CPS Laying off 2,000+ (Trib Article)

July 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm 347 comments

Pink slip
Well, it’s a sad day for many staff members affected by school closings.  Sad especially because these people taught in areas where families were leaving the neighborhoods because they we’re necessarily a great place to live or housing changes reduced the family population.  But those who stuck it out have been hit hard with closing schools and now layoffs.
However our budget situation is also sad.  There isn’t enough money right now to set up our school system the way (I think everyone would agree) it needs to work effectively.
Also, I see Linda Lutton from WBEZ is looking for people to talk to:
Were you laid off from a Chicago public school today? Know someone? Write me: llutton@wbez.org
What do you think?  How do we make this all work given the budget deficit?  Was this avoidable?  Necessary?
By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah and Kim Geiger, Chicago Tribune reportershttp://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-cps-layoffs-20130719,0,4180625.story6:34 a.m. CDT, July 19, 2013

Citing a $1 billion budget deficit, Chicago Public Schools will lay off more than 2,000 employees, more than 1,000 of them teachers, the district said Thursday night.

About half of the 1,036 teachers being let go are tenured. The latest layoffs, which also include 1,077 school staff members, are in addition to 855 employees — including 420 teachers — who were laid off last month as a result of the district’s decision to close 49 elementary schools and a high school program.

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the district was “scraping the bottom” of reserves to provide financial relief and had made cuts in other spending before making layoffs.

“We’re not going to be able to cut our way out of this crisis,” Carroll said. “Our revenues are simply not keeping in line with our spending increases.”

The district again blamed the lack of pension reform for many of its fiscal woes, noting that pension payments are growing this fiscal year by an additional $400 million. The layoffs were the result of “budgetary decisions made by principals or changes in enrollment,” the district said in a statement.

“Absent pension reform in Springfield, we had very few options available to us to close that gap,” Carroll said. “This year, given the magnitude and the size of this deficit, and the fact that there was no pension reform reached in Springfield, this has made it to the doorsteps of our schools.”

Last month the district released school budgets based on a per-pupil funding formula, and almost immediately principals began complaining about severe budget cuts and being forced to cut art and music teachers. Thursday’s announcement drives home the extent of the reductions.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis expressed dismay over the layoffs.

“Once again, CPS has lied to parents, employees and the public about keeping the new school-based budget cuts away from the classroom,” Lewis said.

The district has also proposed an additional $52 million in reductions to central office costs, and as the district tries to close the budget gap, many are bracing for further cuts.

The last time CPS laid off a large number of teachers was 2010, when 1,200 teachers lost jobs because of that year’s fiscal crisis. CPS says 65 percent were rehired that year, and that typically a majority of teachers who are laid off find other jobs within the district, but CPS is facing a significant shortfall this year.

Under the new teachers contract, highly qualified teachers who have not followed students to the designated schools receiving children from closing schools are eligible to be in a reassigned teacher pool at full pay and benefits for five months next school year.

Asked whether pension reform could help reinstate some of the budget cuts, CPS spokeswoman Carroll said it’s difficult to know.

“Obviously, we welcome pension reform, but we can’t speculate what the impact will be,” she said.

nahmed@tribune.com

kgeiger@tribune.com

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347 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Irving Park  |  July 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    To be clear, the layoffs today were NOT the ones related to the school closings. They were all incremental to that and related to school budgets. (At least that is my understanding and is what is stated in the article if you read closely….).

  • 2. MayfairMama  |  July 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    That is true. My husband just got the call. He’ll be looking for work in the suburbs and we’ll be moving. I am absolutely livid right now.

  • 3. RL Julia  |  July 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    This is just horrible. On the other hand, I loved BEZ’s coverage of the Blaine school principal at city council yesterday.

  • 4. Irving Park  |  July 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    http://www.suntimes.com/21411000-761/cps-calls-teachers-mom-to-tell-him-hes-getting-laid-off.html

    Very sorry about your news, MayfairMama.

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Busted 🙂 I’m rushing to get a plane and just skimmed it.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 6. Marketing Mom  |  July 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    My heart to goes out to good teachers that are losing their jobs due to these difficult economic times. A year ago this time, we all were nervous about whether teachers were going to be on strike. Fast forward a year later after a contentious strike with 49 schools closing, looming pension obligations and thousands in CPS being laid off we are in an unfortunate situation.

  • 7. cpsobsessed  |  July 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    So are these the layoffs that individial principals decided but everyone finds outt today?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 8. Counterpoint for discussion  |  July 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    The Deomcratic party allowed the system to get bloated, and the Democratic party is going to cause the CPS to loose weight.

    Too bad the D’s do not have a conscience of the lives they effect.

    Question: Will CPS parents still get a WIC, LINK, Section 8, and social security disability for aloholism while teachers scramble for employment so that their house is not forclosed?

    America

  • 9. Irving Park  |  July 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Yes. But individual principals didn’t get to hand-pick all as there are rules regarding tenure, etc. So not as if they could freely pick and use this as the opportunity to get the “bad” teachers out. Does someone in the know know specifically how this works?

  • 10. Brad  |  July 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Good thing we have all that TIF money sitting there not educating our kids.

  • 11. junior  |  July 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    It is very sad to hear about teachers losing their jobs and kids losing their teachers. Hopefully this will add some pressure in Springfield to fix the pension mess, so that maybe these positions can be restored before the school year starts. What’s that you say? CTU is not supporting pension reform? (Hmmm… do the laid of teachers have any voice in CTU?). Well, I guess it’s up to the parent groups to take up the pension reform mantle… ….

    So, Plan B. Just have your LSC vote to reject the layoffs. Voila! Problem solved! That was easy… Your welcome!

    And in the unlikely event that those two options fail, don’t worry at all! I have a Plan C. I call it the “Detroit” option. Stay tuned.

  • 12. mom2  |  July 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Agree that it is terrible for the kids and the teachers. Totally agree that we must fix the pension mess NOW! I don’t want to move away from the city, but I’ve never been closer at considering it than I am now. Between CPS, the violence in the city and the state of Illinois and all the mess that comes with that (including crazy very high in-state tuition at U of I), I am very ready to get out of here (and my kids are the lucky ones in very good CPS schools).

  • 13. dee  |  July 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    I’m sorry for anyone who loses a job, but this is payback, and Rahm has the last laugh. Teachers should have considered this before they issued a strike. To the Mayfair mom who is moving to the burbs — you won’t regret it. You’re doing a far better thing for your children.

  • 14. Charla  |  July 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Ok, most neighborhood schools suck. Let’s just say it. So, let’s fuck them up EVEN MORE so fewer middle-class white people buy homes in Chicago, reducing the tax base and causing our schools to even further rot. BRILLIANT FUCKING IDEAS, ASSHOLES!

  • 15. Teacher  |  July 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I received an email this afternoon that I will be transferred to the welcoming school. They fired some and notified others that we have positions, all on the same day. That’s CPS for you!

  • 16. MayfairMama  |  July 19, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    My husband is a tenured teacher. He was told he got the boot because he didn’t have an ESL certificate. Others who did got to keep their jobs.

  • 17. Former CPS  |  July 19, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    @9 – From http://www.ctunet.com/rights-at-work/layoff-rights

    Who is laid off?

    If only some (but not all) of the teachers in your school are laid off, the order of layoff within unit and certification area is:

    Unsatisfactory rated teachers
    Subs or TAT’s
    PAT’s by rating tier—209-250; then 251-284, etc.
    Tenured teachers rated Sat
    All other teachers by seniority [See Contract Appendix H, Sec 3]

  • 18. North Center Mom  |  July 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    According to the article, these are all teachers and staff from schools. Does anyone know if any CPS central office staff have been fired since Emanuel became mayor? And can anyone here speak to the efficiency of the central office (bloated vs. lean)?

  • 19. Patricia  |  July 19, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Pension reform is a big part (if not most) of the solution to this mess. Back of the envelope thoughts…………. Let’s say pension reform of $200million per year (Madigan’s proposal was $250million annually), build in some give to get it passed of $50million per year.

    Then, have the mayor declare a $100million TIF surplus. Or find some way to legally restructure TIF to have interest up to $100million annually when a surplus is declared go directly to schools.

    That is $300 million ANNUALLY, not just one time (IF they are able to structure TIFs as noted above, otherwise 100mi is just one time.)

    This would equal = about $450,000 per school annually.

    Lot’s schools can do with $450k per year. A lot of teaching jobs saved. Think about it, no other way to get here unless you have pension reform.

  • 20. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Rahm knew abt the pension and it would have to be paid, yet he dictated a longer day and now he can’t fund it…guess that ‘fuller’ day will be one of the ’emptiest’ days in IL. He really has screwed the CPS kids. Now I know why so many middle class ppl are leaving the City…

    11. junior | July 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    I know you and I don’t agree on much but your plan ‘c’ is def where Chicago is heading.

  • 21. anonymouse teacher  |  July 19, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    @17, the important thing to note there is the “within certification and unit” piece. At my school, several teachers with high ratings (and some with low ones), tenure and 20+ years of experience lost their job because they didn’t have ESL or bilingual. What many principals are being forced to do, is cut bilingual/ESL pullout teachers as these are auxillary staff so they can keep homeroom teachers. They then are still required to serve those ESL/bilingual students and are doing so by requiring all the homeroom teachers have either ESL or bilingual certification. (sort of like requiring all homeroom teachers to be sped certified and not having any sped teachers) That way the school saves money and can meet the letter of the law regarding bilingual kids even if it can’t meet the spirit of it.

    My principal point blank told me that my certification saved my job. I have far less experience in Chicago than many people who got laid off. I believe it is Loyola University which is no longer allowing any of its elementary ed grads to graduate without having ESL or bilingual certification and there is discussion at the state level (I’ve heard) of requiring all teachers in the state of IL to have one or the other. There is also the issue of lifting caps on how many sped students can be in a classroom and how many kids a sped teacher can serve. If that happens, principals could then lay off anyone without sped and just have the homeroom teachers (and require them to have sped too) serve their sped kids, so they don’t have to pay for sped teachers.

    I don’t know that this will happen with sped, but it is definitely happening with ESL/ Bilingual and I’m telling you, one teacher cannot meet the needs of so many kids with so many needs. This will hurt not only children who are learning English, but all their peers who speak it as a first language. At some point, teachers can’t do it all. Its a mess.

  • 22. JMOChicago  |  July 19, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    My understanding from speaking to principals is that it isn’t the principals choice to cut bilingual staff and services (pullout services). The state is no longer funding those positions. They have been steadily decreasing their support/funding for ELL resources for the last few years. This means that homeroom teachers will have to provide those ELL services in the main classroom through differentiation. However, because it will be practically impossible to track the number of minutes provided for students with an LEP, who knows if those students will actually get the minutes needed. P.S. For the parents of non-ELL students, this will also affect your child as those students will require additional attention from one teacher versus participating in ancillary sessions away from the homeroom. This is a very big deal, as is the push that the State and CPS (Jesse Ruiz is on both boards) to get as many self-contained special ed students into main classrooms…whether they will benefit or not. This won’t just affect Chicago, by the way. It will affect all Districts in the State of Illinois unless they divert their own District funding to pick up the costs of more resources for LEP and IEP students. Anyone who knows more about this than I do? I would welcome your perspective.

  • 23. anonymouse teacher  |  July 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Ah, JMO, you are correct. My bad. However, the result is still the same. Even though the state isn’t funding as many bilingual pull out teachers, schools are still required to serve those students resulting in the de facto requirement of homeroom teachers needing either ESL or bilingual endorsements. And you are right, one teacher in a homeroom simply cannot serve all those needs through differentiation. It will affect all districts, yes, but it will affect CPS way more than most other places because we started off in such a bad place to begin with. (plus some places don’t have nearly as many ELLs as Chicago does) Other places still have wiggle room, and some places have lots of wiggle room. If you only have 18 kids in a classroom and 4 reading specialists, art, music, tech, library and daily PE, cuts are much less serious than if you already have 35 in a room with no reading specialists, a disproportionate amount of sped kids who aren’t getting the minutes they need anyways and the poverty levels we see in Chicago,etc.

  • 24. cpsteacher  |  July 20, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I am curious if anyone knows why there were dozens of job listings on the CPS website right before the layoffs, only to be removed on the day of the layoffs. If that many positions were open (and I was only looking @ half of the city), they why are they laying off teachers?

  • 25. Bleak  |  July 20, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Are the announced lay offs imposed by CPS or do they reflect the cumulative decisions of each principal/LSC?

  • 26. teachers_wife_cps  |  July 20, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Is there any list where you can find out what schools cut positions. I am concerned about my husband’s job and I am not sure if they made all the calls yesterday….or not. Fearful

  • 27. anonymouse teacher  |  July 20, 2013 at 11:58 am

    @26, no list anywhere. Can your husband call his principal at home (mine gives us her number) and or email the principal? I called mine yesterday, even though I knew I was probably safe, just to be sure. I don’t know about everywhere, but principals for the most part, knew who’d have to go and who wouldn’t and at least at my school, ours had already talked to people back in June. She wanted to give everyone as much notice as possible. I don’t think there were too many surprises for most staff.

  • 28. CarolA  |  July 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    FYI: today I received a letter from CPS letting me know that if Any teacher needs counseling assistance due to this turbulent year, they are available and will be covered under the insurance. I will be needing it soon if things continue like this.

  • 29. Parent of 3rd grader @ a CPS charter school.  |  July 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Educator Jobs: Its not CPS, but it does involve helping students. If that is truly your passion, then this is something to consider.

    NO, it doesn’t pay as much as CPS, but some salary vs None or Unemployment is an option to review.

    http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Magic-Johnson-Opens-Alternative-Schools-In-Chicago-215850071.html?__hstc=223762052.1729239391f26da4274ebc9cbac66770.1374340371668.1374340371668.1374340371668.1&__hssc=223762052.3.1374340371668#ixzz2ZVMJlpiA

  • 30. T Piper  |  July 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Well when the tax base is shrinking and the private sector in losing jobs, the Chicago Teachers Union continues to demand pay increases well beyond inflation, pay levels much higher than skill set and performance and gold plated benefits packages. These costs need to be offset somewhere and that somewhere is job cuts. This is just the start. High pay, poor performance and crappy economy = bankruptcy. Detroit is Chicago’s future. Those cushy pensions will be cut to zero due to the Teachers Union’s greed.

  • 31. Chris  |  July 21, 2013 at 4:29 am

    “Rahm knew abt the pension and it would have to be paid, yet he dictated a longer day and now he can’t fund it”

    And the shorter day saved costs how, exactly? Teachers got a smaller raise than they had taken away from last contract; even with stupid 5.75 day, would have had pension driven layoffs.

  • 32. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 21, 2013 at 6:03 am

    May be~but a 6.5hr day would have minimally impacted the budget at the time and the ppl that are being layed off are are ones he hired for the longer day~so now Rahm can’t fund the longer day. He could only sustain it for one year. If he would have expanded he longer day to IL avg, he wouldn’t look like such a failure in the eyes of parents who are now realizing that their schools will be even worse off because of him. Those parents are coming together and working together because of him~his major constituents on the Northside lakefront haved voice major criticism over his tactics.

  • 33. NBCT Vet  |  July 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    @11 junior,

    Actually, the CTU has spent considerable time and effort negotiating for pension reform. There is, obviously, a sticking point: the CTU wants reliable revenue to be part of any solution. Legislators, the governor, and the mayor refuse to consider revenue as part of a solution. The only thing they will consider is the reduction of teacher compensation.

    Paul Krugman brings up a relevant point that applies to the is current “crisis”: we’re going to cut current benefits in order to avoid the possibility of being forced to cut benefits down the road. That makes no sense.

    By the way, teachers have already been victimized by cuts – massive layoffs in 2 out of the last 3 years, 100+ school closures, retraction of a 4% raise, and, yes, pension reductions for employees hired after January 1, 2011. When will enough be enough?

    We need to remember that the Board failed to contribute to pensions for 10 years from ’95-’05. The Board is also on a $1.2 billion pension holiday covering three years.

    The CTU has presented options to legislators that solves the pension crisis and fully funds teacher pensions. The solution is a long term one that takes place over a span of about 30 years. The mayor, the Board, and legislators won’t touch it with a ten foot pole because it doesn’t fulfill their broader goals of destroying unions and privatizing public services.

    Had the Board simply chosen to invest all the money it was required to invest in pensions there would be no pension crisis at all. There used to be money legally set aside specifically for pension contributions. When that legal obligation was removed under mayoral control so was any incentive for funding pensions.

    Any solution that asks one and only one stakeholder (teachers) to solve a problem created by someone else (legislators, CPS, and Chicago mayors) is totally unacceptable.

  • 34. local  |  July 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Say that CTU will be destroyed. Then what, given current and expected future circumstances? What would CPS schools look like over the next 10, 20, 30 years? Would they be attractive to all city residents?

  • 35. junior  |  July 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    @33 NBCTVet

    I think you really lose credibility when you say that CTU has been negotiating *for* pension reform. Don’t you mean negotiating *against* pension reform?

    Lobbying for every flavor of tax increase in order to avert pension reform seems to be their position does not count as “pension reform”. I’ll give you a chance to retract/amend your statement before we unleash the hounds.

  • 36. RJ  |  July 22, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I see schools closing, but big pet projects being developed downtown. It’s never enough money except for political patronage at the expense of children.

  • 37. Chris  |  July 22, 2013 at 8:53 am

    “I think you really lose credibility when you say that CTU has been negotiating *for* pension reform. Don’t you mean negotiating *against* pension reform?”

    1. They are definitely lobbying *for* pension reform–reform of the way that the State provides funding for local teacher pensions. This is a big, controversial piece of IL pension reform proposals. When one ignores that as a *part* of being “for” pension reform, one loses credibility.

    2. That said, I’ve asked before, and *never* been referred to an actual *proposal* (that goes beyond “raise taxes”) from any of the IL unions. They all like to claim that they have provided proposals for reform, but none of them can actually cite to a bona fide *reform proposal* (bc “raise taxes” aint reform).

  • 38. Chris  |  July 22, 2013 at 9:03 am

    “May be~but a 6.5hr day would have minimally impacted the budget at the time ”

    But I didn’t see CTU offering up 6.5 (by encouraging and lobbying individual schools to *not* opt for the ‘lunch at the end of the day’ 5.75 BS schedule) everywhere–6.5 was what some parents wanted, and CTU was *not* their friend on that one, even tho they had a lot of influence over changing it.

    And saying “but our school had 6.5, so it was fine” is an elitist cop out. Our school, too, had a 6.5 day, but I don’t think the old system served the district as a whole well, and–even if the only real result of the extra 30 minutes we got was everyone gets 5 more minutes to eat lunch–I think that 7 hours serves the “typical” CPS family better than 6.5 (and much better than 5.75, tho I am happy that it’s not 7.5), You want more time for your kids to do extracurriculars–great; but then you are NOT the ‘typical’ CPS family.

  • 39. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 22, 2013 at 9:44 am

    38. Chris | July 22, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Our school was 5.75 that wanted IL avg of 6.5hr ~CTU was not allowed to bargain over hours. You’re correct, my neighbors and I (along w/other CPS communities who wanted 6.5) aren’t the ‘typical’ CPS family~obviously Rahm sees CPS as one-size-fits-all instead of unique communities. CPS is too big and needs to be divided into districts. All the data Rahm said was for the longer day, was for at-risk school/students~not all of CPS is at-risk. Now we just have the UNfunded LONGEST school day bc Rahm can’t afford 7hr day.

  • […] CPS Laying off 2,000+  CPS Obsessed: Well, it’s a sad day for many staff members affected by school closings.  Sad especially because these people taught in areas where families were leaving the neighborhoods because they we’re necessarily a great place to live or housing changes reduced the family population.  But those who stuck it out have been hit hard with closing schools and now layoffs. However our budget situation is also sad.  There isn’t enough money right now to set up our school system the way (I think everyone would agree) it needs to work effectively. […]

  • 41. cpsobsessed  |  July 22, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Do the laid off CPS employees (teachers and support staff) get severance pay?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 42. Chris  |  July 22, 2013 at 10:32 am

    “Our school was 5.75 that wanted IL avg of 6.5hr”

    Your school could have had a 6.5 hour day every year before this one, but continued to opt for 5.75? Sounds like the *parents* wanted 6.5, but the *teachers* did not. Had CTU been on board with a 6.5 day for all 10 years ago, that would have weakened the ‘longer day’ leverage.

    Yes, I think everyone involved (CPS, Rahm, CTU, individual teachers, principals, etc etc) get part of the blame on that one.

  • 43. junior  |  July 22, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Here’s where CTU celebrates defeating a pension reform, bill while lamenting that “pension reform is not dead”….

    http://www.ctunet.com/legislative/protect-our-pensions

    Lots more where that came from…

    Of course CTU is against pension reform. That’s their job. If they were my union, I’d want them to do their job and fight against pension reform. Why can’t we at least be honest about what their job is instead of pretending that they are an education advocacy organization?

  • 44. Mayfair Dad  |  July 22, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    I read somewhere that approximately 60% of laid-off CPS teachers will return to work in another CPS school. Out of the remaining 40%, surely some will land new jobs at a Catholic or suburban school. So how many impacted teachers will remain unemployed, and is it possible this process will weed out the under-performers? (Please understand I am not making light of anyone’s hardship but trying to see the big picture). Some neighborhoods/suburbs are gaining population while other neighborhoods/suburbs are losing population. Does this situation actually redistribute teachers to where they are most needed? If I were a professional educator, I’d think long and hard about moving my family to a booming area where teachers will be in high demand over the next 20 years. Ideally in an economically solvent state NOT Illinois. Warm weather would be nice, too.

