WBEZ | Layoffs http://www.wbez.org/tags/layoffs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago Public Schools Announces 227 Layoffs http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-announces-227-layoffs-114570 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Alvin Rider is one of hundreds laid off by <a href="https://twitter.com/ChiPubSchools">@ChiPubSchools</a> today. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CPS?src=hash">#CPS</a> says it has a 480M budget gap. <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZ">@WBEZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/Y2dqExQz0f">pic.twitter.com/Y2dqExQz0f</a></p>&mdash; Yolanda Perdomo (@yolandanews) <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews/status/690631188864765953">January 22, 2016</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p><p>More than 200 administrative employees with&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Public Schools are being laid off and another 180 already-vacant positions will be closed, changes officials say will help save the nation&#39;s third-largest district $45.1 million a year as it grapples with deep financial problems.</p><p>The 227 layoffs announced Friday are in the central office and district officials say 57 of the workers affected will be eligible to reapply for 35 jobs. After the changes, the district will have cut 433 central office jobs overall since August through layoffs or closings of positions.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s no doubt that these cuts are painful,&quot; schools CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement Friday. &quot;However, with limited resources and a budget crisis not just this year but into the foreseeable future, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/no-plan-c-chicago-schools-brace-budget-cuts-114118">we had no choice.&quot;</a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/claypool-city-club.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 275px; width: 400px;" title="Forrest Claypool is pictured following a speech he gave at a City Club of Chicago luncheon. This year, the district has a $480 million hole to fill in its current budget. Claypool says there will be no magical solution this year. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" /></p><p>Claypool&#39;s announcement comes the same week top <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-republicans-mull-cps-bankruptcy-plan-114531" target="_blank">Illinois Republicans called for a state takeover of the district</a>, a plan Democrats blasted. It&#39;s also&nbsp;a difficult time for the district: roughly 400,000 students with a $1.1 billion budget deficit, and the potential of midyear teacher layoffs.</p><p>The&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Teachers Union says layoffs in the middle of the year are a step in the wrong direction. The&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;district also is in the midst of contentious negotiations with the teachers <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-take-strike-vote-114117">on a new contract</a>.</p><div id="content-titles" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; font-family: Georgia, serif; vertical-align: baseline;"><h1 style="margin: 0px 0px 4px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 16px; line-height: 21px; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-20/could-chicago-public-schools-be-run-state-114536" target="_blank">►Could CPS Be Run by the State?</a></h1></div><p>Tough contract negotiations with the&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Teachers Union, which went on strike in 2012, are ongoing. Earlier this week, top Illinois Republicans called for a state takeover of the district because of the fiscal crisis, a plan Democrats and&nbsp;Chicagoschool officials blasted.</p><p>Claypool continued his criticism of the state&#39;s school funding formula, saying Friday that it&#39;s unfair to CPS. Attempts to get legislative help for the budget crisis have faltered.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he wants to &quot;protect the classrooms&quot; from such cuts, but the teachers&#39; union said layoffs, even if they don&#39;t involve teachers, are a step in the wrong direction.</p></p> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 11:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-announces-227-layoffs-114570 As commodity prices slide, layoffs and restructuring follow http://www.wbez.org/news/commodity-prices-slide-layoffs-and-restructuring-follow-113159 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_880892989250.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="Tractors and equipment made by Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc. are seen in Clinton, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)" /></div><p>In recent days, we&#39;ve seen these headlines:</p><ul><li>Caterpillar is planning to cut up to 10,000 jobs.</li><li>After standing for 127 years as an industrial giant, Alcoa will be splitting into two smaller companies.</li><li>Glencore, a global mining giant, is seeing its stock price crumble amid insolvency rumors.</li></ul><p>The three events may seem unrelated, but in fact, all are part of one big story: the commodities-price collapse.</p><p>All over the world, producers of raw materials sold in bulk, such as oil, copper, aluminum and zinc, have been tumbling in value. For most of us, these price changes may have seemed unimportant, or maybe even good. Cheap commodities have helped hold down consumer price inflation this past year.