By Ben Velderman
CHICAGO – The downsizing of America’s third-largest school district continues.
Chicago Public school officials announced late last week that hundreds of teachers and other school employees will be laid off, as the district attempts to fill its $1 billion deficit.
The Chicago Tribune reports 420 teachers who worked in one of the district’s 50 half-filled schools – which are being shut down this summer – don’t qualify for new positions with the district because of their previous job ratings.
The new teachers’ union contract only protects teachers “with excellent or superior ratings,” reports the Tribune.
Another 600 teachers do qualify for another position within CPS, but there’s no guarantee any jobs will be available by the time school starts up in the fall.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis – who is in perpetual denial of the school district’s financial condition – blasted the layoffs as “premature” and criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel for being out of town when the announcement was made.
Lewis can point fingers all she wants, but the hard fact is that CPS is slowly dying.
Some parents are leaving the city so their kids don’t have to attend the dysfunctional school district, while others are desperately trying to enroll their children in superior charter schools.
The chaos surrounding the school closings and teacher layoffs will likely motivate even more parents to seek alternative schooling opportunities for their children.
If this pattern is to be altered, there will have to be an effort to improve instruction that will motivate more families to enroll their children in the district. And that effort will have to start with the teachers, if they are willing to stop pointing fingers at the city and accept the fact that there’s a lot of work to be done to save the district.
If the teachers keep listening to Lewis, and refuse to cooperate, there’s a pretty good chance many more of them will receive layoff notices in coming years.