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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.

The following is a letter to the editor from the North Shore Education Association (NSEA) explaining the decision to file a Notice of Intent To Strike.

The NSEA delivered the 10-Day Notice of Intent to Strike on Friday to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) and the North Shore School District 112 School Board and Regional Superintendent.

The NSEA was extremely disappointed when the Board's final offer showed absolutely no discernible movement by the school board from their previous offer to the NSEA. While the NSEA made a huge change in its position in the final offer, hoping to show its sincere desire to reach an amicable settlement, the teachers were extremely dismayed to see no change on the part of the board. It seems that while the board does not mind paying huge administrative salaries (including pension benefits, bonuses, disability insurance, cash instead of family insurance, all costing tens of thousands of dollars), when it comes to the teachers, the board is insisting on pinching pennies.

If the NSEA accepted the board's ridiculously meager offer, the District 112 teachers would not ratify the contract. They feel they deserve better. They feel that they deserve compensation and benefits at least on par with those of surrounding districts. They feel that it's not fair for a teacher earning a Master's degree in education to not get repaid for that tuition for 28 years (in many other districts, the district pays for part of the tuition AND allows teachers to move lanes, thus recouping the cost in 3 to 5 years).

In short, the NSEA is determined to keep our school district where it belongs -- attracting and keeping the best teachers and giving our students a world-class education.

To see the Board's response to the intent to strike, click here. To read Ed Brill's editorial on the District 112 contract negotiations, click here.

