Tue September 11, 2012
WEAC Stands with Striking Chicago Teachers
Members of Wisconsin's largest teachers union are wearing red this week in support of striking teachers in Chicago. A representative for the Wisconsin union says teachers here are concerned about the same issues that have stalled the contract talks in Chicago.
As in most labor union disputes, wages are a central cause of disagreement. However, Cristina Brey of the Wisconsin Education Association Council says teachers’ opposition to a new proposal for evaluating teacher performance based largely on student test scores is one of the main reasons the 26,000 Chicago teachers went out on strike. She says, "A test score doesn't indicate everything a student knows, and it certainly doesn't indicate an educator’s performance. There are a lot more factors that go into it. That's an issue that Wisconsin's been talking about for a long time."
According to Brey, some school districts in Wisconsin will begin piloting a different kind of teacher evaluation program this year that considers a broad range of issues. These include issues like student involvement in activities, and parental and community outreach. The new system is a product of several years of cooperation between the union and school districts.
Brey believes, since Wisconsin teachers lost the right to bargain such issues last year, the program has less chance of being implemented statewide. She says, "It's our hope it will be fine-tuned and districts will use it. But there's nothing binding districts from using that."
The Chicago strike has created problems for parents of the 350,000 students in the district. Some schools and community centers are staying open to act as day care centers for parents who need somewhere to send their children while they are at work. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel says the strike is unnecessary because contract talks are ongoing.