  • 45. Patricia  |  July 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    @33 NBCT Vet
    “Any solution that asks one and only one stakeholder (teachers) to solve a problem created by someone else (legislators, CPS, and Chicago mayors) is totally unacceptable”

    How on earth can you not include CTU in the list of stakeholders that are part of creating the pension problem? The underfunding was approved by the CTU. The pension crisis has been known for a LONG time under the CTU’s watch. While all are to blame, especially legislators, you cannot hold CTU harmless in the pension mess. They are part of the problem, they need to be part of the solution and the solution cannot be “just raise taxes”. Defined contribution maybe? Changing to a fair, yet realistic retirement health insurance? Keep it fair for those close to retirement?

    The CTU “just say no to anything” approach on EVERYTHING is a stranglehold on any improvements. I just don’t think people want status quo anymore.

  • 46. local  |  July 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Well, at least HS Connections kicked off today for incoming freshmen at Jones. Rah!

  • 47. Mayfair Dad  |  July 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    @Patricia: the truth is we can’t afford status quo anymore, and paying more taxes isn’t the answer. Plenty of blame to go around, now let’s give the blame game a rest just long enough to fix the problem. Many people applauded when Quinn suspended legislators’ paychecks until a pension reform bill was hashed out. Isn’t this lay-off a variation of the same “tough love” approach? Isn’t the implication teaching positions will be restored once pension reform is achieved?

  • 48. OutsideLookingIn  |  July 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    @Mayfair Dad #44 – Vegas, baby, Vegas. They want CPS teachers.

  • 49. junior  |  July 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    @47 MFD

    Fixing problems is nice, but causing them is soooo much more fun.

  • 50. Chris  |  July 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    “Many people applauded when Quinn suspended legislators’ paychecks until a pension reform bill was hashed out. Isn’t this lay-off a variation of the same “tough love” approach?”

    I haven’t noticed CTU caring too much about their ex-members–whether retirees or the laid off. Which, as noted by junior, ain’t really their job.

    That they bargained away pension benefits for the not-yet (as of 1-1-11) members is part and parcel.

    Still would appreciate *anyone* linking to CTU’s proposal.

    Or defending “get another job” as a solution for someone facing foreclosure (aka ‘just raise taxes’).

  • 51. CarolA  |  July 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    For all those against anything regarding CTU teachers get paid (benefits or pay), please, oh please, offer your wise solutions. Then please call Rahm and let him know so all this can be solved before I go back to school on August 19th! It would be so nice to have a calm start to this school year where parents aren’t furious with us as we greet their children with open arms and smiles on the first day of school the following week. Thank you.

  • 52. Chris  |  July 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Carol:

    Not against pay or benefits or (even) pension.

    Do object to the “CTU has proposed a pension reform plan” stuff, as the only IL union-sponsored plan I’ve seen anywhere is “raise taxes”.

    Show me the plan!

    Also, I wish the union rank&file would get behind caps on pensions from all state sources–so that no one has to deal with the folks getting $200k in retirement. The optics are unfair to the ‘typical’ pensioneer.

  • 53. anonymouse teacher  |  July 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I really don’t know what the answer to any of this is. I do think that anyone going into teaching should plan as if the pension either won’t be there at all or barely there. My spouse and I are both educators and we are saving 25% of our income (I hope to get it higher too) because we don’t have faith the pension will be there for us. I assume that other professions do the same thing, though teachers don’t get social security, I think all of us on this board are smart enough to know that is going to disappear too.

  • 54. CarolA  |  July 22, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Anon: You are right. Any reasonable person, no matter what their field of employment is, should be saving for their own future. We have all heard about hits on Social Security and pensions for quite some time. Make the changes and move on. People closer to retirement should have planned ahead and young ones have plenty of time to save. I have always lived BELOW my means and some people like to live paycheck to paycheck. Don’t buy that expensive house . Don’t buy your kids the fancy video systems. Stop smoking. You don’t need the name brand items. You don’t need that fancy vacation. Etc. etc. it can be done. Just do it.

  • 55. cpsobsessed  |  July 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Totally agree about people needing to be prepared not to get the retirement $, as depressing as it is. It just seems like if teachers were on the social security system then they’d be in the same boat as the rest of the citizens and faced with the same risks.
    It seems unfair (both positively and negatively) that teachers can get a much more generous retirement than most people OR potentially risk losing it all because the state mismanaged.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 56. CarolA  |  July 22, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    We contribute to Medicare so I don’t know why we just don’t convert to the whole system of Social Security. I’m not sure how it would work for someone like me who is near retirement and only has contributions from back when I was under 21 years old. Not enough to collect a benefit although if I didn’t have a city pension I could collect on my husband’s account. I guess maybe they could pay me my pension based on what I have so far and then allow the future paychecks have social security deductions. New hires would just be on Social Security. hmmmmm. Too many things to think about but it sure seems like someone somewhere just needs to decide and do it. That’s what they did with the layoffs. Just did it. Move on.

  • 57. cps alum  |  July 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    @56– if we converted to Social Security then the city/state would be required to give the fed government 6.2% for the employer portion of social security. The city/state would not be able to declare any SS holidays… year in and year out they would be REQUIRED to contribute. They city/state can’t manage to contribute to the pension, how are they going to contribute to Social Security.

  • 58. Rfr6231  |  July 22, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Carol, as another pensioner, I absolutely agree. There needs to be a giant change. I have only been a pensioner for 15 years, before that contributed to SS. Some lifelong pension employees will depend entirely on it, but perhaps put a limiting time frame until retirement, then pay out everyone else. Pensions= poverty for cities and corporations unfortunately.

  • 59. IB obsessed  |  July 22, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    @57 and that’s why they set up a pension separate from SS in the 1st place, no wiggle room.

  • 60. cpsemployee  |  July 23, 2013 at 6:40 am

    @cpsobsessed – No, CPS employees do not get severance pay

  • 61. Patricia  |  July 23, 2013 at 8:58 am

    @51 CarolA. I am so glad that it seems you are still teaching in CPS and were not cut. While I don’t know you beyond this blog, I always appreciate your comments. I just want to echo back a clip from a prior string. We had a discussion about how parents can love their good teachers, yet be angry and frustrated with the CTU. Just like people can love their current school community, yet hate CPS. For me at least, when I rant on CTU, it is not a rant on the good teachers—especially someone like you.

    @47 Mayfair Dad. Agree,it sure would be nice to stop the blame game and fix the problem. It seems no amount of “tough love” will create movement.

    @anonymouse. Saving for ones own retirement is a way of life for most and you are smart to be doing so IMO. Most people do not count on social security for retirement and it will certainly have to be supplemented by ones own 401k and other savings. Interesting idea to transition back to social security. Or at least a defined contribution model. I personally think it would be better to have a system where the corrupt legislators (Madigan & Cullerton) did not have the option to use pensions as a credit card.

  • 62. Danaidh  |  July 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Re: @59 IB Obsessed writes “and that’s why they set up a pension separate from SS in the 1st place, no wiggle room.”

    Actually, the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund was established by the Illinois legislature in 1895, and the Social Security Act by Congress 40 years later, in 1935. The pension is older than SS.

    Also, where Chicago teachers work a second job and pay into Social Security (as required by law), because of their pension, they are not allowed to draw down even the amount they paid in to the program.

  • 63. anonymouse teacher  |  July 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    I am beginning to hear from friends about both the cuts to their schools and or personal layoffs. Very drastic. So many Chicago homes that will go into foreclosure. So many students who will not get the services they need. Its really shocking even though it was expected.

  • 64. local  |  July 23, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Interesting comment from Rod Estvan on the CPS financial collapse: http://www.chicagonow.com/district-299-chicago-public-schools-blog/2013/07/xian-barrett-laid-off-again/#comment-21474

  • 65. LR  |  July 23, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    @44: Mayfair Dad: Will this redistribute teachers to where they are most needed? Possibly. But, I’m not so optimistic to say that this will weed out under-performers. I just don’t have that much faith in CPS. My fear is that they rely heavily on test scores to define teacher performance. My kids go to 2 RGC’s and I can tell you that one teacher we had who most certainly has great test scores (because she teaches at an RGC) is the worst teacher of all time and should be fired. But she won’t be. Sadly, they will probably fire some less experienced but wonderful teacher.

  • 66. CPS Parent  |  July 24, 2013 at 7:41 am

    65. LR Teachers are laid-off according to a set of rules which involve seniority and specialization in specific subjects or skills which is matched to needs.

    The only teachers who essentially fall outside of this rule based protection are teachers in the lowest performance category as determined by their performance review which does not include a student test based component yet. These low performing teachers will be the first to be let go then new (un-tenured) teachers as well as those who have done little continuing education to become specialized.

    This is all specified in the CPS CTU employment contract and if a principal doesn’t follow the rules a teacher can lodge a protest with CPS through their union.

  • 67. CarolA  |  July 24, 2013 at 7:59 am

    @61 Patricia: Thanks for your kind comments. Yes, I am still employed, but sadly I don’t know for how long. I read in the papers that principals can layoff teachers for the reason “change in academic focus”. That’s a pretty broad category. Yes, there is a ladder of layoff order, but if a teacher is not certified in ELL and/special ed, there’s a mighty chance they won’t be rehired anywhere. Even though I have great test scores and a great rating from previous years as well as the “pretend” rating from last year, I do not have those certifications. I have heard from others in my school that several teachers were already let go for that reason. They have less experience than me, but I’m not convinced that matters anymore. In fact, I am too costly. I don’t think I have much time left before I’m next. Time will tell. I wish they’d offer a buy out.

  • 68. Alcott cuts  |  July 24, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Dear Alcott Community,

    I trust that you are all getting some well-earned rest over the summer. As you know CPS continues to go through changes. New mandates and processes continue to be proposed. This year unlike any other; the budget crisis and the new per pupil budgeting system has created additional burdens at all levels. At Alcott we began with a major shortfall. Because of our low student population, our concern was not having the ability to keep the single grade classrooms intact as well as other programming at the East campus. At the West campus we stood to lose 2 positions, forcing a change in our vision and the direction of creating a college prep school. After many conversations with CPS, a good portion of the funds were recovered and the SGSA rollover funds have been made available now rather than in November. At West, its curriculum and instruction organization will remain intact. We are still short a half time position but our conversations with CPS continue.

    Attached you will find the agenda for tomorrow’s LSC meeting. I am asking that the LSC approve the SGSA rollover funds to rescind the closing of one of the East campus positions during the budget process in June; rescinding this action will allow for all of our classrooms to be a single grade.

    Currently at East we will not have a teacher for the primary science lab. The teacher will be placed in a classroom. The science lab will continue to be utilized by all of our primary teachers teaching science. In addition, the computer lab will not have a teacher in place. However, the integration of technology and instruction will continue. Due to the loss of these positions there will be organizational changes. As you may know, CPS just recently released the layoff notices and I am currently communicating with all those staff members that have been affected. A new organization will be shared with Alcott community as soon as these conversations have been completed.

    We are far from where we want to be but we are making great progress. Alcott is an extraordinary community; always rising to the challenge. Your ongoing efforts, passion, and dedication will never allow for failure. It is truly a pleasure to work for you.

  • 69. DZV  |  July 24, 2013 at 11:18 am

    @anonymouse and MayfairMama,
    I, too, got my call. As a special education teacher in CPS for over 10 years, I am done. I have watched my students be the brunt end of horrible policies. They have been subjected to under-funded, under-staffed, and under-resourced programs. They’ve been shoved into overcrowded classrooms and over-tested on a regular basis. Their IEPs ignored, not receiving any kind of services they were entitled to, while I was told to keep my mouth shut and reprimanded when I questioned what was being done to them.
    I’ve been used as a substitute teacher and recess monitor, unable to service my students in the best possible manner, yet held to a standard that no administrator or CPS itself could even uphold.
    Each year I watch special education students sit without a teacher, tossed around from sub to sub, or I receive a caseload that is not humanly possible to manage.
    This past school year was absolutely horrible. I watched my students’ morale sink lower and lower, while their stress level and dysfunction increased. Along with this, I also watched the morale of our school staff increase to an all time low: their passion and drive diminish like never before.
    The phone call that came last week, is actually a blessing: I’ll be spending the rest of the summer putting my house up for sale and packing for the suburbs.

  • 70. local  |  July 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    A big whiff of the future of higher education: http://chronicle.com/article/The-Gates-Effect/140323/

  • 72. local  |  July 24, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    This is what I’ve heard from students, too.

    From Catalyst-Chicago
    (quote)
    CPS Parent wrote 4 hours 42 min ago
    On line classes

    This is not what I want for my child. Online classes are horrible. At Chicago Ag, they tried this some time ago when Hook closed down the language department. My neighbors were howling about how difficult the classes were and the lack of learning. This online stuff is a disaster and it is not the education service I want in exchange for taxes. Why does my child have to suffer because of Rham’s ego?
    (unquote)

  • 73. Angie  |  July 25, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Why does my child have to suffer because of the union greed?

    “The budget, with $68 million in school-based budget cuts reducing core instruction spending by 3.5 percent, enraged parents who have seen their school’s principals forced to slash spending.

    The preliminary budget includes a $93 million increase in salaries from union contracts. ”

    Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-cps-officials-closing-budget-deficit-to-include-tapping-reserves-property-tax-hike-20130724,0,3636467.story

  • 74. Chris  |  July 25, 2013 at 6:37 am

    ” it is not the education service I want in exchange for taxes”

    That’s crazy easy for any one of us to say, but how many here actually pay enough in CPS taxes (not the whole tax bill, just the CPS portion) to pay the per student funding for *one* kid? Ignoring pensions, and capital spending, and central office, just that inadequate $4,xxx per student.

    As much as I believe that the current funding situation is a mistake, once anyone starts talking about “what *i* get for the taxes *I* pay”, the disccussion of funding for public education gets a whole lot trickier–the system only works if everyone is in it together, and the vast majority of Chicago (including all the commercial property owners) ‘gets’ a whole lot less for their tax dollars than we parents.

  • 75. CarolA  |  July 25, 2013 at 9:33 am

    @73Angie: Thanks for sharing your opinion. It’s always nice to get different points of view. I do have a question for you. Do you feel there is any responsibility of the current debt problems on the part of CPS and/or the City of Chicago? If so, what would that be? Is there any other group/organization that may have contributed to this mess or do you feel this problem is solely because of CTU?

  • 76. Mom of 3  |  July 25, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I just reviewed my DuPage county tax bill for last year and see that 82% of my tax dollars go to the elementary and high school districts. What percentage of the chicago property tax bill goes to CPS?

  • 77. cpsobsessed  |  July 25, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Press release I received:

    Common Sense: Coalition of LSCs for Fair Funding meets with CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-BennettCPS to continue dialogue with the City regarding the use of unencumbered surplus TIF funds to close funding gapCommon Sense: Coalition of LSCs for Fair Funding met this morning with CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and members of her team. Our coalition was represented by LSC members from south, west and north side schools. CEO Byrd-Bennett and other CPS officials listened attentively to our concerns and the Coalition’s position that the City must examine unencumbered TIF funds to close the budget gap that will have a direct impact on our classrooms. We believe this is our only short-term option to ensure our students have the resources they need to be ready on the first day of the new school year.CEO Byrd-Bennett and her team stated that talks with the City continue on the possible use of unencumbered surplus TIF funds and committed to us that they would continue that dialogue. We are pleased that this continues to be an option being explored.CPS confirmed that budgets are now final; no more additional grants will be allocated from CPS reserves to our schools. The Coalition stressed that this is unacceptable and that schools cannot meet the basic educational needs of their students when they open in 32 days. We explained that our legal committee continues its work on exploring all of our available options given the power of LSCs to reject the inadequate budgets being offered. The number of LSCs who have rejected or are considering rejecting their inadequate budgets continues to grow.We also emphasized the strength of our Coalition — 70 LSCs from across the entire City have joined us in our mission to ensure that all budgets are restored and that our children’s needs are met city-wide. The Coalition hand-delivered 26 letters from LSC chairs detailing the impact of their budget shortfalls to CEO Byrd-Bennett and calling on her and the City to push for the declaration of unencumbered TIF surplus funds to be used as a one-time, stop-gap measure, while the State continues to work on pension reform on both the State and City level.We agreed to talk by phone and email over the coming days; we will meet again in person in about 12 days. We are looking forward to working together with CPS and CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett on this critical issue.###
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 78. Angie  |  July 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    @75. CarolA: “Do you feel there is any responsibility of the current debt problems on the part of CPS and/or the City of Chicago? If so, what would that be?”

    Yes, absolutely. They are responsible for letting things get out of hand, and not standing up to the union years ago. Mayor Daley was allergic to strikes, so he just bent over and let CTU have their way with him.

    CPS and the City should not have promised to pay salaries and benefits they could not afford, and they should have been closing the failing half-empty schools all along instead of letting them stay open for so many years.

    There is a limited amount of money in the budget to work with, and if more of it is diverted to salaries and benefits, or to unnecessary capital expenses, then there is less remaining for everything else. It’s a simple math that the unions pretend not to understand, and they go on strikes when they don’t get their way. Which brings us to the other thing that should have been done: changing the Illinois laws to prohibit the teacher strikes altogether. 37 states out of 50 have done it already, and for a good reason. Children should not suffer and be held hostage in the grown ups’ salary negotiations.

  • 79. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    77. cpsobsessed | July 25, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    “CPS confirmed that budgets are now final”~I’m surprised by this CPS has been stating that the budget is NOT final, the numbers will not be final until the BOE passes it at their Aug.BOE meeting. Is it just no additional funds will be allocated from reserves, bc that number is still subject to changing as well.

    78. Angie | July 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t see any benefit for our state to have a law prohibiting teachers to strike~it’s the only bargaining power they have and they face a lot of opposition if it goes on too long ~same as the mayor. May be we should have a law that requires the BOE to be elected.

  • 80. Patricia  |  July 25, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    CPSO thanks for posting the press release. I think from a parent perspective it makes sense to ask for TIF as a short-term, one-time measure to stop significant cuts at some schools. However, the reality is that when the politics plays out with pensions and Springfield, all a TIF surplus would do is kick the can down the road and allow for more delays on pension reform. All the politicians would duck for cover, the CTU would have pushed off pension reform yet another year and the schools would remain on unstable financial footing. So the same broken record would play again next year.

    I do like the idea of a combination as I posted before with $200 million annual pension reform and then $100 million TIF surplus each year it is realized. That amounts to about $450,000 per school annually. You really do not get very far unless you have pension reform.

  • 81. Angie  |  July 25, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    79. SoxSideIrish4 : “I don’t see any benefit for our state to have a law prohibiting teachers to strike~it’s the only bargaining power they have and they face a lot of opposition if it goes on too long ~same as the mayor. ”

    No, it is not their only power. CTU spends a lot of money for political contributions, so let them lobby for things they want instead of kicking the children out of schools to get them.

  • 82. Observer  |  July 25, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Angie lives in a very expensive area of the north side. Her HOH child is enrolled at a “good school” Angie does not know what children and staff experience at a ” bad school” i.e. low scores, high poverty, overcrowded classrooms. Angie needs to tour one of these schools.
    Angie has been mudslinging at the teachers since the strike-for some reason it infuriated her and for some reason she just loves Rahm A Damn A Ding Dong.

    Angie is a teacher hater and no one is going to change her mind-so sad.

  • 83. CarolA  |  July 25, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Angie: Thanks for responding. Based on that response, I can gather that (in your opinion) the city and state have not contributed to anything leading up to this crisis that is not directly related to the teachers. In that case, I have to agree to Observer@82. You are entitled to your opinion, of course, but I believe we would all be better served on this blog if people are able to (at the minimum) consider other points of view. I didn’t say agree. I said consider.

  • 84. Angie  |  July 25, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Finally, some real numbers. Once again, the school-based budget cuts total $68 million. Read the paragraph below and do your own math.

    “In addition to the employer contribution, employees also are required by statute to contribute 9 percent of their salary to pensions (called the “employee contribution”). However, CPS pays 7 percent of the 9 percent for a total of $128.5 million budgeted in FY2014 for participants in CTPF. Non-teacher employees are part of a separate, municipal pension system. CPS also pays 7 percent of the 8.5 percent employee contribution at a cost of $39.8 million in FY2014.”

    Source: http://www.cps.edu/finance/FY14budget/pages/pensions.aspx

  • 85. James  |  July 25, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    78 Angie —

    Preach, sister! Sometimes the truth hurts or makes certain folks uncomfortable. But it remains the truth.

  • 86. lurking CPS teacher  |  July 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    @ 84 Here’s my favorite part of that little article:
    “As recently as June 30, 2001, CTPF had a funded ratio of 100 percent and according to state law CPS did not have to make an employer contribution. By June 30, 2004, the funded ratio had dropped to 86 percent (it has continued dropping since that time) and CPS was statutorily required in FY2006 to begin making employer contributions.”
    So, am I to assume that even though CPS had agreed contractually to make those payments, they just decided since they were not “statutorily required” to make the agreed payments, they would just skip them for 5 years? Didn’t anyone on the Board realize that this would be the end result? It’s like buying something that you really can’t afford on credit with no interest for two years, not saving the money needed to pay the debt before the time is up, and then having to pay for the item purchased and the accrued interest. I would call that grossly fiscally irresponsible.