</p><p>But now, the reverberations from the commodities plunge are being felt by more and more Americans. This is no longer a story about miner layoffs in remote parts of South Africa or Australia. Now it&#39;s about middle-class jobs disappearing from Peoria as sales of mining equipment dry up.</p><p>Last week,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/24/us-caterpillar-layoffs-idUSKCN0RO1I820150924">Caterpillar said</a>&nbsp;it plans to lay off up to 10,000 workers, with a &quot;significant&quot; number of those cuts coming in Illinois. The company says that with equipment orders evaporating, 2016 will &quot;mark the first time in Caterpillar&#39;s 90-year history that sales and revenues have decreased four years in a row.&quot;</p><p>And at Alcoa &mdash; short for the Aluminum Company of America &mdash; a divorce is coming. The company,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/about_alcoa/history/home.asp">founded in 1888</a>&nbsp;in Pittsburgh, announced it will split into two separate businesses next year.</p><p>The old part of Alcoa will chug along with its traditional bauxite-mining, alumina-refining and aluminum-production businesses. The other part will escape the commodity end of the industry to become a &quot;value added&quot; maker of engineered products.</p><p>And then there&#39;s Glencore. The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.glencore.com/">Swiss company</a>&nbsp;has a huge trading division that buys and sells commodities, and another arm that mines those materials, such as copper, zinc and coal. And the company, which has about $30 billion in debt, has lost roughly three-quarters of its stock value this year.</p><p>Perhaps more than any other company, Glencore provides a disturbing look at what happens when soaring expectations combine with low-interest loans to create high risks.</p><p>Five years ago, Glencore could see China buying up commodities at a torrid pace. China needed raw materials for construction of office buildings, roads, manufacturing plants and more. So it wanted to buy lots of zinc.</p><p>Zinc is a silvery-white metal used to coat iron and steel to block rust. It&#39;s also used to make brass, rubber and semiconductors. In fact, it&#39;s the world&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://geology.com/usgs/uses-of-zinc">fourth-most-consumed metal</a>&nbsp;&mdash; after iron, aluminum and copper.</p><p>So Glencore&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mining.com/glencore-xstrata-mcarthur-river-mine-expansion-plan-approved-39488">mined zinc</a>&nbsp;feverishly and bet heavily on its rising value. And it borrowed a lot for expansions.</p><p>At the time, that all made perfect sense. Zinc prices were up, and interest rates were down at rock bottom. Expanding the business seemed like a brilliant idea.</p><p>But now that China&#39;s growth is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/08/27/435113583/china-s-economic-slowdown-further-hurts-depressed-commodity-prices">dramatically cooling</a>, so is demand for zinc. Prices have fallen about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/18/zinc-glencore-inventories-idUSL5N11O1AV20150918">30 percent</a>&nbsp;just since May. Investors wonder how Glencore is going to repay all of its debt now that revenues are falling.</p><p>This Glencore saga explains why the Federal Reserve&#39;s decisions on interest rates are so important. The central bank had slashed interest rates during the Great Recession to encourage companies to borrow for expansions. And it worked.</p><p>But for commodity companies, it worked too well; many borrowed heavily to splurge on dramatic expansions. Now they are faced with the consequences of this exuberance.</p><p>So critics can say that the Fed helped create this mess by keeping rates too low for too long.</p><p>But at this point, raising rates could make it even tougher for producers of commodities &mdash; whether miners, drillers or farmers &mdash; to refinance their debts, making it all the more difficult for them to hang on.</p><p>This is why investors and analysts, zinc miners and wheat farmers, hang on every word from the Fed.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/30/444531514/as-commodity-prices-slide-layoffs-and-restructurings-follow?ft=nprml&amp;f=444531514" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/commodity-prices-slide-layoffs-and-restructuring-follow-113159 Morning Shift: Grading Rahm on final issues http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-01-30/morning-shift-grading-rahm-final-issues-111478 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Eric E Johnson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2684/4540087361_d59a0649e6.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 314px;" title="(Flickr/Eric E Johnson)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/188662162&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">With shake-up at top, what do consumers want from McDs?</span></p><p>Steady, declining sales have led Oak Brook-based McDonald&rsquo;s corporation to make some changes. 