The teachers union in Chicago just filed suit to stop layoffs of hundreds of teachers. This all came in response to the school district’s announcement last week that it plans to lay off 400 teachers and 200 support staff. Citing a budget shortfall of $370 million, the first notices were sent to teachers last Wednesday, and district officials say the number of released staff could reach 1,200 by Labor Day.
The Chicago schools fall under the jurisdiction of the city’s mayor, who recently promoted the former leader of the Chicago Transit Authority to the top spot on the Chicago Board of Education (CPS). Union leaders contend that the mayor and the CPS are not allowing due process, or adhering to contract stipulations, in the implementation of the layoffs.
Teachers are being let go according to performance evaluations instead of being dismissed according to seniority.
Best Interest of Students
The school district says that it is proceeding with the best interests of students in mind. They are releasing teachers who have received unsatisfactory performance ratings before laying off those with good ratings.
Effects of Cuts
The majority of teachers currently affected teach in the 200 or so elementary schools, which are set to resume session on August 10th. Approximately 100,000 students — a quarter of the district’s children — will be affected by these last minute cuts.
The district’s head of personnel stated that the most immediate consequences will be an increase in class size — to 33 students per teacher — and cuts to bilingual and world language classes.
Chicago school’s budget crisis is not new. The state is reportedly broke, and the district has been aware of its financial limitations for some time. The timing of these layoffs is poor and makes one wonder if any other shoes will be dropped on the heads of school children before the cutting is done.
photo credit: UF CSE Classroom Desk by cdsessums