  • 87. CarolA  |  July 25, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    @85 James: Preaching isn’t going to solve the problem. I go back to my post @51. Cast blame wherever you want. How are you going to solve it? Figure it out, then call Rahm. At this point, it’s not about pointing the finger of blame. It’s about fixing it! I’m fine with switching over to Social Security. I would want some sort of benefit from what I’ve already contributed to my pension though. It’s a sticky mess and I don’t have time to figure it out, but there has to be someone who can.

  • 88. CPS Parent  |  July 26, 2013 at 8:29 am

    86. lurking CPS teacher – No, the funding could have stayed at 100% without CPS contributions due to returns on the invested money (pension dollars are invested in financial instruments by large fund managers) but they did not after 2004. Mayor Daley then asked the State to allow CPS to skip payments which he should not have done. It was beneficial for him though in that all the “stakeholders” were kept appeased – for instance the CTU was able to negotiate very nice pay increases during that period.

  • 89. CPS Parent  |  July 26, 2013 at 9:04 am

    87. CarolA – Rahm is figuring out – unlike Daley who kicked the can down the road. By the way, “pension reform” is code for “less pension benefits” so beware of that – you have earned it, don’t let them reduce it.

    The solution is to make sure money isn’t wasted by CPS such as having way too many schools with the attendant cost of up-keep, administrators, janitors, etc. By trimming expenses, over time, CPS should be able to fund the pensions as long as it keeps up with yearly contributions if they are needed. If the economy keeps improving the amount yearly needed will go down since the earnings on the invested pension dollars will start to normalize.

  • 90. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  July 26, 2013 at 9:26 am

    @88 No! That’s exactly what gets pension funds in trouble; the employers stop putting in when the pension is fully funded (IL actually allowed them to not contribute when it was either 90% or 95% funded). But markets shift and so pensions need contributions even when they appear to be fully funded. A number of actuaries argue that the assumptions being used by many public pension funds are too rosy and that the pensions are in fact less secure than they appear even when they are fully funded.

    —-

    The total cut to schools is more than $68 million. CPS attributes some to SBB and some to other causes (pension obligations). The true figure is closer to $90 million.

    Sure, the teacher raises could be pay for the $90 million but so could the increase to charter/contract schools (~$85 million), or reducing STEM/IB roll-outs, or a variety of other measures. But no one is asking for any of those to be cut. Instead, we are asking for the return of TIF surpluses. Our objection is that CPS is consenting to diversions of CPS property tax dollars through new TIFs and increases to existing TIF budgets at Joint Review Board meetings and then pushing through higher property levies while cutting funds to the schools.

  • 91. PatientCPSMom  |  July 26, 2013 at 9:30 am

    From the article @84 posted – Does anyone know who’s managing the CTU pension fund? Seems like a big percent (53%) of the issues today are due to poor investment returns and people living longer (12%). Should the fund managers be providing a lot more answers as well as being held accountable for their investment selections?

    Causes of Decline in Funded Ratio

    The funded ratio decreased from 100 percent in 2001 to 54.1 percent in 2012. This was due to a number of factors, as a review of the data by Aon Hewitt for CPS shows:

    More than half (53 percent) of the decrease is due to investment returns below what were projected

    About one-third (34 percent) is due to statutory employer contributions set below what was required to cover “normal cost” (i.e., the value of the benefits earned by employees each year)

    12 percent is due to experience and assumption changes in the actuarial model (such as life expectancy)

    1 percent is due to benefit increases

  • 92. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  July 26, 2013 at 9:40 am

    @89 Except CPS has basically conceded that the 10-year savings, less interest payments on the $200 million bond issuance and the debt to fund the welcoming schools, is somewhere @ $250-300 in total. That’s not even a year’s worth of pension payments. And nothing has been done to address the over-crowding at other schools. The Facilities Master Plan has no plan to reduce over-crowding.

  • 93. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  July 26, 2013 at 9:42 am

    @91
    The sources of the problem — city/CPS failure to pay and state failure to contribute fairly — are detailed here: http://www.ctpf.org/general_info/advocacy/testimony050812.pdf

  • 94. Mayfair Dad  |  July 26, 2013 at 9:55 am

    @78 Angie: I am always amazed when talking to my neighbors about the scourge of public employee unions. There is a disproportionate number of Chicago households who are beholden to the unions through their city jobs as a result of the residency requirement. Nationally, less than 7% of the work force belongs to a union. Of that 7%, the vast majority are members of a public employee union who rely on tax dollars for a paycheck. But at the typical Chicago block party, it seems like the percentages are reversed, and 93% of the people you talk to are cops, firemen, teachers, streets and san, building inspectors, etc., etc., etc. Its a Democratic Machine dystopia and they look at me like I’m the crazy one.

    I’m guessing you get that a lot, too 😉

  • 95. SN dad  |  July 26, 2013 at 10:02 am

    @ 82 Observer:

    When CPS faces huge budget deficit, when everybody else hasn’t seen a raise for several years, CTU has to have a raise? and they are willing to sacrifice our children’s education to get what they want.

    There is a problem, obviously. Good or bad, Rahm is trying to do something about it. Karen Lewis just says no to everything. She even called CPS “racist”, total nonsense. That’s a 3-year old when she is not happy. Until CTU has a reasonable leader who can work with the city, the blame goes to CTU.

    BTW, I’m not a teacher hater. Both of my parents are teachers.

  • 96. PatientCPSMom  |  July 26, 2013 at 10:29 am

    @93 I would still like to hear/see the perspective of the pension fund managers. Does anyone know who they are? I understand the underfunding but where are the comments or acknowledgement from the people who were responsible for managing the return on investments for the pension fund. It’s like we’re all having a conversation about malpractice without the Doctor present.

  • 97. Chris  |  July 26, 2013 at 10:40 am

    76: “What percentage of the chicago property tax bill goes to CPS?”

    It’s 53.5%.

  • 98. King Ph.D.  |  July 26, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Well over a year ago I posted that CPS could not afford the added expense of a longer day, that teachers should not be gettting any raises and that any money saved from these two items should be used to help cover pension expenses. What if we had done the right thing? Imagine if the students enrolled in charter schools had not left the system.

    All these changes combined would have been a great help reducing the financial stress on the system. Getting rid of TIFs and the combined effect might have gotten CPS close to a balanced budget.

    But politics get in the way of doing the right thing. The mayor wanted the longer day but did not want to pay for it. Special interests from inside and outside the state wanted common core, school privatization and online learning. UNO got their fancy school buildings so they could funnel money to ther buddies. Teachers and the CTU wanted more money instead of fighting to fix the pensions.

    In short, every political interest feasted at the trough, while the community and its long term prospects dimmed.

    So it has been a year of heartache and misery for children and their parents. More pain to come….

  • 99. Chris  |  July 26, 2013 at 11:18 am

    “CPS pays 7 percent of the 9 percent for a total of $128.5 million budgeted in FY2014 for participants in CTPF”

    Think through why CPS agreed to do that…

    That 7% was agreed to in lieu of cash salary increases. Why? Does it reduce the EE’s taxable income? Does it reduce the starting point for pension calculations? It’s the same as a private employer giving a 401k match in lieu of a salary increase–the EE gets greater perceived value than the cost to the employer.

    This is one thing *seriously* (yea, really, really seriously folks) to not get wound up about.

  • 100. CPS Parent  |  July 26, 2013 at 11:23 am

    96. PatientCPSMom I have no idea who manages the CPS pensions but until someone tells us you can read up on CalPERS which is the California state pension fund. It is the largest of its type and CPS’s fund probably experienced parallel ups and downs. See the section – Investment income gains and losses 1999-2009

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CalPERS

  • 101. Chris  |  July 26, 2013 at 11:27 am

    91: “Seems like a big percent (53%) of the issues today are due to poor investment returns …. Should the fund managers be providing a lot more answers as well as being held accountable for their investment selections?”

    Um, what should they have been invested in since 2001 to see 138% aggregate return (7.5%/year x 12 years)? Should they have taken the whole pot of money to a casino and bet on Black?

    The assumed growth rates are unrealistic, especially in a near zero interest rate environment. But revising them downward makes the hole even bigger.

  • 102. Angie  |  July 26, 2013 at 11:37 am

    @99. Chris: “That 7% was agreed to in lieu of cash salary increases.”

    No, that’s in addition to salary increases, which will cost CPS $93 million this year. See the article linked in #73.

    And don’t forget that Chicago teachers are already highest-paid among the large urban school districts.

  • 103. RL Julia  |  July 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    The way pensions are funded in general makes it an unstable if not untenable, unsustainable model for workers who (now) live much longer than 18 mos. past their retirement date. Angie/Mayfair Dad – while it is easy and tempting to point the finger at the unions as the sole problem with this whole mess, I think that we can all agree that the problems we are currently encountered cannot be attributed to anyone contingent. No one wants to close schools – not just teachers. I find it suspicious that the central office of CPS has theoretically cut their budget so drastically over the past six years it doesn’t exist five times over (or whatever) but yet it is still there…. that’s a neat trick! Jeopardizing the city’s financial stability by not paying into pensions that effect it’s bond rating in lieu of solving the problems (dismantle the pension system up front, don’t give DePaul money for a stadium, give the TIF money back, blah, blah, blah) in way that preserves a long term future for the city.

  • 105. Observer  |  July 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Incorrect postings @102

    CPS said we they were broke and could NOT offer a raise BUT they did offer to pay the 7% pension pick-up. Now we are being vilified for accepting their offer.Wow!

    New York City which does not have a residency requirement pays more than CPS and this is 2012’s salary. I’m not sure if NYC still has tuition reimbursement which CPS has never offered to its teachers.

    http://www.nctq.org/docs/NYC.pdf

  • 106. veteran  |  July 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    I remember in 1979 CPS was broke and we worked for no pay but we are now the bad guys. I remember teachers, some of whom had spouses who worked for CPS, not being able to buy Christmas presents for their families/sending kids back to college on limited funds. Who else works for a system that is always broke yet spends money on BS?

  • 107. local  |  July 26, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    From WBEZ:

    Is Tilden High spending too much?
    A Curious Citizen’s convinced Chicago’s spending at a struggling high school is ‘absurd.’ We check his back-of-the-envelope math.
    July 25, 2013
    By: Becky Vevea

    http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tilden-high-spending-too-much-108195

  • 108. cpsobsessed  |  July 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    @observer: interesting! I’d say the best scenario would be teaching in another country! Good pay, less work, summers off (?).

    I wonder how other government-paid workers fare in the US vs other countries too (and the tax rate.). The US has pretty low taxes compared to a lot of european countries I think.
    Does the US place less value on teachers/education or do we place less emphasis on taxing for paying govt workers?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 109. Angie  |  July 26, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    @105. Observer :”CPS said we they were broke and could NOT offer a raise BUT they did offer to pay the 7% pension pick-up. Now we are being vilified for accepting their offer.Wow!”

    Are you talking about the current CTU contract? It includes both raise and pension pickup. http://www.ctunet.com/for-members/2012-2015-agreement

    @106. veteran: “I remember in 1979 CPS was broke and we worked for no pay but we are now the bad guys.”

    That was 34 years ago. How many teachers that were affected by this are still working at CPS? How many times CTU have gone on strike for more money since that time? And let’s not forget the arbitrator’s findings about the previous contract.

    “Thus, given the percentage increases actually received by employees under the 2007-2012 Agreement and further considering the additional increases due to step movements over the life of that Agreement actually received, under the 2007-2012 Agreement, the employees did very well — indeed, they did extremely well. And those monetary successes actually achieved by the employees during the 2007-2012 Agreement occurred at a time when the U. S. economy nearly went over the cliff.

    The bottom line here is that the 2007-2012 Agreement overlapped the
    Great Recession; during the Great Recession, the cost of living only increased by 10.33%; notwithstanding the havoc inflicted upon the economy during the Great Recession — and even though the Board withheld the 4% increase for 2011-2012 — employees under the 2007-2012 Agreement nevertheless received 16% in wage increases, which compounded to 16.98%; with step movements
    built into the contract, the employees further received between one and five step increases (with most receiving more than one step increase) which translated into actual percentage wage increases between approximately 19% and 46% during the life of the 2007-2012 Agreement.”

  • 110. Chris  |  July 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Angie: “No, that’s in addition to salary increases, which will cost CPS $93 million this year. See the article linked in #73.”

    NO, you are factually wrong on this one. CPS has been paying that for several (many?) years. The “7% pickup” was merely *continued* by the current contract.

  • 111. junior  |  July 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    The big picture in the money discussion is that we pay CPS teachers at the top of the national pay scale (i.e., the shiny new Cadillac plan), while other CPS expenses are cut to the bone so that we can’t even afford basic supplies in some schools (i.e., the 20-year-old broken down Chevy plan). In what world does that distribution of resources make sense?

    The salary and benefits of teachers represent a majority of the CPS budget, so the ramifications of that distribution are severe. When does it make sense for a broke organization in a terrible economy to raise the pay of its employees by 18% over three years, forcing it later to lay off people?

    Normally, you hear workers who choose to freeze their own pay or take pay cuts so that colleagues can retain their jobs. In CPS, we sustain bloat in one part of the system and keep other parts impoverished. Insane.

  • 112. Chris  |  July 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    re: Pension Pickup:

    We’ve had it at least since 2006 (note–big pdf):

    http://www.nctq.org/docs/4_6812.pdf

  • 113. Chris  |  July 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    “The big picture in the money discussion is that we pay CPS teachers at the top of the national pay scale”

    Um, under what metric is that true, overall (I do *NOT* care about starting salary; most of them just got laid off)? Certainly above-average, overall, but hardly “top”, and pretty consistent with the cost of living here compared to nationally.

    “The salary and benefits of teachers represent a majority of the CPS budget”

    Um, under what style of education would that not be true? What *should* be the majority of the budget?

  • 114. junior  |  July 26, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    @113

    The pay of CPS teachers has been discussed and documented ad nauseum on this board. Plenty out there if you want to confirm. Check the documents submitted to the fact finders report — CPS is at the top of urban districts nationally, with the possible exception of New York, with which they are arguably tied.

    I never said that salary and benefits should not represent a majority of the CPS budget. However, if you want to raise a majority of the budget by 18%, then it follows logically that the rest of the budget will suffer immensely when there are no new revenues.

  • 115. RL Julia  |  July 26, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Hey – at least the vast majority (if not all) of the CPS teachers I know work their butts off under conditions that range from trying to practically inhumane. On the other hand, I have met any number of central office folks who I am certain make a lot more who I cannot for the life of me tell what they do or what their value added is. I don’t think that the problem with the budget has as much to do with teacher salaries as much as with EVERYONE at CPS’s salarie (there are plenty of non-unionized folks at CPS pulling down a pretty penny) and more disturbingly CPS’s inability to demonstrate to anyone on the inside or outside how they are spending their money.

  • 116. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    They haven’t gutted central office enough…no it won’t solve the budget crisis, but it will help. Get rid of FACE/Networks~ANY portfolio office~Rahm needs to declare a TIF surplus/fund the schools and stop suggesting assanine ways to save money by having kids use Gym, Music, Art Classes Online. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/07/25/amid-job-cuts-cps-looking-at-moving-gym-music-art-classes-online/

  • 117. RL Julia  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I would have loved on-line gym!

  • 118. cpsobsessed  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Haha, me too RLJ. Especially online swimming.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 119. junior  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    @RL Julia

    Are you saying that teachers in other urban districts work less hard than CPS teachers? I’m just wondering because they don’t make what CPS teachers make and they don’t seem to be getting 18% raises or going on strike.

    I don’t get your point. Most people work hard. So what? I think teachers all over the country in other urban districts work just as hard — but they do it for less.

    As I’ve said in the past, if you want to earn top of your pay scale, then you should at least be accountable for a high quality of work. That is certainly not being done. As we see in the current round of layoffs, it is often highly effective and hard-working teachers who being laid off, not necessarily the teachers who most deserve to be let go.

    These types of inefficiencies and inequities in the system erode much hopes of high quality education. Until we get a system that rewards quality, we are condemned to mediocrity at best. We are starting with a poorly funded system and squandering that by allowing inefficiencies and bloat.

  • 120. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    RL Julia & CPSO~haha…the swimming made me laugh out loud!

  • 121. veteran  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Exactly what is the average teacher salary in CPS? I would like to see the average teacher salary without any administrators or “teachers” who work 12 months and receive administrator pay salaries The average should be lower than in the past as many veteran teachers have left the system-1,300 retired in 2012.
    CPS is paying less in teacher salaries so where did that money go? We did not get a raise in 2012 because CPS was broke again….CPS is always broke because it squanders the monies and it really misappropriates monies earmarked for children with disabilities-lump sum budgeting is not conducive to questions from sped teachers about sped monies. SPED students need assistive tech devices and handing them an old portable word processor makes them feel as if no one cares.

  • 122. RL Julia  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    what I am saying is that in every organization I am privy to such information personnel costs are routinely eating up 80+% of the budget. CPS is no exception and that at least I know what the teachers at CPS are doing – compared to their counterparts in the central office. As for other people being paid more or less around the country – well there is a cost of living index for a reason. It is more expensive to live here than in many/most other places. As for if you want to work at the top of your pay scale you should at least be accountable – well, I suppose one could also argue that if you are going to be held truly accountable for doing the job you’ve been hired to do you should also be given the supports and tools you need to do that job reasonable – I’m not talking whiteboards and super fast wifi here and a posh teacher’s – I’m talking toilet paper, copy paper, recently published textbooks, heat, A/C, working window blinds, unbroken furniture – as well as students who arrive at school ready to learn (as in the have been fed, have done their homework etc…) etc… etc… etc…. Until we can promise teachers at least a few of those things on a consistent basis, I personally have a hard time begrudging them much – and can only encourage all those teachers out there working in similar conditions for less to go after raises/switch districts. I just don’t see a lot of “bloat” in the individual schools – I see a lot of “bloat” being spent out of the central office with their large contracts for mysterious trainers and whatnot.

  • 123. Leggy Mountbatten  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    The Union basically said early on that the 7% pickup, which cops and firemen also get, wasn’t negotiable.

  • 124. RL Julia  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Has anyone here downloaded and picked apart the CPS budget that was posted on-line yesterday?

  • 125. lurking CPS teacher  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    @88 Yes, I realize that there was money lost because of the economic meltdown of 2004 and later. Realizing that the fund was losing ground, investments were shifted, but CPS should also have been meeting their obligations as well to help stabilize the fund. I still say if they didn’t see what would be the end result of not meeting their obligations, it was fiscally irresponsible.

    @96 If you want to know more about the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, you can go to their website at CTPF.org

  • 126. veteran  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    #122 You go girl…

  • 127. junior  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    @122 RLJulia

    So, you’re saying teachers should be compensated more because their students and schools have terrible conditions and lack adequate equipment?

    I think you have it backwards. I think we should take some of the money that goes into the top-notch pay and benefits of teachers and improve the conditions of our students.

  • 128. RL Julia  |  July 26, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I am not saying that teachers should be compensated more – as much as I am saying that I don’t see their salaries being the root of the problem. It is what it is. I don’t see why they should lose money when the system hiring them has consistently been unable to deliver on the promise of improved conditions for all of its schools/teachers. Teachers and schools have been (more than) once bitten by the central office – why should they sacrifice (when the central office seems unlikely/unable to) when they have been so repeatedly burnt.

  • 129. RL Julia  |  July 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    What I really don’t understand is why the Mayor somehow thinks that not raising the tuition for students attending a private, parochial college so that they can have a basketball stadium for their mediocre team is more important than providing dollars to support the public education for 400K + kids in the city he is responsible for…. Talking about the teacher salaries as the problem is just smoke and mirrors and not thinking outside of the box, In my opinion…..

  • 130. junior  |  July 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    @128

    “I am not saying that teachers should be compensated more…”

    But that is exactly what we did in the last round of contract negotiations and the CTU strike. Even though we foresaw budget shortfalls and crisis, we chose to give teachers an 18% raise and let the rest of the budget chips fall where they may. The result — 2,000 layoffs, closed schools, budget cuts of every variety — for a system that was already low on resources.

  • 131. veteran  |  July 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Junior,
    What do you think would happen if all of the teachers stopped subsidizing CPS by purchasing basic necessities, school supplies and instructional materials? Sometimes, my totals at the end of the year were over $2000.00. I’m not even counting the laptop I had to buy so my students could have Internet access… I could go on and on but I don’t think any of you who do not work for CPS have a clue…why is CPS paying 1.6 million dollars to Teach for America when we are laying off teachers? Just so they can get a free masters??? This really frosts me as I paid for my two masters much to my husbands dismay-his law enforcement job has tuition reimbursement.

    OT I have three friends whose daughters went into nursing-they started at $73,000 right out of college and they have tuition reimbursement. I am bringing this up because some of you on this blog act like our salaries are so high-really?

  • 132. Interesting Article  |  July 26, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gregory-michie/cps-emanuel_b_3642162.html

  • 133. CarolA  |  July 26, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Good read! Thanks for linking it.

  • 134. Angie  |  July 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    @131. veteran: ” What do you think would happen if all of the teachers stopped subsidizing CPS by purchasing basic necessities, school supplies and instructional materials?”

    What do you think would happen if these and other needs of the children were taken care of before giving the raises and pension pickups for the teachers? What if we provide all the necessary funding for education programs and schools supplies first, and then, and only if there is anything left in the budget, give you all a raise?

    Also, whatever happened to the famous union solidarity? If the teachers and other employees paid just 3% more toward their pensions, they could have saved 2000 jobs of their union brothers and sisters.

