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CTU delegates: Grades, lesson plans and unit plans to be delayed at least a week due to loss of paid preparation time

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) House of Delegates tonight passed a resolution stating that on Feb. 6, 2017, at the start of the second semester in Chicago’s public schools, CTU members will not be able to carry out electronic gradebook entry, lesson plan and unit plan submission as frequently as in the past due to the loss of paid preparation time. The resolution was passed by the Union’s 800-member governing body, which represents rank-and-file educators who are furious with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his handpicked Chicago Board of Education and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Forrest Claypool for mandating four furlough days and targeting a workforce that is 80 percent women for nearly a week of lost pay and taking away time to grade student papers and prepare lessons.

“The mayor’s half-baked idea for a longer school year and day was a failed campaign illusion from the beginning,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “These furloughs, and whatever plans for more furloughs, layoffs and school closings that he and Forrest are cooking up, are just the latest acts in a long line of disregard shown toward our members—from closing 50 schools and firing scores of female, African-American teachers, to his awful privatization contracts and lovefest with charter school operators.”

Elimination of professional development (PD) time for the rest of the year in the form of furloughs produces real hardship for teachers’ grading, records, planning and license renewal. The fact that these days were eliminated without so much as consulting the Union about other options such as shortening an over-long school year, or joining the CTU in the fight for surplus tax increment financing, a LaSalle Street Tax, progressive income tax and other measures that could address CPS’ self-inflicted budget shortfalls can only be seen as a sign of blatant disrespect.

The Union has filed a grievance with the Board of Education over the four furlough days, which are a violation of the Agreement ratified by the CTU last fall.

“Teachers will not stop grading work or making lesson plans, but these furloughs will take away the time our members have for those tasks, which is another undue burden placed on them by the mayor and CPS,” Lewis said.

The CTU on Friday will lead a series of professional development teach-ins throughout Chicago’s City Hall starting at 10 a.m. to educate the public on the significance of PD days for teachers and how the loss of four PD days impacts their work. Last week, CTU members asked the Board of Ed to restore the professional development days so that Chicago’s public school educators have time to learn how to better support their students against imminent attacks on immigrant families, Muslims, racial minorities, LGBTQ students and women, but it refused.  

The CTU anticipates that, despite the best efforts of its members, the entry of grades may be delayed for at least a week. The full text of the resolution reads:

WHEREAS, the BOARD has announced 4 furloughs on days previously scheduled for Professional Development (PD); and

WHEREAS, we believe that this action by the BOARD is a violation of our recently signed contract as well as a violation of labor law; and

WHEREAS, the BOARD’s decision to furlough CPS staff is the latest demonstration of their preference to cut from educators, students, and schools rather than advocate for the funding our school district needs; and

WHEREAS, schools depend on the professional knowledge, leadership, and cooperation of their licensed staff; and

WHEREAS, the 4 involuntary furlough days substantially diminish paid productive time available to teachers; and

WHEREAS, according to research by the University of Illinois, CPS teachers work 58 hours a week—far in excess of our paid work day; and

WHEREAS, in the past, due to our professionalism and extra, uncompensated effort, the administration and public have taken it for granted that we enter grades into Gradebook on a daily or weekly basis; and

WHEREAS, in the past, due to our dedication, good faith devotion to our craft, and work during night/weekend hours, we have submitted lesson plans, unit plans, and other planning documents to administration on a daily or weekly basis; and

WHEREAS, the creation and submission of such Gradebook and Planning Documents are NOT critical to the delivery of instruction, student learning, the maintenance of good relationships with our students and parents, or to carrying out our jobs properly; and

WHEREAS, the creation and submission of such Gradebook and Planning Documents ARE used for the Administration’s compliance and evaluation systems; and

WHEREAS, the elimination of Professional Development time for the rest of the year produces a real hardship, for grading, records, planning, and license renewal among others; and

WHEREAS, the fact that these days were eliminated without so much as consulting the CTU about other options such as shortening an over-long school year, or joining the CTU in the fight for surplus TIF funds, a LaSalle Street Tax, progressive income tax on the rich, and other measures that could address CPS budget shortfalls can only be seen as a sign of blatant disrespect; and

WHEREAS, we cannot in good conscience support the BOARD’s choice to cut from educators (who are overwhelmingly working women) and students (who are overwhelmingly students of color) in order to protect the interests of politicians and the wealthy; therefore, be it

RESOLVED that, in the face of such disrespect, CTU members will no longer make extra or unsustainable efforts that do not directly benefit our students or parents, and be it further

RESOLVED while we will continue to carry out our state-mandated responsibilities:

  • Starting at the beginning of the Second Semester (February 6th), due to the loss of paid productive time, CTU members will not be able to carry out electronic gradebook entry, or lesson and unit plan submission as frequently as in the past and
  • We anticipate that, despite the best efforts of our teachers, the entry of grades may be delayed for at least a week.

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The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctunet.com.

Chicago Teachers Union