Revised from our 9/18 post since we've nailed down more details...
We've thought a lot about the strike in Chicago over the last nine days. Today we took some time to look at the details of the contract and the sum of their parts. Is it good for kids? Does it move the district in the right direction?
From our perspective, the proposed contract can be summed up as generally moving the district in the right direction--mostly steps forward but a step back here and there. It does keep pace with national reforms. On balance it is more positive than negative. Some of the most positive changes like the longer school day predate the contract and are a result of state law or previous negotiations.
There are three major unknowns that will determine how much this contract advances reform in Chicago:
- Implementation of the Evaluation System -- if the evaluation system is implemented in a way that truly identifies the effectiveness of teachers, some of the concessions made by the district are less worrisome to us. If it isn't well implemented, we're back to square one.
- School closures -- School closures and downsizing the CPS workforce appear to be in the near future. If closures are delayed or stopped through the legislative and legal fight the union promises, much of the related elements of the contract will be for naught.
- Money -- CPS has quantified the cost of the contract agreement at $295 million over four years. Their estimate relies heavily on savings from "COLA reduction, step and lane compensation, and savings in layoff benefits, sick day compensation, and a new wellness program." Time will tell whether or not these estimates hold up.