Chicago Teachers Union rushes to end charter school strike as new struggles develop | #students | #parents | #parenting | #parenting | #kids

After only two days, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is rushing to end the strike by 34 teachers at Urban Prep Academies in Chicago, announcing Wednesday that they had reached a tentative agreement with the network of charter schools. The tentative agreement (TA) is said to be for three years, with a reopening of the deal next summer, while the date when teachers will vote on the agreement has not been reported. Basic facts about the TA have also not been made public, with the Chicago Tribune noting, “Neither side has provided details on what the tentative contract provides in pay and benefits.”

Teachers began striking on Monday after bargaining between both parties dragged on for the past three years, leading to a unanimous strike authorization vote last month. Rank-and-file teachers demanded proper funding for special education students and programs, wages equal to that of other CTU members teaching in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and other conditions and benefits.

Teachers holding press conference announcing the beginning of their strike (Source: Facebook)

The announcement of the TA is being presented by the CTU and the corporate media as a done deal, despite teachers not yet having time to study or vote on the contract. The CTU characterized the TA as a “win” for adding language to the contract that mandates Urban Prep provide funding for special education. However, according to the CTU’s press release, this does not go further than to request that the school follow federal special education law.

The union’s press release also mentions that the TA will include “improvements” to teacher evaluations and new teacher provisional periods, although the CTU did not specify what these changes would include. Urban Prep maintains long “provisional” periods for teachers in order to keep wages low and hold the threat of arbitrary firing over teacher’s heads, establishing what is essentially a two-tier salary system. The CTU also claims that the agreement includes a limit to classroom sizes but does not specify the new limit.

CTU stated that the agreement will give “salary increases moving them closer to other teachers throughout the district.” This is a thinly veiled way to say that the contract will not pay the charter teachers as much as public school teachers, who earn on average roughly $11,000 more annually.

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