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District 112 Contract Negotiations: The Story So Far

Highland Park's elementary and middle school teachers plan to go on strike on Oct. 16. Here's everything you need to know about their strained negotiations with the school board.

Last week, District 112 teachers said they would go on strike on Oct. 16.

Here's everything you need to know about why the negotiations between the Highland Park elementary and middle school teachers and the district are so strained and what will happen if things aren't resolved soon.

News

District 112 Prepares for Teachers' Strike
Highland Park's elementary and middle school district has assembled a contingency plan with the Park District and other organizations to provide programming for some of its 4,500 students, assuming the teachers go on strike.

District 112 Teachers Set Strike Date for Oct. 16
Unable to reach a contract agreement with the District 112 Board of Education, Highland Park's elementary and middle school teachers have set a date to strike.

District 112 Teachers Explain Intent to Strike
The union that represents Highland Park's elementary and middle school teachers says the school board is 'pinching on pennies.' A strike could begin in mid-October.

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District 112 Teachers File Intent to Strike
Highland Park elementary and middle school board president outlines contingency plans for alternative programming. The earliest the strike could happen is Oct. 12.

Readers React to Strained District 112 Negotiations
As the teachers' union for Highland Park elementary schools continues to disagree with the school board over its proposed contract, readers are chiming in with their opinions. 

District 112 Teachers Rally Before Board Meeting
Around 150 Highland Park teachers gathered with signs in hand to protest the elementary and middle school district's proposed contract. Negotiations have not gone far, and a full-on strike may be imminent.

District 112 Teachers Take First Step Towards Strike
Despite the help of a federal mediator, contract negotiations between teachers and the Highland Park elementary and middle school district are not going well.

Opinion

The Facts Behind District 112 Contract Negotiations
A skeptical reader tackles everything about the strained negotiations between Highland Park's elementary and middle school teachers and the school board, from property taxes to salary increases.

Getting Immersed in District 112 Teachers' Contract Negotiations
Ed Brill describes his attempt to learn all there is to know about the contentious contract negotiations between Highland Park's elementary and middle school district and its teachers.

Other resources

District 112 Negotiations Update Page
Read the district's updates about the contract negotiations, including letters by School Board President Bruce Hyman.

North Shore Education Association Blog
Get more details about the District 112 teacher union's grievances with the board's proposed contract, and find out more about the looming strike.

