Posts Tagged 'Teachers Union'

Not Fooled by the Chicago Teachers Union

By Bill Waychunas – It’s not that I’m anti-Union, I’m just against unreasonable people that take advantage of political situations. Trying to fool people into thinking that you’re fighting on behalf of kids when it’s really your own interests at the forefront, frankly, makes me sick.

On April Fool’s Day, the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) held a one-day strike, or walk-out as they’re calling it, to protest “unfair labor practices” at Chicago Public Schools (CPS). What I find unfair about CTU’s protest is their lack of consideration for CPS’s current situation and their actions’ negative impact on the teaching profession’s public perception.

The Chicago Public School district is so short of money that they have taken out massive loans and laid-off thousands of teachers and staff already this year. They’ve even announced that teachers will have to take unpaid furlough days to help make ends meet. This isn’t a new thing either; CPS hasn’t been able to make a payment to the teachers’ pension program in years.

This is all amid a state budget holdout that’s been going on for almost a year and extraordinary pension related debt in Chicago which led to a doubling of property taxes last year and general financial problems in the city.

Don’t get me wrong, the importance of education should cause people to rise up and demand better from their legislators and local leaders. Kids deserve to go to well-funded schools. And if this is what CTU is actually protesting about, then I’m all for it. Unfortunately, this isn’t really their end-goal.

The CTU and their leader, Karen Lewis, have had some very public battles with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, stemming from the teacher’s strike over the summer of 2012, where teachers and the mayor duked it out over teacher evaluations, salary, insurance benefits, and extending the school day and year. Both sides came out of the strike claiming some victories, but the real result was the creation of a political rivalry which is getting in the way of the city and state from finding real solutions to the very real financial problems.

Fast forwarding to the mayor’s race of 2015, and the only thing which prevented Karen Lewis from running against Rahm Emanuel was a bout with brain cancer. Instead, the CTU did the next best thing and anointed a hand-picked candidate for mayor, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, and pumped in record amounts of cash into local elections for alderman and state representatives.

With the election of anti-Union Republican Governor Bruce Rauner in 2014, who is generally a moderate, the CTU have continuously criticized and demanded more from a state and city that are in financial ruin.

This brings us back to the walk-out or strike on April Fool’s Day. What were CTU members really striking about? Money? I’m not sure how their strike could make money appear out of nowhere from a state and city that are frighteningly broke, leaving the CTU looking like a bunch of childish whiners. Their continuous demands are even hurting the teaching professions image, by making CPS teachers seem unrealistic, greedy, and ignorant. Far from acting like the respectable and reasonable professionals which teachers constantly profess to become, they’re acting immaturely by making a thinly-veiled political move for their own personal benefits.

Knowing that there is actually no money currently available that is going to change the situation faced by the district, city, and state, the CTU concocted this event to further crystalize their political image as the anti-Rahm and anti-Rauner brand. This is a move to entrench their political strength with hopes to leverage it in future elections and their on-going contract negotiations with the city. This was not about children or education. It is about adults taking advantage of a political situation, at the expense of children, while offering no real solution or willingness to face financial realities like grown-ups or professionals.

The irony will be if the CTU does win this political battle, then is forced to see their own unreasonableness and deal with the financial woes in ways which they would have previously howled and complained about. With the current politics of the CTU, I hope that day never comes.

Maybe their plan will work and they fooled everybody with their April Fool’s Day strike, but Karen Lewis, you’re not fooling me.

Teacher Contracts Could Be More Like Sports Contracts

key-peele-teaching-center-1By Nick McDaniels – Key and Peele’s “TeachingCenter” skit made me laugh and got me thinking. It’s funny to think about a classroom play-by-play announcer. It’s interesting to think about ways pro-teachers could be more like pro-athletes.

Athletes in some of the major sports benefit from strong unions and strong collective bargaining agreements. In fact, the only time I ever will root for Tom Brady is in Federal Court as the NFL’s fixed appeals process gets challenged and we forget all about deflated balls. There are so many ways that teaching jobs are different than professional sports jobs, not including salary amount, that comparing the collective bargaining agreements across these sectors would be interesting, but not very helpful.

Here’s something to think about, though. What if teachers and schools systems could not only negotiate salary and benefits, but also terms of service? What if, as a teacher, while enjoying base collective bargaining structures, I could also sign a 5-year guaranteed contract for a different compensation package? In this way, we could allow the base CBA to serve as a base for salary and benefits, but could allow teachers to bargain for longer-term, bigger-money contracts.

Imagine a young teacher, who after two years of service (what seems to be the average life-span of many teachers now), is excelling in the classroom, but is, like many millennials, perpetually considering a career change. What if that teacher or, wisely, the school system that should fight to keep this teacher in the classroom, could enter into negotiations that would rapidly increase salary, but would force a teacher to sign on for a longer term of years?

Perhaps a teacher, like, King James, could take her talents elsewhere for a 10 year contract. Perhaps a really great teacher who is considering retirement could sign a one-year more lucrative deal. Perhaps a teacher could build their own incentives. This could address what I see as one of the major problems and central destabilizers of our education system: Teacher turnover.

Allowing teachers to earn more based on their own negotiating ability, while also allowing schools to sure up their “roster” for years to come, could radically change the way we look at school staffing. Such an idea could be the darling of “reformers” who want to see innovative CBAs, but it would not erode hard-fought collective bargaining structures. “TeachingCenter” may be tongue-in-cheek, but then again, Key and Peele, like usual, may be onto something.

Any teachers out there who would like to test the free agency waters?

What is a Marquette Educator?

Follow us on Twitter