Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 6
M. Spencer Green/AP-File
outside Morgan Park
High School in
Chicago last month.
Teachers in the
nation's thirdlargest public
school district have
voted in support of a
strike if a new
contract can't be
reached, and the
Union set Oct. 11 as
the planned walkout
Sides Seek to Avert Chicago Teachers' Strike
By Denisa R. Superville
Contract negotiations between
the Chicago school district and its
teachers' union were going down to
the wire last week, with negotiators
scheduled to huddle every day-including over the weekend and the
Columbus Day holiday-to work
out an agreement before Oct. 11, the
date the union has set for a strike.
Failure to reach a deal could send
teachers in the nation's third-largest
district onto the streets for a second mass walkout in four years. A
seven-day strike in 2012 was widely
seen as a victory for the teachers' union and a blow to the thennascent administration of Mayor
A lot has changed in four years.
Karen Lewis still remains at the
helm of the nearly 30,000 member
Chicago Teachers Union, which
represents teachers and paraprofessionals, but the district has a
different CEO, Forrest Claypool,
and Emanuel's influence has arguably waned. He was forced into an
election run-off in April, and concerns over rising gun violence and
the city's handling of the death of
17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who
was shot by a white police officer,
have further eroded his support,
particularly in black and Latino
A series of budget shortfalls, highinterest borrowing, and a state education funding formula that officials
say shortchanges urban school systems have pushed the district close
to financial insolvency. As recently
as Sept. 26, Moody's Investors Service further downgraded the district's credit rating.
Though the rhetoric has amplified
in recent weeks, the union and the
district have not publicly changed
their positions since February, when
the union's "Big Bargaining Team"
rejected what the CTU had initially
termed a "serious" offer from the
district. In April, a fact-finder recommended that the union accept a
proposal that was similar to the one
it had rejected months earlier. But
the union rejected the fact-finder's
report as well.
Claypool said last week that he
would do everything in his power
to avert a strike, which he asserted
would endanger the academic gains
the district has made.
In an interview with Education
Week this past spring, Claypool said
that the district could not continue
to absorb the bulk of teachers' pension contributions. Nor, he said,
could it improve its financial position without significant union concessions.
"What we can all agree on is that
teachers deserve a raise, and we
continue to negotiate a contract that
is fair to teachers, taxpayers and
to end the long-standing practice of
shouldering 7 percent of union members' pension contributions. Under
the plan, teachers would also be required to pay an additional 1.5 percent toward their health-care insurance costs.
Also included in the proposal were
changes to the district's teacherevaluation system, including fewer
classroom observations; preparation
time for special education teachers
to work with clinical teams; and
the use of professional-development
days for self-directed learning. It
also promised no "economic" layoffs through 2019. (As recently as
the week of Sept. 3 the district announced close to 240 teacher and
staff layoffs as a result of lower-thanexpected student enrollment, on top
of nearly 1,000 layoffs in August.)
In addition, district officials made
overtures to work on expanding
community schools and a charter
The union said its financial recommendations would raise $502 million
for the district.
When the union voted down the
district proposal in February, Lewis
said one of the reasons was that it
simply did not trust the district to
keep its word.
Jim Vail, a Chicago elementary
school teacher who was once on the
union's "Big Bargaining Team,"
said the district is trying to force
the teachers' hand by continuing to
make cuts in schools. He predicted
that the union will have similar levels of support in the community as it
did in 2012.
"Who is going to be supporting the
mayor and big business over teachers and schools getting their fair
share?" he asked. "Who is going to
believe that there is no money, with
Who's going to believe that there is no money, with all of the money
they give out to developers? ... The city is not broke. They have a lot of
money for what they want. Public education is not on their agenda."
Teacher, Hammond Elementary School, Chicago
Chicago's students," Emily Bittner,
a district spokesperson, said last
week. "We believe a strike can be
averted and to make sure children's
academic progress isn't interrupted,
CPS will work tirelessly with the
CTU at the bargaining table."
The district and the union, an affiliate of the American Federation
of Teachers, are using the rejected
offer as the framework for the lastminute negotiations.
That earlier four-year proposal to
replace the contract that expired in
June 2015 would have lasted through
July 2019. It included an 8.75 percent
average base salary increase over the
contract's term, with additional builtin increases for years of experience
and educational attainment. But at
the same time, the district planned
6 | EDUCATION WEEK | October 12, 2016 | www.edweek.org
school cap, both of which are union
The CTU has been adamant that
it will not acquiesce to an elimination of the pension pickup, arguing
that cutting the benefit is akin to a
7 percent pay cut.
Moreover, the union has pushed
back against the district's contention that it cannot afford the union's
requests and faults district leaders
for a litany of financial blunders
that it says are responsible for the
current financial problems.
