This strike could be the beginning of the push back:
How teachers should be evaluated has become a contentious issue across the country, but Chicago is the first big city to see its teachers strike over it, experts said Wednesday.
“This is a first for a district,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. “I don’t even know a small district to strike over teacher evaluation.”
Plus, a growing number of states and districts are in the process of implementing new teacher evaluation systems as part of an attempt to win federal Race To the Top funds or to win waivers from some of the more onerous provisions of the No Child Left Behind law.
As a result, “Chicago is all we’re talking about,” Walsh said. “The nation is watching Chicago because most districts in the country are trying to implement [a teacher evaluation system], so naturally it’s going to raise concerns when teachers go out on strike over it.’’
Here in NY State, the NYSUT and the UFT have already happily agreed to the very evaluation system CTU is striking over in Chicago.
In fact, they shared the stage with Tea Party Governor Cuomo, Unofficial Pearson Employee John King and K12 Inc. booster Merryl Tisch when the new evaluation system was announced.
Any time somebody pushed back against that system, the UFT sent Lyin' Leo Casey out to attack them or drown them in drivel.
Now had the CTU continued to be governed by the old guard, it would have remained a company union that would not have pushed back against Rahmbo and the Reformers.
But the CORE leaders - led by Karen Lewis - have done a masterful job of framing what this battle is about ("The soul of education"), getting parents, students and other Chicago citizens on board, and fighting back.
That same thing could happen here in NY State and NYC too, but we would need to either convince the current company leadership that it's actually in their interests to fight back against the deform movement rather than collaborating with it or we would need to dispense with them altogether and put some new leadership in place.
The political reality is, the leadership is not going anywhere for now, there is little support to get rid of Mulgrew and Unity, Ianuzzi and the NYSUT leadership, Weingarten and the other corporate hacks at the AFT.
But the way forward is clear - if teachers want a union led by teachers that actually stands up and protects teachers, CTU is the model.
The UFT and the NYSUT are not.
I wrote the following in a comment yesterday on Assailed Teacher's blog:
It IS time to push back – not only against Bloomberg, Cuomo, the DFER’s, Mistress Eva and the rest of the reformers, but against Ianuzzi and the NYSUT, against Mulgrew and the UFT and against Weingarten and the AFT.
Remember, Ianuzzi and Mulgrew were on that stage back in February holding hands with our reformer governor touting the new 40% eval law (BTW, AT, I would characterize the law as 40%, since that is the NYSED’s intention – to have 40% of an eval based upon test scores, whether city or state.)
Remember too how Leo Casey came out at Edwize to attack Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris and Gary Rubenstein and anybody else who pointed out how horrible the new agreement was.
The problem here in NY, indeed the problem nationally, is that we have union leaders who see themselves as part of the establishment and are willing to give the elites almost everything they want in policy.
The reason why we need this CTU fight to be successful is twofold: first, it puts the reformers on notice that teachers AND parents are fed up with the corporate reform crap pushed through legislature back room by rich mother^&****** like Jonah Edelman and are going to fight back.
It is also puts a spotlight on the issues – class size, resources, etc. (I sent an email to a vicious editor, James Warren, who called teachers whiners for crying about air conditioning and asked him how he’d like to teach all-year round school with 40 kids in a 100 degree classroom with his evaluation based upon their test scores?)
But as important, this fight puts the NEA, the AFT, the UFT and the NYSUT on NOTICE – they can send the Leo Casey’s of the world out to shill for their sell-outs, but there is a REAL union with actual members running it in Chicago who are pointing the way forward.
Make no mistake, Weingarten and Mulgrew want Lewis and the CTU to FAIL. It is in their interest to have Lewis flame out so that their brand of sell-out union leader doesn’t go out of style.
I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Randi puts a knife in Karen Lewis to help out Randi’s out Clinton buddy, Rahm (and herself in the bargain.)
So I really am hoping the CTU gets a win out of this – it is important to not only put the reformers on notice, to put the politicians on notice, to put Obama on notice.
It is important to put Weingarten, Mulgrew Ianuzzi, Van Roekel and the rest of the crooks running the teachers unions these days that their days could be numbered if they continue selling members down the river.
I reiterate those sentiments again today.
POSTSCRIPT: One final note. CTU may have gotten a very big concession in the evaluation fight overnight:
CTU President Karen Lewis said her message to parents was “for sure, plan for something for your children for [Thursday]. Let’s hope for Friday.’’
School Board President David Vitale agreed. He called the talks “very productive” and said “we’ll hope for Friday.”
After a long day of talks that ended around 11:30 p.m., Lewis said the system’s offer on teacher evaluations, a key stumbling block, had improved to the point that “I’m smiling. I’m very happy.’’
Although she was not ready to check it off her list, “it’s a lot better,’’ Lewis said.
Earlier, Chicago Public School officials Wednesday released what one expert called a “pretty generous concession” to the union on teacher evaluations.
The district’s proposal softens an evaluation system that the union said could have put nearly 30 percent of CPS teachers on the path to dismissal if they didn’t improve their performance within a year.
The proposal made public Wednesday would allow those teachers to stay at their jobs indefinitely, as long as their scores didn’t dramatically decline after the first poor score.
“I think it’s a pretty generous concession,” said Tim Daly, president of the Brooklyn-based New Teacher Project.
The change to the teacher evaluation system was included in a 19-page proposal released in an email from CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll Wednesday night.
“I would call it a significant step forward on one of the two thorniest issues,” she said of the change to the evaluation proposal.
The proposal also sweetens the name of the key rating category at issue: from “needs improvement” to “developing.” That would be the second from the bottom of four rating categories.
Daly noted the offer is a step backward from a growing national trend to get rid of teachers in the second-to-last category.
“You typically can’t stay there forever,” he said. “You typically stay there for one year and then you can’t repeat that rating. You’re dismissed or lose tenure.”
He says it’s the type of offer districts may have to make if they want to put kids back in school.
“It’s the kind of proposal that if you’re on the union side, you should be happy to come away with.”
Illinois law, as is now true in many states, mandates test scores as part of the evaluation process, so CTU can't gut that totally.
But if they can mitigate the worst parts of that process, while working with the community, parents and students to get the law changed, it goes a long way.