63 workers were let go from corporate jobs, and President and COO Don Thompson is out. He&rsquo;s been replaced by Steve Easterbrook. We&rsquo;ve heard about changing American tastes, and the perception that fast food isn&rsquo;t healthy food. But what do consumers really want from McDonald&rsquo;s, and will the new regime be able to deliver? Darren Tristano with consulting firm Technomic talks about the changes the burger giant needs to make. &nbsp;</p><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Guest: </strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/darrentristano">Darren Tristano</a> is the Executive Vice President for consulting firm Techomi.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/188662160&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Chicagoans pay tribute to Ernie Banks</span></p><p>A public visitation for Ernie Banks will be held Friday at Fourth Presbyterian Church downtown. Fans, ballplayers, family and friends will gather to pay their respect to &ldquo;Mr. Cub&rdquo;...&rdquo;Mr. Let&rsquo;s Play Two&rdquo;&hellip;&ldquo;Mr. Sunshine.&rdquo; Banks broke records and barriers during his 19 years with the Chicago Cubs. But as WBEZ&rsquo;s Katie O&rsquo;Brien learned, he never broke character.<span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Guest: </strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/katieobez">Katie O&#39;Brien</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/188662154&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Grading Rahm: What other issues are on voters&#39; minds?</span></p><p>All this week, we hosted experts who issued Mayor Rahm Emanuel a letter grade in four areas: Jobs and the economy, education, public safety and transparency. You can see all those grades at wbez.org/gradingrahm. To wrap our series <em><a href="http://wbez.org/gradingrahm">Grading Rahm</a></em>, WBEZ&rsquo;s Shannon Heffernan, Becky Vevea and Chip Mitchell discuss some of the feedback they&rsquo;ve received on their reporting, what other issues voters may be talking about before they head to the polls next month, and what they would ask the Mayor if he was standing in front of them. And, we take listeners&rsquo; calls with reaction to the letter grades.</p><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Guests:</strong></p><ul><li><em><a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">Shannon Heffernan</a> is a&nbsp;a WBEZ reporter.</em></li><li><em><a href="https://twitter.com/beckyvevea">Becky Vevea</a> is a WBEZ education reporter.</em></li><li><em><a href="https://twitter.com/chipmitchell1">Chip Mitchell</a> is a WBEZ West Side Bureau reporter.&nbsp;</em></li></ul></p> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-01-30/morning-shift-grading-rahm-final-issues-111478 More than a thousand teachers and other staff laid off in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/more-thousand-teachers-and-other-staff-laid-chicago-110423 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/board of ed_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools officials told 550 teachers and 600 more school staff Thursday that they&rsquo;re out of a job.</p><p dir="ltr">The number of dreaded phone calls being made by principals is based on how many kids CPS officials project will show up on the first day next fall.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The staffing changes are driven most directly by declining student enrollment,&rdquo; CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a conference call with reporters.</p><p dir="ltr">The number is significantly smaller than last year&rsquo;s nearly 3,000 layoffs, which were due mostly to the Board of Education&rsquo;s decision to close 50 schools.</p><p dir="ltr">More than <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-issues-pink-slips-over-800-employees-107713">800 teachers were laid off last June</a>, another <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109">2,100 were let go in July</a> and nearly 100 were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/cps-issues-nearly-100-pink-slips-109078">released after the 20th day of school enrollment count</a> was taken in the fall.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS&rsquo;s Chief Talent Officer Alicia Winckler said, typically, about 60 percent of the staff let go over the summer find new jobs at other schools in the system.</p><p dir="ltr">Jackson Potter, staff coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union, said it&rsquo;s still too many layoffs in a system already starved for resources.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It sort of like, hey, we cut the most we&rsquo;ve ever cut in the last two years and we cut a little less than that this year, so therefore, it&rsquo;s not so bad, doesn&rsquo;t seem reasonable, or accurate, or considerate to the families that are going to suffer a further reduction of the essentials that their children need and deserve,&rdquo; Potter said.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS officials say they have made adjustments at schools where enrollment dropped and core programs are in jeopardy.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve made every single effort, whereever there was a decline, to make sure that the core academic program, as well as the enrichment programs could continue for next year,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said. &ldquo;But it is difficult for schools that have sustained substantial enrollment decreases to avoid staff impact. I mean, you can&rsquo;t get around that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, schools that lost enrollment were held harmless--meaning they could keep money budgeted to them even if the number of students who enrolled came in under what was projected. That will not continue this year.