Dylan Matthews intends to wrap up the Chicago teachers strike with an assessment of what both sides got out of the contract “in one post.” Here’s a list, in one post, of some of the things he left out, culled mostly from what the CTU informed its members was in the contract.
• Arts, music and physical education teachers: Over 600 additional teachers will be hired permanently under the agreement. The city didn’t want to increase staff at all. In addition, more support staff may come in the form of additional social workers and nurses, contingent on state revenue.
• Special Ed. The issue of special education teachers having oversized workloads moves to a committee tasked with finding “solutions,” which probably doesn’t mean too much but you never know. But there is $500,000 per year toward hiring additional special education professionals to reduce caseload.
• Health care. This was, as I understand it, the big sticking point in the compensation negotiations. The city wanted to increase premiums on teachers by 40% and increase co-pays for ER visits. The contract instead freezes health care premiums and co-pays at current rates. That’s a huge win for the union.
• Office supplies: Teachers used to have to purchase their own office supplies and print out their own materials. They will now have access to those supplies. They will get $250 in supply money, more than the $100 the city offered. And textbook will be provided to students on Day 1. Before, students had to wait weeks for textbooks, delaying valuable learning time.
You can go here for the rest. On major issues like teacher evaluations and class size and layoffs and recall and length of school day (particularly the latter, with the changes in personnel and the addition of a study hall), the deal improved over the initial offer from the city. The union claims that the deal on evaluations and the role of high-stakes testing is the minimum required by state law. I would have liked to have seen more on classroom facilities – there will be a committee to study providing air conditioning to all classrooms, which isn’t a lot.
Overall, I think the union made out fairly well on this contract on a series of issues, but more important, they generated a national discussion about education policy that has the ability to last, and beat back some of a determined effort to radically overhaul city policies along the lines of the corporate-backed reform movement.