Dear Commons Community,
The news media are reporting that the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is officially on strike and that teachers will not be reporting to their schools. Negotiations over pay, teacher evaluations, health benefits and class size have failed to result in a settlement. The Huffington Post published:
“CTU’s complaints echo the broader ones of teachers’ unions across America: standardized tests are over-emphasized; class sizes are ballooning; teacher evaluations that use standardized tests “cheapen” schools. Lewis said that the evaluation system required so much administrative work that even the principals, usually not union bedfellows, were calling CTU, asking for help. “When principals are calling Chicago Teachers Union, you know there’s something wrong with this plan,” Lewis said. “Class size matters, it matters to parents,” she added. Teachers have reported having as many as 42 students in one classroom.”
While Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken the brunt of the CTU anger, the strike also coincides with the first day of a cross-country bus tour U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will take to discuss education. Duncan gained his education credentials leading the Chicago school district prior to becoming the US Secretary of Education under Barack Obama. He is a major proponent of many of the national education reform proposals including teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores that teacher unions across the country have been fighting against. He has also used Race to the Top federal funding to force states to enact his proposals.