To fund its requests, the union has
advanced proposals that call for instituting or increasing a series of taxes,
including on ride-sharing and hotels.
It has also called on Emanuel to use
about $100 million in surplus funds
from a special taxing tool for schools.
all of the money they give out to developers? ... The city is not broke.
They have a lot of money for what
they want. Public education is not
on their agenda."
With the uncertainty over the
strike, the district has published
contingency plans for students and
parents. While classes would be
canceled, schools would be open,
and students would be able to get
free breakfast and lunches, take
online classes, and participate in
arts and crafts.
The district was also planning to
work with community programs to
help coordinate child-care options
Visit the District Dossier blog for updates on the
Chicago strike negotiations. www.edweek.org/blogs
In Buffalo, N.Y.
By Denisa R. Superville
Teachers' union and school officials in the Buffalo, N.Y., district are
hoping to hammer out a new labor
agreement to replace one that expired a dozen years ago.
A new pact would bring an end to
one of the longest-running labor impasses in recent memory between a
school district and a teachers' union
in New York state, where public employees, including teachers, are legally barred from going on strike. It
would also likely soften residual acrimony stemming from a wage freeze
that ended in 2007.
Though concerns about a possible
strike have grown, both the Buffalo
Teachers Federation and district officials are optimistic they can reach a
deal this fall without teachers walking off the job as they did in 2000.
"We are going to do our best," said
Philip Rumore, the union president,
adding that he is aiming to take a
new proposal to his roughly 3,600
members on Oct. 17. "I think the superintendent wants to settle this. I
want to settle this. I think they realize that the teachers are angry."
Talks broke down last month when
Rumore walked away from a district
proposal he called "insulting." But
last week, Kriner Cash, the superintendent of the 32,000-student district,
called Rumore to restart discussions.
The union and district remain divided on a number of issues, including
wage increases, extending the school
day, and health-care contributions.
The district proposed a 10 percent
increase in the salary schedule once
the contract is approved and a 3 percent increase in 2017-18.
The union wants a larger bump,
arguing that district's proposed hike
would still leave Buffalo teachers
among the lowest paid in Erie County.
The union also wants more money to
go to veteran teachers and is not in
favor of extending the school day, unless the added time includes professional development for teachers.
The district also proposed that
teachers pay 10 percent of their
health-insurance premiums, which
the district picks up in full now.
The union doesn't object to its members chipping in toward premiums,
but balks at the use of a fixed percentage to determine the amount.
The district has also proposed removing seniority as a determining
factor in staffing decisions.
Nathaniel Kuzma, the deputy general counsel for Buffalo schools, said
the district's offer was "fair, competitive, and generous." The district has
also said its proposal would have a
less severe impact on the district's
$191 million surplus fund than would
the union's requests.
"We are not operating under that
timeline," Kuzma said of the union's
planned Oct. 17 meeting. "But our
intention is to try to reach an agreement that is beneficial to teachers,
as well as students and the community at large, as quickly as we possibly can."
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 12, 2016
Bilingual Education Poised for a Comeback in California Schools
Cultural Literacy Creator Carries On Campaign
New Teachers Turn to Web for Mentoring
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Modern E-Rate Puts Telephones On Hold in K-12
Sides Seek to Avert Chicago Teachers’ Strike
Labor Dispute Simmering In Buffalo, N.Y.
Shooting Reignites Safety Concerns
Kan. Governor: Tax Hike Needed If State Loses Funding Case
Court to Weigh Level of Benefits for Special Ed. Students
Literacy Program Reflects Clinton Policy Agenda
Snapshot: School Finance A Judge Gets Tough
News in Brief
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
PAUL REVILLE: A Call to Action For K-12 Leaders
LYN MIKEL BROWN: A Field Guide to Girl Empowerment
JOHN URSCHEL: The Winning Equation In Math Education
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Modern E-Rate Puts Telephones On Hold in K-12
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 2
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 3
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - News in Brief
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - Report Roundup
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - Labor Dispute Simmering In Buffalo, N.Y.
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - Shooting Reignites Safety Concerns
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - Kan. Governor: Tax Hike Needed If State Loses Funding Case
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 9
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 10
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 11
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 12
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 13
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 14
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 15
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - Literacy Program Reflects Clinton Policy Agenda
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 17
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - Snapshot: School Finance A Judge Gets Tough
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 19
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 20
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 21
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - LYN MIKEL BROWN: A Field Guide to Girl Empowerment
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - JOHN URSCHEL: The Winning Equation In Math Education
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - Letters
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 25
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 27
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 28
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 29
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 30
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 31
Education Week - October 12, 2016 - 32