WBEZ | teacher lay-offs http://www.wbez.org/tags/teacher-lay-offs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Teachers feeling 'beat down' as school year starts http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-10/teachers-feeling-beat-down-school-year-starts-90388 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-11/Classroom Teacher_Getty_Sean Gallup.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As students prepare to begin another school year, their teachers are hopping mad. They're facing layoffs and deep budget cuts and many say they're tired of being blamed unfairly for just about everything that's wrong in public education. They're so mad that many are bypassing their unions and mounting a campaign of their own to restore the public's faith in their profession.</p><p>Betsy Leis, a middle school teacher in Florida, is one of these angry teachers.</p><p>"I give my heart and my soul to every single student in my classroom and all I see on the news is that we aren't doing our job. We're constantly beat down. That's why I'm angry," Leis says. "I don't make any money and part of me is OK with that because I don't do it for the money."</p><p>And it's not enough that people don't appreciate teachers, they've become punching bags, says <a>Claudia Rueda-Alvarez</a>, a high school counselor in Chicago.</p><p>She says if people believe this country is going down the tubes, why don't they single out the people on Wall Street who are still getting million dollar bonuses?</p><p>"But everybody seems to be talking about a teacher making $50,000 to 60,000 a year — 'Oh my God, greedy teachers!' — so that passion that I feel for my profession will not be taken away by fear. If anything, it energizes me more," Rueda says.</p><p>This energy and need among teachers to speak out is not just in a few places. It's all over the country.</p><p>The group of 2,000 to 3,000 teachers who participated in a rally in Washington, D.C., late last month was tiny compared to the protests earlier this year in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states where lawmakers have curbed teachers' collective bargaining rights. But organizers of the "Save Our Schools" event in D.C., say they're different. They say they speak for classroom teachers who are not being heard on the issue of tenure, for example. Karen Klebba, a teacher from Illinois, says the unions' defense of tenure is wrong.</p><p>"If you're doing your job and you're doing a great job and you have an evaluative process that works, then there really should be no reason to have tenure and there really should be no reason to hide behind it," Klebba says.</p><p><strong>Education Reform</strong></p><p>The consensus though is that the Obama administration's education policies are no less prescriptive or punitive than the much maligned No Child Left Behind law. And high stakes tests are undermining quality instruction and good teachers, especially if test results are used to evaluate teachers or decide how much they should be paid.</p><p>"Testing is a more of a means of addressing the accountability issue despite the way it's been portrayed," says Joe Williams, who heads the Democrats For Education Reform, a liberal lobbying group that focuses on teacher quality issues.</p><p>Williams says no one is trying to punish teachers or make testing more important than children. The problem is that this discussion is taking place in a very polarized political climate.</p><p>"The notion that education reform could get wrapped up so closely with attempts to eliminate collective bargaining has made it very difficult to have this conversation all over the country," Williams say.</p><p>But it's not just about politics, says Mike Petrilli of the conservative Fordham Institute.</p><p>"The reason that these debates are happening now is because of the economy. You see policymakers seeing that this crisis is an opportunity to fix some things that have been broken for a long time," Petrilli says.</p><p>Petrilli says tenure and seniority policies are good examples. With teacher layoffs on the horizon, how do you decide who to let go?</p><p>"It has never made sense to say that when layoffs are necessary, we're going to get rid of the youngest teachers, regardless of effectiveness. How that could possibly be good for kids? That's crazy," Petrilli says.</p><p>And yet, at the beginning of the year, Petrilli says, 14 states mandated that layoffs be based on seniority, not effectiveness. The other huge issue that doesn't get nearly as much attention is the teacher pension crisis.</p><p>"Many teachers teach for 30 years and then retire for 30 years and for those 30 years, they're making 60 or 70 or 80 percent of their salary indexed to inflation. This is like the Social Security debate. At some point the numbers just don't add up," Petrilli says.</p><p>That's why state lawmakers are asking teachers to put more of their own pay into their pensions and health care benefits, which teachers view as attack on their profession.</p><p>As for the broader education debate, Petrilli and others agree that Washington will remain in gridlock and the big education battles on the horizon are going to play out in the states.</p><p>"This is where teachers unions are at their strongest and this is where you've got some of these bold Republican governors who are ready for a fight," Petrilli says.</p><p>Just in time for the 2012 election. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. </p> Wed, 10 Aug 2011 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-10/teachers-feeling-beat-down-school-year-starts-90388 Court to re-examine legality of Chicago teachers layoffs http://www.wbez.org/story/court-re-examine-legality-chicago-teachers-layoffs-87819 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-14/Teachers Union Protest 110409_Flickr_Jean Paul Holmes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A federal appeals court has vacated an earlier opinion that Chicago Public Schools improperly fired nearly 750 tenured teachers last summer.