Chicago Public Schools today announced additional details of a $25 million plan the district says will provide children critical services in the event of a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union.
The CTU and the schools have been in negotiation for months to settle a change in the working conditions of teachers. Under a plan put forward by CPS, teachers will be working a longer day and a longer year.
Despite a finding by an independent fact finder that found the teachers were due raises, both CPS and the CTU rejected the findings.
Further, the legislature, in an attempt to remove a strike from actions that could be taken, passed SB7, requiring a 75 percent approval from members for a strike to take place. Earlier this year teachers approved a strike with a vote that approached 90 percent.
As a result of the impasse. A strike is widely expected starting Monday.
In Ravenswood, the strike will leave the following high schools open under the Children First plan.
- Northside Learning HS (a special needs school); 3730 W Bryn Mawr
- Northside Prep; 5501 N Kedzie
- Amundsen High; 5110 N Damen
- Roosevelt High; 3436 W Wilson
- Lane Tech; 2501 W Addison
And the following elementary schools will be open in our neighborhood, also under the Children First plan:
- Bell; 3730 N Oakley
- McPherson; 4728 N Wolcott
- Stockton; 4420 N Beacon
According to the schools, the plan will provide children with “critical services”. CPS said in a news release this morning it would staff the Children First schools with staff from its central office and with other staff not affiliated with the teachers union.
The schools would be open from 8.30A -12.30P. A signup seems to be required.
CPS has also requested non-profits, parents and community organizations to staff the 145 schools to be kept open.
Children, under the half-day plan, will be given a cold breakfast and lunch.
Age appropriate activities are planned. But details are sparse.
Picket lines are expected at the open schools.
The Details of Children First
Children First was first announced last week. The $25 million cost for this project is about one-third the amount schools would have spent to finance the teachers regular raise this year. Instead, much of the savings from the teachers giving back that raise was used to pay for police in a transfer.
A CPS spokeswoman noted that the $25 million is based on approval of a line item by the Chicago Board of Education. “It is impossible to put costs on variables,” it was noted. Those variables? How many days the strike lasts and how many students need services.
The schools have said they would partner with “faith and community based organizations.” However, The Bulldog could find no evidence of that in Ravenswood. CPS released a list of organizations that would offer programs. But there are no organizations listed in Uptown or Albany Park, both scenes of recent gang violence.
From the parks to the libraries to the non-governmental agencies that work with children, there is no evidence of anyone participating in the Children First program in Ravenswood.
Except for the three schools, four high schools and one special service high school listed above, this program doesn’t exist in Ravenswood.
Park District Plans Released
The park district said it will extend hours at some locations to allow parents to choose between a half-day or full day program. “Space is limited,” a news release from the parks say. “There will be no food at the parks for students; students would need to bring their own food.”
Families may enroll children in a morning session, an afternoon session or a full day session. Sessions are 8.30A- 12.30P and 12.30P- 3.30P.
|Chase||4701 N Ashland||Special Recreation Program|
|Welles||2333 W Sunnyside|
|River||5100 N Francisco|
|Horner||2741 W Montrose|
Parents: Good Luck!
Calls to the Mayor’s Office were referred to the schools. As were calls to the libraries.
Our conversation with Ruth Lednicer, the library director of marketing, was typical. “We are open normal hours. We’re making sure we have a robust set of activities for kids.” There are no special hours or activities. For the libraries it is business “as we do every day.”
The parks say they have a “strategic plan” in place. The parks spokesman didn’t discuss that plan last week. This week the park spokesmen are unavailable. (Late edit, a plan was announced late today and is detailed in the paragraph above.)
|Chicago Park District||“Strategic plan” may call for extended summer camp type activities.||6A- 11P in unstaffed parks|
|McFetridge/ California||3843 N California||Fieldhouse till 6A- 1A M-F|
|Welles||2333 W Sunnyside||Fieldhouse till 7A- 10P M-F|
|Horner||2741 W Montrose||Fieldhouse till 9A- 10P M-F|
|River||5100 N Francisco||Fieldhouse till 10A- 8P M-F|
|Revere||2509 W Irving Park||Fieldhouse till 9A- 9.30P M-F|
|Chase||4701 N Ashland||Fieldhouse till 8A- 10P M-F|
|Winnemac (inside Amundsen High School)||5001 N Leavitt||Fieldhouse till 1.30P- 9.30P M-F|
|Chicago Public Library||No change in hours, staffing or activities|
|Sulzer||4455 N Lincoln||9A- 9P M-Th; 9A- 5P F|
|Independence||3548 W Irving Park||10A- 6P M,W; Noon-8P T,Th; 9A-5P F|
|Lincoln Belmont||1659 W Melrose||10A- 6P M,W; Noon-8P T,Th; 9A- 5P F|
|Bezazian||1226 W Ainslie||Noon- 8P M,W; 10A- 6P T,Th; 9A – 5P F|
|Budlong Woods||5630 N Lincoln||Noon- 8P M,W; 10A- 6P T,Th; 9A – 5P F|
|Uptown||929 W Buena||10A- 6P M,W; Noon-8P T,Th; 9A- 5P F|
|Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club||Contingency plans calls for summer camp activities for current members|
|Lill Street Art Center||No reply|
|Davis Theater||Although they held summer matinees, no reply|
|Concordia Place||No change in programs. Membership required.|
|Old Town School of Folk Music||No reply.|
How did we get here?
Our neighbor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, set the stage for this strike during his run for mayor. A major plank in his campaign was a longer school day.
But read back, through the excellent coverage in the Chicago Sun-Times or here at The Bulldog and you’ll find that educators have no plan for using the extra time each day. Much of it will be used for lunch, recess and other activities that are not directly related to learning.
During our visits to schools last year, leading up to the Local School Council elections, we heard from guards, kitchen aides and others that they were being asked to work a longer day without compensation.
You can disagree with the teachers union all you want. The fact is that the poorest and lowest in the school system were asked to work for no extra pay.
And you can agree with the need for a longer school day, and yet ask, where is the plan for all this additional class time?
Watching CPS for two years we’ve learned that students want to learn, teachers are talented and want to teach. Often principals are the problem in poor schools. Sometimes LSCs are the problem.
But the big obstacle is CPS Central Office and a political culture that demands no accountability.
‘Children First’ is symptomatic of the problem.
- As detailed by the Sun-Times, most school districts do not open schools during a strike. Why do we need this plan?
- As noted above, there is no “plan.” This is ‘whip it out of the dark side of the moon’ planning and is typical of CPS Central Office.
But there are other problems here too.
- Our Mayor is more invested in the election of the President than he is in the education of our children and resolving this labor dispute. He is more invested in the Presidential election than the increasing street violence in Chicago. For the mayor, this labor dispute has become a battle of saving face, not saving education.
- Go back in our archives to watch the mayor’s floor whip and the chair of City Council’s former Education Committee explain why he didn’t dirty himself as a neighborhood school languished. Sadly, a second alderman can be seen in the background nodding his head in agreement. Our political class wants nothing to do with the failure of education in this city.
- The longer school day plan was to significantly lengthen the class time, through a longer school day and a longer school year. The plan was watered down, with much of the additional instructional time gutted for lunch and recess. And the plan was never a plan at all. As late as spring, school personnel were telling The Dog they had no direction on using the longer day from the Central Office. The longer school day represents more ‘pull it out of the dark side of the moon’ planning by CPS.
- And, most tellingly, a demand for a significantly longer year and day was not backed by money. The fact finder approves of increasing teacher pay demands by more than 19 percent. What else is not being funded here?