Updated: November 2, 2012 6:10AM
In the name of peace, we offer a humble suggestion to Chicago teachers:
Approve the new contract.
In big numbers.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Teachers Union’s 26,000 members will vote on the tentative agreement reached with the school system, the deal that ended the city’s first teachers strike in 25 years.
We won’t rehash the gory details of the strike. They’re still fresh in every Chicagoan’s mind.
Suffice it to say that the rhetoric was ugly, the feelings bitter and the divide between the mayor, the school system and the teachers wide.
But now we have a deal. And not just any deal, but one that is respectful to teachers and compensates them well.
Teachers will enjoy a healthy raise at a time of fiscal distress; an improved evaluation system that promises to help teachers improve and treat them fairly; a hiring policy for laid-off teachers that gives top teachers special consideration but preserves a principal’s freedom to build her own staff; and several other wins for teachers, including the freedom to design their own lesson plans, a promise of textbooks on the first day of school and no “lunch” for teachers at 8:30 a.m.
The contract doesn’t provide for more social workers, air conditioners or libraries. That fight continues. But this should be an easy “yes” vote.
We know some teachers are inclined to say no just to stick it to the mayor and the school system. That’s a short-sighted mistake.
There’s been talk by the union leadership since the strike ended of a truce.
A resounding yes vote would help the union realize that goal.
As we’ve said before, the mayor could do his part by refraining from any more campaign-style TV ads. After the strike, he promoted the contract in an ad paid for by an anti-CTU group that was highly offensive to many a teacher.
The truce is vital because the days ahead promise more conflict and strife.
More school closings are coming, the system faces an estimated $1 billion deficit and pension cuts are a near certainty.
Vote yes for a good contract. Vote yes for a city in desperate need of a truce.