by ctu communications | August 30, 2016
Comparing Points of Proposals
3-year contract (expiring end of June 2018)
Board of Ed Position:
Protects our step and lane structure and pension pick up for all three years with 2% raises in years two and three.
Board of Ed Position:
The Board’s proposal for 4-year salary: (We are not counting steps and lanes as salary increases because over 90% of school districts in Illinois recognize them as part of the experience/level of education ladder in teaching. CPS is trying to alter that permanently and count them as cost of living raises in order to reduce our compensation.)
Year 1 (2015-2016)
Three furlough days LOSS
Cut in lanes/steps: 1.8%
Net loss: 3.24% salary
Year 2 (2016-2017)
3.5% pension pick up LOSS
2.75% cola GAIN
0.8% health care LOSS
Net loss: 1.55% salary
Year 3 (2017-2018)
3.5% pension pick up LOSS
3.0% cola GAIN
0.8% health care LOSS
Net loss: 1.3% salary
Year 4 (2018-2019)
3% cola GAIN
Net gain: 3.0%
Total Net Loss:
6.09% - 3.0% = 3.09%
No health care cuts and restrictions on the Board’s ability to change our health care providers.
Board of Ed Position:
Substantially increases our health care premiums, co-pays, emergency room visits and deductibles while reducing the plan options we have to choose from.
Case Management and Special Education (SPED)
Requires additional hiring within our bargaining unit to perform case management duties and workload limits for SPED educators and PSRPs.
Board of Ed Position:
Continues current practice of staff reductions and cuts to SPED funding.
Enforceable class size limits. Protects our classrooms from mass layoffs.
Board of Ed Position:
No limits on class size.
Eliminates student-based budgeting and its discriminatory impact on staffing veteran teachers.
Board of Ed Position:
Refuses to change the policy.
Layoffs and Recall
Requires that the district maintains staffing averages and puts laid-off members into existing vacancies. Also requires CPS to allow teachers to follow students when new schools open near an existing school’s attendance boundary.
Board of Ed Position:
Further reduces the rights of laid-off members to return to the system.
Librarians, Counselors, Social Workers, Nurses, School Psychologists
Calls for protecting our students through guaranteed, adequate staffing for librarians, counselors, social workers and school psychologists at every school.
Board of Ed Position:
Continue to diminish number of librarians throughout the district while refusing to increase the ratio for the other positions.
No minimum number of retirements to qualify for lump sum payout for early retirement.
Board of Ed Position:
Requires 1,500 teacher retirements and 900 PSRP retirements to trigger the incentive.
School Closings and Charter Expansion
A moratorium on school closings; severely limit charter expansion and enrollment. Chicago Public Schools should cooperate with the CTU to lobby to eliminate the Illinois State Charter Commission.
Board of Ed Position:
Close schools that cannot make graduation requirements (a vague standard). Promises to reject new charters but allows the Illinois State Charter Commission, dominated by charter advocates, to overrule that decision.
Sustainable Community Schools and Restorative Practices
Guarantees of funding for 20-50 sustainable community schools with significant supports, staffing and wrap-around services.
Board of Ed Position:
CPS agrees in principle but the devil is in the details.
Is CPS CEO Forrest Claypool correct that the 7% pension pick-up that CPS pays in teacher and PSRP salary is unreasonable or excessive compared to other Illinois school districts?
No—absolutely not. Teachers in Chicago and across the state do not receive social security, and our pensions are the only form of retirement income we possess. In the 1980s, many school districts could not afford raises, and in lieu of them, agreed to pay a portion of the employee pension costs. More than half of all school districts in the state pay more of their employee pension costs than Chicago Public Schools. (Fifty-seven percent of districts pay more according to data from the Teachers’ Retirement System, but that does not include districts that have converted the pick-up into salary, which would actually increase the percentage.)
Claypool appears to want a mass exodus of teachers like the exodus he has caused of quality principals. It's hard to imagine any other reason why he is cutting teacher pay in a city with a higher cost of living and fewer teacher rights than any of our neighboring districts. For example, teachers elsewhere in Illinois can negotiate lower class sizes and push back through their bargaining rights against privatization deals like Aramark and Sodexho. Additionally, educators must live in the city to work in the city. Our property taxes are going up, too, so cutting our pay simultaneously is a huge disincentive to work in CPS.
