Late yesterday evening the delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union voted to accept the CPS’s contract offer that was on the table and the strike is over:
More than 350,000 Chicago public school students returned to class this morning after union officials overwhelmingly called off a seven-day teachers strike.
Sixteen-year-old Jayton Howard, on his way to Paul Robeson High School on the South Side, summed up his feelings in a word: “Great.”
Parents were happy too. Some expressed hope that the new contract will benefit students in a district grappling with high dropout rates and poor performance.
“They’ll win from the strike,” said Leslie Sabbs-Kizer, whose children attend elementary school.
Delegates for the Chicago Teachers Union voted Tuesday to call off the strike, paving the way for CTU’s entire membership to approve a contract in the coming weeks that will secure them a double-digit salary increase over the next three years, including raises for cost of living while maintaining other increases for experience and advanced education.
Now comes the hard part: paying for what’s been agreed upon. The CPS is already broke. My intuition is that it will be much, much harder to give the teachers their average 17% raise than either they, the CPS, or Mayor Emanuel thinks.
What has been rejected from the new contract is most of the reform measures the CPS tried to put through have been rejected. They may have been misguided but where does that leave us? With a school system from which almost 50% of the students do not graduate on time and frequently come out having only notional reading and math skills. Only 8% of graduates from the Chicago Public Schools go on to a four year college degree. The CPS is quite obviously seriously in need of reform.
Analysts are quickly pointing to winners and losers. Here’s my pick for the biggest loser: Emanuel. He has not emerged from this whole brouhaha looking like a prudent steward of the city’s affairs. Another pick: the city’s taxpayers. It’s pretty obvious that they had no advocate in this dispute.