Longtime school superintendent Randall Collins, Executive Director of the District Administration Leadership Institute shares professional insights on the Chicago teacher strike with Odvard Egil Dyrli, District Administration’s executive editor.
The facts are well-known: Karen Lewis, president of the 26,000-member Chicago Teachers Union, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who appointed reform-minded Jean-Claude Brizard chief of the school system, are locked in a toe-to-toe stalemate resulting in a district-wide strike that stranded 350,000 students in the nation’s third-largest city.
Dyrli: What is the Chicago Public Schools teachers’ strike really about?
Collins: On the surface, the strike is a labor dispute over job security, so laid-off teachers are hired back by seniority, merit pay, and about tying teacher evaluation to student achievement as measured by test scores. But ultimately the strike is part of a debate taking place across the county between teacher unions and education reformers pushing for teacher evaluation and tenure reform. This is therefore a bottom-line struggle on who controls schools and classrooms, and that affects every district.