Whitney Tilson’s emails’ coverage on CTU’s Strike–some excerpts

From Sunday September 16, 2012  at 8:13 AM PDT

1) Here’s the latest from Chicago, courtesy of DFER’s Joe Williams. It’s hard to tell how strong Rahm stood (keep in mind, below are the highlights provided by the union, which is trying to persuade its members to accept the deal):

Union delegates will vote on the proposed deal at 3 p.m. Chicago time, which would then end the strike and set the stage for classes to resume tomorrow. According to the union, the deal includes:

·         Raises of 3 percent, 2 percent and 2 percent over the next three years, with the option to extend the deal to four years “by mutual agreement” with another 3 percent raise.

·         Preservation of extra “step’’ increases based on experience, with new increases in the three highest steps.

·         The hiring of 600 additional teachers in art, music, physical education, world languages and other so-called “special’’classes.

·         The requirement that teachers be allowed to “follow their students” to other schools if the teachers school is subject to “school action,” such as closure.

·         10 months of “true recall” to the same school if a position opens.

·         One-half of all CPS hires must be laid-off CTU members.

·         In new teacher evaluations, limits to 30 percent the weight given to student growth, down from what had been a maximum of 40 percent, and provides the right to appeal a “neutral” rating.

·         Reimbursement of school supplies up to $250.

·         An agreement to hire more nurses, social workers and school counselors if the system gets new revenue, including from tax increment financing funds.

Other stuff:

– DEAL COULD LEAD TO LAYOFFS, TAX HIKES, SCHOOL CLOSINGS: http://www.suntimes.com/15149998-761/teacher-deal-could-lead-to-property-tax-hikes-school-closings-layoffs.html

– KAREN LEWIS SICK OF BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO BY BILLIONAIRES: Makes it seem like the strike was about air conditioners in schools. http://www.suntimes.com/15177062-761/union-head-teachers-tired-of-billionaires-telling-us-what-to-do.html

You can see her entire speech here: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=8812091
From Sunday September 16, 2012 8:12:25 PM PDT

In an astonishing development, the Chicago Teachers Union today voted to continue its strike until at least the middle of this coming week.

My first thought is that my heart goes out to the hundreds of thousands of Chicago parents and children who are going to be hurt even more by this needless strike.

My second thought is that the outrageous, selfish, greedy behavior by the union is an absolute godsend to we reformers. Parents in Chicago – and everyone else who’s paying attention across the country – are so mad that they can’t see straight – and it’s now 100% directed at the union. This will benefit us in Chicago and nationally for years to come.

This type of behavior isn’t an outlier of course: so many teachers unions in cities and states all over the country are so disconnected from reality, so arrogant, and so used to bullying everyone that they do self-destructive things like this regularly, greatly diminishing whatever public support they might have. It may well be the greatest asset we reformers have.

Off the top of my head, in the pantheon of the many amazingly dumb things the unions have done in recent years to diminish their support, this far surpasses the recent killing of the bill in CA to make it easier to fire sexual predator teachers and trails only the unions going all in with Hillary in the primaries four years ago, thereby ensuring that Obama, once elected, owed them nothing.

I almost feel sorry for Randi: she’s smart enough to understand what a disaster this is for the unions. I’ll bet she’s wondering what she did to deserve Karen Lewis – who, by herself, is the #1 godsend to we reformers have right now. I wish I could put a blue ribbon on her mouth – every time she opens it, she helps us so much!

Below is a statement from Michelle Rhee and an article in the Chicago Tribune.
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Statement from StudentsFirst CEO and Founder Michelle Rhee

Despite reaching an agreement on a framework for a deal on Friday, the CTU announced that it would extend the teacher strike into its second week this evening with CTU President Lewis stating:

“Our members are not happy.  They want to know if there is anything more they can get.”

[AP, September 16, 2012]

Michelle Rhee, CEO and founder of StudentsFirst, issued the following statement in reaction to the news:

“I was disappointed to learn that Chicago’s school children won’t be in school tomorrow morning, and outraged when I heard President Lewis’ reason why.

We heard a lot of talk from union leadership about fewer students in each classroom, about improving training, and about the very real challenges teachers face. But by extending the strike tonight, the union proved that this wasn’t about addressing any of those issues.

It’s clear this was only about job security and compensation for union members. It is as President Lewis herself said this evening about “anything else they can get” even if it means kids are kept from the classroom for longer.

If it were about the kids, we wouldn’t be negotiating the idea that increased compensation should come with more accountability for learning — not less. If it were about kids, we wouldn’t be negotiating whether principals should be empowered to choose the best teachers available regardless of fit or effectiveness.

And if it were about the kids, 350,000 students would be in class tomorrow morning instead of at home or on the streets.

Chicago families have paid enough. The education of Chicago’s children should not be a chip at the bargaining table for one hour longer so that the Chicago Teachers Union can see if “there is anything else they can get.”  StudentFirst.org/Statement
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Court hearing to wait a day, union to meet Tuesday
By Jason Meisner and Hal Dardick, Tribune reporters
8:39 pm, September 17, 2012

Chicago Public Schools students will miss a seventh day of classes Tuesday as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attempt to get the courts to quickly end the teachers strike did not produce immediate results.

Instead, a judge opted to hear arguments on the mayor’s request Wednesday from the school district and the Chicago Teachers Union.

By then, the legal matter could be irrelevant. Union leadership could decide at its Tuesday meeting to end the walkout in anticipation of a vote by teachers down the road on a new contract proposal that was hammered out during marathon negotiations last week.

If the strike is not called off, however, Cook County Circuit Judge Peter Flynn will listen to the merits of granting the school district an injunction against the union…

…he school district attorneys also made a second argument, asserting that the strike is “a clear and present danger to public health and safety.” The district noted that 84 percent of CPS students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals served at the schools, that no student has been shot in a school since 2007 and that special education services are provided to 50,000 students who “may suffer from loss of or decline in critical life skills.”

Several labor law experts said Monday that the city has a strong case when it says the primary issues cited by the union do not allow it to strike.

“This is a strike over noneconomic issues” said L. Steven Platt, a prominent city labor lawyer, noting that only economic issues are legal cause for a strike under state law. “Of course they insist there are other issues, but the main issues, the ones that are driving the strike, are noneconomic issues.”

That view was not unanimous. Martin Malin, a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law who specializes in labor law, said that some issues being negotiated, like air conditioning in schools, affect working conditions that are legal grounds for a strike.

Labor law experts did agree on a couple of points, however. One is that it will be very tough to prove that the strike represents a clear and present danger to public health and safety. “We’ve never had a teachers strike enjoined under this standard since the statute took effect,” Malin said.

Another point took the form of a question: Would a judge up for retention be willing to rule against the labor unions that historically have played a key role in city elections? Flynn is seeking retention on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“You tell me what chancery judge is going to issue an injunction against the teachers union,” Platt said. “Believe me, the unions have long memories. Every union is going to remember this judge … come election time.”

One option would be for the judge to try to settle the matter in chambers, without issuing a ruling that risked offending unions or even the mayor, the experts said.

The school district will first have to prove to Flynn that the matter should be in his court and not before the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

The union has stated that the strike was partly over unfair labor practices. It filed a complaint with the state labor relations panel and argues that board is the only agency with the right to ask a court to stop the strike. A preliminary ruling on the unfair labor practices matter is expected Tuesday.