</p><p dir="ltr">District officials have said the complete fiscal year 2015 budget is set to be released in early July.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 18:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-thousand-teachers-and-other-staff-laid-chicago-110423 CPS issues nearly 100 pink slips http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/cps-issues-nearly-100-pink-slips-109078 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP412605944203 (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools issued layoff notices to nearly 100 teachers and support staff late last week, about two months after pink slips are typically issued.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this year, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said schools <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-enrollment-dip-doesnt-cost-principals-108781">would not have to lay off staff</a> if fewer than expected students showed up during the first weeks of school. That announcement came shortly after the 20th day of school, when CPS and districts across the state are required to finalize enrollment and make staffing adjustments as needed.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS officials say the promise to hold schools harmless for enrollment dropping is not extended to state and federal money for low-income students.</p><p dir="ltr">In all, 94 teachers and support staff were eliminated, according to CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll, of which 33 were due to decreases in state and federal poverty funds that follow students. Eleven positions were technically cut over the summer, but staffed temporarily due to transition work and 10 early childhood or other specialists were eliminated.</p><p dir="ltr">The 40 school assistants that received pink slips failed to get required certifications after having been on notice for several years, Carroll said.</p><p dir="ltr">Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, said the layoffs will hit the most vulnerable students more than two months into the school year.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;In a system that&rsquo;s this large, the overall impact might not be huge, but the impact for specific students who are losing these staff, that will be a big deal,&rdquo; Sharkey said.</p><p dir="ltr">The small wave of pink slips comes after a summer during which <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109">nearly 3,000 teachers were let go</a>. It also comes days after the district announced it plans to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-lose-fight-keep-military-school-out-109044">turn a Northwest Side middle school into a military academy</a> and <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/23479182-418/shuttered-cps-elementary-to-be-home-of-chicago-high-school-for-the-arts-sources.html">hand over a closed school building to a contract school</a>--both proposals school officials denied less than a year ago.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I would say that right now, the board is on kind of a run of broken promises,&rdquo; Sharkey said.</p><p dir="ltr">Carroll refuted Sharkey&rsquo;s statement that this was a broken promise, saying state and federal poverty allocations are entirely out of the district&rsquo;s control.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 10:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/cps-issues-nearly-100-pink-slips-109078 Out-of-work teachers seen as untapped resource for solving city problems http://www.wbez.org/news/out-work-teachers-seen-untapped-resource-solving-city-problems-108885 <p><p dir="ltr">On a recent Saturday morning, more than two dozen educators sat in the pews of a South Side church. There were principals, deans, special education teachers, classroom teachers--nearly all of them out of work.</p><p dir="ltr">At the front of the room, Elizabeth Galik told a story many laid-off teachers can relate to, about trying to get a job in Chicago Public Schools.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So I walked in, in my little cute blue suit and my heels,&rdquo; says Galik. &ldquo;I walked into that job fair at Soldier Field, and saw about five thousand other people who looked just like me.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Galik eventually landed a teaching job at a private school. But she found herself unemployed again when the school had to close for financial reasons.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goodcity%202%20for%20use%20inline.jpg" style="float: right; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="English teacher Imran Khan [lower right] helped found Embarc, Inc., a nonprofit that broadens students’ worlds by taking them on field trips. This school year is Khan’s first working full-time for Embarc. (Courtesy Embarc, Inc.)" />By this time, Galik knew her students, knew their families, knew the community. And she had ideas.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;And so I went to the church that owned the school and I said, &lsquo;Would you let me just open the computer lab to the community and see what happens?&rsquo; And so I literally hand-painted my little sign. I hung it outside: Computer lab open. Tuesdays.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The computer lab was a success. It expanded and merged, and Galik now oversees a community organization with six sites. