CTU brought proposals to the bargaining table that will give Chicago’s students the schools they deserve and teachers, paraprofessionals, and clinicians dignity and respect on the job.
The Chicago Board of Education’s proposals will be detrimental to both teaching and learning.
Some of CPS’ Proposals:
- The Board wants to eliminate any real enforcement of class size limits: Like Republican candidate Mitt Romney, they make the argument that class size doesn’t matter. In their proposal they say, “The Board has informed the CTU that it does not intend to bargain over this subject. …. While teachers would have a reduction in their workloads, studies have not proven that class size reductions have predictable and discernible positive impacts on educational outcomes.” The Board has reserved the right to change class size policy at any time and merely notify the union and it has eliminated any funding of positions to lower class size in the district; the previous contract committed $2.25 million to lower class sizes. These changes will concretely increase our class sizes throughout the district, even though many kindergarten and primary grade classrooms throughout the city have class sizes that approach 50 students in a room.
- Pay and benefit cuts: the Board has offered a one-time 2% raise for a five year contract despite the fact that teachers will be forced to work much harder next year. They have also asked for merit pay for the last three years of the contract that will increase the pressure to teach to the test and lead to testing scandals like those that we’ve seen in Atlanta, D.C., and Houston.
- Elimination of sick day banks: This benefit has been an incentive for teachers who have not called in sick and the Board’s proposal incentivizes absenteeism and disciplinary action against our members. The Board wants to eliminate our ability to bank our sick days for the sake of enhancing our retirement. While they have offered short-term disability and maternity leave in return, there is no clear process to ensure our members will have widespread access to those benefits. Additionally, the Board has been lowering evaluations and imposing discipline on members throughout the system for excessive absenteeism, even when they are using contractually guaranteed benefit days. We cannot allow a situation where our sick days are structured as “use it or lose it” and then we are disciplined for using them.
- Refusal to develop and reward experience in the classroom: Under the Board’s proposal highly qualified and effective teachers at struggling schools will be pushed out of the system. The CTU believes that a school district that loses excellent teachers to the suburbs and has a very high turnover rate needs to work to ensure that our experienced and qualified educators are retained.
- Increasing the length of the day and year and yet reduced the number of professional development days, no commensurate increase in preparation time, and forcing teachers to work evenings and Saturdays. Recent studies show that teachers are already working nearly 60 hours a week and requiring them to work evenings and weekends. The Board’s Appendix B proposal requires elementary school teachers to bank 15 minutes a day until they have 75 minute increments. While they say we get to vote on whether we work the extra time on Fridays or Saturdays, the two options require either an 8 hour and 40 minute day during the normal work week or working Saturdays.
- The Board is also requiring teachers to work a 10-hour day on report card pickup with students dismissed 3 hours early from a normal school day but staff is required to stay 5.5 hours beyond dismissal. With all teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians, social workers, counselors, and school psychologists required to work more instructional minutes next year under an entirely new Evaluation system and Common Core curriculum, there must be a proportional increase in the amount of preparation time afforded to teachers to properly plan their lessons and collaborate within their normal work-day. This would require the Board to ensure elementary school teachers with an additional preparation period beyond what they are willing to allow.
- Increasing the amount of test-based evaluation of teachers to 40% of the overall evaluation within the next 5 years: Teachers think will distort our practice to being primarily concerned with test prep instead of quality instruction.
- Healthcare: The Board is proposing an increase to overall family contributions for healthcare by over 100% from the last contract. This is more cost-shifting by CPS to place the burden of their costly charter and turnaround experiments upon our members’ backs.