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K Orzole October 06, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Our children aren't school age yet, but they will be soon. I can't help but feel worried about what the current teacher's contract negotiations will mean for our future as not only parents but as regular residents of Highland Park. Let me explain why a band-aid solution to freeze teacher salaries and cut health insurance benefits has long term negative consequences for our town and why the recent hostile environment brought about by the current school board is going to harm each and every one of us. What makes this district a sought after place to live? Why pay the high home prices and high taxes? I doubt it's for the great water, sewage, and sanitation. Most likely you moved here, or stayed here, because at one point you saw the value of the high quality school district. As much as my husband and I would love to think that we alone are going to be responsible for shaping our children, the reality is that we will be lucky to get a few quality hours a night with our kids (when you take our jobs and the time our kids will spend in extracurricular activities out of the equation). Ask almost anyone who has children in the school district and many (in District 112's case, most) will tell you that they love their kids' teachers. Will all of their children get into an Ivy or become the next Bill Gates? Maybe not. However, their children... to read on, go to this address: http://district112letter.weebly.com/
MS October 07, 2012 at 01:20 PM
I want to hear from the District. Will you fire every teacher the day they quit, andthen hire individually based on the deal currently on the table? This is an opportunity to end the parasitic actions of public employee unions, and to enact a fair pay and benefits structure based on merit.
llwvrt October 07, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Can you promise that all the children coming in will be equal so that the playing field is fair? That makes about as much sense as merit pay because no child is the same. It is why NCLB is a disaster. What do you consider to be an indicator of merit? Passing a standardized test? It shows is that a student can take a test. What about students with special needs? How will you show merit there? Special ed students frequently learn by using materials that do not resemble standardized tests but they are still expected to pass them. If your class is comprised of students who are severely handicapped, what standards will suffice? If you have children who are in the upper 1%, how do you determine growth? Do you automatically give that teacher a raise because they have bright students? If a teacher has a classroom of children who speak a variety of different languages and are new to the country; they do take some time to assimilate and learn to think in two languages. Social language is easy to pick up, academic language is harder. What magic standard of merit approval will you pick? Should teachers get a commission for every point over passing on tests? What is your magic formula that will be fair because fair isn't equal? And there is no deal on the table, that is why they call it negotiation.
Jack Straw October 07, 2012 at 06:41 PM
K, this must be a form letter sent out by the IEA, this is one of their cut and paste arguments. Folks this is not the teachers against the board of education, but big unions again extorting from the taxpayer. All the lawn signs all the website are paid for by the IEA this extortion by the unions is a repetitive cycle without end. There are many districts including 113 that are non-union, that may come as a surprise to some but the teachers at Highland Park and Deerfield would never go union, why would they want a pay cut. I look at this as an opportunity to stand up for are teachers, and against the IEA and NEA.
Jack Straw October 07, 2012 at 06:42 PM
The board is made up of good people we elected. Please do not let the Teachers union demonize them.
Jack Straw October 07, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Parents along with Teachers and Community should take charge of the education system on a local level. Perhaps it is time to have private schools and the hell with the DOE. If it be we lose funding, so be it. We sure could pay teachers a lot more and give them the creative environment to do the job without the politics of UNIONS and FEDERAL interference. I bet teachers would like that.
David Greenberg October 07, 2012 at 10:04 PM
If we don't take Federal/State funds, we don't have to comply with their rules. NCLB is theoretically a nice idea, but in practice fails miserably because the goals are unachievable. 100% passing rate for all kids? Unachievable because for a variety of reasons, there's a group of children who just can't pass those tests. That doesn't mean the school is lousy. Our budgets are such that the State/Federal funding is a tiny portion of the money we have (the great majority comes from our property taxes), we could do just fine w/o the Federal/State funding - and I suspect that we'd save money if we didn't have to comply with the Federal/State rules... Something worth exploring eh?
llwvrt October 07, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Who will protect the rights of students with IEP's? Prior to government intervention, those children were basically shoved in a closet. I don't disagree with dropping federal aid but will the public continue to protect those children? Another very large chunk of spending goes to special education.
David Greenberg October 07, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Special Education has been around for decades - I doubt it's going anywhere. However, it's my understanding that we have many Curriculum Coordinator positions because we have so many IEP's, and the District is afraid of getting sued. We also have *SOME* parents who abuse the system by making certain claims in order to get an IEP approved. I'm not saying that Special Education is a bad thing - not by any stretch of the imagination. But there has to be a better way to provide Special Education than through costly "legal defensiveness" and hiring a Curriculum Coordinator to sift through the morass of rules and regulations, or by providing services to those who are gaming the system.... For those that don't know - IEP = Individualized Education Program. Here's some links to additional information: http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/learning/iep.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individualized_Education_Program
Jill October 09, 2012 at 01:15 PM
There are so many IEP's b/c our district has set a very high bar for education. Plus, you could argue since with the standarized testing, kids with IEP's don't get factored in when the state assesses the scores. Put another way, our schools would not look so good if kids who didnt have IEPs were factored into the testing results. Two of my five kids had IEP's. I have to argue in favor of learning coordinators. They really have full plates.. The real issue is not them. IT's the staring salaries of new teachers. How can our teachers, with no experience other than required student teaching earn upwards of $40,000 with just a BA or BS degree??? Most kids just out of college, especially state colleges, are lucky to make in the $30k range. I should know, I have two kids who graduated recently from U of Michigan and U of I and neither started their careers making anywhere near what our starting teachers make. Start the newest, lowest level teachers at in the low or mid $30,000 range. They can live at home for a year like many recent graduates to and save a boatload of money..
