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Sunday’s surprise move by the Chicago Teachers Union to keep kids locked out of class for an extra two days as delegates deliberated over a contract they would soon accept seemed gratuitous at the time, adding insult to the injuries that Rahm Emanuel’s tough-guy reputation had already sustained. Reports of a mild insurrection within union ranks offer another interpretation, however, and serve as an important reminder not to underestimate the different priorities and motivations at work in internal union politics.
Just when it looked like the education Super Bowl had left town, Chicago’s next education crisis reared its head: The city’s teacher-pension system—like most such funds—is in a sorry state, with $10 billion in assets and $1 billion a year flowing out the door to retirees, far more than is being taken in. The situation makes the fight over 16 percent raises seem quaint…and the odds of a sane resolution to the pension problem seem downright chilling in comparison.
Columnist Eugene Robinson argued that “teachers are being saddled with absurdly high expectations" because poverty influences achievement far more than instruction. If only proponents of revamped teacher evaluations would acknowledge this and support evaluation models that measure what a teacher contributes to student learning rather a single fixed bar that all students are held to. What would they call it? Value-increased? No…Value-boosted? Hmmm. Anyone?
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