</p><p>The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals says it will rehear argument in the case.</p><p>The court ruled in March the fired teachers were entitled to a recall procedure and should be allowed to show they're qualified for new vacancies.</p><p>Both sides claimed victory with the ruling.</p><p>Chicago schools contended it was not required to reinstate laid-off teachers or negotiate recall procedures with the union. But the Chicago Teachers Union said the ruling meant fired teachers must be recalled.</p><p>The appeals court wants the Illinois Supreme Court's advice on whether tenured teachers get the right to be rehired after an economic layoff and if they get access "to certain procedures during rehiring."<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 14 Jun 2011 13:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/court-re-examine-legality-chicago-teachers-layoffs-87819 Quinn signs landmark education bill http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-signs-landmark-education-bill-87764 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-13/Classroom Teacher_Getty_Sean Gallup.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a sweeping education overhaul into law Monday morning, paving the way for longer school days for Chicago students and making it harder for teachers to go on strike.</p><p>The law also changes the so-called "last hired, first fired" teacher seniority policy that districts used in deciding which educators to lay off. It also makes it easier for districts to fire chronically underperforming teachers.</p><p>The bill-signing ceremony at an elementary school in suburban Maywood was more grandiose than usual, complete with a marching bands colorguard team.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has been a vocal supporter of the bill, touted a provision that would allow him to lengthen the day for Chicago public schools’ students, who he said now have one of the shortest &nbsp;[school] days in the country.</p><p>"We are now gonna have the ability to do what we have denied the kids of Chicago for generation after generation," Emanuel said. "When the governor signs that, that is going to end."</p><p>State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, the Maywood Democrat who sponsored the measure, touted the spirit of cooperation between unions, administrators and reform groups during negations.</p><p>Lightford acknowledged the new law makes it more difficult for teachers to go on strike, but she cautioned unions and management that such friction isn't good for students</p><p>"Transparency is there so all your dirty laundry will be aired out publicly," Lightford said. "No 'behind closed doors.'"</p><p>Officials and education reform advocates repeatedly praised the law as a national model, particularly because it was negotiated with relatively little acrimony, even as fights over collective bargaining for public workers have raged in other Midwestern states, such as Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio.</p><p>But notably absent from Monday’s signing ceremony was Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who had characterized parts of the bill as an attack on teachers' collective-bargaining rights. Lewis did not attend the event because she was "busy focusing on the budget" ahead of a special school board meetin Wednesday, said union spokeswoman Liz Brown.</p><p>The union did have problems with the original proposal, but they were resolved when the General Assembly later passed some amendments, Brown said.</p><p>"We're glad to be looking forward to actually improving schools as well through lower class sizes and equitable funding," she said.</p></p> Mon, 13 Jun 2011 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-signs-landmark-education-bill-87764 Chicago Public School District appeals ruling on teacher layoffs http://www.wbez.org/story/apellate-court/chicago-public-school-district-appeals-ruling-teacher-layoffs <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/103902329.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools is ratcheting up its response to a Chicago Teachers Unions lawsuit over recent teacher firings. CPS and the union were in appellate court today. The district is appealing a federal judge's October decision that the district improperly fired more than 700 tenured teachers.</p> <div>Tom Geoghegan is an attorney for the teachers union. He said the way teachers were laid-off violated due process. </div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We're challenging their ability to say you're fired to teachers who have earned permanent appointments by merit within the state law,&rdquo; he said.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Sally J. Scott represents the school district. She argued no state law or school code was broken in the summer layoffs of teachers, and that due process was upheld. In her court presentation, she said laid-off teachers were given the opportunity to participate in CPS job fairs and post their qualifications online in an attempt to regain employment.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Lourdes Guerrero was a tenured teacher who was laid off from CPS after eight years. She said the job fair &ldquo;opportunity&rdquo; was a dead end and not an example of due process.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&ldquo;We showed up to the job fair and I met wonderful people and then they said yes, let&rsquo;s get your information,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And then I find out when I go back to the school, because they never called me back and I find out that they hired brand new teachers.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Scott says she expects the appellate court to decide whether to uphold the October decision within 30 days.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 07 Jan 2011 22:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/apellate-court/chicago-public-school-district-appeals-ruling-teacher-layoffs