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All eyes in the city will be on the nearly 800 delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union on Tuesday. The delegates will either show faith with their community and vote to return to the classrooms Wednesday, or they’ll throw the city into chaos by continuing the teacher walkout. Refusing to go back to work would be a disastrous escalation of this labour fight.CTU delegates, it’s your choice. You’re not being asked to give final approval to the contract Tuesday. The full union membership will get that vote in the coming days or weeks. You’re being asked to return to teaching children while your members contemplate that final vote. Teach the children.
Chicago Public Schools has offered teachers substantial raises and protections. CPS has asked for contract language that merely helps Chicago keep pace with education reform. Much of it carries out reform measures that have been established by state law.
There will be a teacher evaluation system that takes student academic growth into account. That will help identify the teachers who consistently help their students learn. It might prod mediocre teachers to improve, though the triggers for that are modest. Poor teachers will be identified. Some will be prodded to leave the system — which has been a shamefully rare event in Chicago.
For the first time, performance will be a factor when decisions are made about teacher layoffs. When CPS tried to do that in 2010, the union hauled the school board into court to block it. So we will at least introduce the novel concept of keeping the best educators. But even in this contract proposal, excellent probationary teachers — who don’t have tenure — would still be dismissed before tenured teachers who are not highly rated. That could sacrifice good young teachers.
Some 350,000 kids and their parents are waiting. Patience is thin. The teachers should be in the classroom. ___
(c)2012 the Chicago Tribune
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