The longer school day deal reached by the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Teachers Union Tuesday means the recall of up to 477 tenured public school teachers who were laid off over the last three years.
However, there is no recall plan in place for the 2,000 additional tenured teachers CPS has laid off since 2010. Following the longer school day agreement, CTU is pushing for a recall procedure to handle past and future layoffs as they continue collective bargaining negotiations with CPS.
“We hope that this agreement opens the door to that in the eventual contract,” CTU Vice-President Jesse Sharkey wrote in an e-mail.
CPS, though, might not be legally obligated to come up with a recall plan. CPS spokeswoman Robyn Zeigler says that any possible negotiation on the matter cannot be discussed publicly.
An increasing number of teachers have recently lost their positions for reasons other than job performance. In the summer of 2010 alone, the Board of Education cut 1,289 positions before an influx of federal money restored 715 of those jobs.
Layoffs are due to a number of factors: A district budget deficit, an overall CPS enrollment decline due largely to the city’s population loss, the growing number of non-union charter schools, and school closings and faculty replacements.
It was not always this way.
Prior to 1995, tenured CPS teachers laid off for non-performance reasons stayed on the district payroll for 25 months. Also, these teachers were entitled to be appointed to vacancies for which they had the proper certification.
A sweeping 1995 education law kept these rules in place – for every school district except Chicago, where power was handed over to the mayor and city Board of Education to make their own recall procedures.
CPS has put a limited procedure in place for teachers laid off due to non-budgetary policy decisions such as school closings and enrollment declines. In these instances, teachers get put in a reassignment pool for ten months and receive full salary. However, these teachers are not entitled to appointments in newly-opened positions for which they are certified.
Teachers who are laid off for budgetary reasons have no recall procedure.
CTU sued over CPS making its economic-based layoffs in the summer of 2010, and then not giving these teachers priority when positions became available. CTU attorney Tom Geohegan contended that, “Tenured teachers are entitled to fill vacant positions over new hires off the street who have no classroom experience.”
In a 5-2 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Chicago Board of Education. The court decided that the 1995 law removed obligations for CPS to either give hiring preference to laid off, tenured teachers or set up a recall procedure in consultation with CTU.
However, CTU looks poised to make recall procedure a bargaining chip. A central reason the union said no to a third party fact finder’s report, even though the report recommended an 18 percent annual teacher’s raise, was that fact finder Edwin Benn did not set up a recall procedure.
Benn concluded that under the status quo, “Teachers lose their positions and the students lose their ability to benefit from the experience and talent of those teachers.” However, Benn determined that it was beyond his jurisdiction to prescribe a solution.