. Yes, I want to know test results but a year end test will not provide me with timely information that I can use. If results go up as expected, it will not not change our plans. If they go down, in all honesty, I would have to call it a bad test day.

  • 519. SE Teacher  |  August 9, 2012 at 9:38 am

    We use the end of year results to place students in the proper level course. Teachers then can see where specific needs are. If students need to change levels because they either “had a bad test day” or just got lucky at guessing, this is done as needed.

    Unfortunately, there are many parents who think their child had a bad experiences and should be programmed into honors level classes. Yes, high school is the place to start anew, but must be done with skills learned at the elementary level. With my experience, using end of year test scores to place students has been the most successful way to place a student where they need to be.

  • 520. CPS Parent and Counselor  |  August 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Sorry for your early experiences in education, HS Mom. We all want what’s best for our kids and it can be frustrating when we hit barriers to what that is, so I sympathize. I hope that the comments of the teachers who have posted on this subject will help assure you that the Explore is not the only evaluation tool used to assess where a student is at any given point of time, but one tool of many — you mentioned having to provide your son’s Explore score to LPIB, and, as you’re aware, they didn’t base their decision solely on that one test score — yet they wanted to take it into consideration. Similarly, as a counselor, I use all the tools at my disposal to assess a student’s abilities — after all, as NBCT Vet pointed out, that’s what those evaluation tools are for. Otherwise, they are a waste of time for all of us.

    Incidentally, I have never used the Interest Inventory as a tool for planning a student’s path through high school. I’m pretty sure that’s a tool primarily meant for the student and his/her parents/guardians.

    Another angle to consider, while we’re on the topic, though…your concern on this subject may help you understand why many teachers find the possibility of being judged based on their students’ test scores from one test worrisome.

  • 521. CPS Parent and Counselor  |  August 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Or, I should say, I’ve never used his/her 8th grade Interest Inventory.

  • 522. HS Mom  |  August 9, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    posting teachers – good to know. I tend to get concerned when important decisions for students or teachers are based upon potentially inaccurate data.

    @520 – maybe you can understand with my example of a 1st and 2nd grade teacher (both having a profound effect on educational outcomes) why many parents would like to see a complete, accurate and fair evaluation process that rewards teachers for ability and excellence rather than tenure, steps and lanes.

  • 523. CPS Parent and Counselor  |  August 9, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I absolutely understand that and absolutely support it 100%.

  • 524. Bookworm  |  August 9, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    How sad that HS mom’s student might be inspired by an older creative artist and discouraged by the parents. Kids grow and change so quickly why discourage a deep interest that may lead to another deep interest and a fulfilling and maybe solidly supporting work life in adulthood. Work in the arts can be extreme;y multifaceted drawing on every discipline. Good arts education develops the same sense of dedicated process and exploration that good science requires. Studies show that time spent educating about the arts and music builds skills in every other area as well.

    Does a lack of respect for the arts end us all up with a 7 hour test prep treadmill for our students and teachers to slog through instead of deeper well balanced curriculums?

  • 525. CarolA  |  August 10, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Bookworm: I agree. Kids change their mind so many times along the road, it’s a shame to discourage any thoughts. All a parent can do is make suggestions and watch it unfold. When my daughter decided to be a hula dancer I responded: That’s wonderful! Just make sure you also have a back up plan for when you get older. When she decided to be a doctor I said….That’s wonderful! Just think it all through and decide if that’s the path you want to follow because that’s a big commitment and you don’t really like the sight of blood. Grandma always wanted a doctor in the family! She ended up being a KDG teacher. Parents need to remember we are here to GUIDE and SUPPORT our children. We had our chance to choose our own path. It’s time for them to choose theirs. Give them the option. Help them see the big picture, but in the end, support them.