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Alexa Martinez October 03, 2012 at 03:59 AM
llwvrt, I know you are a teacher and not a parent, not even a community activist, you are just so on the side of teachers, you have to be one. And you are taking it too personal, that is why I know you are a teacher, ranting against me, it is not the way to go. Fix your school and then ask for raises.
Alexa Martinez October 03, 2012 at 04:07 AM
I am so surprised how llwvrt is taking this matter so personal even to attack me with bullying. Sorry, you have not given any good argument about why the school Oak Terrace is failing the Hispanic students. I do have good arguments, it is poor management, bad programs and teachers full of excuses. Because the parents do not speak English, because the parents are poor, because the students do not know English, and now because the Board is the one that chooses the curriculum. It is not about curriculum, it is about effectively transitioning Spanish speakers into a fully immerse English program so these students can read and write and do math. And if the Bilingual teachers think the curriculum is not working or something is not working, they can surely speak out and perhaps go on strike for the issue, but it is not in their self interest, that means more work, they only care about money and benefits. Fix the school before we think about raises.
Alexa Martinez October 03, 2012 at 04:10 AM
And llwvrt do not try to diminish the fact that Oak Terrace is failing the Hispanic poor students with your bullying towards me. Check the report card on the school, look at the stats and you will see the trend and the future we hold in the district if we do not get a handle on this issue.
llwvrt October 03, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Nice try. The BOE and district administrators determine how to transition Spanish speakers into English speaking programs, not the teachers. That would be Dr. Giraldo, not the staff. You would have no clue as to how the staff feels about it because you are obviously not at Oak Terrace. I wish you much success in your quest.
llwvrt October 03, 2012 at 04:24 AM
As a parent, if I had actually relied on the results of ISAT/standardized testing as an accurate method of determining academic growth, I would have been disappointed. Standardized testing does not adequately show growth. The MAPS scores are a better indication of individual growth. And yes, I have been a member of the community for over 25 years, and raised 4 children here.
Jesse L October 03, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Some of the basic lessons taught in school and at home are perseverance..not to be a quitter, work thru the tough times, et. I find it very hypocritical of thee elementary teachers to "quit' the kids and community when they are not getting the raises they want..and must now (gasp) pay for a percentage of their health care. What kind of message is that to teach? How about the rest of us? the government has frozen salaries for 2 years...(as has mine in private enterprise)...and we must pay for our health care. Times are different, and the trough is not so full. I don't notice anyone running to other districts for jobs...because these are the best...time for a reality check...the taxpayers here are drowning
llwvrt October 03, 2012 at 11:16 AM
I guess you didn't read all of the proposals Jesse - the teachers have no problem with paying for health care. Different issues are at stake. I guess it is just easier to say "bad teachers" rather than wonder what exactly is the BOE trying to do. And what they aren't telling you. http://district112teachers.org/
Lou October 03, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Jesse, the taxpayers are "drowning" because our tax money was thrown at a contrived war in Iraq and its expensive consequences. Bush wasted 4 Trillion Dollars (according to Nobel Prize winning Professor A. Stiglitz) of our dollars and not one weapon of mass destruction was found since 2003, nine years ago. 4 Trillion could have paid for ALL of our teachers' salaries in America. Bush decentralized the entire Middle East, allowed Al Qaeda to gain a secure foothold in Iraq and the Middle East. Because of Mr. Bush's blunders, our tax money will be used to squelch Al Qaeda in Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon for decades. THAT is where your tax money is, it's not in teachers' pockets. That's why the taxpayers are drowning. By the way, the US spends 809 Billion dollars a year on education according to the University of Southern California. Compare that amount of money to the 4 Trillion dollars we blew in Iraq! mat.usc.edu/u-s-education-versus-the-world-infographic/
Chilawyer October 03, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Lou, I have attacked your argument, which makes your purported desire to pay more taxes a central theme. That is not an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem attack would be calling you a weak-minded numbskull, and I have not done that. Cordially, Chilawyer
Tony S October 04, 2012 at 10:45 PM
What is not being talked about here is the false misrepresentation of the numbers by District CFO Moshin Dada. You can make numbers do and say anything if you are clever enough. The fact is that the District is NOT broke, and actually netted a SURPLUS of $2 mil over the course of the previous contract, which was negotiated with significant concessions by the teachers. The economic data currently being shoved down our throats by Dada is old and misleading.
m October 04, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Really? Do you know that the Board's offer at this time is the WORST CONTRACT ON the ENTIRE NORTH SHORE??? It is worse than Deerfield, Lake Forest, Glencoe, and Northbrook!! Shame on you! Now...maybe we can take a look at the ADMINISTRATOR salaries and benefits. Hmmmmm...Lots to look at there.
Ashley Howard October 05, 2012 at 12:17 AM
I have tried to read all I can from the BOE and the teacher's position. I must agree with Ed Brill, that it is difficult to understand lanes, steps. One thing I fo NOT understand is why the administrative salaries (in both 112 and 113) are not under a microscope? Check out their benefits? Yes, we all must tighten our belts...but WHY do these people get a front seat at the trough...benefits etc. To boot? Why isn't this brought up. Or am I missing that
Ashley Howard October 05, 2012 at 12:22 AM
No one is gonna get all they want..but why are those admin. People making way north of 250000 plus benefits? I betcha they got increases...so why isn't anyone looking in this direction?
Tony S October 05, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I'm a recent college grad an I can tell you that the brilliant people nowadays do not go into education. Why would you, when teachers are completely undervalued by the media and many commenters here? Meanwhile, STEM jobs go to qualified candidates from foreign countries with much better education systems, that by the way, VALUE teachers appropriately. You need the best of the best to prepare children to compete in a global economy. By the way, if you don't think teachers are undervalued, all you have to do is look to Moshin Dada, who said teachers won't understand his numbers anyways. If the BOE wins this one, you'll be lucky if teachers a few years down the road will be able to put 2 and 2 together.
Walter White October 05, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Administrators work very hard at keeping their raise and benefit structures away from public view. It's there, but very hard to find. The reason is that they are afforded many, many fringe benefits that would sicken most people.
David R. October 05, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Tony, your correct that we need the best teachers possible to prepare them for the global economy, but your suggestion that "brillant" college graduates made up a large constiuency of our teachers is wrong,: "As measured by standardized test scores (mainly the SAT and the ACT), students choosing to major in education tend to be drawn from the lower end of the ability distribution. In Who Will Teach?, Harvard University professor of education Richard Murnane and his colleagues write: “College graduates with high test scores are less likely to take [teaching] jobs, employed teachers with high test scores are less likely to stay, and former teachers with high test scores are less likely to return.” On average, according to the findings of University of Massachusetts economist Dale Ballou, the higher the quality of an individual’s undergraduate institution, the less likely a student is to choose a teaching career. Moreover, during the past 25 years the share of master’s and doctoral degrees in education granted by top-tier public and private research universities has declined dramatically. And of students who graduated from college in 1993 and 1994, data from the Baccalaureate and Beyond survey show that those who entered the public school teaching profession averaged a 923 on the SATs; the average SAT of those entering other professions was about 80 points higher.
