Rush for new calendar causing confusion as CTU members are asked to sign away their rights... Principals asking teachers, PSRPs, to give up vacation rights because of calendar glitch

In a turn of events that looks to escalate ill will from the recent Chicago Teachers Union strike, principals are being told to push teachers to give up their rights to benefit days because of the calendar made up by the CPS administration in a quickie manner following the end of the recent CTU strike. According to several sources in the schools and at CPS, schools administrators have been instructed to interrogate and have union members sign a document that effectively waives teacher and other worker rights. In the hastily reorganized school calendar, CPS staff were given notice that the fall "Intersession" (for Track E schools) would be cut from two weeks to one week. Intersession is a unpaid time off from school during the month of October due to the early school year start of Track E schools (roughly the equivalent of the summer for regular — "Track R" — teachers).

Teachers and other school workers at Track E schools who sign the waiver above are giving up at least two days. The undated and unsigned memo that included the above waiver document was issued by somewhere in the CPS administration between October 4 and October 8, 2012. The refusal of CPS to date its memos has become commonplace under the Brizard administration, but only recently have such directives also been unsigned, as if they were issued by Aliens from Cyberspace.The school district needs to make up the seven days Chicago teachers were on strike, but the manner in which CPS changed the official calendar is becoming more and more controversial.

CPS officials decided to unilaterally change the calendar to reduce the two weeks of October break to one week — without even 30-day notice to employees. Neither parents nor teachers (via the CTU) were really consulted about the changes.

The previous calendar was approved over a year ago and many teachers and parents have made plans far in advance to use the October days off. This particular change only affects the 240 schools on "Track E." The remaining schools are on "Track R" (which means "regular" school year). The entire problem will be resolved at year's end when CPS returns to a unified calendar, ending the six-year experiment with "Track E" that began under the administration of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Parents have also complained about the abrupt change. The Sun-Times did story on the subject back on September 21, 2012 where parents complained that CPS was unilaterally changing the calendar without any consideration to the community. “...there’s no mention of involving parents,” Jonathan Goldman, local school council chair at Drummond Montessori said. “Parents are far more impacted than any other stakeholder.”

What now has come to light though anonymous tips to Substance is the fact the CPS administrators have been directed to interrogate CTU members and have them sign a document "certifying" their need to take vacation time during the now canceled first week of Intersession. In the document, principals are told to have staff "present supporting documentation that they absolutely can not change plans without suffering an unreasonable financial penalty ($50 is not an unreasonable financial penalty.)"

There is another section of the directive that explicitly states union members are not to be allowed to take sick days to facilitate plans. Rather, the CPS administration the right the use benefit days at their own discretion. In fact CPS clearly states the presumptive denial of benefits: Employees who are absent that week because of travel plans may NOT use sick days for those plans. Employees may only use sick days consistent with our policies(i.e., for their own personal; illness or to care to an ill dependent)."

Despite the confusion in the leadership of Chicago Public Schools that was obvious during the negotiations (different administrators and officials at the bargaining table at different times made it difficult for CTU negotiators — and even some CPS negotiators — to keep things straight in the complex work), few anticipated that the predicted problems would surface so quickly. Sources at CPS have told Substance that the development of the controversial new calendar was pushed through not by "Chief Executive Officer" Jean-Claude Brizard (who is more and more noted to be on his way out) but by Jennifer Cheatham, the "Chief Instruction Officer." There was no reason for the calendar to be rushed through without more input from the CTU and from organized parents, since the days can be made up throughout the school year and did not have to be made up within a couple of weeks after school resumed. Cheatham, like most of the top level administrators currently at CPS, came to Chicago from outside and has no classroom teaching or principal experience in Chicago.

In a large number of schools, the confusion and anger are hampering the ability of principals and teachers to move the school year forward now that the first strike in a quarter century is over and the CTU members have a contract.

Some teachers are noting that only a week ago there was a "love fest" after the strike was settled and a new era of cooperation was supposed to be heralded in. Seems now we have learned that the strike was only one battle in a protracted war against a union busting administration and led by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.


October 8, 2012 at 7:10 PM

By: John Kierig

A normal person...

...would think that if you need to make up 7 days you'd just tack them on to the end of the school year.

but no. if there's a convoluted, confusing, and all-around f**ked up way of doing something, you can count on the CPS to find it and implement it!

October 8, 2012 at 10:53 PM

By: John Kugler

Bullshit is, as Bullshit Does

from a letter by David Vitale about the strike shows the double talk bullshit Rahm and his crony crew engage in everyday

"Teachers need and deserve our continued support for the great work they do for our students. They are on the front lines everyday...if we continue to work together we'll keep this momentum going for our children ...I believe this process has initiated the kind of collaboration needed that will put our children on the path to a successful future."

October 8, 2012 at 11:50 PM

By: David R. Stone

There is NO NEED for this

I question this claim: "The school district needs to make-up up the seven days Chicago teachers were on strike."

The mayor insisted on adding two weeks (ten days of school) to the school calendar before the strike. If NO days were added to the calendar to make up for the seven days of the strike, the school year would still be three days longer than it was last year, and longer than the number of student attendance days required by state law.

The mayor and his hand-picked Board of Education once again are imposing an ill-planned calendar because they say there is a "NEED" for the extra days. It's too bad that the Substance article accepts this so-called "need" as a fact.

-David R. Stone

October 9, 2012 at 7:42 PM

By: Veronica Ramos

This article

Is any help going to be provided to union members regarding this issue?

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