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Teacher layoffs are painful&mdash;and Chicago posted a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109">record number</a> of them this year, between budget cuts and school closings. But the local nonprofit <a href="http://www.goodcitychicago.org/">Goodcity</a> is seeing opportunity in the layoffs, for the teachers and for the city. Goodcity believes Chicago would be a better place if lots of the city&rsquo;s laid-off educators founded their own nonprofits. The idea is to keep teachers in the city neighborhoods where they&rsquo;ve been working, and get them to address some of the problems they&rsquo;ve seen up close as teachers.. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Consultant Rene Alvarado says teachers make good social entrepreneurs.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Teachers have a pulse on what the real needs of our society are. Not only that, but they have to come up with some ideas--how do I solve these problems? And then I think there&rsquo;s this resiliency about teachers as well. &lsquo;Yeah, I had this horrible day, but I&rsquo;ve got to get up tomorrow morning and come back and try this over again.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">If the recent Goodcity workshop is any indication, teachers have lots of ideas.</p><p dir="ltr">A social worker wants to help kids aging out of foster care. A teacher with accounting experience has ideas for a financial literacy program.</p><p dir="ltr">A former high school principal wants to help disadvantaged kids make it into Chicago&rsquo;s elite high schools, by starting a nonprofit test prep center. &ldquo;Unlike some of the for-profit test prep organizations, I want to make it affordable for inner-city kids,&rdquo; says Joyce Cooper.</p><p dir="ltr">A cosmetology teacher wants to open a salon that would hire her licensed cosmetology students right out of high school, and help them dream even bigger.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Chicago has become the movie hub,&rdquo; says Venetta Carter, who still has her teaching job but is looking &nbsp;to the future. &ldquo;A lot of African Americans just go into a salon, but we don&rsquo;t go into the movie theaters where you have to do theatrical hair, theatrical makeup. So I&rsquo;m hoping to partner with the movie industry and maybe have current hairstylists (or) makeup artists maybe mentor these kids and introduce them to this other side of the cosmetology world.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">There are a lot of examples of teachers becoming entrepreneurs&mdash;some of them very high profile. Two teachers created the KIPP charter school network for instance, which now enrolls 50,000 kids in 141 schools across the nation. And education entrepreneurs are hot right now&mdash;there&rsquo;s venture capital for start-ups trying to tackle pressing problems in public education. Almost everything in education is up for reinvention -- from textbooks to the use of technology to schools themselves.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The truth is, teachers are great managers,&rdquo; says Northside College Prep interim principal Ellen Estrada. &ldquo;Not only that, we underestimate the intellectual nature of teaching,&rdquo; she says.</p><p dir="ltr">Estrada got a taste of the corporate world recently when she went to work for Microsoft to design a science initiative for the city.</p><p dir="ltr">She says teachers are making split-second decisions throughout the day. Are kids understanding what I just presented? Do they need another example? What do I do with this kid who&rsquo;s acting out?</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Most people in jobs are not &lsquo;on&rsquo; like that all the time. And our teachers are,&rdquo; says Estrada.</p><p dir="ltr">English teacher Imran Khan founded a nonprofit several years ago when he was working at Harper High School. <a href="http://www.embarcchicago.org/">Embarc, Inc.</a> &nbsp;takes students on field trips, giving them an opportunity to step away from the neighborhoods where they&rsquo;re growing up. Khan says he got the idea for Embarc because he saw a need for it when he was teaching.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I had a lot of kids who had rarely ever travelled beyond a four-block radius,&rdquo; says Khan. &ldquo;A lot of kids who had never heard of Millennium Park, some who had never seen the lake, kids who had never set foot in grocery stores or had never been in elevators--and these are 16-, 17-year-old high school kids.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Through Embarc, Khan took students to the theater, to see dances, to downtown restaurants&mdash;and saw attendance and graduation rates soar. &ldquo;I knew if we were going to change outcomes for kids, I needed to change their experiences first. I needed to give them some reason to strive,&rdquo; he says.</p><p dir="ltr">Khan and another teacher left Harper this year to run Embarc full time. The program is expanding to nine schools. &nbsp;Like Goodcity, Khan believes teachers are a huge, untapped resource for solving Chicago&rsquo;s problems.</p><p>Goodcity hopes more nonprofits started by teachers will be one silver lining to lots of layoffs.