Supreme Court

Janus decision deals a blow to the Chicago Teachers Union

PHOTO: Adeshina Emmanuel
Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey outside of Chicago Public Schools headquarters

Now that the Supreme Court has decided, in a 5-4 vote, the case of Janus v. AFSCME 31, the Chicago Teachers Union said it is anticipating “a hit.” “But not as a great as some other public sector unions,” says spokeswoman Christine Geovanis.

As a result of the ruling, school districts can no longer require their employees to pay negotiating fees to the unions that bargain on their behalf. Observers fear a steep decline in union membership and dues, which in turn will limit the unions’ political power.

Geovanis predicts that, now that the case has been decided, Janus proponents will aggressively push union members to stop paying dues. That has happened in states like Michigan, she said.

The Chicago Teachers Union passed an operating budget in June of $26.5 million. The budget is down by $3 million from the previous year. The CTU says it is has been “realigning” its staff internally and moving some positions to its foundation side; staffing is down from 61 budgeted positions to 50.

As for other ways the case could impact schools, experts say teacher pipelines could suffer, especially if unions are unable to secure regular salary increases, professional development and supplies and materials. Chalkbeat Chicago wrote more about the impact to schools here. 

Martin H. Malin, a law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law and director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace, told Chalkbeat in early June that he expected the CTU to lose funds and members, but that the union is well-equipped to rebound.

“They do a great job, though, of internal organizing,” Malin said.

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said this morning in a statement that the decision is also a blow to women, Black and Latinx families, whose paths to teaching jobs were forged by unions. While today’s attack will hit all working families hard, in Chicago it will disproportionately hurt Black and Latinx households already reeling from the foreclosure crisis, cuts to social services, school closures, unrelenting violence and high unemployment.”

You can read the full opinion here.

Top teacher

Franklin educator is Tennessee’s 2018-19 Teacher of the Year

PHOTO: TDOE
Melissa Miller leads her students in a learning game at Franklin Elementary School in Franklin Special School District in Williamson County. Miller is Tennessee's 2018-19 Teacher of the Year.

A first-grade teacher in Franklin is Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year.

Melissa Miller

Melissa Miller, who works at Franklin Elementary School, received the 2018-19 honor for excellence in the classroom Thursday evening during a banquet in Nashville.

A teacher for 19 years, she is National Board Certified, serves as a team leader and mentor at her school, and trains her colleagues on curriculum and technology in Franklin’s city school district in Williamson County, just south of Nashville. She will represent Tennessee in national competition and serve on several working groups with the state education department.

Miller was one of nine finalists statewide for the award, which has been presented to a Tennessee public school teacher most every year since 1960 as a way to promote respect and appreciation for the profession. The finalists were chosen based on scoring from a panel of educators; three regional winners were narrowed down following interviews.

In addition to Miller, who also won in Middle Tennessee, the state recognized Lori Farley, a media specialist at North City Elementary School in Athens City Schools, in East Tennessee. Michael Robinson, a high school social studies teacher at Houston High School in Germantown Municipal School District, was this year’s top teacher in West Tennessee.

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen praised the finalists for leading their students to impressive academic gains and growth. She noted that “teachers are the single most important factor in improving students’ achievement.”

Last year’s statewide winner was Cicely Woodard, an eighth-grade math teacher in Nashville who has since moved to a middle school in the same Franklin district as Miller.

You can learn more about Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year program here.

PSA

Have you thought about teaching? Colorado teachers union sells the profession in new videos

PHOTO: Colorado Education Association

There are a lot of factors contributing to a shortage of teachers in Colorado and around the nation. One of them — with potentially long-term consequences — is that far fewer people are enrolling in or graduating from teacher preparation programs. A recent poll found that more than half of respondents, citing low pay and lack of respect, would not want their children to become teachers.

Earlier this year, one middle school teacher told Chalkbeat the state should invest in public service announcements to promote the profession.

“We could use some resources in Colorado to highlight how attractive teaching is, for the intangibles,” said Mary Hulac, who teaches English in the Greeley-Evans district. “I tell my students every day, this is the best job.

“You learn every day as a teacher. I’m a language arts teacher. When we talk about themes, and I hear a story through another student’s perspective, it’s always exciting and new.”

The Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has brought some resources to help get that message out with a series of videos aimed at “up-and-coming professionals deciding on a career.” A spokesman declined to say how much the union was putting into the ad buy.

The theme of the ads is: “Change a life. Change the world.”

“Nowhere but in the education profession can a person have such a profound impact on the lives of students,” association President Amie Baca-Oehlert said in a press release. “We want to show that teaching is a wonderful and noble profession.”

As the union notes, “Opportunities to teach in Colorado are abundant.”

One of the ads features 2018 Colorado Teacher of the Year Christina Randle.

“Are you ready to be a positive role model for kids and have a direct impact on the future?” Randle asks.

Another features an education student who was inspired by her own teachers and a 20-year veteran talking about how much she loves her job.

How would you sell the teaching profession to someone considering their career options? Let us know at co.tips@chalkbeat.org.