  • 135. veteran  |  July 26, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    So, a doctor should buy his scalpel, a fireman his hose and Rahm should pay for his own bodyguards. Let’s see, the medical staff at Stroger should get paid a lower salary until the hospital supplies the most up to date equipment for the patients? They’ll never get a raise….Wow!

    CPS has never funded the classrooms as they should be funded even in the years they had a surplus in the budget…..teachers are expected to buy out of pocket even for roach spray, kleenex and band-aids.

  • 136. CarolA  |  July 26, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    CPS would be even more “in the hole” if they supplied the necessities like crayons, etc because they would buy through vendors that charge $3 for the same box of crayons I just bought for 50 cents today!

  • 137. veteran  |  July 26, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    It is interesting when you run into a group of suburban teachers who are at Barnes and Noble with $500.00 checks to add to their room library…and then they tell you that they never have to buy cleaning supplies and ….their district supplies them with laptops…..by then you just want to …run to Target to get those school supplies like folders, pens and highlighters for the students…..but wait I digress….I have such a huge salary that I can go to Chic-Fil-A on the way home…..wow such wealth….so much that I can go to the hardware store and buy heavy duty locks for my cabinets so no one steals the school supplies…..my husband will have to come to school to install the locks because our new privatized janitors “don’t do repairs” like the previous janitors did-if it weren’t for the janitors the school would have fallen apart…didn’t need locks then….got to go online and look for free field trips-one that will include the cost of the bus….wonder if the suburban teachers do this stuff….

  • 138. lpteach  |  July 26, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    @137 I’m a former CPS teacher, now working in the suburbs and I can totally relate to everything you said. I was given money at the end of the year to order supplies for my classroom for the upcoming year, and I get a bit of money around the holiday from the PTO to buy more. I receive a laptop from the district. We have SMART boards, document cameras, wireless internet, air conditioning, and get pretty much anything we want/need when it comes to supplies and materials. In my school of around 400 1st-6th grade students, we have 2 PE teachers, 1 art teacher, 1 music teacher, 1 Spanish teacher, 3 reading specialists, 5 special ed resource teachers, 1 gifted teacher, 2 self contained autism classrooms, and teacher aides for every student whose IEP requires it. In addition, my classroom is clean every morning, my students come to school fed and well-rested, and I have met the majority of my students’ parents. I do make less money than I did in CPS, but all of this, plus the return of my sanity, has made the move worth it. Also, as a suburban teacher, i contribute 9% of my salary to pension. I can’t say what I think the solution is for CPS, but I know that about 15 miles out of the city, we manage to make it work. Things are not perfect, but I will take it any day over going back to CPS.

  • 139. CarolA  |  July 26, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    @138: If I had everything you have at your fingertips, I too, would take a pay cut. I, too, would contribute more to my pension. That will never happen in CPS. Sanity is priceless. CPS wants the cuts to our salary and pension, yet they still expect us to take care of our own supplies and teach technology skills without proper internet access and hardware. Thanks for sharing “the other side of the coin”. I also know of districts that give their teachers a yearly stipend to decide on their own professional development. I suppose it’s not much different than the private sector. Different companies offer different benefits and working conditions. However, most companies love employees with more experience and are willing to pay for it. Is there competition for those positions…you bet. Teachers with a lot of experience are generally not being hired so it’s not like I can up and leave my job in hopes of getting something better.

  • 140. Angie  |  July 26, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    @136. CarolA: So the teachers prefer to get the money for the school supplies instead of CPS providing the actual supplies. Makes sense.

    My point is that CPS should allocate the money in the budget for this and other necessary education expenses before considering any raises and pensions subsidies for the teachers. Would you all agree to accept that?

  • 141. CarolA  |  July 26, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Yes, Angie. Speaking for myself, I would be comfortable without a raise if I knew that I wouldn’t have to go out shopping sales and getting things myself. Today I started the annual bargain hunting and bought 10-6 packs of glue sticks, 35 purple 2-pocket folders, and 70 yellow folders. This is just the beginning. If I didn’t have to run around from store to store trying to get the bigger bang for my buck each summer and instead had access to a supply cabinet of unlimited resources, yes, I would pass up any raise. Currently, if I want construction paper, I have to request it at least one week before I need it. I have 30 students so the paper is done with one project. If I ask for another package the following week, I get told “You just got a pack last week.” I’m lucky. At least I can request construction paper from time to time. Others aren’t so lucky. I will be heading to Costco tomorrow to buy yet another pencil sharpener. This goes on year after year. As mentioned earlier, CPS doesn’t shop for bargains. They use vendors that cost a fortune! I buy now while things are on sale. I have a shelving unit in my basement to store these items because in December, when I need them, they won’t be on sale. I think ahead. Something CPS isn’t very good at. I wouldn’t want CPS to spend foolishly just to supply us with needed materials. They need to be frugal with their purchases and I don’t think they are. When we first started DIBELS testing, we all got palm pilots. We had to guard them with our life. We had to sign that we would return them if we left CPS or the amount of it would be deducted from our pay. I didn’t use the palm pilot last year since we didn’t do the DIBELS test and that palm pilot just sits in my basement. I’m sure I won’t have to return it. Imagine how much that cost the city making sure that every K, 1, and 2 teacher had their own palm pilot. Wasteful!

  • 142. Fedup  |  July 26, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    So the TIF goes to the construction of a new basketball arena for DePaul while the children and school teachers suffer. How wonderful !

  • 143. junior  |  July 26, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    So, teachers in most suburban and downstate school districts get paid less than CPS teachers, but there is plenty of money for supplies, equipment, facilities, activities, etc. On the other hand, CPS pays teachers top dollar but can’t afford anything else.

    Which budget is out of balance?

  • 145. cps alum  |  July 27, 2013 at 3:07 am

    @Angie, Junior and others….. When comparing the salaries of CPS teachers to suburban teachers, one must keep in mind that the districts are structured differently. CPS is a unit district (k-12) and all teachers are on the same salary schedule, so a first year teacher is paid the same amount regardless if they teach elementary school or high school. The majority of districts in the area ARE NOT Unit districts. There are separate districts for elementary schools (k-8) and the high schools (9-12) and teachers in the working in the same town but different districts are paid on different salary scales. Elementary school teachers generally are paid much less than the high schools. When comparing teachers in Cook and the surrounding counties, on average a CPS elementary school teacher makes more than an elementary school teacher in the suburbs, BUT a CPS high school teacher is paid much less than the average high school teacher in the suburbs.

  • 146. Nancy E  |  July 27, 2013 at 6:03 am

    CPS budget is up $500 million over last year. Mostly due to a $400 million pension payment. The next two years will be even higher. So an additional $1 billion in cuts would be needed assuming they used most of their reserves this year to cover the pension payments with a smaller benefit from the closings and layoffs. The pension “holiday” the state enacted a few years ago is over. They had basically kicked the can down the road and now we are out of road.

    Either the state needs to enact pension reform (i.e. benefits cuts and/or higher employee contributions and/or teachers kicked over to Obamacare – paid for by higher federal taxes) or significant cuts will need to be made to the budget for years to come. Either the union goes along with benefit cuts now or down the road bankruptcy will force larger benefit cuts (e.g Detroit). The unions claim that the state laws bar any pension reductions but under bankruptcy, Federal bankrutcy laws trump any state laws and the bankruptcy trustee will slash across rhe board…bond holders, pension payments, salary cuts, employee layoffs, school closings, selling of assets.

    The politicians made promises over the years using taxpayer dollars that were totally unrealistic. Now the situation is out of control. The chickens have come home to roost. if you think this year was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

  • 147. CarolA  |  July 27, 2013 at 6:47 am

    @143 Junior: You are right and WHOSE FAULT IS THAT? Don’t blame it on the teachers. Blame it on a system that has failed all of us. I can hear it already….but the teachers go on strike, the teachers keep asking for more and more and give nothing in return….guess what….SAY NO! It’s like watching a parent with a screaming child at the grocery store. The child screams and screams until the parent (instead of saying no and leaving the store) gives in and buys the toy or candy the child wanted. I was getting my nails done today (yes, a personal treat) and there was a girl about 7 years old that was screaming and screaming for her grandmother to get done so she could go to McDonalds. It disturbed the whole salon. Nothing was said by mom or grandmother and at the end of it all, they all smiled and said “Let’s go to McDonalds. You were such a good girl to wait.” REALLY?????? You know and I know that people will continue to ask for things until they have been told no. That’s where I’m at right now. I don’t participate in any of the CTU marches at this point because it’s time for change. It’s time for BIG change. Did I support the strike and march in that? YES! If you look back at my posts from last year and the posts from other teachers on this board….it wasn’t about the money to us. We wanted to shed light on the system. The problem….we can’t negotiate the other things. But look what has happened. Look at the linked article above. A PRINCIPAL HAS STEPPED FORWARD. I thought I’d never see that day. They have been told not to speak to the press. My principal runs scared of CPS. We had talks with him this year about things that needed to be addressed and all he would say is that he contacted the CPS law department and they told him to say this or that. Principals need to join forces just as the teachers did last year. Change needs to happen. Stop blaming the teachers and start standing up for change!

  • 148. CarolA  |  July 27, 2013 at 7:02 am

    @140 Angie: You ought to be thanking the teachers rather than ripping them apart. Because most teachers buy hundreds/thousands of dollars worth of supplies/materials for their classrooms each year, YOUR child is able to enjoy TRIPLE the amount because teachers tend to shop sales and not buy from expensive vendors!

  • 149. veteran  |  July 27, 2013 at 7:28 am

    #143 When CPS had surpluses the classrooms were still underfunded. Teachers were still buying Xerox paper, ant traps and paper towels.

    Right now CPS is paying Teach for America a 1.6 million dollar FINDER’S FEE! We have 2,000 teachers out of work and we are paying a company 1.6 million PLUS the salaries of TFA employees to take over a classroom w/o a teaching degree. At the end of the two years of using your children as guinea pigs they have earned a free masters degree, they leave and go back to the corporate world and put “taught in CPS” on their resume-beats the Peace Corps.

    I believe displaced teachers in CPS have to be paid for a year while they sub and search for a full time teaching position.

    So let’s get this straight-TFA employees are being paid(first year teacher salary BTW) by CPS to take over a classroom which could be taken over by a displaced teacher? This is why CPS will always be broke and one of the many reasons veteran teachers have no respect for CPS. TFA salaries plus the 1.6 million dollar FINDER’S FEE would have bought a lot of school supplies.

  • 150. CarolA  |  July 27, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Minnesota’s governor vetoed Teach for America funding. The article stated that there are or soon will be 15 states that pay the Teach for America finders fee. Why do we have to be one of those?

  • 151. cpsobsessed  |  July 27, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Is the TFA finders fee just for one year? Or does it cover several years (just trying to do some math here…)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 152. DZV  |  July 27, 2013 at 9:47 am

    @Carol
    Yes, Carol all these things are true. A lot of my teacher friends in the suburbs make less, but they also end up making more in a lot of ways, so to speak. Their outside PD covers parking and such. If they’re asked to do lunch/recess duty they get paid. If they cover classes during their preps, they also get paid. They have smartboards, laptops, every student has a computer. They have two preps: one for personal planning, one for team planning. I can’t tell you how many preps I lost this year and never had them made up. My special education students lost hours of instruction time because I was told I “had” to do lunch/recess duty all year. CPS really makes it hard for any teacher to do their job, let alone be effective, or passionate.

  • 153. Angie  |  July 27, 2013 at 9:55 am

    @148. CarolA : “Because most teachers buy hundreds/thousands of dollars worth of supplies/materials for their classrooms each year, YOUR child is able to enjoy TRIPLE the amount because teachers tend to shop sales and not and not buy from expensive vendors!”

    No, I’m the one shopping sales and bringing the bags of requested supplies on the first day of school, and throughout the year when my kids’ classrooms run low. I live in the expensive area, remember? We don’t get Title 1 funds, either, and parents have to fundraise all the time to supplement the school budget.

    @142. Fedup: “So the TIF goes to the construction of a new basketball arena for DePaul while the children and school teachers suffer. How wonderful !”

    Yes, keep pretending not to understand that the new arena will be be used for basketball only a small part of the year, that it will create construction jobs for union workers, and will host the conventions staffed by the union members just like McCormick Place does. Who’s being anti-union now?

  • 154. Sped Mom  |  July 27, 2013 at 10:05 am

    at 152. DZV | July 27, 2013 at 9:47 am

    “My special education students lost hours of instruction time because I was told I “had” to do lunch/recess duty all year.”

    May I ask, how did you, as the teacher, ensure the parents or guardians of your sped students were informed of the lost and undelivered minutes? How do other sped teachers do it? What are the results for the child?

    I seem to be having a problem obtaining this information.

  • 155. DZV  |  July 27, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I also forgot to add: My teacher friends in the suburbs also have full-time nurses, social workers, counselors, and psychologists. The students have gym everyday, real libraries, real art rooms, real music teachers, real computer labs, and real science labs. A lot of my friends are shocked at what is expected of me: I’ve had to teach art when we had no art teacher, I’ve taught music when we had no music teacher, and supplied my own books for a classroom library when we had no library. I’ve been a nurse, counselor, and social worker on a regular basis. I’ve brought in jackets, hats, and uniforms for my kids. I’ve bought supplies, school bags, and personal hygiene products.
    The way I look at it is: maybe I make more than my suburban counterparts, but I’ve also had “multiple positions” throughout my career that I got compensated for.

  • 156. cpsobsessed  |  July 27, 2013 at 10:11 am

    @CarolA: I’m completely in your camp about stopping the blame game and getting this thing figured out. I think anyone can agree there were multiple parties complicit in getting us into this situation, include the city citizens. That’s why once again, I have to hand it to Raise Your Hand. Whether you agree with all their points or not, at least somebody is watching, questioning, and protesting. And they’re not stopping. We need that right (and we needed it before.)

    I think i’ve become what can probably be called a Budget Conservative, or going by the motto “live within the budget.” Alternatively, find a way to increase the budget.

    So from a pure budget standpoint, TFA probably makes sense (as much as I hate the idea.) I figure that a $1.6 million fee adds $4000 to each teacher hired (assuming 400 teachers hired.) If this displaces 400 higher-paid teachers, CPS comes out ahead. And I assume the $1.6 million can help with training, recruiting, etc. On the other hand why are we hiring people outside the system when we’re laying off teachers? Ridiculous.

    On DePaul, I have some sympathy for business investment. I worked on the Sears account at work last year when there was the stink about giving them money to stay in-state. I could truly see the full number of jobs that company generated in IL – layer upon layer of people who are tangentially or directly earning money by Sears being located here. So for the DePaul stadium I can see it as in investment in the city. But I sure would like to see a 1 page document on some financial assumptions of how it will benefit the city. I don’t trust that politicians don’t do things “just as favors” at this point, you know?

  • 157. cpsobsessed  |  July 27, 2013 at 10:15 am

    @155 DZV: In a society like that of the US, luckily some people choose the path of many CPS teachers – not taking the easier positions that you describe. I have to assume that there are some teachers who find it important to that the positions that are much more challenging because they know they’re contributing to a greater good. So hopefully without sounding way too corny… thank you for doing that.

  • 158. CarolA  |  July 27, 2013 at 10:35 am

    @156CPSO: Remember, money isn’t everything. Having a teaching degree BEFORE you begin to teach children certainly does make more sense than on-the-job training.

    @154SpedMom: Tell the parent about lost sped hours for their child? Are you kidding? Then our rating would reflect that we are not a team player. Our rating goes down, we lose our job. They’ve got us by the you-know-what. We are trying to vent through this blog. Take the message and ask your child if they saw their sped teacher that day. If they say no, ask the sped teacher what happened. Then go to administration if it happens too many times. We must all be aggressive if we want to see change.

    @153Angie: My last reply on the subject….I teach in a “good” school with an active PTO that does a ton of fund raising and parents who donate things all the time. I still put out tons of money on all the little stuff talked about many times on this blog. You need to listen to what is being said here and think about things outside your immediate world. Done.

  • 159. CarolA  |  July 27, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Re-reading my post about my nails being done today….NOT AT 6AM LOL I meant yesterday. Just wanted to clarify so my story isn’t mistaken for fantasy! LOL

  • 160. DZV  |  July 27, 2013 at 10:55 am

    @Sped Mom and in agreement with Carol,
    There is NO way you are really truly going to get that information. Working in special education for over 10 years at CPS, I can guarantee you that your child is probably not receiving their mandated minutes. I agree, if your teacher stands up for what is going on, they are going to lose their job, just like I did this year. I was tired of the injustices my students were suffering this year, so I refused to be a substitute teacher, I questioned, I asked, I went to administration, and guess what? My rating was lowered and now I’m out of a job.
    Special education teachers are often used for everything, but servicing their students, this is common in ALL schools: not just the worst, but the best also. So I doubt you’ll get any real answers, unless you get a teacher like me who is sick and tired of the BS that has been going on.
    Parents that I’ve gotten to know well, I’ve called personally this summer and let them know what is going on, since I have nothing left to lose. So, SpedMom, unless you have someone going out on a limb like that, you will get no answers.

  • 161. junior  |  July 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

    @147 CarolA

    Carol, I agree pretty much with what you say. The point of my posts is not so much to assign blame, as to point out screwed up parts of the system (hopefully “shed light” as your principal advocate is doing).

    Regarding the issue of blame, when I say “we pay teachers” or “we sustain bloat”, then I do mean “we,” as in the public. We, collectively, are to blame.

    Public policy ultimately derives from the values of voters, fed by the information they receive from politicians and media. We have a poorly informed electorate, which has not held its politicians accountable for solving these problems earlier, when they would have been easier to solve. So, banking on public ignorance or apathy, politicians act to appease the special interests who hold power and lobby on relevant issues. Voters share much of the blame here.

    Sure, politicians squandered our funds when they were in abundance — we can surely blame them, right? Of course, it is often the public that clamors for the funding of every possible program and simultaneously clamors against any tax to pay for them. This magical thinking that believes in a free lunch is evident everywhere in our public discourse, including many posts on this blog. And it leads politicians to make unrealistic promises and approve irrational budgets.

    I have said it is CTU’s job to advocate for its members self-interest. I think we agree that you can’t blame them for that. But, we are at the point where, if everyone in the system (CTU, politicians, voters), keeps acting in their perceived self-interests, then we are going off the cliff that we have led ourselves to.

    You have stated that you were not happy with the outcome of the strike. Certainly, teachers now hold a privileged position in the system, where they have the opportunity to hold their CTU leadership accountable. I guess we will see in the next CTU election whether there is widespread teacher dissatisfaction with the strike results. Just like our politicians reflect public values, CTU leaders will reflect the values of whom they represent. My sense is that there will be no change in CTU leadership.

    Perhaps there are parts of the system that need to change. If CTU has abused their right to strike, then perhaps that right should be curtailed (I guess that’s what SB7 tried to do). If politicians have failed to meet their obligations to fund the pensions, then perhaps a law is needed to mandate full yearly funding. Of course, it’s a little late for that now — the only way that is going to happen would be in a deal that also cuts benefits. Lots of pain to go around and I don’t wish that on anybody. (Except maybe Mayor Daley — I have a special place in my heart for the criminal acts he perpetrated on this city).

  • 162. cpsobsessed  |  July 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Just a little tangent – my son is in park district camp this summer. The camp did a trivia game and my son was complaining about how so few of the kids knew where the US was, or any other geographic points that were in the game.

    Last week I heard the staff commenting on it to each other as well and that night he came home with a homework assignment (map with blank states to fill in)… which he was indignant about. Not like he knew most of them himself.

    My assumption is that most of these are CPS kids. Is geography getting short-changed for ISAT-based subjects? I was having a moment of “how can we have this longer day and kids still don’t know where the U.S. is?”

    I did have a “teachable moment” with my son who seemed to believe he was born knowing where the U.S. is – pointing out that we have a globe, maps, books, the Internet, etc in our house which many families do not. On the other hand, he still can’t tie a friggin shoe so I need to point THAT out to him.

  • 163. cpsobsessed  |  July 27, 2013 at 11:25 am

    @Junior – all very well put. I had tried writing something about the effect of self-interest (which we all have, understandably) but it coming out wrong… so I enjoyed what you wrote. I think the politicians are perhaps the most blame-worthy (even though I said let’s move past that) since their self interest often is “I want to be elected again” and that seems to trump the greater common good.

    But I agree – when the financial situation of the city and state are spiraling downward, somebody is going to have to give up something (or perhaps ideally, we all give up a little bit.) But we seem to be operating in a state where nobody wants to give up anything, which seems ludicrous right now.

  • 164. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    162. cpsobsessed | July 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Geography has gotten the short end of the stick in CPS, but not at ALL CPS schools. My kids’ schools works a little geography into each grade w/the a great geography curriculum used in 4th & 5th grade. By the end of 5th grade, kids are very knowledgeable in geography. Good luck finding a geography class in HS!

