Experienced journalist Sarah Karp here explains what sank the contract negotiations between the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.
“In the recent Chicago Public Schools contract offer, which now lingers in a sort of political purgatory, teachers were offered a pay raise, but there was a big catch: CPS educators would essentially be paying for the salary increase by sacrificing the most experienced members of their teaching force.
“An early-retirement buyout program was the linchpin of the Board of Education’s since-rejected offer – and it’s one of the main reasons why Chicago Teachers Union representatives voted down the deal, according to union officials.
“The board was offering $1,500 per year of service to teachers of retirement age and $750 to support staff to leave, according to the CTU. If at least 1,500 teachers and 700 other staffers took advantage of the buyout offer, the contract would stand, according to the CPS offer.
“But, if not enough employees signed up for early retirement, then CPS could reopen the contract – which union members feared would lead to layoffs.
“With that prospect looming and, among other things, the concern of a brain drain as experienced educators walked out the door, the CTU’s bargaining team of 40 union representatives voted down the deal unanimously on Monday.
“At a press conference on Tuesday, CTU President Karen Lewis said the union voted down the contract offer because, “No. 1 it would have pushed out 2,200 of our seasoned, experienced educators, disproportionately impacting African-American and Latino educators. It will lead to ballooning class sizes and the cuts the board proposed were solely out of our pockets.”
“Fifty-four percent of teachers with more than 20 years experience are black or Latino, whereas only 22 percent of new teachers are, according to a Better Government Association analysis of 2012 state data. New teachers make about $48,000 a year, while those with 20 years or more experience make an average of $88,000