Tony S October 05, 2012 at 05:31 PM
David, please re-read what I wrote. Thank you for concurring and providing relevant data to support my claim. Why would the best and brightest to into a field that it so undervalued?
NS October 05, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Perhaps, Tony, some of the best and brightest simply want to help others.
David R. October 05, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Tony, I don't think teachers are undervalued in 112, but they probably are in many parts of the country. However, I was responding to your comment about "nowadays," and the study shows that there was never a time that the highest achievers consistently became schools teachers. In order get the best and brightest, which includes attracting more men to the profession, we need to make the compensation, benefits and working conditions more on par with private sector. That means much higher pay (at least for starting teachers), but, in turn, defined benefit plans, removal of seniority rights, further reducing tenure protections, and potentially a longer school year (with several breaks). In short, the teachers can't have it both ways--protections and benefits that few other professionals have and six-figure or near six-figure compensation.
Mary T. October 06, 2012 at 03:24 PM
To blame teachers for a failing school is convenient but terribly in accurate. As we can all agree children go home to families and communities each day at which point responsibility shifts away from teachers. We are all responsible in some way.
Pamela Kramer October 06, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Just an FYI. Oak Terrace is not failing its students. Nor are the other schools who didn't make AYP like HPHS and all three middle schools. We are in good company there. And, Oak Terrace's MAP scores show a higher percentage of our students exceeding their goals than in most of the other 112 schools. That means that although they may come to the table with less, they are gaining more than those who come with more (perhaps from more affluent situations). Of course, they do have more to make up, that's true. Oak Terrace is making up the gap -- not in one year, maybe -- each and every year. And I am proud to be an Oak Terrace teacher. And yes, I am bilingual. The teachers at Oak Terrace choose to work there rather than in schools where the need is less. We love what we do and we are good at it. That's apparent when students are disappointed that there is a day off -- they'd rather be in school!
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther October 06, 2012 at 04:17 PM
In fact, Ashley, the Board gave the Superintendent a bonus last year and the Business Manager is the king of double dipping, collecting a huge pension along with his salary.
Jerry Hopkins October 07, 2012 at 02:22 PM
NS, I think that it Tony's point. Sure, "some of the best and brightest simply want to help others." Therefore, why would we want to show them a system where promises are broken (yes, you board) and compensation and benefits are under attack. Juniors, Senior and recent college grads who have been considering education must be rethinking their futures...yes, even the best and brightest. Tony, well said. Although you are witnessing things starting to get a little heated, if education is something you are considering, hopefully this won't permanently tarnish your thoughts. Not all boards hire hatchet men and treat their teachers like objects. Not all boards and admin go on the attack and take advantage. Some handle things with class. Stick around!
Alexa Martinez October 10, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Pamela, I do not belive your poor explanation. Oak Terrace has been on the watch list for over 5 years. Under the no child left behind and Obama plan your school is failing. If the rich students parents like to diregard the results from the tests, that is their problem, and the real problem we have is people like you that sugar coat a reality: 4 students out of 10 do not know how to read, write and math. You should be ashamed, mostly because you are in charge of reading and you are failing, and you call yourself a "bilingual" teacher, ja, then I am wonderwoman! Perhaps you should train dogs instead of teaching kids how to read, you might have better results. Your school will go under, and all those bilingual teachers are bringin the school under and starting to affect other schools that you feed into.
Alexa Martinez October 10, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Of course Pamela will say nothing is wrong and try to. Sugar coat the situation @ Oak Terrace, her self interest is to retire with a fat pension, regardles of the childrens future.
Alexa Martinez October 10, 2012 at 09:31 PM
And the administrators should not get raises or bonus for two reasons, same rule should apply to them as to teachers, the economy is not good, save the money, and because under their watch they have decided to look over the shoulder and let the problem we have @ Oak Terrace escalate, now we have Northwood second year failing too. It is their duty to make crucial decisions that will mitigate the problem. Snobs, get in charge and make the appropriate decisions, shut down the bilingual program and start evaluating teachers. What are you waiting for, so someone takes over the school or for a civil lawsuit?
llwvrt October 11, 2012 at 06:49 AM
Alexa, nothing is going to happen because realistic test scores show that students are improving. ISAT scores are not a solid example of academic growth and that is what AYP is based on. Illinois will get an exemption, like so many other states, when they revamp their plan to the government. If you really detest the way bilingual education is taught, do your research and show how immersion is both cost cutting and effective. Present it to the board. They listen to discussions that save them money. Every family at Oak Terrace had the option to leave; they chose to stay. Imagine that- they chose to stay at Oak Terrace. I wonder why?
Mark Stein October 11, 2012 at 08:01 AM
The billingual program is the Board's program. It is not the NSEA's program. The Association has no power to alter the program. If you believe that immersion is the best way to go, you need to convince the Board and administration. You may be surprised to learn that there are teachers who will agree with you.
Highlands HP'er October 16, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Rich parents wait huh? Do you even live in the community? Oak Terrace has 71% of its students from low income families. A large portion of these students come from immigrant families that don't speak English at home. If you look at the test scores broken down by race (for lack of a better way of trying to separate immigrant families from multi generational American families) you will find a HUGE difference in test scores. What does this show? It shows more or less that children from poorer families that don't speak English at home tend to struggle more than children of wealthier families that speak English at home. I think you will find this situation is not unique to Oak Terrace. You really ought to be ashamed of what you wrote to Pamela as people like her chose to work with a more challenging group of children and really have a tougher time with their students than the schools that "test so well".
Alexa Martinez October 16, 2012 at 04:04 PM
The parents at Oak Terrace are not choosing to stay, they just do not have another option. Have you ever called the school and tried to enroll a Hispanic student? The first thing they do is to send you to Mr. Giraldo and he makes sure you are all scared that if you do not enroll your child in the bilingual program, the school will loose all financial aid and you too. which is not true, but the school is not informing parents about their options. Hispanic parents do not want their kids to be stuck in a bilingual program, they want their kids to learn ENGLISH. and when I say that the bilingual program does not work is because it does not, it does not even teach proper Spanish. The bilingual teachers do not have a good handle of the Spanish nor the English language, they mask it and since the Principal doe not speak Spanish, she does not know that Giraldo is covering for their mistakes. Yes I get all your arguments, but this is a VERY RICH SCHOOL DISTRICT and I have seen better results at more t modest schools. It is just a matter of making the effort and getting rid of the bilingual program.

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