  • 165. veteran  |  July 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    DePaul and U of C have been receiving lots of money from CPS-why? Look at the budgets going back to Huberman….shouldn’t they be helping the children of CPS instead of feeding at the CPS trough

    TFA makes sense only if there are no displaced teachers-displaced teachers will be paid for one year until they find a vacancy-so CPS is paying for a TFAer AND a displaced teacher instead of placing the displaced teacher in the vacancy-makes no sense

    @160-Unfortunately, what you are saying is true-sped teachers who complain about sped abuses are retaliated against and if they are PATs they are asked not to return…..this is a common occurrence on the west and south sides where parents don’t know their rights…I once asked a teacher at a northwest side school how they requested and received so many one to one aides (not shared-another disaster) and she said our parents demand it and if CPS says “no” they come to the iEP meeting with an advocate or an attorney….we on the south/west side, have children “included” AKA dumped into gen ed who can barely read, stay on task, sit at a desk, over medicated/undermedicated sitting in 6th grade without any sped support in the room. During a fire drill they are apt to go the wrong way……

    @162 Tying shoes is a visual motor skill/fine motor-has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence….common issue with boys….we learned geography at home starting with neighborhood, to city, to county, to state to country, to hemisphere-yes geography needs to be taught but 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders should know where they live-these are car conversations…..

  • 166. Angie  |  July 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    @161. junior: ” I guess we will see in the next CTU election whether there is widespread teacher dissatisfaction with the strike results. Just like our politicians reflect public values, CTU leaders will reflect the values of whom they represent. My sense is that there will be no change in CTU leadership.”

    Karen Lewis was re-elected in May with 80% of the vote, and many teachers cited her leadership during the strike as the reason they voted for her again.

  • 167. CarolA  |  July 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    As with any election…..it depends who runs against her. At least she stands up to the powers that be and isn’t afraid to talk about what’s not working in CPS. At least she makes it well known that the system has problems even if we can’t negotiate for them. Do I agree with every move she makes? No. Sometimes I think she’d be better off keeping her mouth shut instead of sounding like an idiot, but we all say and do things that are in the heat of the moment and later regret. I don’t like that she is fighting for teachers who probably shouldn’t still be teaching, but she also fights for teachers who should have jobs and through no fault of their own are now unemployed. I don’t like all of what she negotiated in this contract. I don’t like that all of a sudden it seemed like she was told enough is enough and settled. I’m not sure there’s anyone who could have done any better. It’s like knocking Obama because he didn’t fix the country’s troubles in one term. Whether you like him or not, I don’t think there’s anyone who could have dug us out in one term. I take each election on its own worth. I weigh the issues and vote from that. I weigh the pros and cons of each candidate and go from there. I believe in casting a vote because that is my right and someone WILL win whether I vote or not so I might as well vote for the best of who is running. Sometimes we need to vote for the best of the worst. So don’t think that just because she was re-elected by a large vote means we love her. She is the best of who was running at the time.

  • 168. junior  |  July 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    @166/167

    OK, guess I was tuned out on the CTU election. Thanks for bringing me up to speed. I went back and read some of the coverage.

    It seems that there is no leadership in CTU articulating a position like Carol’s. In fact, according to the Trib, the opposition to Lewis ran on a slate that was even more militant in getting the goods for its members:

    “When she announced her candidacy in Feburary, Saunders-Wolffe said contract negotiations didn’t result in sufficient raises for teachers and that Lewis “didn’t deliver at the bargaining table” with issues surrounding teacher seniority and teacher evaluations.”

    —-

    If you want to see how different the rhetoric of a union election is (“delivering the goods for the members”) versus the PR rhetoric of the strike (“we’re doing it for the kids”), the Substance piece is a good example:

    http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=4255
    (longtime followers may now gasp at my linking to Substance)

    It seems that when unions elect their leaders (and the public, like me, is not paying much attention), the unvarnished focus on self-interest is pretty apparent. That’s not to blame … that’s just to remind people what their true job is, lest they paint CTU as an advocate for education.

  • 169. Todd Pytel  |  July 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    @168 (junior)

    “That’s not to blame … that’s just to remind people what their true job is, lest they paint CTU as an advocate for education.”

    As with any other political figures, there’s a difference between what’s said in election rhetoric and what policies are actually fought for. The union’s “true job” is not such a simple, unified thing as you suggest.

    Like Carol, I would like to see a more moderate Union slate. But I don’t think they’d have a chance of winning an election. And honestly, I’m not sure a more moderate leadership would find any traction with a political class seemingly hellbent on the complete dismantling of public education and the destruction of teaching as a career-worthy profession.

  • 170. CarolA  |  July 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    @168junior: So taking your statement that the candidate running against Lewis was even more militant, one can conclude that teachers voted for Lewis because she was the least militant of the two candidates. Maybe we aren’t as self-centered as people think since we could have voted for someone who would “get us” even more “goods”, but didn’t. HMMM

  • 171. junior  |  July 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    @171 CarolA

    One could argue that, but I don’t get that sense from my reading. I think your colleagues realize that CORE is plenty militant and that they got a pretty good deal via the strike. And a candidate who says they could have gotten more, well, talk is cheap. For all the foibles and early blunders, Karen Lewis delivered the goods through the strike and I assume that was widely recognized.

    I know most teachers care deeply about education, but I don’t think a union is a good vehicle for improving education. Are there any other good vehicles that teachers have to promote education improvements and reforms?

  • 172. CarolA  |  July 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    @171Junior: I agree that the union is not a good vehicle for improving education simply because of the limit to what we can negotiate. So what CAN be done to improve education? Involved parents, administration that is not trapped in test results, teachers that go above and beyond, budget transparency, etc. Not sure how it would all come together, but maybe that’s why we brainstorm on this blog.

  • 173. Overtaxed Sal  |  July 27, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    “somebody is going to have to give up something (or perhaps ideally, we all give up a little bit.) But we seem to be operating in a state where nobody wants to give up anything,”

    The taxpayers have been hit with a 67% higher income state tax rate (that was sold as temporary and will be made permanent), the taxpayers have been hit with property tax bills that just went up 10%+ in Chicago, and the taxpayers are paying some of the highest sales tax rates in the country. The taxpayers have already given up more than a little. Taxes have gone up billions, time to cut billions in expenses and future benefits.

  • 174. cpsobsessed  |  July 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    @173 Sal: So assuming we’ve taken enough of a hit on taxes – now what? We need to have a school district that doesn’t pay so well, has limited pensions for all government employees, less spending on X,y,z etc… but whatever the mayor tries to cut, somebody screams about it (as expected, self interest being self interest.) How do we get anybody to agree to give something up? CPS is perhaps getting the shaft because there isn’t an organized group that can go on strike (I remember someone suggested once that all parents keep their kids out of school until we get funding restored… I still love that idea.) But then we’re fighting for our own self interests there. WE all believe that education should be a priority. I don’t know that everyone in the city agrees with that necessarily. Bah, it feels insurmountable.

  • 175. CPS Parent  |  July 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    172. CarolA – Good question “what CAN be done”

    I think the powers that be who are actually in a position to DO something within the framework of our current politics, local and State laws, funding mechanisms, etc. have chosen the charter school vehicle as the solution to “the problem”.

    I personally happen to agree that it’s a viable and executable solution with broad based support that goes deep within all political persuasions and socioeconomic groups. (BTW, I don’t consider the charter movement as “union busting” – I think most charter systems will have some sort of union based collective bargaining eventually)

    There could be other solutions but I don’t see any focused thinking, planning, or execution by any other constituent group with any real societal standing or financial means at the moment.

  • 176. We all pay taxes....  |  July 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Aren’t the property taxes in Chicago low compared to other areas?

  • 177. Veteran  |  July 27, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    http://www.scottherr.org/2012/doc/chicago-property-tax-comparison-2011.pdf

    BINGO!

  • 178. cpsobsessed  |  July 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I am bookmarking that! We have relatively low property tax but maybe high other taxes (sales tax, gas tax, plus I suspect we’ll all be paying fines for speed cameras near schools soon…)
    Just because the taxes went up a lot doesn’t necessarily mean they’re high. I feel like we could go a little higher personally, but I’m sure not everyone agrees. But that can’t be the only solution. Everybody has to bear the brunt a little bit.

  • 179. MayfairMama  |  July 27, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    @157
    “@155 DZV: In a society like that of the US, luckily some people choose the path of many CPS teachers – not taking the easier positions that you describe. I have to assume that there are some teachers who find it important to that the positions that are much more challenging because they know they’re contributing to a greater good. So hopefully without sounding way too corny… thank you for doing that.”
    That’s why my husband did it and the thanks he got was a pink slip last week.

  • 180. CarolA  |  July 27, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    @175CPS Parent: Yes, I believe they are choosing the charter school method as a means to an end. It doesn’t mean better. It basically is a way to “wipe the slate clean” and start again. They are just doing it in bunches over several years. Between charters and turn-around schools, Chicago should be turned over in the next several years. Problem solved. Old teachers out without a buy-out (why buy-out when you can just lay-off). New teachers in (cheap). Budget crisis over until those new teachers become old teachers and then we go through the process again. Better? I doubt it. But it seems like it’s not about getting better (although that’s the tune they are singing), it’s about getting it done cheaper.

  • 181. Veteran  |  July 27, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    http://reclaimreform.com/2013/07/26/but-not-for-his-own-kids/

  • 182. CarolA  |  July 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    CPSParent: Why do you think that charter schools will begin to form their own union-type organizations? Wouldn’t that put us right back in the same boat? If charter schools are so great for both teachers and students, why would a union be necessary?

  • 183. HS Mom  |  July 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    @178 – Regarding property taxes – many properties are overvalued for tax purposes. The real estate market took a big hit yet tax values remained the same or went up. This is where we are being hit – not necessarily the tax rate. Commercial property taxes are staggering. Small businesses can not afford it. Lots of foreclosures and tax values preventing sales from happening.

  • 184. CPS Parent  |  July 27, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    182. CarolA It’s my opinion that the union issue has little to nothing to do with the real “problems” in public education. I believe that most of the issues are related to poverty and the related social problems.

    Unions are an effective way for both employee and employer to efficiently handle and simplify a large part of the human resource aspect of an organization especially one that is subdivided into many small, relatively independent, units.

    Teacher unions are not education advocacy entities but it would be nice if teachers had a strong professional association which could advocate with a strong, properly researched and well funded voice for all the education aspects beyond employer/employee issues. That kind of collective voice seems to be missing in the “reform” debate.

  • 185. junior  |  July 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    What about this organization?

    http://vivateachers.org/

  • 186. LR  |  July 27, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Online gym, music and art? I can’t even believe how absurd that is. World class education? I think not. If CPS is really contemplating this, then I think perhaps we should scale back to a bare bones day that is far shorter. The school day should only be as long as we can afford. So, how long does the day need to be to teach math, language arts, social studies, and science? 3.5 to 4 hours? Think of all the money the city would save in teacher salaries if we made them all part time! I’m being sarcastic, but since we are getting “creative” with budget solutions, I thought I’d chime in.

  • 187. CarolA  |  July 28, 2013 at 6:19 am

    LR: I had to chuckle at your comment. However, your idea might be a stepping stone to another idea….the part time teacher. I know a lot of young teachers who are balancing families right now and would love to still have an income, but on a part time basis. They don’t need the insurance because they are on their husband’s insurance. Maybe they could figure out a plan where teachers share a set of students. The day could even be staggered for those students/teachers/parents who like to sleep late. Oh, we could go far with that idea. hahaha

    Junior: Glanced at your link. Thought it had some very valid ideas until I looked at the section under Who’s Listening and saw Chicago listed. I don’t feel like they listen to the classroom teachers at all. Maybe there is a hand selected group that is contributing, but I haven’t taken any surveys.

  • 188. Dignam at Lane  |  July 28, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Post about Lane deleted as I was able to confirm that several points made were not factual (ie Lane is not cutting drafting, plus a few other points.)

  • 189. CarolA  |  July 28, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I think you will be finding more and more principals acting like CPS robots in order to keep their jobs and/or move up the ladder. You can bet that the principal who recently spoke out about the budget will not be getting any cushy positions in his future. He’d better stay on the good side of his LSC so he can keep his current position. In general, LSC’s are people who either have their own agenda or really like the principal. Sort of padded positions, insiders so to speak. It’s always been that way at my school and since the majority of LSC members is parents, teachers can say what they want, but only have two votes. Teachers (who know what actually goes on day after day) don’t really get a voice because it can always be voted otherwise by the parents who have their own jobs and don’t know what goes on day to day, but rather only what the principal tells them. In the recent principal evaluation at our school, it was very difficult to convince the parents to lower sections of the rating because they just didn’t see it. Good luck on your venture. Teachers are afraid to speak up (rating/lose job). Principals are afraid to speak up (lose out on future promotions). Rahm has everyone where he wants them.

  • 190. CPS Parent  |  July 28, 2013 at 8:37 am

    188. Dignam at Lane – You may be right about the other issues but if you think DRAFTING has any place as general education requirement in a college prep high school at this point in time you are seriously misinformed and perhaps Dr. Dignam is actually a good “skipper” steering Lane into modernity.

  • 191. Veteran  |  July 28, 2013 at 8:41 am

    #177-maybe if the property taxes in Chicago were in line with the rest of the state we would not be in this mess…..

  • 192. LR  |  July 28, 2013 at 10:20 am

    That’s sad about Lane. The advantage of going to such a big school like Lane should be that you have more opportunities available to you, not fewer. And CarolA: Even though I am not a teacher, I have always appreciated that teaching is (or used to be) a profession that is compatible with having a family. I was kind of kidding above, but hearing that Lane is going to online PE and Art, I am now totally serious. I think you are right that you could draw superior teachers if you gave them the opportunity to work part-time. Since CPS is no longer going to be supporting specials (not in a way that I want my kids being any part of them), I would be willing to go elsewhere to get our Phys Ed, Art and Music. I know…as a parent I should be fighting to keep these activities funded as part of the longer, fuller day. But, regardless of what we want or what is right, they may go away anyway. I think CPS should really consider piloting a “shorter day” school where teachers are part-time and parents are given the option of going outside of school to fulfill requirements in phys ed, art and music. I would do it…although it would also have to be compatible with the fact that my kids are now on the RGC track, so they would need to continue their academics at one year ahead of their chronological grade level. It’s an intriguing concept, though.

  • 193. see it all  |  July 28, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Does going online mean that the students go to a computer lab supervised by a parent/non-teacher in order to accommodate the longer day?

    Speech-language, social work, nursing, psychologists, case- managers and half-day pre-school could easily be rearranged to half-time positions which would be great for teachers/clinicians who only want to work a half-day. CPS could save money on the benefits. Job sharing in regular ed is problematic and would not save monies.

  • 194. tchr  |  July 28, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    ” I think CPS should really consider piloting a “shorter day” school where teachers are part-time and parents are given the option of going outside of school to fulfill requirements in phys ed, art and music. ”

    I, for one, could not afford being a part-time teacher. I am still paying for my undergrad and masters degrees. I don’t think I would have pursued teaching if it were just a part-time career. I have a friend who has a .5 high school position in the burbs because he has not been able to get hired full time. NO benefits. (And he is still living with his parents because he can’t afford rent on his own!) I had a lot of friends work as teachers assistants in the suburbs for a few years after college waiting for a position to open up. Spending $30k a year for a degree and then making $10 an hour.

  • 195. Twinmom  |  July 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I can assure that if property taxes go up while the quality of public schools goes down, there will be a middle class exodus to the suburbs. The result will be a shrinking tax base. There has to be a better solution than simply raising taxes.

  • 196. Patricia  |  July 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    @195
    sounds strikingly similar to Detroit………

  • 197. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    195. Twinmom | July 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    You’re right, we are getting taxed to the extent they can tax us and the quality of CPS goes down with all their budget cuts~seems like many taxpayers are now are getting educated abt the TIF $$ in their ward and how much could be going to their kids’ education/schools. I think if TIF isn’t released~that will be the departure of middle class in Chicago.

  • 198. HS Mom  |  July 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    @195 yes, I think higher property taxes can be justified if the neighborhood schools compliment or add value to the property. As it stands now, that simply is not the case for the vast majority of Chicago neighborhoods.

  • 199. Realitychex  |  July 28, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    ” I think CPS should really consider piloting a “shorter day” school where teachers are part-time and parents are given the option of going outside of school to fulfill requirements in phys ed, art and music. ”

    LOL. Regardless how long the day is or isn’t, your child is getting only a part-time education at best. At BEST.

  • 200. seen it all  |  July 28, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    If the schools close and go charter like Detroit you will not be able to sell your bungalow for what you now pay in taxes. The wealthy will just pay $10,000 a year plus for private school, the poor will go to the charters and everyone will wish they could have paid a few hundered more a year in property taxes.

  • 201. Veteran  |  July 28, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    http://preaprez.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/joravsky-on-rahm-and-pensions/

    There is a lengthy posting on the lawsuit against CPS and the information on how IEPs are written in low income schools and how service is delivered is shocking to those of us not employed by CPS.-see Substance Newspaper-teacher Reform

  • 202. CarolA  |  July 28, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    @193see it all and others: It was not my intent to suggest all teaching positions become part time. I think it’s possible in areas like preschool that have half-day programs. I think a few positions in each school might be possible and a great option for SOME teachers. Areas like speech, social work, nurses, etc. would only be possible if two part-time people filled one full time position. They have such a big caseload as it is and can’t fill all the needs of the students so they can’t be cut. I’d prefer to have one full time position of each of those with an additional part time position of each of those to help with the caseload and provide better service to students. In that way, people who want full time work would have it and people who want part time work would have access to it. Students don’t suffer. But that would take MORE money, not less so I doubt it’s an option.

  • 203. cpsobsessed  |  July 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    I wish every career had more part time options (and I have several friends who’ve tried in vain for a few years now to find good paying part-time work.). If only….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 204. cpsemployee  |  July 29, 2013 at 5:33 am

    CPS does have part-time positions. (Schhols often have only 0.5 Art and Music positions) But even as part-time, CPS positions carry full benefits. That means there is not significant savings in the budget.

  • 205. Veteran  |  July 29, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Yes, schools do carry .5 positions but the teacher usually has two
    .5 s for a full position one which may be at another school.

  • 206. CarolA  |  July 29, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Yes, but those positions are rare and usually the art, music, and gym positions. I’m wishing there was some way to have a few of them in each school for general ed. (teachers splitting the day somehow) It would help out young teachers with families and/or older teachers who would like to stay active in the field, but not work full time. I’d also like CPS to have several places around the city where employees can get quality child care. This would really help out teachers with families and cut down on absences. I’m not saying free. I’m saying quality care at a reasonable rate. Maybe it’s out there (for anyone willing to pay, not based on applications) and I don’t know. Then again, it becomes about the teachers, but we are willing to pay for the service. It becomes difficult with child care issues when we have Open House nights, concerts, etc. I get that everyone else has these same issues in the real world, but right now I’m looking for the rainbow in the storm. LOL Next to impossible I’m sure.

  • 207. Veteran  |  July 29, 2013 at 8:09 am

    i think half-time positions for young teachers with families is a great idea. Older teachers would not be able to work half time because it would greatly impact the pension if was the last ten years. Teachers need to be aware that if they accept a half-time position that if the position is cut they will only be allowed to stay at that school if the principal has a vacancy and decides to hire them-doesn’t matter how many years they have-so half-time would be for those who have nothing to lose.

    Our bi-lingual teacher’s niece left CPS for a south suburban high school which has on site day care for employees’ children. She has lunch with her child everyday-can you imagine how wonderful this is for both the child and parent?

  • 208. jenny p  |  July 29, 2013 at 11:13 am

    “Regarding property taxes – many properties are overvalued for tax purposes. The real estate market took a big hit yet tax values remained the same or went up. This is where we are being hit – not necessarily the tax rate. Commercial property taxes are staggering. Small businesses can not afford it. Lots of foreclosures and tax values preventing sales from happening.”

    Thank you HSMom for cutting through the BS that the uniformed are unable to figure out. There are many factors that go into the property tax bill besides just the rate itself. My property tax rate change this year should have driven a 2% higher tax bill, but magically my tax bill went up 14% this year because of all the other adjustment factors.

    Higher taxes will continue to drive those who can afford it to move out of the city. Chicago is already in a downward spiral and higher taxes for worse services will accelerate the exodus. Chicago is proof that throwing more $ at a problem will not fix it. The money has run out.

  • 209. CarolA  |  July 29, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Veteran: You are right about the effect on the pension. I forgot about that. However, I was thinking more of an “after retirement” position rather than substitute teaching. I know there’s a cap on how much one can earn, but maybe….again….thinking about the rainbow.

  • 210. cpsobsessed  |  July 29, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Okay, so say our taxes are high enough (and too high for some.) So what do we cut? Rahm tried things like one day of library time and people threw a fit. It’s hard to envision bigger changes than that going down without major protest.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 211. CPS Parent  |  July 29, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Here are the solutions everyone is looking for:

    1. Match the size of CPS to the number of kids in the system so dollars aren’t wasted.

    2. Make sure that all parents (not just the wealthy) can choose the type of school that is right for their kids. Some factors are rigor and discipline level, vocational or college prep, distance from home.

    3. Make sure there are inexpensive, practical, post graduate programs.

    4. Make sure there are jobs for graduates so they don’t sell drugs on the street corners.

    Here is what our hated (at least mostly by people here) mayor is doing in response to each point above.

    1. Consolidate half empty schools (there have been 100 – 150 half empty schools for at least the past eight years – when I first became aware of them).

    2. Increase the number of charter schools (not a perfect approach but executable under current State laws and funding mechanisms), STEM programs, IB programs (including IB vocational certification tracks).

    3. Reorient the City College system to vocational tracks to match business needs. See the last paragraph in the History section in the Wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Colleges_of_Chicago

    4. Use TIFF money (just about the only way to fund job creation in the city – this is what TIFFs are designed to do). A good example is the DePaul stadium/hotel plan since hotels are very effective job creators at all skill levels.

