Random thoughts. Compromise.


I don’t know Elizabeth Scalia.

From the short description at the bottom of her Trib op-ed piece I know she is a 22-year veteran teacher at Chicago’s Oscar Meyer. She teaches 6-8 Language Arts.

That is not an easy job. I was a K-5 teacher and the few times I taught middle school I wasn’t very good at it. I’m almost sure that enjoying being around 13-year olds all day needs a specific and unique DNA. I don’t have it.

Ms Scalia is also a National Board Certified Teacher. That is no easy process to go through.

So I have no intention of smacking Ms Scalia as a teacher.

But the op-ed? It is nonsense.

I have no doubt that Ms Scalia knows her stuff when it comes to leading her classes in explorations of great books.

But her Trib post demonstrates she knows nothing about unions and bargaining. That may be why the anti-union Trib printed her opinion. She writes that her union, the Chicago Teachers Union, “must compromise.”

There is this misconception about collective bargaining and collective bargaining agreements. Many people – Ms Scalia being one – view the process and the agreement as a union thing. As in “a union contract.”

I once had a principal who kept referring to our CBA as “the union contract,” as if it was something imposed on her by us.

Writing that the union bargaining team must compromise is wasting paper. Compromise is the process both sides are already engaged in. It is called “bargaining.”

Look at the bottom of any collective bargaining agreement and you will see two columns of signatures. One side has the signatures of the  members of the union bargaining team. The other column has the signatures of the board.

The union “must compromise” stuff is just silly. Bargaining is nothing if it is not the act of compromise.

The old agreement expired over a year ago, and while from all reports the CPS board has not really started bargaining until recently, there has already been plenty of compromise.

Ms Scalia should be joining the rest of her members in calling for a fair contract.

7 Replies to “Random thoughts. Compromise.”

  1. Her op-ed, to put it politely, is full of baloney.
    Oh I think she is an Oscar Meyer whiner.
    That is what she is to me and you.
    ‘Cos if she is an Oscar Meyer whiner.
    There’d be no fair contract for CTU.

  2. Naivety? Stupidity? “thirty pieces of silver?” Why would any intelligent, self-respecting, public school teacher write such an idiotic editorial to the Trib, an anti-union, anti-teacher, anti-public education, anti-pension, pro-charter, pro-billionaire, pro-corporate propaganda rag? I ended my subscription to the Trib almost twenty years ago when its editorial board supported Al Salvi, a Republican tea bagger ahead of his time, over Durbin in the general election. I haven’t regretted it.

  3. Perhaps she needs to read Troy LaRaviere’s blog, partially reprinted in Fred’s blog, about compromise. About how “shared sacrifice” is not shared at all. That teachers and staff have taken the brunt of absolute mismanagement by CPS and City Hall for many years. That the “compromise” she wants has not worked and will not work until there is a massive shift in how educational business is done in this city and in this state.

    Spending millions on charter schools that don’t work for students but certainly do work for the family and friends of City Hall is not the way to use taxpayer money. Spending millions on horrific “investments” with greedy banks does not work either. Failing to pay pensions for 20 years certainly doesn’t work. Sneaking out of an obligation for a 4% raise is another slap in the face to those who work for and with children in this city.

    Perhaps Ms Scalia resides in a crystal palace somewhere, oblivious to the political games being played with the education of children in this state. She certainly allowed herself to be used by the extreme right, represented by the Tribune. Shame on her. It seems that being an NBCT does not guarantee intelligence or street smarts.

  4. Dear Fred,
    The editorial is an argument to rationalize acceptance of a continuing systemic mistreatment of teachers and students by C.P.S. I have on other occasions heard individuals espouse the opinion that a “good” teacher can always “Give up a little more to help the children!” Personally, I disagree.

    This masochism is sometimes painful to watch, but not unexpected. In moments of frustration (while trying to understand the position) I sometimes thought there was an unspoken subtext the individual was trying to convey. I am sure it was not always true, but I think sometimes it was.

    Here is what was conveyed to me:

    ” Look at me! I can out suffer everyone else! This must mean that I am more dedicated, because I am willing to suffer a little more!” … “My dedication excuses me of any responsibility to confront this problem.”

    The position seems directed at justifying the choice that a teacher should just give in to exploitation. You hear words like “dedication” and “self sacrifice”. You do not hear “resist abuse or unfair treatment”. The implication is that confronting unfair treatment is “less dedicated and deserving” than “sacrifice”.

    To individuals who view teachers as second class citizens, the idea of teacher sacrifice “to help children” is justification to treat teachers poorly and pay them poorly. If teachers accept mistreatment passively, they legitimize the premise. Lack of a response signals agreement and acceptance.

    What is the lesson conveyed when teachers don’t resist and stand up for what is right? I don’t see tolerating mistreatment of teachers as an opportunity to prove my own dedication to teaching. Accepting something that is wrong or unfair teaches children exactly the wrong lesson.

    Does the editorial advocate compromise? Collective bargaining IS compromise. Or does it advocate capitulation to the idea that teachers exist to be abused and exploited as second class citizens? Promoting this type of “compromise” is an example of the powers that be exploiting a well meaning person in a propaganda war. How sad.

  5. When one side demands to beat all five of your children, allowing them to beat 2 1/2 of your children is insane. There is no compromise for many, many situations.
    Propaganda can delude even the best of minds, so we all need to be aware of its dangers.

  6. Dear Fred,

    Just a thought….

    Rich Miller’s Capitolfax site http://www.capitolfax.com/ has an ad today from Illinoisians for Growth asking readers to e-mail their elected officials to ask them if they support the C.T.U.’s rejection of the board’s contract offer. (They seem to disapprove of the contract rejection)

    Should we let elected officials know how we feel? I think we all should do exactly that. Let us share how we feel about the situation.

    Wouldn’t it be fun to use their subsidized e-mail engine to send our own message to these elected officials? Even better, we can Let Illinoisians for Growth pay for it too. Just delete the body of the e-mail and type in your own message.

    It is so thoughtful of them to help us contact elected officials. Thanks!

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