The Chicago Teachers Union, which recently went on strike
Not too far removed from the seven-day strike that captured the nation’s attention in September, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has signed off on the district’s Race to the Top application.
“Chicago — one of the most militant teachers unions in country — sees the light of day, and UTLA is still hiding under a rock,” noted Los Angeles-based Democratic political consultant Mike Trujillo.
However, it is not yet clear whether the as yet-unannounced Chicago agreement resembles the Los Angeles proposal in all its key details.
The Chicago news comes out just hours after LAUSD officials announced that UTLA was refusing to support the district’s application for up to $40 million grant.
UTLA head Warren Fletcher explained the union decision was based on the belief that the U.S. Department of Education’s demands would cost more than the grant was worth.
Observers like Trujillo weren’t buying that argument. “Clearly other school districts like Chicago don’t believe compliance costs are a factor.”
Meanwhile, a group of community leaders, including Elise Buik of United Way and Ama Nyamekye of Educators 4 Excellence sent a letter to the union head urging him to reconsider: “There is nothing controversial about these services,” noted the letter. “Indeed, our schools have viewed these resources as scarce luxuries in this harsh economic climate.” (Read the whole letter here.)
Just a few weeks ago, the Chicago strike seemed to preclude
any possibility that teachers there would support the Obama education initiative, which includes the use of student achievement data to evaluate and pay classroom teachers.
However, teachers in Chicago agreed to sign the support letter “after much back-and-forth with the district,” according to Stephanie Gadlin, a CTU representative.
According to a highly placed union insider, these negotiations included several compromises on the part of the Chicago school district, including a focus on providing individualized services
to middle school students and a diminished emphasis on student achievement-based evaluations or performance pay.
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