    I know there could be other solutions but our city’s mayor is responsible for executing NOW. Our past mayor just ignored any solutions at all since that was the politically safe and easy thing to do.

  • 212. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 29, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Here’s a solution that will help CPS Right NOW: Declare TIF surplus and fund the schools ~ that the only way to sustain the longer day.

  • 213. anonymouse teacher  |  July 29, 2013 at 11:36 am

    @211, except the claim that we have or had 100-150 half empty schools is based on false data and class size requirements that no one on this board would want for their own children.

  • 214. Sped Mom  |  July 29, 2013 at 11:39 am

    @ 160. DZV | July 27, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Thanks. I am sure the minutes were not delivered. Who do I take that to? How can I get it to change next year? Who in OSS (old name) knows that the fraud you’ve described is the MO in CPS? Won’t they just refuse to believe me, too? How far does the ruse go up the ladder? The board?

  • 215. Sped Mom  |  July 29, 2013 at 11:51 am

    @ 186. LR | July 27, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Online gym, music and art? I can’t even believe how absurd that is. World class education? I think not. If CPS is really contemplating this, then I think perhaps we should scale back to a bare bones day that is far shorter. The school day should only be as long as we can afford. So, how long does the day need to be to teach math, language arts, social studies, and science? 3.5 to 4 hours? Think of all the money the city would save in teacher salaries if we made them all part time! I’m being sarcastic, but since we are getting “creative” with budget solutions, I thought I’d chime in.

    Maybe, just give everybody free cable.

  • 216. CarolA  |  July 29, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Sped Mom: As far as lost minutes from previous school years…my opinion…you lost your chance on those. What can you do starting this school year? Keep a record as I mentioned before. Talk to your child each day and ask if they saw that teacher. Just as teachers need to keep anecdotal records of daily behavior for children being consider for sped, you need to keep anecdotal records of that. If there seems to be a pattern, contact the sped teacher first. Ask him/her what activity took them away from providing the service your child is suppose to have. Document, document. After a few weeks of that, bring it to the attention of the administration and document their response (send email, insist on email response, must be in writing, talk is cheap and won’t be supported). Work your way up the ladder of administration.

  • 217. Peter  |  July 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    CPS Parent makes very good points.

  • 218. Veteran  |  July 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    SPED mom needs to call ISBE and find out her due process rights.

    She can sign the IEP and in parenthesis write the word “dissent”. She can then write about the missed time/minutes and ask for compensatory time which can be given after school or during the summer as tutoring.

    She needs to write a letter to the school admin, case manager, sped teacher and CPS OSES that she wants to be notified every time her child is not serviced.

    Trust me if every parent did this it would stop admin from using the sped teachers as subs. The coming year will be worse because the sub salaries now come out of the school budget so I can predict that some school admin will not call sub center but use the sped teachers as subs in order to save money.

  • 219. anonymouse teacher  |  July 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    I just marked all email from Barbara Byrd Bennet in my CPS work email as spam. I am doubled over laughing. Hilarious! What a fun way to entertain myself tonight!

  • 220. CarolA  |  July 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    You are hilarious anonymouse! We have to do something to make it through.

    Veteran: It is against the contract to use sped teachers as subs and your PPC needs to take issue with it. Principals will do it unless they get caught. Your PPC NEEDS to be aggressive with it and file a grievance if necessary.

  • 221. Veteran  |  July 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Yes, there are articles in the contract relating to sped but they are not being followed…..esp the caseload/workload provision (J-CAR) which was supposed to be worked out between CTU and CPS THREE years ago

    The article you refer to does say sped teachers shall not be assigned duties not related to their students (not verbatim) BUT when this was brought up CPS said “you can sub in the rooms where you have students” no services are given because the sped teacher is now teaching 36 students including 6 sped students….not all schools have functioning PPCs, ours met once, no notes/feedback and the delegate is not willing/able to file grievances…..if you are told to sub you must do it or face insubordination charges….I am sorry that the CTU and CPS have ignored the JCAR ruling- we have sped caseloads of 24 , 15 children in a self-contained room w/o an aide and shared aides who can not get two children out in case of a fire-sped is a hot mess in CPS at least on the west and south sides-

  • 222. Sue  |  July 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    @220 ” It is against the contract to use sped teachers as subs and your PPC needs to take issue with it. Principals will do it unless they get caught.” ——-Not reeally, there is a clause in the new contract that says all other certified staff must be used first before pulling sped teachers, but if this happens then they can be used. Unfortunately with the sub situation this happens often. The theory is that it is better for all kids to have a certified teacher in front of them than not.

  • 223. anonymouse teacher  |  July 29, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Given that there are going to now be thousands of certified, qualified folks out of work, if there’s a “sub situation” this year as in the past year or two, then there is some larger problem.

  • 224. OutsideLookingIn  |  July 29, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Coming soon: mandatory online recess

  • 225. Teacher  |  July 30, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Anonymouse, aren’t you afraid you might miss something “important” from BBB if you spam her email ? 😉

  • 226. CarolA  |  July 30, 2013 at 5:44 am

    I’m glad that online outdoor recess is mandatory. The kids really need it. LOL

    Above mentioned comments about sped are all true. After giving it some thought, I think we might be heading into even more problems with students getting their minutes. Parents beware. Keep track. Also remember, if a sped teacher is absent, they don’t often call a sub and if they do, the sub is used for other things since they don’t have sped qualifications. If you have a sped child, let’s hope their teacher doesn’t take a lot of days off.

  • 227. anonymouse teacher  |  July 30, 2013 at 6:57 am

    @225, haha!

  • 228. Sped Mom  |  July 30, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Hmmm. I wonder why the nation went through all the effort to create IDEA (the national sped law) if CPS strives to ignore it. What a waste of human potential. Criminal. I fear next year will, indeed, be even worse for children with disabilities in CPS.

  • 229. CPS Parent  |  July 30, 2013 at 11:43 am

    223. anonymouse teacher ONE thousand teachers are laid off not thousands. By the way, rejecting your boss’s work emails via the spam filter is cause for dismissal (insubordination) and can be tracked by gmail which CPS uses for email communication.

  • 230. Mom of 3  |  July 30, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I had no idea that so little of Chicago homeowner property taxes went to CPS. How can you compare 52% with some suburbs that put over 75% into their schools? Furthermore, CPS students do not pay for transportation or books. I am currently paying $340 in transportation and school fees to my 2nd grader’s suburban school (this does NOT include the school supply list). I will pay close to $500 in fees and books for each of my high school children. This does not include sports fees or club fees (which this summer, for football alone was $640).

    I am NOT going to feel bad requesting several reams of paper this year along with my supply list.

  • 231. another parent  |  July 30, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    @220 – Yeah – ha ha ha. Teachers flaunting the fact that they choose to operate in a void. So glad that this is not one of my kids teachers – for the most we are lucky to have great teachers with integrity doing whatever needs to be done during a difficult time.

  • 232. another parent  |  July 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    that’s 229 and 220

  • 233. local  |  July 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    “…choose to operate in a void.”

    Actually, that act might indicate a teacher is operating in the real world where the propaganda and double-speak that comes from a CEO’s office is pretty worthless. Personally, I read my CEO’s communications, but they are ill-informed, and, basically, hallucinations. We’re getting a new CEO. Hope this new one is grounded in reality and issues communiques that prove it. My two cents, fwiw.

  • 234. Mom of 3  |  July 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    It’s hard to take emails seriously from the CEO when they are full of typos and/or incorrect information. It’s also a pain to get the continual “corrections” when someone discovers the typos and alerts the sender. We had something in June that was mailed out three times with corrections that were ridiculous.
    I have this image of people running around these big, carpeted offices screaming “How do you spell collaborative?” or “did anyone proof BBB last email???”

  • 235. HS Mom  |  July 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    @230 Where do chicago taxes go? See attached for pie graph

    http://civicfed.org/civic-federation/blog/where-do-your-property-tax-dollars-go

    Do you seriously think that the 20% that goes to the city to pay for municipals – police, fire, hospitals, roadways etc is unrealistic in a city like Chicago?

  • 236. another parent  |  July 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    @234 If I ignored teacher communications that had errors and typos it wouldn’t be very productive for anyone, especially my children. I don’t tune out because I don’t have a choice.

  • 237. Veteran  |  July 30, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    #236 Aren’t principals supposed to receive copies of all communication between teacher and parent? Teachers should not send home any communication containing errors (typos do get by sometimes) It is hard for a parent to take a teacher seriously when he/she does not proof-read which is what we tell children to do before they hand in the final writing assignment.

    #230 so true!

    #228 CPS does ignore sped law and hasn’t learned its lesson when it lost the infamous Corey H. case….BTW CPS loses lots of due process cases-doesn’t care because it is cheaper to pay out on one case than to implement the type of programs our students should have …all one needs to do is to observe in a self-contained program in any suburb and then observe in a self-contained program on the south and west side-you will be sickened at the disparity….

  • 238. CarolA  |  July 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I am very upset that some people take any opportunity to pick on teachers. First of all, this is summer and we don’t have to check our emails at all. We do it because we want parents to be able to contact us during these months if they have questions about the upcoming year. Again, we don’t have to do this and many teachers don’t. Remember that CPS shut our email down during the strike to prevent us from contacts. Shame on you for not seeing that we are trying to dance in some raindrops during this storm. Sad that you can’t see our yearlong dedication and allow us this slight amount of fun. We all know that once we are on the clock we have professional responsibilities

  • 239. Patricia  |  July 30, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Just when I thought I couldn’t hate the politicians in Springfield any more I get the news that Cullerton and Madigan are suing over the blocked paychecks. Hypocrisy! They can get together on something that impacts their personal pocketbooks, but to fix pensions, fund education, keep Illinois from becoming the mockery it has become—-they are at a standstill. We need ALL new players in Springfield starting with getting rid of the lame 3–Quinn-Madigan–Cullerton. No way do I want another Daley in a power position. NO to Daley for Governor.

    “Tribune Alert: Madigan, Cullerton sue Quinn over blocked lawmaker raises
    Illinois’ two powerful Democratic legislative leaders filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to withhold lawmaker pay until the legislature sends him a measure to overhaul the state’s highly indebted public employee pension system.”

  • 240. cpsobsessed  |  July 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Just saw that as well and had the same reaction!

    What will it take to get it taken care of?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 241. cpsobsessed  |  July 30, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    It’s funny we talk about the typos in the CPS blasts – I noticed the headline of the Quinn article was revised. It first said “blocked lawmaker raises” and now it says “paychecks.”. Saw a blantant typo on CNN today also. We’re becoming a nation of typos and maybe caring less about it?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 242. anonymouse teacher  |  July 30, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    @229, 231, The district that can’t get my paychecks correct after 2 years tracking me down for spam marking their emails? Doubtful, but nice try. And how do you know I am not your child’s teacher?

  • 243. Veteran  |  July 30, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    #242 You are so correct…..my friend’s principal sent out summer assignments -she and the rest of the staff ignored it….the first one who opened it notified the others ….the only ones who opened these idiotic assignments and did them were the new teachers he hired….he was getting his doctorate and supposedly wanted staff to do his work…needless to say 35 staff members have left his school….

    we are given an email address but until CPS gives every teacher a laptop we are not legally required to open anything on our personal computers……

    my techie friend told me not to download on my personal desktop, the electronic IEP three years ago…I didn’t listen because, I’m stubborn and I needed to do my IEPs at home on the weekend-no time at school – well I screwed up and downloaded it-my desktop crashed from the iEP program-not worth fixing….because my son needed a computer at home I had to buy a new laptop….an expensive mistake…..

    The issue of responding to parent email after school did come up and our previous principal who was really sharp said to treat parent email as you would a parent letter. You should respond in 24 hours.
    We had parents emailing teachers about homework at ten at night and then complaining because the teacher did not respond that night.

    Owning and operating a computer is not a requirement to be hired in CPS. You are not paid in the summer.

  • 244. cpsobsessed  |  July 30, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/2013/07/30/21797/20-million-no-bid-contract-raises-questions-about-supes-academy#.UfgzmI7qtWA.twitter

    So is this a good use of money right now? Leadership training?

    Without fanfare, CPS board members recently approved a three-year, no-bid $20 million contract to provide extensive professional development for principals and network chiefs in what is being dubbed the Chicago Leadership Academy.

    Wendy Katten of the parent advocacy group Raise Your Hand, whose group has tracked school budget cuts, is critical as well.

    “A $20 million no-bid contract … is a questionable use of funds at a time when our students have 94 less art positions, 58 less [physical education] positions, and 54 less music positions for the fall, and CEO Byrd-Bennett is in the press discussing online courses for these programs,” she says. “We have to ask where the priorities of this district are right now.”

  • 245. Veteran  |  July 30, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    http://www.chicagonow.com/district-299-chicago-public-schools-blog/2013/07/turning-towards-springfield/#comments

    The 20 million spent at a time when teachers are “bringing toilet paper to school and parents are running candy sales” is so reprehensible as to not be believed. Please read the postings towards the end…..very sad.

  • 246. cpsobsessed  |  July 30, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/21628237-452/cps-starving-its-schools-to-justify-privatization.html

    And in regards to the principal training, and Op Ed piece in the Sun Times by a teacher at Roosevelt HS who sees this all as a plan to privatize the schools. I can’t tell if I’m naive about this move towards privatization or if this sounds somewhat conspiracy theory-ish to me. As I’ve said before, I’m not fundamentally opposed to charters, but the idea of “choice” and opening a lot of new charter schools that cost $ when we’re broke and closing other schools seems hard to justify. On the other hand, I don’t equate “privatized” with evil the way some people seem to.

  • 247. cpsobsessed  |  July 31, 2013 at 12:45 am

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/my-year-volunteering-as-a-teacher-helped-educate-a,28803/

    Not to be an excessive link poster, but I just saw this Onion piece that someone posted on Facebook about (allegedly) TFA.

  • 248. CarolA  |  July 31, 2013 at 7:55 am

    CPSO: privatizing or not, the thing I object to is the lack of transparency and continual lies. At this point I say: CPS, do what you want to do. Get it together, state your case, and say it is what it is. Stop the merry-go-round. Just do it and let people decide what they will do, move out of the city or stay for the choices. Don’t keep us hanging and don’t keep changing the course. However, I believe all this last minute stuff like principal training and so on is because CPS doesn’t really know what direction they are going and as a result we are stuck in a circle. Anything that goes around, comes around. Let’s just hope it doesn’t bite us in the butt along the way.

  • 249. CarolA  |  July 31, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Just thought of something. Maybe Chicago should be the first city to move forward with all tuition based education choices, no free public schooling here. Then we can watch the mass exodus! But at least the city won’t be bankrupt. 🙂

  • 250. cpsobsessed  |  July 31, 2013 at 9:50 am

    @248: CarolA, I SO agree. If they want to privatize (and i don’t believe that is the goal for the whole system, but what do I know?) then just be upfront about it. I do feel like the real reason for stuff happening is never really stated. I KNOW they’re never going to come out and say “charters are a good way to reduce the cost of union labor” but c’mon — if the Mayor and BBB feel good about their choices then just say why. How MUCH charter is the goal of this admin? How much TFA? Do they really believe having a ton of charters is better? Why? What does the 5 year plan really look like? How crowded and bare bones do we really envision getting? How will Sped really look?

    Just put it out there, CPS — we’re running a bare bones system that’s not going be “world class” so we can all somehow figure out what that should look like and parents can decide if they want to stay. We’re contracting (school closings, layoffs) and expanding (IB, charters, TFA) in different directions so it’s hard to see the big picture.

    As I type this I guess it’s not that complicated. From Rahm’s point of view it’s about cutting money where we can (again closings, TFA and layoffs) to fund things that he/BBB feel will make improvements (charters, IB, principal training.) Maybe it does make sense, but it’s painful to watch so we feel anguish about it, compounded by the less-than-straightforward talk out of CPS and Rahm’s general bull-headedness.

  • 251. CPS Parent  |  July 31, 2013 at 11:17 am

    250. cpsobsessed Slightly off topic but here it goes. One of the reasons TFA exists is to entice high performing students from top universities to a teaching career. I have an acquaintance who, in her professional capacity with CPS, works with many teachers in low income schools all over the city. According to her, CPS’s biggest problem, bar none, is the large number of incompetent teachers. Combine the middling talent pool along with the generally middling teacher training schools (which is well documented) and you have a situation that needs change – ergo TFA. Whether TFA is the right model to fix this problem is another issue but I believe that is why it exists.

    Personally my kids have experienced fantastic teachers as well as miserable “calling it” types and that is in the hardest-to-get-into SEHS. I can only imagine what goes on in “neighborhood” schools.

  • 252. CarolA  |  July 31, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I just finished chatting with a retired teacher friend of mine who has a friend (friend of a friend, :)) that WAS working in one of the schools to become a turnaround. She WAS told in June that she would be one of the few that would NOT be let go. She was NOT losing her job. Guess you got a call a couple weeks ago and was read “the script” thanking her for her service and telling her she was no longer needed. NOW maybe people will begin to understand why we DON’T trust anything CPS tells us.

    As long as I am ranting….think back to my posts from last school year when I was complaining about all the personal time it was taking to create the mandated social studies units for the entire year (4-10 week units) based on grade specific topics. Remember when I said it was a waste of our time because they would be coming out with their own curriculum for us and all of ours would go to the trash. Guess what’s now available online for us and hard copies to be available the first week of school! You got it! Their new curriculum. To the trash with our hard work. My only surprise was that they got it done in one year. Now what will they come up to waste our time this year?

  • 253. LUV2europe  |  July 31, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    249 — fine with me….tuition based. But we both know in a city as big and CHGO there are way to many freeloaders so that system won’t work.

  • 254. cpsobsessed  |  July 31, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Right, but those people who consider others to be “freeloaders” also don’t seem to care to give those students an edge in admission to better schools to break the cycle of dependency on society or support other programs to break the cycle (because again, they’re just sucking off the system.)

    So just put it out there – you’re okay with a large group of dependent citizens who cost the city a lot of money and are okay to perpetuate that group until…eternity, roughly?

    I personally can’t see that as a sensible long term solution for the city to thrive.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 255. luveurope  |  July 31, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    254 I don’t have a problem with charging EVERY STUDENT an amount of tuition to ensure supplies, etc. for ALL. (Unlike Chicago Park District fees, I want the SAME fees for all across the City.) BUT in a city the size of CHGO there will be a LARGE number of nonpayers (read freeloaders some who just can’t pay and those who work the system). When you pay for something (even a nominal fee) it feels like you are gettting something worth paying for.

  • 256. CarolA  |  July 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Are you saying that Chicago Park District fees are also prorated for those unable to pay? They get free summer camp and classes? Please don’t tell me that’s free too!

  • 257. luveurope  |  July 31, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    257 It’s not free but it is vastly cheaper. NW side campers pay more $$$ than kids from other neighborhoods for the same camps. This has been going on for years.

  • 258. CarolA  |  July 31, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Wow! Didn’t know that. No wonder the city is going broke! People are getting waivers for book fees, reduced fees for programs, etc. Holy cow!

  • 259. local  |  July 31, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    There’s a huge difference in kid summer park programs depending on the neighborhood. Huge.

  • 260. local  |  July 31, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Oh, I meant difference in fee/tuition!

  • 261. Veteran  |  July 31, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    How about the tuition for the pre-school? A friend who has four children, works as a half-time teacher, was told that due to her and her husband’s income which is approximately $90,000.00 would have to pay $425.00 a month for a 2.5 hour per day pre-school. Needless to say very few parents in her neighborhood can afford this so they are using the park district pre-school. So in 3-4 years when there is a drop in the neighborhood school’s test school no one need question “why”

  • 262. cpsobsessed  |  July 31, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Where does the pay difference happen for park district programs? I signed up online I didn’t recall seeing anything. Those programs are almost free as it is – so there’s a low differential between “free” and paying. I paid less than $60 a week for camp that was 6 hours.
    We got what we paid for (meaning it was just “eh” but it’s a good chance for kids to get to some museums, they saw a Shrek musical, beach, etc.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 263. OutsideLookingIn  |  July 31, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Look at the cost of summer camp at different park locations….the fees vary significantly park to park.

  • 264. HS Mom  |  July 31, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    @262 CPSO different parks have different programs. There is a big difference in those programs and what they offer.

  • 265. Totismommi  |  July 31, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    I love this blog, its been very informative. This thread sounds alot like the lunchroom at my job, where part time, minimum wage earning employees complain endlessly about how terrible they are treated (not enough money, hours, benefits) but never consider putting forth the effort to make themselves extraordinary. Payroll is usually the greatest controllable expense in any business. Reducing the need to work with the union will cut payroll expenses. I thought I heard that the teachers that were cut were without specialized training. Makes god business sense but not popular.seems like strong business skills are what’s needed.ijs

  • 266. Patricia  |  July 31, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    @CPSO and CarolA. I agree, let’s get everyone to be upfront. The CTU could stop pretending it is “for the kids” too. Everyone slants things to their viewpoint and tries to pull on the heartstrings of the parents or appeal to the “protect the wallets” of the taxpayers.

    Unfortunately, with all the negativity, no one is having a collaborative discussion. The CTU does not offer any solutions except to say NO to everything or take it to court. In a lot of ways, I do not blame CPS for just moving forward. Someone is always going to complain. No matter what they do, good or bad, the press has a feeding frenzy. As I have said before, CPS has not earned the trust of parents, but doing nothing wouldn’t build trust either. As an example, this blog has had strings of complaints about principals not being trained or professional and cited as the key to a school being good or bad. Yet, making principal training a priority is now slammed? $20 million over 3 years is not unrealistic for a district with 666ish schools 😉 I do think the no bid is suspicious, but the fact that it is for principal training should be applauded, not vilified.

