New Chicago School Teacher Contract Nothing To Celebrate

Although Chicago public school teachers returned to their classrooms on Sept. 19, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today officially ratified the contract to end the strike, which lasted seven school days. The new deal was approved by 79.1 percent of the CTU membership.

The three-year contract includes a new teacher evaluation system — a reform championed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — which will take into account students’ standardized test scores. Other reforms that Mayor Emanuel touted and were granted in the contract were the extension of the school day and giving Chicago school principals more power over the hiring process of teachers.

The CTU succeeded in striking down merit-based pay for teachers and guaranteeing that laid-off teachers will have a higher preference to be rehired by the Chicago school district. The CTU also scored pay raises averaging 17.6 percent over the next four years.

The Chicago School Board has yet to officially approve the deal.

The Chicago Tribune reports the guaranteed pay increases under the new contract will cost the school district another $74 million a year. Given the recent Moody’s Investor’s Services credit downgrade of the Chicago school system, it looks like the new contract agreement does practically nothing to address the dire fiscal situation facing Chicago.

So, not all that much here to celebrate.