Chicago teachers’ strike makes national headlines - FOX 32 News Chicago

Chicago teachers’ strike makes national headlines

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

While both the CTU and CPS prepare for a long strike, the teachers union in Boston reached a settlement Wednesday, agreeing after two years of talks to tie teacher evaluation, in part, to student performance; and to relax previous union restrictions on how teachers are hired--exactly what they're fighting about in Chicago.

SEE: The heart of the matter: CTU strike and teacher evaluations

America's biggest teachers' strike in two decades dominates the news locally, but it's also on front pages and at the top of newscasts from coast to coast.

Boston's mayor was especially proud of having avoided a "Chicago situation," after announcing a new teacher's union contract Wednesday. Union teachers in Boston agreed to be evaluated based on the performance of their students.

"To make sure that we have the best teachers in the classroom, that's what we want," said Boston Mayor, Thomas Menino. "And also, teacher evaluation is so important to us as we move forward."

It's an overriding issue, as well, for Karen Lewis, a former South Side High School chemistry teacher who's now president of the union.

Wednesday's front page of the Wall St. Journal noted that Lewis "has positioned herself as a champion of resistance to the national education reform movement, making Chicago a central battleground over control of U.S. public schools."

The union blames poor student performance on poverty, neighborhood violence and a host of other social ills. Reformers agree that those dreadful factors should be recognized, but say it's time to make teachers as accountable as the rest of America's work force.

"The mayor said when he appointed the school board, ‘We are going to build a system focused on the kids, on the interests of children and educating those kids. And we're going to shift that focus away from the adults in the building'" says South Sider Andrea Zopp, CEO of the Urban League and one of Mayor Emanuel's appointees to the Board of Ed. "And that's what we're doing. And that's causing change. And that's causing some stress. But we've got to do that,"

Sources told Fox Chicago News the union is demanding that any new contract run for three years. It would expire just as Mayor Emanuel prepares to run for re-election. Making him a 1-termer is a top priority of the teachers union and another strike at election time would serve that goal well.

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