  • 267. Patricia  |  July 31, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Carol A. As a friendly reminder 🙂 Me slamming CTU is being critical of them as an ineffective organization for allowing good change. They are incredibly effective in getting benefits for members, which is their job. It is not me slamming good teachers or teacher bashing.

  • 268. CarolA  |  July 31, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    @266 Patricia: So if you are in favor of spending all that money on principal training because there are some bad principals out there, then it would stand to reason you would be in favor of spending $2 million to train bad teachers instead of firing them. If teachers aren’t doing their jobs, we get laid off or fired. Are you suggesting principals should be treated differently? In fact, the new teacher rating system has been promoted to help teachers become better, yet $2 million on training is being offered to them.

  • 269. CarolA  |  July 31, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    @267 Patricia: 🙂 no offense taken

  • 270. Veteran  |  July 31, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Teachers start teaching after a semester of student teaching. After a lot of trial and error at about year three the majority of teachers have learned how to be teachers. Principals become principals after being assistant principals and teachers-this is their training. Just as teachers make mistakes so do principals BUT the smart ones do not repeat their mistakes.

    NO amount of training can make up for stupidity or a lack of ethics/morals. Principals who take over schools and within two years lose many staff members need to be investigated/remediated or terminated just as teachers are when they continue to be ineffective.

    A no bid contract at a time when CPS is broke defies explanation and is a poor investment in a system where administrators do not stay at schools for the long haul but instead leave for other systems, consulting firms or higher education.

  • 271. Patricia  |  July 31, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    @CarolA. I am all for life-long professional training and development. Both provided by the organization one works for as well as individuals seeking training/experience/supplemental education to improve their qualifications–on ones own dime.

    I there is beyond extensive failsafe opportunities for teachers to “redeem” themselves and improve before being fired. A minimum 2 year process unless documented blatant child abuse. I have witnessed first hand the absurdity of the union protections keeping bad teachers in the classroom at the severe detriment of students. A “phone it in” type of teacher, essentially can never be fired. But, maybe PD can inspire a phone it in type to care? Not sure. Regardless, I do believe teacher PD is essential for all.

    I do not view principal training as only for “bad Principals”. It should be for all and yes there are many bad ones that should be gone. Believe me, I have no love for bad principals and want them OUT. I think principals have far fewer protections than teachers with getting fired. Unfortunately, many LSCs do not govern well and protect bad principals. With the changes CPS has made with principal expectations and evaluations, it will be much harder for the bad ones to “hide”. At least, that is my hope.

    When you cut into the numbers, back of the envelope— It is about $10K per school, per year. If it is good training, that is well worth it and not an extravagance. It is a necessity.

  • 272. Patricia  |  July 31, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    @Veteran
    “NO amount of training can make up for stupidity or a lack of ethics/morals. ”

    YES! Agree and it applies to everyone from CEO to engineer. Actually, from President of the US to the downtrodden.

  • 273. APMom  |  July 31, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    The $20million no bid IS suspicious and one reason is because it came with Byrd-Bennett to CPS. CPS has never been truthful and I doubt any parents will now buy into anything they have to say after this was revealed. It will only lead to more parents not trusting CPS.

  • 274. CarolA  |  July 31, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I actually believe that any teacher with 4 or more years experience should know what makes a great teacher and exhibit those traits by that time. If they can’t teach with productive learning going at that point, they should be let go. Principals have that option and many don’t do it. You can tell from the first year of teaching if that teacher is a lifelong learner or someone who just wants to clock in and clock out. Same goes for principals. I am in favor or getting rid of the bad teachers/principals. I don’t like it when the CTU defends the bad ones. I work hard and so should everyone else. I guess we go back to “get the job done or get out”. Again, I wish CPS would just lay the cards on the table and whatever happens, happens. Unfortunately, some of the good ones are getting caught up in the mess.

  • 275. Patricia  |  July 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    @CarolA. Amen. Well said. Completely agree! Funny thing is CTU cards are actually very clear—teachers first. Unfortunately, they try to muddy the waters saying it is “for the kids”. Maybe getting to clarity is possible 🙂 LOL!

  • 276. local  |  July 31, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Sorry. Don’t buy it. Folks don’t suddenly stop working mightily for their charges, clients, et al, when they join a union. Don’t swallow that hogwash. But, say it enough, and it just might become true (click the red shoes).

  • 277. local  |  July 31, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    And, personally, I never saw CPS management get very concerned when my disabled kid wasn’t learning squat in school. So, mediocrity and mendacity is pretty equally spread top to bottom in any organization, imho. Now that the oldest in in HS, I can count on only one hand those that “got the job done.”

  • 278. Patricia  |  July 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    @273 I don’t know enough about the details to make a judgement on the no bid and sure it should be scrutinized. However, I find it kind of hilarious that there is such an outcry and press coverage when they could get far better abuse examples looking at all the construction contracts. OMG, go into a school and witness all the shoddy work, faucets that don’t fit the sinks, poor craftmanship, etc…….AND you KNOW that these vendors were paid more than top dollar to complete the work. AND if the press wants better examples, look at the outrageous bids that cost 3 times as much as a “non-preferred” CPS vendors. Anyone ever do a capital improvement project? Get ready for an alternate universe of costs. There are so many other things to worry about.

  • 279. cpsobsessed  |  July 31, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    That’s a good point, Patricia. Assuming this principal training place is well-regarded and is local — how many options can there be? (Are they local? Or are they sending in trainers — I’m not sure.). I guess the question is whether it’ll be worth the money to make a difference. I think of all the mgmt training I’ve done, most interesting but I’m not sure it made a big difference in how I work.

    I do think that having strong leader is a good thing for cps. Just not sure if training is the way to get there — but if not, then what?

    PS, I’m sad to say that with the school closings we can’t say cps has 666 schools anymore. Boo – closer to 615? now.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 280. Patricia  |  July 31, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    CPSO LOLOL! I so prefer the 666 number 😉 Exactly. IF the training is good, then it may be well worth it. I honestly do not know enough about it yet to make a judgement. I do believe there is a “coach/consultation” part of it so it is just not a seminar. I read BBB was a coach and I think she would be pretty darn good. Again, I do not know the details and not sure I have the energy in these dog days of summer to investigate…….

  • 281. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 31, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    275. Patricia | July 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    I think Rahm’s (CPS) cards are very clear as well~privatization of schools ~giving $84M to charters while he starves n’hood schools of supplies/books/teachers/programs. Now amidst the whole ‘we have a budget crisis’~he gives a no-bid contract to SUPES for $20M for principal training or principal retraining. This comes on the heels of B3 being hired…she’ll be gone soon…probably won’t be here for the Christmas holidays…she’ll be decorating in Ohio where she is registered to vote. She did her job~she closed the schools~she was able to pull off Rahm’s agenda for privatizing more of CPS.

  • 282. cpsobsessed  |  July 31, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    I looked at the link. Seems like they do the training in a different city each year and the next one is chicago. So that might make sense. The agendas look impressive and helpful (but again, so do all management training agendas.). It looks fine, perhaps good given that principals lack real training (and I for one am a fan of a strong strategic leader.). It’s just a hard expensive pill to swallow at the same time as the school cuts and closings.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 283. cpsobsessed  |  July 31, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    But to what end? Why does rahm want to privatize cps?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 284. CarolA  |  August 1, 2013 at 6:44 am

    CPSO: Why does Rahm want to privatize cps? Money, money, money. It’s all about getting rid of the union and their demands. Speaking of which…it is ANY union’s job to protect its workers. But the evidence is the evidence, it just depends how hard each party is willing to work to state its case and principals just don’t take the time. The union, on the other hand, has the obligation to defend. If I’m paying union dues, I’d like to know that my union will help guide me through a process if necessary and not say…you suck, can’t help. Just the reality of it. With this new rating system, it seems so much easier to document “bad” teaching, but it also seems subject to the opinion of the evaluator. I know in my school, MANY teachers who got lower ratings tried to question areas that they had proof to show otherwise and nothing was changed. It’s sort of “If they don’t see it in THAT lesson, you don’t do it.” It’s impossible to show every teaching trick in every lesson. It’s also not needed. For example, I teach the little ones about using graphic organizers to compare/contrast, etc. The admin knows this and often compliments me on this work hanging in the hallways. Yet, if I don’t have any hanging up or do one while they are observing a lesson, I will get marked down lower for THAT lesson. It’s all about tooting our own horn. So….with that in mind…..I purchased a multi-pocketed portfolio and will drop in every single copy of student work that relates to every single teaching strategy I do along the way so I “have proof”. And I will state it here and go back to it later this year: How much you want to make a bet that I will be told……Well, I didn’t see you do it in that lesson. Oh well. You can’t fight city hall as they say. I’m not giving in, just stating facts. 🙂

  • 285. CarolA  |  August 1, 2013 at 7:25 am

    As proof it’s only about the actually lesson and not your teaching as a whole, here’s what happened to me: My first observation….lots of prep work, very interactive lesson, lots of learning going on, children very engaged in the lesson but it was the first lesson of a unit meaning that there wouldn’t be a lot of deep thinking questions at that point. It was the beginning of what would later include critical thinking questions of an advance nature. But that doesn’t happen with the first lesson of a unit. Result: All proficient with a few distinguished marks for classroom organization. (top is distinguished, followed by proficient, then basic, then unsatisfactory or something like that). Next observation: A lesson that came at the end of a unit. Lesson was less interactive, but included high level thinking skills. Result: All distinguished marks. I wasn’t any different of a teacher at either lesson. I am who I am. I plan my lessons accordingly. So it’s too bad these ratings seem to be dependent only on the lesson they are observing that day. The evaluation system has merit, but needs to be perfected and I don’t think that’s going to happen. CPS/Principals want it to work for them and NOT for helping a struggling teacher. If principals get training to become better (paid for by CPS) then teachers deserve the same.

  • 286. CarolA  |  August 1, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Well, now that I think about it, I guess we do get training (paid for by CPS) on our professional development days without students. HMMM Wonder why I forgot about that. Maybe it’s because they aren’t memorable or helpful, but rather about analyzing data and comparing test scores. Wouldn’t that time be better spent getting the data and working in our grade level teams to come up with activities to enhance the student learning? And I guess “bad” teachers do get help under the remediation plan, but I’ve seen that in action and anyone who was under remediation never recovered (quicksand). Some rightfully so.

  • 287. Patricia  |  August 1, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Re: privatization. I personally do not see it as the root of all evil as some seem to believe and don’t put too much credit into the conspiracy theories about charters. I do think part of the reason is certainly money. However, I think a bigger driver is the ability to actually try different methods that may work better at educating students. There is just not as much red tape and baggage with charters from an implementation viewpoint. Charters can change things faster and more efficiently with fewer headaches and battles. The CTU saying no to absolutely everything actually gives more motivation to expand charters. Every single thing with the CTU is a battle and a court case. How the heck do you improve education with an organization that has a constant irrational temper tantrum? (again I am dissing the CTU, not the good teachers out there)

    Over time charters will unionize, it is happening already. This is not necessarily a bad thing and hopefully the new union will be an organization that is an actual partner and not a roadblock. It would be wonderful if they actually operate as a professional organization like the AMA and of course negotiate benefits, etc. Time will tell.

    I have said before that I think the power to make charters completely unnecessary is with the CTU. The CTU can be progressive, offer solutions, try new approaches, offer pay differential, and IMO actually do it better than charters given the deep experience of many of its members. The CTU instead forces all teachers to be treated exactly alike which inhibits creativity and innovation.

  • 288. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 1, 2013 at 9:31 am

    283. cpsobsessed | July 31, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    The reason Rahm wants to privatize CPS is def abt $$$. It’s much cheaper to have online classes, blended learning~90 kids to a class w/one teacher and 2 aides (warehousing), having the longer day but but not a better one (babysitting). It’s much cheaper. Again, it’s not his kids~he wouldn’t want it for his kids~The Lab School teachers have been quoted in newspapers that they would never have anything like that~and they believe all the testing that CPS does is harmful. Those are teachers at the school he sends his kids to. For Rahm to privatize and make testing (Wireless Gen) a priority it just lines the pockets of Murdoch. Less testing becomes less learning~your child becomes a ‘greeter’.

  • 289. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 1, 2013 at 9:35 am

    287. Patricia | August 1, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Traditional schools outperformed charters on the ISATs ~ that’s why we didn’t hear much about it. Could you imagine in UNO schools did well~there would have been a press conference and release~perhaps some costly fireworks that CPS paid for. But charters did miserably so….not a lot of mention abt ISATs.

    Also, I don’t want my kids to be guinea pigs~the district is too big for that ~Rahm should have started w/at-risk kids/schools~the only studies he saw bc they were the only studies done on abt 5-10 schools in a district. That’s how districts try dif methods~CPS was way too big~but if Rahm wants to paint CPS w/the same brush from every1~then our district needs to be divided up bc that a disservice for my kids.

  • 290. Patricia  |  August 1, 2013 at 9:46 am

    @SSI4 We do agree that it would make sense to divide up the district. It really is too big given that teachers in every corner of the city, in every type of school are treated exactly alike regardless of if they are stellar or phone it in. It is similar to trying to turn a huge barge around in a tight space…….a more nimble smaller boat makes turning things around easier.

    I do not equate trying new things in order to improve an education system that is clearly not working for all to “guinea pigs”. I think status quo is more dangerous. I doubt we will see eye-2-eye on this one 😉

  • 291. local  |  August 1, 2013 at 10:33 am

    @ 287. Patricia | August 1, 2013 at 9:03 am

    You’re going to love this one:

    July 14, 2013

    The Gates Effect

    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent $472-million (so far) on higher education. Why many in academe are not writing thank-you notes.

    By Marc Parry, Kelly Field, and Beckie Supiano

    http://chronicle.com/article/The-Gates-Effect/140323/

    (Personally, I don’t think the article was nuanced enough, but, oh well.)

  • 292. cpsobsessed  |  August 1, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Thanks, I was curious if people saw the privatization as part of a bigger “plot” to privatize or part of saving $. I’d suspect it also is part of wanting to limit union positions which may be perceived as unyielding or “part of the problem” by Rahm et all. I guess that’s part of what is never explicitly stated outright by the mayor/BBB but then again I suppose they can’t just come right out and say that.

    Now that we have the 2013 ISATS one of the first things I want to do is look at UNO score just out of curiosity. From my analysis of ISAT scores last year, charters really run the gamut from well above CPS average to well below. So if you’re a family with low-performing neighborhood schools all around you, a charter provides a 2 in 3 chance of being better performing than your neighborhood school — not bad odds really. So I don’t know that it’s fair to say charters do worse than the regular schools as a whole. Seems like more careful selection and monitoring of is a good idea. No reason to have low performing charters (well, unless you want an option for more disciplined schools, which isn’t a bad thing either.)

  • 293. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 1, 2013 at 11:14 am

    292. cpsobsessed | August 1, 2013 at 10:35 am

    I used UNO as an example~I believe it was Suntimes that looked at all charters and wrote that traditional schools outperformed charters on the ISATs.

  • 294. Patricia  |  August 1, 2013 at 11:16 am

    CPSO, I look forward to your number crunching 🙂

  • 295. CPS Parent  |  August 1, 2013 at 11:21 am

    292. cpsobsessed I would posit that for most of CPS parents more disciplined schools (or the ability to discipline with real consequences) is MUCH more important for their kids than any test score. Not so much for the discipline of their own kids but for those that make learning impossible for the others.

  • 296. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 1, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I think MANY CPS parents seek SEES & SEHS and they have to have real numbers of test scores. So a school’s test score is very important to many parents. I doubt many CPS parents are trying to get their kids into underperforming/low test score schools.

  • 297. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    294. Patricia | August 1, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I agree! I look forward to cpsobsessed number crunching as well.

  • 298. CarolA  |  August 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Patricia: I don’t think it’s fair to say that everything with CTU is a battle. I realize it might seem like it, but has CPS offered anything to move towards change besides charters and turnarounds? Why does the whole staff have to leave for change to happen? All you really need is a strong leader who comes in, states the goals and expectations, and lets people know they must be on board or they are out. I’m willing to bet the lazy teachers will retire/leave on their own and the rest will step up to the plate, but only if they are given the resources and training to make it happen. You can’t make orange juice from oranges that have already been squeezed. I think that would be a fair deal. You are giving everyone a chance instead of wiping out the whole staff. Clear expectations…just like we give our students.

  • 299. Veteran  |  August 1, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I would like to see the test scores on schools that have fired the staff, hired a new staff but have kept the majority of the student population. Two schools come to mind- Sherman and Marquette.
    Sherman should be showing noticeable growth by now and Marquette was taken over last year. Does anyone have the info on these schools or any other schools where the staff was fired but the student population stayed the same?

    In a perfect world we would not need a union to make sure we were treated fairly but when you have administrators like CPS has it is a necessity.

    Let’s see what we have had in CPS:Hello SUPES ACADEMY!

    missing monies-seems to be common

    an administrator brought in from Boston who sent out a letter that each principal in her region needed to fire the two weakest teachers-Central office approved of this”churning”…

    administrators who observe teachers for their evaluations while going through the teachers’ desks…

    lost lawsuits due to EEOC issues

    a principal who refused to give the entire staff their daily prep if one of them was absent

    administrators who have only the “chosen” staff members attend staff development in Lake Geneva during the summer

    a male principal demanding that female teachers not wear pants with stripes

    a principal who ordered her staff to buy a school lunch or not eat because they are nutritional role models

    a principal who told his staff that if they went on strike he would fire all of them

    a principal who said a morning prayer over the intercom

    a principal who refused to come out of his office during the school day even when the police came due to a disturbance/fight

    principals who come in and diss the previous principal at staff meetings and make the newly hired by him- department chairs because the existing teachers are ineffective

    principals who refuse to suspend anyone regardless of the severity of the behavior-everything is hidden

    a principal who allowed books to be distributed only to the African American teachers and told the white teachers they could Xerox the books at their expense or write the page son the board

    principals who refuse to give teachers a bathroom break “because as adults they need to control bodily function”

    a preponderance of short males with Napoleonic complexes who somehow haven’t figured out why 1/3 to 1/2 of their staff transfers

    a principal who announced over the intercom on records day that “no one is to be failed because he is not going to spend his summer dealing with these parents”

    This is why we pay dues…..it’s cheaper than an attorney.

    Hello SUPES ACADEMY! Maybe 20 million is not enough

  • 300. cpsobsessed  |  August 2, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Sorry, can’t resist – another funny Onion article about Americans wanting to have it all, reminds me of some of our discussion:

    Nation Just Wants To Be Safe, Happy, Rich, Comfortable, Entertained At All Times
    Also Healthy, Fulfilled, Successful, and Loved

    “It’s not that complicated; at the end of the day, all I want from America is a good job, a nice house, romantic fulfillment, beautiful sunny weather during the day, starlit skies at night, low gas prices, independence from foreign oil, free food, free health care, free media, everything free,” said Maryland resident Lena McCarthy, 36, adding that if everything can’t be free, she wants her goods cheap, manufactured “right here in the U.S. of A,” and wants workers paid a good wage. “We’re talking about basic stuff here. I just want tasty fast food that’s good for me; an excellent school district with low property taxes; a high-six-figure salary; a stress-free, 40-hour workweek at a job where there aren’t a lot of meetings; and have my weekends totally free. I definitely want to keep those weekends open.”

  • 301. Patricia  |  August 2, 2013 at 9:18 am

    @298 CarolA. I can’t think of anything in recent memory since Karen L took charge that has been smooth. Most have been battles right? Of course, some battles are justified, but many are just to impede change and defend status quo. Leadership from CPS is key and it has been lacking and a revolving door which has perpetuated havoc in the individual schools. I think since Rahm became Mayor, there has been more than charters and turnarounds. Recess, longer day, common core, IB expansion, early childhood improvements, focus on student growth, principal accountability (and now training 😉 ), unified calendar, etc. There is also the 5 pillar plan (?) which no one seemed to disagree with, but needs a lot of time and money to pull off.

    I am sure there will be those who will provide a list of how these are not working—-Springfield resolving pension crisis is needed for change or status quo. Haven’t heard much from the lazy legislators, except the law suit to get their paychecks.

  • 302. CarolA  |  August 2, 2013 at 9:18 am

    That says it all, doesn’t it? 🙂

  • 303. Patricia  |  August 2, 2013 at 9:19 am

    @CPSO – LOL! Love the Onion. Refreshing for my morning coffee read 🙂

  • 304. Patricia  |  August 2, 2013 at 9:26 am

    @ Veteran. Good list and I am certain it can go on and on. It can also go on and on for any bad employee in any workplace! That is why having a way to get rid of the bad without 2+ years of red tape is so important. Sorry, I am very tainted by first hand experience. That said, I have also been blessed with the best of the best life changing teachers for myself and my kids. I really wish the good apples could be rewarded for being so great.

    BTW, this is a very minor point in the grand scheme of things, but I think it is any employers right to go through a desk. It is not personal property, it is the property of the organization.

  • 305. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 2, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Here’s a 7minute vid of Chicago 2nite…honestly talking abt Rahm. If you don’t have 7 minutes~start at 4:52 (but try and start from the beginning http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/video

  • 306. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 2, 2013 at 10:07 am

    This is the link for the 7minute video http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/07/26/web-extra-week-review-726

  • 307. CarolA  |  August 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Great video! Thanks for the link. Kind of tells it all.