Is there a chance we could settle and not require a strike?
We hope so. Bargaining has been ongoing throughout the summer but the Board of Ed has barely moved from its offer on January 29, 2016. As you can see from the comparison between its position and ours, we have a long way to go. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointed Board have shown time and time again that they will not compromise or back down unless we exercise our power. Preparing for a strike is our ultimate power, and unless we prepare, we will likely never get a decent contract from the Board.
The good news is that the issues we need to resolve are not insurmountable; the $300 million that separates our position from the Board’s position can be solved if the mayor declared a major (tax increment financing) TIF surplus and taxed corporations using the municipal power he possesses.
When on strike, what happens to my health insurance?
It is unlikely that our health benefits will be suspended by the CPS. If we were to strike early in the month, health insurance is generally guaranteed for the duration of the month. In the event that the Board did suspend our benefits, however, it would qualify as a Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) event. COBRA allows employees to pay their own insurance at a cost of 102% of the coverage. The employee has 60 days to respond whether or not they will accept COBRA, and an additional 45 days to pay for the coverage.
If the new labor contract, effective July 1, 2015, is settled and the strike ends (which it likely would) prior to the deadline to pay the COBRA bill, then your medical bills will be covered by the insurance company once our health plan is reinstated.
Why not strike immediately instead of reporting to school in August and September?
Our House of Delegates was clear on this question—our members will use the opportunity to organize in the workplace at the beginning of the year, collect a paycheck and activate our insurance to avoid the possibility of losing coverage during a strike. This way we set our own deadline instead of waiting for the Board to treat us fairly.
Why go on strike? What did the one-day strike on April 1 get us?
The mayor and his handpicked CPS CEO have cut an unconscionable amount from schools in special education programming, librarians and nurses, 1,000 staff layoffs and continued havoc from student-based budgeting. We must continue to protect our students and their classrooms.
Regarding April 1, our battle cries from that day were heard in Springfield. In the immediate aftermath, we helped successfully restore the state pension levy to the tune of $250 million and increased the school funding formula by more than $100 million—with the potential to add $200 million by early next year. The pension levy had been suspended since mayoral control of CPS was imposed by the state legislature in 1995, so this was a real victory. Without this funding, the value of a strike would have been to limit cuts, layoffs and program reductions. Now, there is a real pathway to a fair contract without starving the schools or harming educators.
Our collective action on April 1 also helped temporarily break the impasse in Springfield and provide a much better opportunity to settle a contract that will be good for teachers and students. Additionally, prior to the one-day strike, Claypool was actively talking about 5,000 layoffs, additional furlough days and unilateral action to cut our salaries by 7% (the pension pick-up). None of those things happened and our ability to strike will continue to be an important tool in the fight for educational justice.
Why is the Union considering taking another strike vote?
CTU members already voted to authorize a strike and are still extremely united on that question. We are clear: Members have spoken, that authorization is still in place and people are ready to use it if needed. But we also know that Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner will do everything they can to try to take away our right to strike. Rauner appoints the Illinois Labor Relations Board and the mayor has already tried to make striking illegal for us in 2012 and again last year.
This is why the CTU is considering organizing a new vote. One option is to circulate voting materials in schools with every CTU member signing onto a petition. It would help us get organized in our buildings and send a powerful message to the city that we’re ready to fight for a fair contract. We would also be able to declare it as another official authorization vote to offset any potential legal challenges.
What is the Big Bargaining Team and why should we trust its judgment?
The officers of the CTU asked 50 members of our elected Executive Board, school leaders, delegates and members who represent the diversity, geographic dispersion and specific positions within the union (clinicians, PSRPs, itinerant teachers, etc.) to help look at any Board proposals to ensure member interests are reflected at every step of the bargaining process. The Big Bargaining Team has been a critical group of leaders who hold various perspectives, concerns and levels of expertise in our union, and has been invaluable in providing the detail and insight necessary to negotiate the best terms and conditions for our next contract.
