Chicago Teachers Union warns that bargaining will stall until Lori Lightfoot resolves leadership question

2012 Strike

Now that Lori Lightfoot is getting the transition ball rolling, the Chicago Teachers Union is eager to push ahead with negotiating a new contract — but negotiations can’t gain momentum until Lightfoot decides if she’ll keep Janice Jackson or name a new schools chief.

Lightfoot, who will face several big decisions about Chicago schools, has remained non-committal about Jackson, but the June 30 expiration of the teachers’ contract puts additional pressure on the mayor-elect to make a decision about who should lead schools.

The union, which represents more than 24,000 district employees, would like to set the table for more formal contract talks in May, negotiate through the summer and pledges to strike in the early fall if necessary.

Chalkbeat reached out to the union and school district for an update on contract talks, and tapped experts in labor and school leadership for their thoughts about the shifting relationship between the teachers union and mayor’s office. Here’s the inside scoop.

We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel, and Yana Kunichoff and we cover public education in Chicago. Have a story idea? Great. Write us at chicago.tips@chalkbeat.org. One more reminder: Chalkbeat Chicago is regularly live-tweeting events and meetings on Twitter. Follow us @ChalkbeatCHI, @cassiechicago, @public_ade, and @yanazure.

The Week in Review

Speak up: What would you tell the next mayor of Chicago about education in the city? Take our quick survey, here, and let us know.

Looking ahead with Lightfoot: On the campaign trail, the mayor-elect promised to pave a path for a school board selected by voters, prioritize neighborhood school investments over expansion of competitive programs that require tests to get in, and freeze charter expansion. Read eight big ideas to expect under the new mayor here at Chalkbeat.

A troubling discrepancy: Charter schools in Chicago report lower rates of alleged sexual misconduct by adults than do district-run schools. The gap leads child-protection advocates to fear that charters are underreporting allegations to the district’s inspector general. Chalkbeat took a closer look at the numbers.

Movement in Springfield: Two bills that could have a big impact in Chicago moved forward in the Illinois legislature this week. One of several bills to bring an elected school board to Chicago passed the House on Thursday. And legislation that would allow the Chicago Teachers Union to bargain over class size or length of the school day, topics currently restricted by law, is in the Senate. WBEZ reports.

Charter money for the win: Ten of 13 alderman candidates who were supported by the pro-charter super PAC of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools won in Tuesday’s election. The group spent $80,000, almost triple what it spent on local elections in 2015. WBEZ has the story.

Looking Ahead

High school selection: Eighth graders have until April 12 to accept offers from high schools — a situation that has some families facing some hard choices. Here’s a first look at the numbers of how many students got their first choices — and how students selected charters versus district schools. We also published a first-person piece from a father at the district (who happens to be a sociologist) who characterized the application process for selective enrollment high schools as emotionally taxing and unfair. Here’s a list of frequently asked questions about the high school selection process — with answers — from the school district.

Charter job fair: The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) will host its annual Teacher & Administrator Job Fair on Saturday.


As principal of Southside Occupational Academy, Joshua Long  (on the right in the picture above, holding the basket) has tackled an overhaul of his school’s curriculum, implemented restorative justice practices and won funding for students with disabilities to take part in job training. His work to help students with special needs prepare for life after high school has earned Long the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership, a prestigious statewide honor recognizing exemplary school leadership.