  • 308. Veteran  |  August 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Overcrowding- a 25 year issue on the southwest side.

  • 309. lurking CPS teacher  |  August 3, 2013 at 9:28 am

    veteran teacher – ahh, brought back many memories! I have taught a full class (around 32 students) on an auditorium stage, a library split into two classrooms with standing blackboards as a divider, in a teachers’ lounge and a few other interesting locations. My colleagues have used projection booths, book storage rooms, and hallways as well. Working in these types of conditions make teaching and learning much more of a challenge. How sad for the students and teachers.

  • 310. ModestProposals  |  August 3, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I know! I’ll just use the CPS school-day as child-care while I work my other job and then home-school in the evenings before I do the unfinished work I brought home that day.

  • 311. Angie  |  August 6, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Just wondering if CPS teachers knew about this job fair.

    http://couriernews.suntimes.com/news/21690671-418/chicago-teachers-a-no-show-at-u46-job-fair.html

    Chicago teachers a no-show at U46 job fair in Elgin

    “This summer, the Elgin district was looking to fill about 300 openings — half for teachers and half for other support staff, Meidel said at the job fair. Many were hard-to-fill positions, such as teachers qualified to teach English Language Learners or special education.

    U46 had contacted CTU before planning the job fair, according to the assistant superintendent. The union agreed to send out information about the event to its membership, she said, although it does not appear to have done so.”

  • 312. cpsobsessed  |  August 6, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I keep meaning to mention the irony of cps wanting to keep teachers with ESL and Sped credentials given that these programs seem to be being chopped…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 313. cpsobsessed  |  August 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/us/chicago-sees-pension-crisis-drawing-near.html?hpw&_r=0

    NYTimes has a good article (and shameful one) about Chicago’s pension crisis. It just lays it out and makes me feel like we’re idiots that we can’t get this figured out. Something has to give. Rahm says he’s not going to raise taxes to cover it. It this is true, we’ve got to feel some pain somewhere. As I read this, I sort of shake my head as to why Rahm is getting all the blame and people want to out him. Because someone is finally trying to get this thing taken care of? Somebody is going to have to be the bad guy/girl to save the city from financial ruin and it seems like all the citizens do it b*tch about it when someone tries to force some resolution.

    Of course that is the high level view. If I’m a teacher who worked all those years only to lose my pension, that tough stance sounds like an extremely bum deal / broken contract.

  • 314. anonymouse teacher  |  August 6, 2013 at 11:05 am

    @311, My colleague got hired in Elgin last week on the spot at that job fair. He was from CPS (not one who lost his job, he just left). I don’t know if most people didn’t know about the fair or if it is just too far. I looked, but the drive was not doable. My colleague is relocating.

  • 315. anonymouse teacher  |  August 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    CPSO, I look at the pension stuff and admittedly, it makes my head swim. I wonder if TIFs were returned, if property taxes were raised some, and if teachers/city workers all contributed more to their own pensions if that would solve the issue or it if would continue to push the problem down the road.
    Or are pensions simply unsustainable no matter what? Does limiting the amount of pension $$ that new hires take home make any difference in the long run? What happens if teachers/other city workers are given the option of taking a 401K plan and investing the money that is currently put into pension plans now? When people say “Pension reform” what does that mean, exactly, in terms of dollars? Does that mean retirees lose 10% of their pension, 20%, 50%, all? I haven’t heard a clear, exact plan for what possible “pension reform” would mean in terms of dollars or percentages. Does anyone know what is being proposed or is it just a generic sense of cuts?

  • 316. educator  |  August 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    CPSO, regarding your question about why CPS wants to keep ELL/SPED teachers – this is because if the homeroom teacher has an ELL or SPED endorsement/certification, the principal can opt to place ELL and/or SPED children in that teacher’s classroom and be in compliance for getting the students their allotted minutes for ELL or SPED instruction. It doesn’t really work well in practice. For example, in upper grades at my former school, there used to be an ELL pull out/push in teacher who focused on the ELL students that had been pushed into my classroom, but still needed support. She would assist in modifying tests and also do pull out/extra help sessions with those students. The state has continually reduced Blingual/ELL funding over the past few years and so there are very little funds given to schools to hire a separate ELL teacher who can service/focus on the students that need ELL support. A homeroom or classroom teacher has 30 (or perhaps this year 40) students to focus on, differentiate for, and is focused on teaching a particular subject or content. ELL students cannot (and will not) be the primary focus of the classroom teacher who will be delivering instruction to the entire class. And so even though it looks like the ELL students are receiving the proper support on paper, it usually doesn’t happen in practice.

    Similarly with Special Education, the state is about to decide to possibly lift the cap on SPED classroom size which can open the way to pushing SPED students back into the General Classroom for the majority of their day. Again, if the classroom teacher has a SPED certificate, it is legal for the principal to push in SPED students into the general classroom (if the SPED caps are lifted). Again, the classroom teacher trained in SPED will know what to do to support SPED students, but may not have the time to provide that individual or small group support if he/she is also responsible for 30-40 other students and delivering constant instruction.

    I know of principals that are requiring every teacher on staff to have an ELL certificate to deal with the lack of state funding for Bilingual/ELL support. This will keep the school “in compliance” but it likely won’t deliver the needed support to the ELL students. This is a very likely scenario down the road for SPED students if the state cap on classroom size is lifted for SPED classrooms.

  • 317. Veteran  |  August 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Rod Estvan does a really great job of discussing taxes and pensions on the District 299 site and predicts when CPS will go bankrupt……

    http://www.chicagonow.com/district-299-chicago-public-schools-blog/2013/08/budget-hearing-brouhaha/#comments

  • 318. Chris  |  August 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    “Somebody is going to have to be the bad guy/girl to save the city from financial ruin and it seems like all the citizens do it b*tch about it when someone tries to force some resolution.”

    Heh. Everyone wants things done the same way as always–keep kicking the can down the road until *I* am old enough to retire and leave.

    Also of “can’t repeat it enough” note, this:

    “no intention of raising his city’s property taxes by as much as 150 percent”

    is accurate, but misleading–the ‘150% increase’ is only w/r/t the city’s portion of the tax bill, and would be a ~25% increase to everyone’s total tax bill. A lot, of course, but not the same as a $5,000 tax bill going up to $12,500.

  • 319. lurking CPS teacher  |  August 6, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Here is an article from Catalyst about the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund that provides some history about the fund and how things started heading south.
    http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/2013/08/06/22524/set-record-straight-teachers-pension-fund-problems

  • 320. WesLooMom  |  August 6, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    CPSO, Rahm may raise taxes, just not by 150 percent.

  • 321. cpsobsessed  |  August 7, 2013 at 7:30 am

    I read the Catalyst article. It makes the point that the CTPF (Chi Teachers Pension Fund) did their job of contributing and investing regularly and it sounds like they did. the flub came when the city/state stopped contributing for a while and anyone who knows about investing knows, that can ruin the concept of long term investing/growth.

    But then I have to ask, given the massive power of a strike, why did the teachers not try to stop this from happening?

    As Carol A pointed out, there have been chances for one party or another to “just say no” to the other that have now gotten us into this mess. Perhaps what the news continuously refers to a Democrats and the Union being allies for so many years had something to do with it? Both groups wanting/needing public support?

    I’d probably lay more blame with the govt/politicians for even *suggesting* the pension holiday, but I once again come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter at this point who screwed it up.

  • 322. cps alum  |  August 7, 2013 at 8:31 am

    @cpsobsessed- “Why did the teachers not try to stop this from happening?” I don’t know about the Chicago teachers pension fund, but I’m in TRS (all the other districts). The state stopped contributing over 20 years ago, and as long as I’ve been a teacher (14 years) my union has been talking about this issue and asking members to pressure the state to start contributing their fair share. It has been a topic at my school EVERY YEAR since I started. My school is a part of the IEA (Illinois Education Association) and the pension has been an addressed countless pieces of literature I have received over the years. Teachers have been worried about this for a VERY long time, but since the media hasn’t covered the issue until now, the general public did not know what is going on. From the teachers point of view, the state has not held up its part of the bargain through poor management. While teachers have contributed 9.5% to the pension every paycheck (and my district does not have pension pick-up…. I pay 9.5% every paycheck), the state has been borrowing against teacher’s pensions contributions for a generation. The state used the pension as a piggy bank to pay its bills in other areas since raising taxes is politically dangerous. Now the chickens have come home to roost, and the media and the legislature is framing this as if it is the teachers fault in some way.

  • 323. cps alum  |  August 7, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Additionally, I don’t think the general public understands that the state of Illinois does not have to pay Social Security taxes. Normally an employer matches the Social Security taxes that an employee pays. The employee pays 6.2% the employer pays 6.2%. Had the teachers been a part of Social Security rather than the pension the state would have been paying 6.2% to the Federal Government every year for the last 25 years or so. If this had been the case, the State would not have had the option of borrowing against Social Security, so if revenue was low for other State services, Illinois would have had to either raise taxes or cut other programs in order to pay the bills. The fact of the matter is that the State has had a revenue problem for the last 25 years, but has hidden this fact from the public by borrowing against teacher pensions. Now we are in a crisis the state wants to wash its hands of the problem.

  • 324. cps alum  |  August 7, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Plus, teachers can’t strike over this issue.

  • 325. cpsobsessed  |  August 7, 2013 at 8:47 am

    @cps alum: yes, I guess it’s like asking “why do we continue to let I’ll contribute such a low share to education” or “why don’t we replace politicians with those who are pro-eduction.”. it would take a massive cohesive effort to make it happen.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 326. Chris  |  August 7, 2013 at 10:56 am

    “The state stopped contributing [to TRS] over 20 years ago”

    This isn’t true. Over the past 20 years, the State of Illinois has funded about $25 BILLION into TRS. Now, this is only about 70% of the actuarial required amount, which is why we have a major shortfall, but it sure as heck isn’t zero. And it’s not a change from the 25 years before that, either–the State *never* funded TRS to the actuarial requirement.

  • 327. RL Julia  |  August 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    I think the general take away is that the teacher’s pension has been in trouble for a very long time…. like about 20 years.

  • 328. Chris  |  August 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    “I think the general take away is that the teacher’s pension has been in trouble for a very long time…. like about 20 years.”

    Depends how one defines ‘in trouble’. If ‘in trouble’ is less than 100% (actuarial) funding, then it has been in trouble for 75 years–it’s *entire* existence.

    For most of the past 20 years, the funded ratio for TRS has been *higher* than it was in the prior 20 years. See: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/March-2011/Illinois-Teacher-Pensions-Always-in-Distress-Mode/

    So, *always*, perpetually, “in trouble” is accurate, but not necessarily illuminating.

  • 329. Peter  |  August 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Chris, thanks for clearing that up. That was my understanding as well. The pension system has received tax dollars over the last 20 years, just not enough. But, there isn’t enough money so we need reform now.

  • 330. lurking CPS teacher  |  August 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    The whole teacher pension issue, both in Chicago and the state is basically a “shoulda, woulda, coulda” situation when it comes to funding the pension. I cannot help feeling cheated and betrayed. After working very hard and giving it my all, often putting my job before my family, as I am nearing the end of my career it’s somehow okay to renege on a contractually agreed pension because the money that needed to be paid into these funds to sustain them was siphoned off or simply not paid because of political wheeling and dealing? You can place the blame on the politicians, the CTU, wherever, but trying to change the game on retirees and those of us nearing retirement is lousy. Will state senators, representatives, city alderman, etc. taking cuts on their pensions and retirement health care costs? Why doesn’t anyone expect them to take reduced salaries, benefits, pensions, etc.? Most of them make a lot more money than I ever will and get better benefits and retirement programs.

  • 331. RL Julia  |  August 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    @328 – great article. Made me laugh and it’s hard to laugh about anything associated with pensions.

  • 332. cpsobsessed  |  August 7, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    @330: I would support the idea of politicians taking reduced salaries, for sure, given it was their ilk who helped make this mess. Really I think all govt employees should be slightly less compensated, unfortunately as a matter of getting the state finances into shape. Can we afford to have some of the best paid govt positions in the country right now (I’m guessing about other positions based on how we know things work in IL.)

    On the other hand, to your point about feeling betrayed about not getting the full pension, what are your thoughts on people paying into social security. It’s kind of a standard line of thinking that nobody expects it to ever pay out. Can I feel betrayed in 20 years? Or will you think that the writing was on the wall and we all should have known it? On that note, WAS the writing on the walls for the teacher pension system? Did people know it was floundering?

  • 333. lurking CPS teacher  |  August 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    @332 You can absolutely feel betrayed in 20 years! 🙂 It is kind of the same thing – you are contributing to something that is supposed to be part of your money for retirement. I don’t know if the writing was on the wall, but it begs the same question, why do the state and federal gov’t feel it’s okay to not meet obligations that are put in place either by law or contractual agreement?

    My mother was the pension board rep at her school., when I was a kid I remember my mother, a CPS teacher, and her friends talking about how somebody (the state, the city?) wanting to combine CTPF with TRS. I think TRS was underfunded and CTPF was fully funded. They were totally against it because CTPF was 100% funded. I also vaguely remember them talking about the Chicago Police Pension fund wanting to borrow from CTPF. That never happened either. The problems started when the money was given directly to CPS from a tax levy rather than paid directly to CTPF. It’s been downhill ever since.

    I think the problem is that when you are starting out, you’re really not focused on what’s going on with the pension or Social Security benefits, but I know there have been rumblings pretty much most of my time at CPS. I truly don’t know how this will all shake out. My husband and I lived pretty frugally and have managed to save money, but certainly not near enough without a pension or Social Security.

  • 334. lurking parent  |  August 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    So true about pensions/social security. I guess the answer would be to take your contributions and put it into your own IRA or 401K (not that there is a choice with ss). Will never beat the sweet pension deal.

  • 335. lurking CPS teacher  |  August 7, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    @334 With five years left before I can retire, it’s a little late for me to start from nothing. I have one child finished with college currently working on a graduate degree that I help out with some expenses and two others doing undergraduate that rely on me for pretty much total support. They have part time jobs, but I pay for their tuition and basic living expenses. As I stated, I have managed to save a nice tidy sum by living well within my means, but it would never be enough to have a decent standard of living without the pension that I was promised. My husband and I both started 403b plans when we started working in order to have the kind of retirement we envisioned for ourselves. The real kicker is my husband is a Chicago policeman, they’re going after his pension as well. Neither one of us had the choice to opt out of the pension plans and now it looks like we’re both going to get screwed six ways to Sunday.

  • 336. southshore  |  August 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I’m surprised no one commented about this via Diane Ravitch Report;

    Why Did CPS Award a $20 Million No-Bid Contract? | Diane Ravitch’s blog

    2 Aug 2013 | Chicago · Corporate Education Reform
    .

    How many times have we heard that the a Chicago Public Schools are broke? Isn’t that why CPS laid off thousands of teachers and closed 50 elementary schools?

    But wait: this week, CPS gave a $20 million no-bid contract to a for-profit corporation called Supes Academy to train principals.

    CPS Superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett worked for Supes Academy until April 2012.

    “The size and the circumstances surrounding the contract have raised eyebrows among some outside observers. The contract with Wilmette-based Supes Academy is by far the largest no-bid contract awarded in at least the past three years, according to a Catalyst Chicago analysis of board documents. In addition, CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett worked for the company as a coach up until the time she came on board at CPS as a consultant.

    “There’s also conflicting information about Byrd-Bennett’s involvement with another company owned by the same individuals who run the Supes Academy.

    “Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the Better Government Association, says that a large, no-bid contract such as this one deserves scrutiny.”

    Scrutiny? I’ll say. Chicago has several excellent institutions of higher education that could have done the same job for far less money. Was this a necessary expenditure at a time when the schools don’t have enough teachers and at being closed, allegedly to save money?

  • 337. Marketing Mom  |  August 9, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Why would the CTU send letters to it membership regarding the Elgin job fair? if the teachers move to Elgin, they will not need to be members of the CTU anymore.

  • 338. Marty  |  August 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Logan Square Community Rally to Support our Public Schools
    Sunday August 18th 4pm
    Historic Logan Square Monument and Square

    Join parents, students, educators, community organizations, activists, and local elected officials as we rally at to call on Mayor Emanuel to put our kids first by declaring a TIF surplus and restore the devastating cuts to our local schools before the children go back to school. All are welcome, please join us!

  • 339. SN dad  |  August 12, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Shouldn’t you also rally to call on Karen Lewis to give back the raises CTU get? Knowing that we’ll be1 billion dollars in red, CTU took our children hostage by going on strike to get the raises. Both of my parents are teachers, but I found that very upsetting.

  • 340. Marty  |  August 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    then dont come.

  • 341. Cindy  |  August 22, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I think its all about repaying bank loans which were made by Chicago. Our leaders took loans out on real estate projects which primarily benefitted the wealthy (make Chicago look good to others). The real estate moguls sold projects to the City, using thier own overpaid contractors, and the City bought, by BORROWING. Meanwhile, the average working joe paid thru the nose.
    Its so funny that a local elementary school in our neighborhood was overcrowded for years (1300+ students in a tiny school), just breaking that status a year ago because a new school was built (real estate loan). Now they want to close the new school, saying there’s not enough students. What most likely is happening here is that since Chicago can’t pay the loans it was induced to take out, Chicago must give up some property assets to the bank in order to save face and money. Wall street make out big on this – more teachers laid off means more foreclosures – which means more land grab. The real estate industry and banks want to make bigger money by leasing/renting out the confiscated properties, or keeping them in perpetual mortgage status. Whoever owns the land owns the people and thats why we are getting nowhere with our government. And the U.S. government would rather subject itself (and its people) to the private Federal Reserve in order to pretend that USA is still the most powerful wealthy nation (brings in more sucker investors). Its a shame that our children have to suffer – but I have faith that many of our children will use thier voice in the future (properly educated or not). It happened to the Roman Empire among others. A country is only as great to the world as its people are allowed to become. The US government it cheating its children, indebting them, and denying their basic human needs by proxy (wall street lobby, etc). There must be consequences to this.

  • 342. Cindy  |  August 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Edit: I don’t beleive the actual construction workers were overpaid – by “overpaid contractors” I mean the reals estate industry most likely uses a monopoly of private contracting companies (bank or government-agency-owned) to do the work bids. The construction workers are average joe trying to feed thier families (clueless) and they pay taxes back to the government, unless the workers are without legal status, in which case they are underpaid for the work. The real estate moguls usually have thier own private construction companies and work in collusion with GSE’s and big bank sponsors (big red flag), and have incentive to use underpaid illegal immigrants to do the hard work. When they are “caught” (i.e., IF it becomes known to the public) they get a slap on the wrist so people think there is justice – and go back to the same by simply changing thier business name.
    Our childrens’ right to a free education (among other rights) are being denied and infringed upon, and the education is certainly not free – in fact – people who own a home and have no children at all pay thousands a year in real estate taxes ON TOP of parents having to buy almost everything a public school system (private corporation) wants. These are mandatory charges, in case no one has noticed – and attending school is also mandatory – homeschooling is made difficult by the laws imposed upon it. If a child does not attend school the parent is labelled a criminal (a criminal is owned by the government). Its kind of obvious these days that if you are a parent you do have a choice – either have a stable roof over your head (pay the bank mortgage/gov taxes which together sometimes exceeds take home pay) or pay for proper education (ditto). Just try to get CPS to properly educate your child without paying any money – its not possible, unless you and your child have a “case number” and belong to the government. The government bank-securitizes prisoners and wards the same way mortgages are securitized – by unique number, pooled together and sold off to investors. Its all about greed and power, to me has nothing to do with needs of children – but more likely has to do with the future availability of securitizable (sellable) human beings.

    I am not formally stating anything here – I am expressing opinion which is based upon information and common sense.

  • 343. Cindy  |  August 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    The “revenue problem” is most likely the fact that Chicago has a very old loan with Wells Fargo to the tune of 9 billion dollars. Chicago kept refinancing it, I believe, in order to just be able to pay the interest. But it isn’t enough – Chicago has to surrender assets (property – land/people) or be foreclosed upon, it appears to me. That would mean bankruptcy, and the proplem seems to be all over the nation, not just Chicago. This 9b is just what Chicago owes – I just assume that other cities, and the state have similar loans out which can’t be “repaid”. The loans were most likely securitized and have international investors. Is USA owned by international investors? Possibly – which is why our government can do nothing we ask and does what lobbyists (banks) want. AG’s do slap-on-wrist to shut us up – do you see any money coming into your pocket, or teacher’s pockets, for that matter? The money is going somewhere.

  • 344. Cindy  |  August 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    You can look this up, become informed if you like. A company called SERCO (and its subsidiaries) currently runs the world, it appears. It has a US branch in Reston, Virginia (MERS (mortgages), Dept of Defense, etc share the address). It runs Britains school system, as well, and it originated in Britain. Warren Buffet is a shareholder, among other wealthy investors. SERCO specializes in “human capital”. It owns over 90% of US government contracts. Doesn’t US Dept of Ed have a government contract? Go figure – we the people are owned, teachers deserve to get paid, children need an education, parents being told that teachers are the problem – I do not believe that’s true – I believe that there is a hidden agenda and teachers and providers are the unknowing patsies. All are being nickle-and-dimed to death and someone is making a profit.

  • 345. Richard Crane  |  October 6, 2013 at 8:03 am

    The layoffs have happened. I don’t think they’re adversely affecting my kid’s education at all. It might be a positive-less time spent playing triangle or making paper mache.

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