Schools, Teachers Weigh In On Fact Finder's Report

The School Board and the union rejected a report that was originally meant to strike a compromise between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union. Now, a 30-day countdown begins to a possible teacher's strike. We talk with Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and CTU rep Jackson Potter about the messy path forward on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm. View the fact finder's full report and the board's rejection notice in the PDFs below.

Chicago Tonight spoke with Juan Jose Gonzalez, the Chicago Director of Stand for Children Illinois, about contract negotiations and a potential strike.

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What are your thoughts on the whole issue of contract negotiations between CTU and CPS?

I think what we are seeing is the most transparent contract negotiations process in a long time that parents are able to see. We are able to see final offers for both groups, once the report is released. There is an unprecedented level of transparency. Parents are also able to see the CPS budget. There is transparency with the budget and the negotiation process, and that transparency is forcing both parties to negotiate in good faith.

In the initial leaked report from earlier in the week, CTU said that the fact finder will recommend significant salary hikes for teachers. What are your thoughts about this?

I think the state of the CPS budget really shows we are in a crisis situation. Although we want teachers to get paid more, we need to realize the gravity of draining our financial reserves. I don’t think the fact finder’s report is grounded in the reality of the CPS budget.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that a 15 percent raise, i.e. the arbitrator’s leaked suggestion, is "not tethered to reality." Do you agree?

I think when I look at the CPS budget, I don’t see where they are going to be able to find that. We want teachers to get paid more, but we need to make sure that the CPS budget doesn’t go into a deficit. We need to come to a salary arrangement that keeps the best interests of the kids in mind. A reasonable salary adjustment needs to be reached that benefits all parties.

What are your recommendations as far as what can be done to fix the CPS/CTU impasse?

CPS needs to continue to stay at the negotiating table, almost around the clock, and they need to come up with a deal before the start of school. Our position has always been that we want to see a longer, better school day. We are asking both parties to not sacrifice that powerful tool in these contract negotiations.

Are you concerned that both sides will reject the contract, leading to a possible strike?

I believe that both sides are going to reject the fact finder’s report, but I think that simultaneous rejection is actually a catalyst for increased urgency in their negotiations. We can all agree that a strike is bad for CPS, teachers and students in the CPS system.

How will parents be affected by a potential strike? What are some of their concerns?

Parents are dramatically impacted on several levels. Firstly, having to figure out what to do with their child during the times when they are supposed to be in school is a drain on their financial and economic resources. Then, there’s the element of student safety. With the high crime wave hitting our city, can we afford to put children in danger without them being in school and having them out on streets? For parents as well, many of the children have summer learning month, and adding to that additional time lost due to a strike would be detrimental to a student’s learning development.

What is Stand for Children?

Stand for Children is a nonprofit advocacy organization. We work with, educate and develop leadership of parents in the public school system. We work with all parents in the public school system. We educate them on the issues of public education, and use their feedback for public policies around the public school system.

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