</p></p> Wed, 09 Oct 2013 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/out-work-teachers-seen-untapped-resource-solving-city-problems-108885 After massive layoffs, CPS suggests teachers contribute more for their pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/education/after-massive-layoffs-cps-suggests-teachers-contribute-more-their-pensions-108125 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS3523_board of ed-scr_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109" target="_blank">layoffs hit 3,000 in Chicago Public Schools</a>, the district and teachers union are at odds over what is causing the budget crisis and what to do about it.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s school district says ballooning pension payments are driving the crunch. This school year, the district&rsquo;s pension obligation triples, to $600 million&mdash;a cost to be paid for with money that would otherwise fund current education needs in schools.&nbsp; The pension tab amounts to about 12 percent of the district&rsquo;s total operating budget.</p><p>But condemning Friday&rsquo;s layoffs as &ldquo;outrageous,&rdquo; Chicago Teachers Union vice-president Jesse Sharkey challenged the district&rsquo;s narrative.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We resist the urge on the part of the administration of the city to blame teachers, and to blame our pensions for the crisis. Blaming retired teachers who make an average of $40,000 a year for their retirement, who get no social security, who never missed a payment&mdash;while the city itself didn&rsquo;t put any money into the fund for 10 years, who have had a massive pension holiday for three years--we think that&rsquo;s hypocrisy.&rdquo;</p><p>Sharkey says months of pension talks between the two sides reveal only that the school district and teachers union differ fundamentally on a solution to the problem. He said the district favors cuts to teachers&#39; benefits and the union wants the city to find more revenue--through TIF funds, a tax on financial transactions, or more fundamental income tax reform, including possibly an income tax on suburbanites who work in Chicago.</p><p>Late Friday, the district confirmed that it wants Chicago to be included in a state pension reform plan that calls for greater employee contributions, salary caps for pensions, higher retirement ages, and revised cost of living adjustments.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve been advocating is for CPS to be included in state teacher pension reform in Senate Bill 1&hellip; that would treat all teachers in the state the same in terms of pensions and benefits,&rdquo; said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll. &ldquo;It would provide us systemic ongoing savings. And it would make our system more viable and sustainable.&rdquo;</p><p>Senate Bill 1, backed this spring by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, is considered dead legislatively, but lawmakers are working to revive provisions of the bill.</p><p>&ldquo;Everything in Senate Bill 1, we support that,&rdquo; said Carroll. &ldquo;And we support expanding Senate Bill 1 to apply to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.&rdquo;</p><p>Until now, most people have assumed that by &ldquo;pension reform,&rdquo; Chicago Public Schools meant permission from Springfield to defer its pension payments, or outright help in making those payments. In 2010 lawmakers gave the district a &ldquo;holiday&rdquo; that allowed it to skip $400 million worth of annual payments for three years. A similar provision was introduced this spring but did not pass.</p><p>Chicago teachers are the only ones in the state with their own pension fund. The school district shoulders pension costs that in the case of suburban and downstate districts are paid for by Illinois. Chicago teachers have generally preferred keeping the pension systems separate because Chicago&rsquo;s pension fund has historically been better funded.</p><p>Sharkey says teachers have already shouldered enough of the district&#39;s economic challenges.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been hit. In 2010 we&rsquo;ve been hit by mass layoffs. In 2011 we were hit by both mass layoffs and a freeze. Last year there was a strike and we got a 20 percent longer day for a 3 percent increase in pay. And this year again, mass layoffs. So this is not a recent problem. Someone has got to deal with some of the structural issues here, and we say that goes back to funding public schools fairly.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS spokeswoman Carroll said the union had proposed a &ldquo;massive&rdquo; property tax increase. She said that&rsquo;s not reform. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a way to pay.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 20 Jul 2013 07:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/after-massive-layoffs-cps-suggests-teachers-contribute-more-their-pensions-108125 CPS announces 2,100 layoffs http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 7.13.46 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools &nbsp;announced late Thursday that it was laying off 2,113 teachers and support staff &mdash; a figure more than twice as large as the teachers union head was expecting and one the district blamed on the Illinois legislature&#39;s failure to reach a deal on pension reform. CPS is the second largest employer in the entire state of Illinois.</p><p dir="ltr">Among those laid off Thursday are 1,036 teachers and 1,077 support staff, including teacher assistants, food service employees, security guards and janitorial staff.</p><p dir="ltr">The layoffs come on top of 855 teachers and support staff who were laid off in June due to school closings and turnarounds. And on top of it all, the district says another 161 teachers from closing schools will not be offered a position at the receiving schools.