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Framework for Chicago Pact in Place; Details in Question



The Chicago Teachers Union and the city's public schools have outlined a deal on a new contract, moving a step closer to ending a strike that has kept 350,000 students out of school for a week.

The two parties are hammering out all the details Saturday; once a draft is written, the union's 700 delegates must approve it before it can move to the rank-and-file for ratification. On Sunday, the delegates are also expected to vote on whether to end the strike.

So far, we can't confirm what's in the new agreement, including the most important and divisive issues. Those include:

• What raises teachers will earn;
• How much weight will be placed on student test scores in teacher evaluations;
• Any compromises over "recall rights"—basically, a hiring priority that the CTU was trying to secure for teachers laid off or displaced through school consolidations or shakeups; and
• The length of the contract (the district wanted a four-year agreement, the union a two-year one).

Catalyst Chicago and the city's NPR station were tweeting details last night reportedly leaked from district sources, but the union on its own feed said it wouldn't confirm any of them.

What we do know is that as of a district proposal from Sept. 11, the city had offered to restore some elements of recall rights, to make the first year of the teacher-evaluation system a pilot one, and to allow limited appeals on teacher ratings. Whether any of those were approved in the framework remains to be seen.

Watch this page for updates as we learn more.

UPDATED, Sept. 16, 8:20 a.m.:

A press release from the Chicago Teachers Union gives some new details. According to the press release:

• Teachers will earn 3 percent in the first year of a new contract and 2 percent in each of the succeeding two years, plus step-and-lane increases;
• Test scores for teacher evaluation will count for the minimum 30 percent, as stated in state law;
• A new "hiring pool" for teachers must include at least half laid-off and half new teachers, and teachers displaced due to school closures will be permitted to follow their students to other schools;
• The district will hire 600 additional teachers for arts and enrichment classes.
• The contract will be for three years.

This would represent a win for the CTU on almost every account. The district had fought against a shorter contract, step-and-lane increases, guaranteed jobs for laid-off teachers, and wanted more emphasis placed on student achievement in a teacher evaluation system.

Photo: Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, addresses the crowd during a rally on Sept. 15. Lewis reminded the crowd of teachers and their supporters that although there is a "framework" for an end to their strike, they are still are on strike. (Charles Rex Arbogast)

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