Once the Board makes an offer worth consideration there will be a recommendation from CTU officers and the Big Bargaining Team to the House of Delegates (HOD) for an “accept” or “reject” vote. If a tentative offer is accepted by the HOD, it then goes to the entire membership for approval.
Did teacher and PSRP compensation cause CPS’ financial crisis?
No. The two biggest cost drivers in the CPS budget are debt service and charter expansion. Instead of going after teachers who already have experienced pay freezes, mass layoffs and budget cuts, the mayor and his CPS CEO should go after the big banks that ripped off the city and the schools with toxic interest rate swaps worth over $1 billion. They should also call for a charter moratorium and empty the $500 million TIF fund, both of which remove a considerable amount of district resources that would be better used in our classrooms.
Equitable short-term and long-term solutions exist. The Cook County Clerk’s office recently reported the nearly $500 million in tax receipts sitting in TIF accounts. The cut in teacher salary amounts to just $200 million. By emptying TIF surpluses across the city, not only can CPS avoid cutting teachers, but the draconian cuts imposed this summer also can be reversed. Additionally, the city could re-impose the corporate head tax and make it less of a nuisance to pay for employers with 50 or more employees. By our estimate, such a move would hit wealthier employers and generate nearly $100 million annually. That amount could restore all librarians to schools and double the number of counselors, social workers and school nurses. It could also help protect special education programs that have been adversely affected by reductions in staff and funding. In a city experiencing record levels of violence, there is no better or more necessary investment in children’s lives.
What should the CTU be doing to inform the public about our contract campaign?
CTU members are the best messengers. We live in every community and engage with millions of Chicagoans when you factor in our students and their families, our own neighbors and relatives, and the CTU’s labor, community and education justice partners. The anti-CTU (i.e., anti-teacher) editorials of the Chicago Tribune are read by far fewer people. Further, the Chicago media market is prohibitively expensive so we have to use our resources wisely and create our own, unique networks.
Your union will provide you with much material to start the school year—starting with this FAQ—so you can speak with confidence and more certainty our contract fight. To learn more, please attend one of the three Contract Action Team trainings on September 13, 15 and 17, and make sure your delegate attends the critically important House of Delegates meeting on September 7.
by lauren fitzpatrick - chicago sun-times | August 29, 2016
Ever since it began doling out money per student for school budgets a few years ago, Chicago Public Schools officials have blamed most teacher layoffs on enrollment drops, especially the round of pink slips after the release of each year’s budget.
CPS said the layoffs earlier this month of 494 teachers and 492 support staff of were part of a “normal annual staff movement between schools” because when enrollment drops, so does funding to its schools, and with fewer students, a school doesn’t need as many staffers. As the Chicago Teachers Union criticized the layoffs, the district also pointed to 1,000 vacancies that still need filling systemwide.
A Sun-Times analysis of the layoffs found numerous examples of a disconnect between enrollment patterns and the number of teachers and other staff let go.
In fact, several schools projected to gain enrollment laid off multiple staffers — and will lose staff overall, something of a paradox under the student-based budgeting model.
Please click here to continue reading at chicago.suntimes.com.
by BEATRIZ PONCE DE LEON | August 26, 2016
As the first day of school approaches, Chicago Public Schools continues to grapple with large budget cuts to schools and central office, and it expects to see a drop in enrollment of around 5,000 students. To keep families from leaving, Chicago can start by doing everything possible to make neighborhood public high schools great for all students.
This would guarantee families a high quality high school education for their children without the admissions madness, anxiety and uncertainty caused by our choice system.
We do not need to open new selective enrollment or charter schools. Choice alone doesn't guarantee access and it doesn't guarantee quality. Today, families with means often turn to private schools or move to the suburbs in search of this guarantee. Some try charters. According to two recent reports from the Chicago Consortium on School Research,neighborhood high schools are driving increases in graduation rates and ACT scores in CPS.
Despite this, many of these schools continue to battle negative public perception and have a hard time competing for students. Yet neighborhood high schools enroll almost half of all CPS high school students—42.5%—and serve students of all abilities and backgrounds.
It is time to put our neighborhood public high schools front and center again.
