Have the CTU’s contracts been good for Chicago’s charter schools?

Over the past year, the Chicago Teachers Union settled contracts for a series of Chicago charter schools, after a series of strikes and divisive negotiations.

Since then, many in Chicago wondered what the impact would be on Chicago’s charter schools. Would the new contracts and less flexible staffing fundamentally change the way Chicago’s charter schools operate?

A new story from WBEZ is providing us with some answers. According to WBEZ, the new contracts have led to significant layoffs:

“The two largest charter school networks, Acero with 15 schools and four Chicago International Charter School campuses, combined saw a total of 20 layoffs to administrative positions. Acero saw 18 of those layoffs, totaling more than $1 million in non-union salaries. This included instructional coaches, deans of students and central office administrators…Two smaller charter schools, serving a combined 1,200 students, let go of at least eight support staff this school year, including a library assistant and a college counselor.

“There simply aren’t enough dollars per pupil, per year, and I think that’s a real challenge,” Elizabeth Shaw, CEO of Chicago International Charter School, who oversees 14 campuses, said last winter. Teachers at four CICS schools walked out soon after the Acero strike. 

No one is against higher pay for teachers. But at this point, it’s fair to ask whether those contracts and higher salaries came at the expense of jobs for college counselors, instructional coaches, social workers, and other vital professionals who support our students and schools communities.