    On another note: I just want to thank the people posting here because it has given me a chance to see things in another light. I see the teacher side and it’s good to see the parents side. I’ve always supported the idea of raises connected to performance rather than steps and lanes. Having hours of college classes doesn’t necessarily make you a better teacher. Applying what you’ve learned does. That being said, it needs to be fair and that’s the biggest issue. When grading student writing, most teachers use a rubric which lays out the requirements for a particular grade. It wouldn’t matter who grades it, the outcome would be the same because you get points for things you have and lose points if you don’t have it. For example….at the first grade level, students get points if they used capital letters at the beginning of each sentence. Pretty easy to see if they have it or not. So maybe some type of rubric is in order. Teachers can see what’s expected and they either have it or not.

  • 526. Sped Mom  |  August 10, 2012 at 9:09 am

    “It wouldn’t matter who grades it, the outcome would be the same because you get points for things you have and lose points if you don’t have it.” I wish we could have such faith in rubrics for writing, but while they help, they are not reliable. Research on the assessment (“grading”) on writing in standardized test such as the SAT have proven this. So, should be taken with a big grain of salt, and probably not used to determine much of a person’s abilities.

  • 527. HS Mom  |  August 10, 2012 at 10:20 am

    @524 – to further elaborate, the friend was his best friend from 8th grade. We only have 1 older experienced artist friend who actually has pieces publicly displayed and suggests that he stay away. My son is an only child without much extended family. He will need to support himself financially. I must be realistic. So please, don’t pass judgment.

    Carol – nice thoughts, thank you.

  • 528. CarolA  |  August 10, 2012 at 10:21 am

    HMMMM, not sure I agree. Maybe it’s different for upper grades. For primary grades, it’s pretty straight forward. Sure, there’s a little room for teacher discretion, but all in all, it’s very helpful. Simply because when parents want to know how I came up with the “A” or the “C”, it’s easy to show them. I send the rubric out at the start of the school year so parents know how to help at home. As the school year progresses, I expect more and the rubric changes. I tell students that everyone starts with an A. It’s up to them whether they keep it or not. If I have taught capital letters for weeks and shown example after example, I expect sentences to start with capital letters. That definitely shows a child’s ability to listen, follow directions and apply what they’ve learned. I don’t see why you say it doesn’t.

  • 529. RL Julia  |  August 10, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Middle school aged children are often interested by their friend’s passions, interests and talents – which they may or may not share. Its always hard to see your child sublimate their own interests and talents in order to be more like a friend. I don’t blame HS Mom for encouraging her child to branch out.

  • 530. CarolA  |  August 10, 2012 at 11:17 am

    There’s a big difference between encouraging your child to branch out and “point blank asking him not to be”. I agree with encouraging a child.

  • 531. HS Mom  |  August 10, 2012 at 11:44 am

    @529 RLJ – thanks for getting it.

    Wow – really, my decision to have my child not follow his friend is really that – my decision, based upon a number of factors.

  • 532. CarolA  |  August 10, 2012 at 11:58 am

    That’s the beauty of America!

  • 533. CarolA  |  August 10, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I agree!

  • 534. Bookworm  |  August 11, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I didn’t mean to pass judgement on h.s. mom herself.
    More to the larger picture of greater pressure to cut arts funding. There is plenty of good research linking especially music with math and science. Losing art and music has a huge impact on the development of higher thinking skills.
    Maybe part of the anxiety here is for us all finding a way for our kids to get what they need to fully support themselves in time. Realistically all of our kids must to do this and I’m in the same boat with H.s. Mom in trying to guide my children too.
    I don’t want my kids, or (anyone else’s) in CPS cut of from an education that has dimension and depth. I feel strongly that my kids will support themselves best in a work life that fuels their imagination and intellectual power.
    In my experience our best teachers are powered by their creativity and intellect. Engineering classrooms that allow CPS students and teachers little time or impetus to think deeply or work ant a high level really cheats us all.

  • 535. Bookworm  |  August 11, 2012 at 9:57 am

    sorry that’s “cut off” from..

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