Please click here to continue reading at chicagobusiness.com.
by ctu communications | August 25, 2016
CTU members may have recently received a letter about "fair-share" fees from the Liberty Justice Center (LJC), a "non-profit organization dedicated to protecting workers' rights." This letter, however, is part of a campaign from the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), which claims to be a “independent research and education organization,” but is really a group backed by billionaire governor Bruce Rauner that seeks to gut unions and destroy collective bargaining rights. The LJC and the IPI even share the same 190 S. LaSalle St. address. What a coincidence!
Remember, Rauner, just weeks ago, was revealed to have said half of us Chicago public school educators were "virtually illiterate." Needless to say, there is nothing the "Liberty Justice Center" can do for us but take away our power to stand up to people like him. Be kind and recycle this letter with the rest of your paper waste.
by ctu communications | August 22, 2016
CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today released a report detailing the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) on privatized services—services which have resulted in multiple conflicts of interests and an extremely poor level of service in Chicago’s public schools. The report, titled “Outsourced: How CPS Sells its Own Governance to the Highest Bidder,” comes as CPS claims to have insufficient funds for providing students much-needed classroom services, but continues to dole out millions to for-profit corporations.
More than 1,000 staff members were laid off on Aug 5 and special education funding drastically cut as part of CPS’ “balanced budget” for fiscal year 2017. This budget includes nearly $2 billion in private contracts for a wide variety of services—with minimal oversight or accountability.
“Teachers and students are returning to school buildings that are unsafe due to potential lead contamination, unclean, unhealthy and understaffed,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “This is no way to run a school district.”
“Our report is just the beginning—digging deeper would undoubtedly reveal even more overspending and mismanagement,” Lewis added.
The 1995 Illinois School Reform Act marked the beginning of both mayoral control and outrageous outsourcing in CPS, and the use of private vendors is now justified by claims of “cost savings” and “higher quality services.” “Outsourced,” however, finds that the opposite is true. For example:
- Custodial contracts: These were among the first services to be outsourced in 1995. CPS has gone through a slew of contracts with various corporations over the last 20 years but the most egregious have been the recent three-year contracts with Aramark ($260,300,000) and SodexoMagic ($80,000,000). Instead of cleaner schools, less principal oversight and management, and reduced costs, the reality has been deplorable and unsanitary conditions that have forced teachers, clerks and principals to do much of the cleaning themselves.
- Food service contracts: Before the 1995 Reform Act, school lunches were prepared in-house by staff hired from local communities. After numerous scandals with various contractors, CPS now spends $102,351,381 to Aramark for food service. This is the same company that lost its contract with Michigan prisons for serving maggot-laden food!
- Nursing contracts: CPS previously supplemented school nurse staffing with a variety of temporary agency nurses. RCM Technologies Incorporated now has an exclusive $30,000,000 contract for three years. CPS students are subjected to a revolving door of insufficiently trained nurses, many of whom cannot perform assigned healthcare duties because they are unfamiliar with procedures.
- IT department: In FY15 alone, CPS spent $14,349,849 in cost overruns for seven IT contracts that were originally budgeted at $22,750,151, a 63% increase. This is the problem with IT contracts. They are sole-sourced with proprietary licenses and CPS is locked into them, no matter what the cost overruns.
- Charter schools: In fiscal year 2015, at least $161,775,498 was spent by charter schools on office and administration, management fees, rent, interest payments on loans, and “other.” This amounts to approximately 27% of public funds (local, state and federal) that are not being spent on students in classrooms.
- AUSL turnaround schools: With no discernable academic benefit, CPS has given the Academy of Urban School Leadership, an organization with strong ties to the CPS Board of Education and its financiers, $49,277,577 in direct contracts since 2004 plus at least $37,378,875 in AUSL Program Support since 2014 for a total of at least $86,656,452.
- Management and planning: CPS often claims to make central office cuts, but then contracts out much of that work. The powerful influence of strategic planning consulting firms (instrumental in the massive school closures of 2013) has also contributed to increased outsourcing.
“CPS administrative chaos and the increasing reduction of support services are driving families out of the district, thereby creating a negative spiral of continuous cuts,” said CTU researcher Sarah Hainds. “Elected school boards in suburban districts do not allow this to happen.”
