Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Good Contract, But What Comes Next?

UNO teachers ratify a contract, 445-16. Close vote!

I'm declaring it a very good thing, although I've had mixed feelings about this issue from the start. A contract is a good thing for everyone, and I believe that an organized faculty will be a force for good over the long run.

Still, the financial model at UNO is unsustainable, as we've seen. So, now it's an unsustainable financial model with a contract in place. The pessimist in my nature is suspicious that the teachers are going to be blamed for systemic money problems already baked into the UNO network when UNO comes begging for a bailout or has to shut schools.

And unless the problems with charters in general are fixed--- and there's real hope for a beginning there, with some of the new bills in the House-- what we have with Chicago ACTS success at UNO is a double-edged sword. Good for the UNO community-- the teachers, the kids, the families--- but nothing gained for the neighborhood schools.

I have faith. I feel that with this negotiation behind them, the teachers can and probably will come out in support of things that will right some of the wrongs. For example, they could fill out a witness slip or even testify as proponents of HB 6005, the Charter Accountability bill by Linda Chapa Lavia. Or for HB 5328 by Elizabeth Hernandez, which would establish LSC's for charter schools.

Or really any of the excellent bills I've discussed.

You can bet your--- good lord, I almost wrote "sweet bippy" --- you can bet your bottom dollar that the charter people will be filling up buses (probably with school kids) to travel to Springfield in April to protest charter accountability, LSCs, the removal of the unelected state charter commission.  I can almost hear the chants now:

                               What do we want? NO VOICE! When do we want it? NOW!
                               For-profit CMO's! We can't function without those!
                               One, two, three, four! Push those kids right out the door!
                               Five, six, seven, eight! Keep the cash and claim you're great!

Ok, I'm having a bit of fun there. But seriously, they'll be on buses in April. What a powerful thing it would be if the teachers--- following their great success in bargaining--- would follow the same path toward social justice that I associate with so many great Chicago teachers.

We'll see. Baby steps.

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