The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Newsletter November 1, 2019
Welcome to our November 1st newsletter! As always, share the latest stories from your city or state with us on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t forget to tell your friends and colleagues to sign up for our newsletter here.
Chicago Teachers’ Strike, Longest in Decades, Ends
More than 300,000 public school students prepared to return to school as Chicago leaders on Thursday announced an end to an acrimonious teachers’ strike that lasted 11 days, the longest here in decades.
In the end, the clash between the teachers and Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, appeared to have brought major wins for students, families and educators. The city agreed to spend millions of dollars on reducing class sizes; promised to pay for hundreds more social workers, nurses and librarians; and approved a 16 percent salary increase over the coming five years.
Teachers in Chicago drew attention to matters far beyond salary to broad issues of social justice, casting their fight as a battle for equity among the city’s poor and rich families, for safety for immigrants and for affordable housing in an ever more expensive city. And some Presidential hopefuls and others were quick to line up behind the teachers, a pivot from the political mood a decade ago when even some on the left criticized the power of teachers’ unions.
Still, the strike in Chicago, which followed a series of major teacher walkouts in conservative states like West Virginia and Oklahoma as well as cities like Los Angeles and Denver, reflected a renewed wave of activism from teachers. Read about the details of their tentative agreement here.
SEIU Local 73 members vote in favor of new contract with CPS
After a seven-day strike and nearly 17 months of negotiations, SEIU Local 73 members have voted in favor of a new five-year contract with CPS. SEIU Local 73 represents CPS support staff, serving in roles such as special education classroom assistants, bus aides, custodians as well as school security officers.
The new contract includes pay increases of 17 percent to nearly 40 percent over five years, which CPS can no longer take away under any circumstances, the union said. CPS support staff won up to 40 days of accruable sick time, and bus aides and custodians won back paid vacation time that was taken away in contract negotiations in 2015.
Special Education Classroom Assistants won self-directed prep and planning time, and protections from being used as utility workers or working with the general student population instead of their assigned students. Finally, the union said CPS support staff will now be included in future discussions about who is cleaning schools and how it should be done. Learn more about SEIU’s new contract here.
Dedham teachers, school officials reach tentative deal to end strike
Dedham teachers and school officials have agreed to a tentative deal to end the teacher strike that began Friday. School officials said the new four-year collective bargaining agreement, one year of which is retroactive, ends a one-day strike and ensures that Dedham schools will be open Monday.
When striking teachers in Dedham ratified a new contract on Monday afternoon, they joined a nationwide movement of educators agitating for better pay and improved working conditions, from West Virginia to California.
Each successful strike, experts said, inspires another, and in their brief three-day walkout, Dedham teachers advanced many of the arguments that have been successful in teacher strikes elsewhere. And although many of the recent actions were illegal, teachers have claimed victory in nearly every one. Read more about their fight forward here.
GOOD READ: What we can learn from the state of our nation’s education
The latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are prompting some soul-searching about the limited gains over the past decade, but there are outliers worth saluting. More important, we should be analyzing what successful states and school districts are doing differently so that others can learn from them.
Let’s start with the District. Scores in the city increased by three points apiece in fourth-grade math, eighth-grade math and eighth-grade reading. In fact, among the 50 states plus the District, D.C. was the only one to post an increase in eighth-grade reading. Read more here.
Follow the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools on Facebook and Twitter and learn more at www.reclaimourschools.org.