Chicago Teachers Union Outlines Contract Demands

Class sizes and the 7 ½ hour school day are two of the most contentious issues on the table in the contract negotiations currently being fought between the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.

The union released few details about their new set of demands, but issues like class size, loss of professional development days, compensation and what the next school year’s 71/2-hour day will look like are expected to be part of it, writes Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah at the Chicago Tribune.

CTU President Karen Lewis, said:

“We look forward to having very honest dialogue with CPS and a productive conclusion to negotiations and to the beginning of the school year on time.”

The union has a contentious relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And with new state legislation making it tougher for teachers to strike, the contract negotiations have been tense and arduous.

Facing a $712 million deficit, the Board of Education eliminated guaranteed 4 percent across-the-board raises for teachers last June. The district then tried to work around the union and offered financial incentives to teachers who backed the board’s plans. Because of this difficult relationship, education experts believe the union is keeping details of the contract out of the public view.

Robin Steans, executive director of the nonpartisan education policy group Advance Illinois, said:

“The more specific they are now publicly, the more difficult it is to negotiate.

“The lack of public specifics may well be a good sign.”

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll, said:

“Our goal is to negotiate a contract that treats our teachers fairly and as professionals, but also one that is negotiated in the best interest of our students, parents and taxpayers during these difficult fiscal times.”

As class sizes continue to inflate to about 40 students per teacher, union officials want that rolled back to an average of about 28. The length of the school year is also an important issue, as the extra 10 days on the school year could also see the end of professional development days.

Lewis said:

“We are concerned they are cutting professional development days, and that’s in light of the fact that we are going to be looking at a new core curriculum, also a new teacher evaluation system.

“All of these things require training in order to do appropriately.”