The conclusion of the report finds that CPS is not saving money by outsourcing, as years of declining enrollment has reduced the district’s revenue. The CTU makes five recommendations to reverse the trend of rampant and unaccountable outsourcing, which are: in-sourcing, more oversight and contract management, public input, proof of cost savings, and the support of financing options through municipal banks.
“At Wednesday’s Board of Ed meeting, the mayor’s handpicked school board will vote to approve nearly $270 million in contracts and borrow $945 million for school construction without a real capital improvement plan,” Hainds added. “All of this is done while asking teachers for a pay cut and refusing to fund sufficient numbers of social workers, counselors, nurses and psychologists.”
Ultimately, what Chicago’s public schools need are more stability, public oversight through an elected school board, and a significantly stronger contract procurement process that will not undermine the pursuit of a quality education and the schools our students deserve.
Teachers, paraprofessionals, clinicians, students and others are set to picket the Board of Ed this Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 9 a.m.
by Parents 4 Teachers | August 19, 2016
As CPS released its 2017 budget, the mayor and CEO Forrest Claypool immediately began ratcheting up the pressure on teachers to accept a 7 percent pay cut. Let’s be clear. Teachers have already given more than their fair share.
The city stole a 4 percent raise from educators in 2011, increased the length of the day and year without fully paying teachers for it, laid off over 1,200 educators, closed 50 schools, decimated special ed programs, imposed three unpaid furlough days and sanctioned sky rocketing class sizes. We could go on and on.
Most importantly, teacher compensation, including pension costs, have not caused the district’s financial problems. Bad fiscal management, wasteful spending on contracts, ballooning debt payments and charter expansion are at the heart of the current crisis. In fact, teacher pay and benefits as a share of the budget, have been steadily falling for years.
Rather than tap into available revenue, CPS and the city continue to play the blame game. Rather than use the hundreds of millions of dollars in the TIF surplus, reinstate the corporate head tax, or utilize a number of other revenue sources at its disposal, the city chose to slash school budgets by over $150 million, laying off 1,000 educators and staff. All while claiming cuts didn’t hit the classroom.
Now they want teachers to accept a pay cut by eliminating the pension pick up. Years ago, teachers agreed to forego raises in lieu of the pickup, a move that saved the district money. It’s not a perk and it’s not unusual—many districts pay more than CPS. And, to make matters worse, CPS never really contributed the money they supposedly were "picking up" to the pension fund. Remember, teachers don't get social security. Their pension is all they have.
While no one wants a strike, teachers, parents, students and communities across the city must fight back. Attacks on teachers are attacks on our children and their classrooms. The mayor didn’t get this back in 2012 and he still doesn’t get it. But parents do.
Contact your alderman and ask him or her to support the TIF Surplus Ordinance and other progressive revenue proposals being pushed by parents, community groups and the CTU. Find city council contact info here. FYI, here’s a list of those school by school layoffs.
We've got a lot of work to do to support teachers and ensure quality schools for all Chicago children. P4T is an all volunteer group--email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
by Tara García Mathewson - EducationDIVE | August 18, 2016
Editor's note: This story is the fourth in a series of pieces that examine the impact of a number of health and social issues on education planning, funding and operations. The previous entry, on poverty's impact on schools, can be found here.
Yasmine Arrington, 23, grew up with her mother and grandmother while her father was in and out of prison. As a black Washington, DC, native, Arrington grew up in a city with the highest incarceration rate in the country as a member of a race disproportionately represented in prisons and jails. Her mother died when she was a freshman in high school. Yet, still, she kept her sights set on college.
Arrington graduated from Elon University in North Carolina in 2015, five years after founding a scholarship program for children of incarcerated parents, ScholarCHIPS. When Arrington was researching funding opportunities for her own college expenses, she noticed a distinct lack of support for high schoolers in this vulnerable group.
And the group is not that small. As many as one in 14 children has had a parent serve time in prison or jail.
“Aside from my personal life experience, my primary motivation is to make people understand that we cannot blame a child or a young person for the things their parents did,” Arrington said in a prepared statement. “We shouldn’t put them in a box and assume that, ‘Yes, they’re going to get pregnant by the time they’re 16’ or ‘They’re going to drop out of school’ or that ‘They’re going to go to jail themselves, so there’s no sense in even investing in them.’”
