Chicago lays off 508 teachers, 521 others

Chicago Public Schools District 299 announced yesterday that it would lay off more than 500 educators and hundreds of other school personnel, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Chicago skyline

In the past, teachers have been laid off (see our story from 2013) in the nation’s third-largest school district, but school officials said that about 60 percent of those who have been laid off were rehired for positions at other schools. CPS currently lists about 1,000 vacant teaching positions, and the same type of lay off-rehire activity can be expected as the district adjusts to student mobility.

The Chicago Teachers Union isn’t happy about the layoffs. “The gutting of experienced educators and other school employees only weakens schools and puts children at a disadvantage,” the union said in a statement cited in the article.

In all, 508 teachers, including 262 tenured teachers, and another 521 support staff got layoff notices this year, in what has become an annual reshuffling of personnel in Chicago schools, the Sun-Times noted.

“CPS principals continue to do exemplary work protecting their classrooms so that they can build on the remarkable academic progress their students are making,” the paper quoted CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner as saying in a statement. “Today’s staffing changes are part of the normal process of school planning, and there are more vacant positions in the district than staff who will be impacted today, with roughly 1,000 teaching vacancies to be filled.”

But the paper quoted CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin as commenting: “This latest round of layoffs come when Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel is seeking more tax hikes from Chicago’s working families while he continues to ignore demands that he go after wealthy developers and others who enrich themselves at the public’s expense. … If the City and Board exhibited leadership by implementing progressive revenue strategies, such as declaring a TIF surplus and reinstating a corporate head tax, these layoffs could have been avoided.”

The union fired back at the district late last school year, taking advantage of an unpaid furlough day and asking 27,000 education professionals to march in protest downtown. Union leaders call this a “fight back” day and hope that it encourages Mr Emanuel to more adequately support public education in Chicago, especially in light of Governor Bruce Rauner’s “turnaround agenda,” which threatens longstanding pension funds teachers are expecting to receive upon retirement.

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.