</p><p dir="ltr">School district spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the district is facing a $1 billion budget deficit, much of it driven by an increase in its pension obligations.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;We were hoping to get pension reform in Springfield,&quot; she said. &quot;That did not happen. That has brought the pension crisis to the doorstep of our schools,&quot; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago schools were seeking a waiver on pension payments for the 2014 budgetary year, which began July 1. During the spring legislative session, the General Assembly failed to pass legislation permitting the district to make a reduced pension contribution over the next two years, obligating the district to increase the contribution by $400 million.</p><p dir="ltr">District officials said even if pension reform is enacted by the legislature, they would not commit to reversing the layoffs.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis expressed surprise at the number of layoffs, saying she expected the figure to be closer to 800.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;Once again, CPS has lied to parents, employees and the public, about keeping the new school-based budget cuts away from the classroom,&quot; Lewis said in a statement.</p><p dir="ltr">On Friday, the Chicago Teachers Union held a press conference where vice president Jesse Sharkey, flanked by irate parents and fired teachers, condemned the layoffs.&nbsp; &quot;I don&rsquo;t see the point of making school 20-some-percent longer and then laying off all the art, music and physical education teachers that are supposed to fill that day up with education,&quot; Sharkey said.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">He said the school district and teachers union differed fundamentally on a solution to the pension crisis. He characterized the district as favoring cuts to teachers&#39; benefits and the union as pushing for the city to find more revenue--through TIF funds, a tax on financial transations, or more fundamental income tax reform, including possibly an income tax on suburbanites who work in Chicago.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The district has eliminated $600 million in central office operations and administration in recent years, in addition to $52 million in cuts it made this year, according to Carroll.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;We can&#39;t cut our way out of this crisis,&quot; she said. &quot;Our spending obligations, pension, salary increases and other costs, continue to rise.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">The majority of the teachers laid off are probationary teachers who have worked for CPS for less than three years, said CPS Chief Talent Officer Alicia Winckler</p><p dir="ltr">The teachers being laid off were to be notified by their principals on Friday.</p><p dir="ltr">Carson Elementary school art teacher Ruth Augspurger said she was sitting in a professional development class Friday when she got her call. She lost the job she&#39;s held for the last eight years teaching mostly Latino students on the city&#39;s Southwest Side. The mother of two said she came to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute, but stayed to teach in the public schools &quot;because I believe every child should have the privilege to have the highest level of education.&quot; Augspurger says she doesn&#39;t blame her principal for cutting her position. &quot;You can&#39;t squeeze water from a rock,&quot; she said. But she laments that Carson will no longer have a visual art teacher.</p><p dir="ltr">Winckler said all laid-off teachers will be able to reapply for district teaching positions. They can work as substitute teachers, she said. Winckler also noted that in the past, more the 60 percent of district teachers who were laid off were rehired.</p><p dir="ltr">Thursday&#39;s announcement came as lawyers for the nation&#39;s third-largest school district were in a federal courtroom defending Chicago&#39;s plan to shutter some 50 schools.</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Teachers Union and concerned parents who are seeking an injunction to halt the plan before the new school year begins say the closures inordinately harm black and special-needs students, violating their rights.</p><p dir="ltr">The hearing stems from several lawsuits filed on behalf of parents. One contends that black children make up about 88 percent of students being moved from closed schools, although they comprise 42 percent of district students.</p><p dir="ltr">Critics say talk by city and schools officials of budgetary savings is misleading, leaving the impression that the closures will help address the yawning budget deficit. Pressed during cross-examination on Thursday, which was the hearing&#39;s third day, CPS&#39; budget director, Ginger Ostro, conceded that the closures weren&#39;t designed to fixCPS&#39; financial mess.</p><p dir="ltr">Adam Anderson, a district planning official, testified that what guided the district as it decided what schools would be closed was how much classroom space wasn&#39;t being used.</p><p dir="ltr">A complex &quot;utilization equation&quot; was employed in the process, and the district found there were some 500,000 available classroom seats for 400,000 students, leaving 100,000 seats unused, Anderson said.