Please click here to continue reading at educationdive.com.
by Jim Cavallero - Chicago Academy High School | August 16, 2016
Kristen McQueary's editorial, "Karen Lewis would better serve CTU by standing up to it's radical faction" again shows her lack of research and knowledge about teachers in Chicago. The 7% pension pickup she says CTU members should give up isn't a perk. It's 7% of our salary that goes into our pension. It is salary that has been directly paid into our pension for years. CPS has always considered it compensation until recently and their trying to make it sound like an extra benefit is disingenuous. Our pension contribution is in line with other public workers such as police and firefighters that she mentions. What is not in line are the salaries teachers earn compared to police and firefighters.
According to the FOP contract the starting salary for police officers as of July 1, 2016 is $47,604 a year and after 12 months, that salary increases to $67,938 and after 18 months it increases to $71,790 per year. A brand new firefighter starts at $55,746 and after 12 months that salary is increased to $67,938 and $71,790 after 18 months per their contract effective July 1, 2016. In comparison, under the CTU's expired contract a starting teacher, with a master's degree, made $59,830 their first year. The second year they should have made $60,830 but no increases were given when the collective bargaining agreement expired. According to that same expired contract a new teacher would have to work six years to reach a salary of $71,788. These contracts can be found at http://www.cityofchicago.org/…/city_of_chicago_collectiveba… (for police and firefighters) and http://www.ctunet.com/for-members/final-contract-language (for CTU).
Pay discrepancy does not end there, however. The Economic Policy Institute stated in a report that "in 2015, public school teachers’ weekly wages were 17.0 percent lower than those of comparable workers—compared with just 1.8 percent lower in 1994." So teacher pay is not in line with other professions that require the same education either. In addition, teachers are not eligible for social security and therefore our pensions are our retirement income. Most employers pay about 9% into individual's social security so we aren't getting something extra. We are getting something that's in line with other workers. The average teacher pension is $51,454. That is modest as the median income in Chicago is $47,831.
McQueary, as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, have used the word taxpayer quite often to express who pays for public services. They seem to forget that we are taxpayers also. Every property tax increase and utility increase they mention we pay as well. We are forced to live in the city and so we are being asked to take a double hit by agreeing to a 7% pay cut. Many of us are parents of children in CPS as well. Not only do the schools we teach in and the students we teach get hit with cuts but CPS puts the burden on our children's backs by making cuts at their schools also. I also don't know how they do their math. If you cut someone's pay by 7% and increase their healthcare premiums and then offer a 5-6 percent raise over three years that is a loss. I and all the other CTU radicals know the numbers. We've actually seen them. I doubt Kristen McQueary has.
by Timothy F. Brown, retired superintendent of schools, Oak Park | August 15, 2016
Chicago Public Schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Tribune insist on disconnecting the payment of pension costs by Chicago teachers from their total compensation package. I totally understand the logic of this rationale. However, the whole package was likely intended to confuse both teachers and the public.
by Sylvia Allegretto and Lawrence Mishel - Economic Policy Institute | August 12, 2016
What this report finds: The teacher pay penalty is bigger than ever. In 2015, public school teachers’ weekly wages were 17.0 percent lower than those of comparable workers—compared with just 1.8 percent lower in 1994. This erosion of relative teacher wages has fallen more heavily on experienced teachers than on entry-level teachers. Importantly, collective bargaining can help to abate this teacher wage penalty. Some of the increase in the teacher wage penalty may be attributed to a trade-off between wages and benefits. Even so, teachers’ compensation (wages plus benefits) was 11.1 percent lower than that of comparable workers in 2015.
Why this matters: An effective teacher is the most important school-based determinant of education outcomes. It is therefore crucial that school districts recruit and retain high-quality teachers. This is particularly difficult at a time when the supply of teachers is constrained by high turnover rates, annual retirements of longtime teachers, and a decline in students opting for a teaching career—and when demand for teachers is rising due to rigorous national student performance standards and many locales’ mandates to shrink class sizes. In light of these challenges, providing adequate wages and benefits is a crucial tool for attracting and keeping the teachers America’s children need.