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Teacher Strikes Looming

Your choice: Take a teachers strike or continue to pay Step Increases?

In New York State, teachers are prohibited from striking by the Taylor Law and the Triboro Doctrine (Amendment) which keeps all terms and conditions of teacher contracts in full force and effect until a successor agreement is negotiated. 

There is no arbitration in teacher contract disputes, although there is non-binding mediation available if negotiations reach an impasse.  If mediation does not work, another similar approach called super conciliation may help school districts and teachers resolve their differences.  If not, then there is always the passage of time which inevitably will heal all wounds, as the expression goes.

Many people have strong negative feelings about the Triboro Doctrine. Calls for repealing this part of the law seem endless and on-going. The main issue for tax payers is the continuation of step-and-grade increases to teachers sometimes for years after a contract has expired.  There is a distinct impression that Triboro has removed incentives for teacher unions to bargain meaningfully with their school districts. There is some truth to that viewpoint.

So let’s look at the other side of the coin, where the Triboro Doctrine does not exist, such as Illinois. As it did in New York, school started in Illinois on Tuesday.  Next week, however, the teachers in Chicago are set to go on strike, having already filed the legally required 10-day Notice of Strike with the city. Two nearby suburban school districts have also voted to strike, and may hit the bricks later this month.

Here’s my question:

Are we better off in New York where teachers cannot strike under penalty of heavy fines (two day’s pay for one day on strike plus seizure of union dues), and the possibility of jail time (which has been meted-out to violators in the past), but we keep on paying step raises…

Or, are they better off in Chicago, where teachers unions can take a strike vote, file a 10-day notice, and then walk off their jobs indefinitely? The city of Chicago would save not only step increases, but also the entire teachers payroll and all benefits costs except retirement premiums. Of course, no teaching, no education would be taking place during the strike, and relations would not be improving, either.

What do you think?

The author can be reached at chriswendt117@gmail.com

Source Info:

 http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/09/04/threat-of-chicago-teachers-strike-casts-shadow-all-the-way-to-charlotte/

 http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/09/04/teacher-strikes-may-be-coming-in-evergreen-park-lake-forest/

Background: http://www.empirecenter.org/Reports/2007/10/TaylorMadeReport2.cfm

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mac September 19, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Schoolmarm I haven't been to a meeting since July but we shouldn't hear about the negotiations at this point by either side. We cannot have posturing and demands made public to get us all in an uproar. I certainly don't want to hear the rhetoric or "truth" depending upon which side speaks. We can only hope they are negotiating fairly. It's not the salaries that are getting us it's the benefits and pensions along with years of horrible management.
Chris Wendt September 19, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Rahm Emanuel was never looking to break the CTU. As a Democrat mayor of the large city which happens also to be the home of the President, Emanuel certainly owes significant political allegiance to unions and their members, as well as to the President, himself. That is nothing to become squeamish about. It is just the way of the world, and has been all the way back to Tammany Hall in old New York. To his lasting credit, Rahm Emanuel stood up to the union and took the strike. That demonstrated a lot of political courage.
Wayne Smith September 19, 2012 at 09:06 PM
The question that holds interest for me is how this settlement will be judged in the court of public opinion. If that court decides, after some amount of time, that Chicago's schools haven't really improved in any meaningful way, even while taxes have gone up, then what?
Chris Wendt September 20, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Well, the Chicago public school system is about 200 times larger than the Roosevelt School District. You are probably aware of the vast sums of taxpayer money NY State has spent in a protracted attempt to "fix" Roosevelt, to no avail. I understand your curiosity about how this will fly with the people of Chicago, but I am more interested to watch the graduation rate, first and foremost, as that is really the bottom line for 13 - 15 years of public education. I also will be curious about assessment scores, but not all that much. How will the 52,000 Charter School students taught by non-union teachers fare compared to the 348,000 students being taught by union teachers? Will Charter Schools be expanded by an additional 100 in Chicago?
Wayne Smith September 20, 2012 at 09:59 AM
One of the concerns I have about this whole topic of teacher evaluations is that I think we've confused the means with the end. And I'm not necessarily referring to Chicago but here in NY as well. In other words, how will we know improvement even if we see it? To my knowledge, there's been no attempt to establish some kind of broad consensus as to what actually are all these evaluation efforts supposed to accomplish in terms of educational quality? Will SAT scores go up 10% within five years? Will the graduation rate improve? How about reading proficiency scores and by how much over what amount of time? What's missing are a set of "big hairy goals" that places all of this in a larger context, having to do with educational qualtiy. You know, an actual vision that imagines the kind of schools we want to have. In NY we have a higgedly-piggedly system involving hundreds of different evaluations schemes rendering any attempt to come up with a standard means of measuring success all the more difficult. Maybe someone has done this and I just need to be enlightened. Could be. But I doubt that I'm the only one. In fact I think to most taxpayers and anyone not directly connected to the public education system, the whole controversy surrounding teacher evaluations often appears to be little more than a bureaucratic and legislative shoving match, that will have, at best, an uncertain impact on what actually happens in the classroom.

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