</p><p dir="ltr">Enrollment has fallen over the years with a corresponding fall in population in African-American areas, which is why so many of the schools that ended up on the closure list were in predominantly black neighborhoods, Anderson said.</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 19 Jul 2013 06:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109 CPS issues pink slips to over 800 employees http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-issues-pink-slips-over-800-employees-107713 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/3523scr_56e72880c46e426_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Employees at schools being shut down or shaken up at the end of this year are being let go today, according to Chicago Public School officials.&nbsp;<br /><br />More than 800 employees are affected, but there could be many more. The numbers released by CPS today do not include administrators and do not count layoffs in other district schools that are also <a href="http://bit.ly/ZOUf9l">facing shrinking budgets</a>.&nbsp;</div><div><br />&ldquo;We do think this is just the tip of the iceberg,&rdquo; said Jackson Potter, staff coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union.<br /><br />Reports from parents, teachers and principals across the city indicate that people at closing schools are not the only ones who stand to lose their jobs. Potter said, ironically, many of the positions <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/mostly-art-music-teachers-added-longer-chicago-school-day-104592">added last year for the longer school day</a> are being cut.&nbsp;<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing all of the additional staff from music, world language, art, are being cut, librarians being removed and eliminated from a variety of schools across the district,&rdquo; Potter said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really hard to say how damaging and disruptive these austerity budgets are going to be but it&rsquo;s drastic.&rdquo;<br /><br />However, teachers at closing schools with superior or excellent performance ratings are eligible to apply for jobs at receiving schools if there are openings. But CPS officials said they won&rsquo;t know how many vacancies there will be until mid-July.<br /><br />CPS officials said, on average, about 60 percent of teachers who lose their positions at one school, but reapply at others get rehired somewhere else in the system.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Becky Vevea is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZeducation" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 16:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-issues-pink-slips-over-800-employees-107713 Protesters rally against Chicago Sun-Times photo layoffs http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/protesters-rally-against-chicago-sun-times-photo-layoffs-107573 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/c19862c4ceb711e28faf22000a1f99f9_7.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Local reporters, photographers and labor leaders gathered with picket signs outside the Chicago Sun-Times building Thursday, a week after the entire photography department at the newspaper was let go.</p><p>Cars driving by the rally beeped their horns as around 150 supporters chanted &ldquo;quality, not cuts&rdquo; and &ldquo;no more layoffs.&rdquo;&nbsp; Many of the faces in the crowd matched the bylines and names from the newspaper: Longtime Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown carried a sign that said, &ldquo;John H. White - &lsquo;nuf said.&rdquo; White, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, marched just a few steps behind him, along with other former Sun-Times photogs.</p><p>Craig Rosenbaum, executive director of the Chicago Newspaper Guild, says they&rsquo;ve filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board that says the layoffs violate federal law. The Guild represents 20 of the photographers who were laid off.</p><p>&ldquo;This is one of the few cities that has two papers, the Tribune and the Sun-Times,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And how are you going to be able to compete with the competition when you don&rsquo;t have two professional photojournalists?&rdquo;</p><p>Rosenbaum says the Guild is planning another rally for next week.</p><p>A statement from the Sun-Times Media group after the layoffs said the decision was &ldquo;difficult,&rdquo; but noted the media business is changing rapidly, and audiences want more video content with their news.</p><p>Meanwhile, many of the former Sun-Times photographers say they&rsquo;re trying to move on to freelancing and other projects.&nbsp; Rob Hart, who started at the Sun-Times over a decade ago, says he was serving dual roles at the protest Thursday morning: marching alongside his former colleagues, and photographing the protest for a freelance assignment.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/protesters-rally-against-chicago-sun-times-photogr.js" type="text/javascript" language="javascript"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/protesters-rally-against-chicago-sun-times-photogr" target="_blank">View the story "Protesters rally against Chicago Sun-Times photography layoffs" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 06 Jun 2013 14:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/protesters-rally-against-chicago-sun-times-photo-layoffs-107573