Andrea1120 October 11, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Isn't that nice u can afford Michigan at 50k a year and ten let ur children save their salary. Sounds pretty charmed to me. Our family worked ridiculously hard to out our children through college. One makes over 40k the other under. Neither can save their entire salary because that is a luxury our family doss not have. Take off your rose colored Glasses, and look at the entire picture. I have a feeling you"ll be participating in your children's financial future for a long time. That's wonderful, I wish I could. Ah but then reality dumped water on my head!!!
Lou October 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Who is just a phone call away to discuss your child's social and educational needs? Who in this world cares as much for your child as you do? Who is there for you during the school year and beyond? Who loves your child as much as you do? Who wants your child to succeed and will help plan a pathway? Who do you rely upon for advice, expertise and important data? Your District 112 Teacher. I've seen it many times over. Teachers deserve fairness, that's all they are seeking.
MS October 11, 2012 at 11:42 AM
"Who loves your child as much as you do"? Are you serious? If it was 1 millionth of how much we as parents love our children there would be no threat of a strike. The terms offered are fair, and if they truly love the kids they would accept. If they do strike, and not one teacher steps above the parasitic union to show up for work it will speak volumes about how they really feel.
Anon. October 12, 2012 at 11:30 PM
http://district112teachers.org/informational-flyers/1012-response-to-district-salary-posting/
Todd Grayson October 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM
As a special ed parent;I wish everyone would leave special ed out of these discussions. It will always be part of the budget and how servicies are performed has a cost, whether the students are part of the 112 system directly or whether children such as mine are shipped out to private instituations which are very costly and often do not provide the mix of academic needs, services and the very important aspect of "inclusion" which is where special ed students have the ability to model behaviors of typical kids and learn academically; while typical kids learn that there are other people in the world who are different then they are. Both the teachers and district have been getting better, until the last few years of budget cuts. Please leave these kids out of the argument. DG - unless you are a special needs parent- don't accuse a single one of abuse. Unless you live it, you don't know. Reading about it is insufficient. Nobody wants to live this life. This is where I could get verbally abusive. Get back on track.
Colene October 13, 2012 at 05:17 PM
This isn't fair to the parents. We'll find out by robo-call at 5am on Tuesday whether our children have school that day? You've got to be kidding me.
Susie Millie October 13, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Most parents in our district have had to pay increased health benefits. It is time the teachers understood we have to be fair, and they should be treated like the community the serve. I don't like to see my raise be used to cover increased health insurance costs, but that is the national reality. In addition, most parents in our district have had nominal salary increases in line with national, state and local averages. Again, we need to keep all government employees, including teachers at annual increases that mirror the community that is served.
Jack Straw October 14, 2012 at 07:24 PM
It has been dawning on me how little knowledge the average person has of these large public unions. One they don’t seem to understand that NEA and the American Federation of Teachers, are trade unions, yes just like carpenters plumbers and truckers. They sign the same style collective bargaining agreements that have bankrupted 1000’s of private sector companies. Collective bargaining is not what its name indicates. In fact, it means exactly the opposite of what you'd guess. Collective bargaining refers to the obligation of an employer to recognize the elected representatives of a group of workers and his further obligation to negotiate with those representatives. This last part is what makes 'collective bargaining' extortion. These Unions rob people of their right to choice. Unions then go on to threaten others to do the same. Eventually they extort, bribe and coerce their way to salaries and wages that the private sector does not get. The solution is to end collective bargaining of public unions, repeal Davis Bacon and all prevailing wages laws, and make every state in the union a right-to-work state.
Lou October 15, 2012 at 12:49 PM
The community needs to understand that teachers never get rich, they are not teachers because of greed, they teach because it's in their DNA. On the other hand, many teachers, often extremely intelligent individuals, could make much more money in the private sector but choose to take on the most important function of our culture. And the community has trustingly placed in teachers' hands the future, of individuals, communities and our nation. Selfishly, I want our teachers to be paid as much as possible and to provide the best benefits possible because I want the best teachers in Illinois to remain in this district for my children. I pay about $ 2200 per year per child to District 112 for excellent world class education, this is the best bargain in the world. My kids are lucky to be in this school district. North Shore Country Day charges an exorbitant $ 22,000 a year per student. The School Board must recognize that happy teachers make for happy students and happy community tax payers. Smart employers understand the NECESSITY for keeping their employees satisfied, Business 101, and unhappy employees are what destroys companies. I want the School Board to acquiesce to the teachers' needs, not their demands, they need to be paid a living wage and need good health care coverage. Is that greedy? Absolutely not. It's smart.
Anon. October 17, 2012 at 12:28 AM
The following letter was written by Mr. Carl Berg, a well-known, Golden Apple award-winning, retired District 112 teacher and member of our local community. It was shared with some community members prior to Monday with hopes of helping to avoid another strike... Dear Friends, With a strike looming just a few days away, I just wanted to reemphasize my concern for the situation. On Friday afternoon the administration sent a letter to all teachers telling them that health insurance benefits will be suspended during the strike. During the unfortunate work stoppages throughout the state this tactic was never done by the administrations of the affected districts. Some of you know that I led the strike of Highland Park teachers in 1978. It lasted four days and probably would have been longer if it wasn’t for the support of the community who were 95% behind the teachers. Taking away health benefits? This threat by the Board seems clearly endorsed in order to break the union. That will not happen. I spent 35 years in this district and I know the wonderful quality of my colleagues in District 112. They are asking for a fair contract and the ability to keep benefits that they already have. It is time to pick up your phone and call a Board Member in order to get this contract done on Monday. A strike may last a few days or weeks, but the ramifications can last for years. Please don’t have your teachers walk backwards into the future. Sincerely, Carl Berg

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