Ongoing saga of CFT contract negotiations


I like graphs. I like information, facts and data. Unfortunately for me, it is hard to find hard data when I read through what the Board of Education (BOE) and the Champaign Federation of Teachers (CFT) are putting out in the public sphere in regards to the ongoing teacher contract negotiations.

According to a table generated by the CFT, teacher salaries have not kept up with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since the 2nd half of 2005 (ie, the 2005-2006 school year). I do not yet have any figures that go back further – this is all I got.

You can download an excel spreadsheet I used to generate the graph by clicking on the graph above.

As noted by the recent press releases from both the BOE and the CFT (and also on the CFT Facebook page), there is significant confusion about what exactly a “raise” is. First there is the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA); the BOE initially offered 0%, .5% and .5% for the next three years, but revised that to 1.3% each of the next three years, according to an informational session with the CFT (as shown in the graph). The BOE also offered 1.7% “step” raises (only for teachers with less than 22 years of experience) in their final offer which they perceive as further increasing the teacher’s salary for a total of 3% each year for three years (this information is NOT reflected in the graph above). The CFT is asking for a 3.65% base salary raise for one year, and a “step increase” (meaning that each teacher moves up one step).

Raise your hand if you are confused. Read the rest of this entry »

"Students Are Masterpieces And Teachers Are Their Conductors"

Sheri asked that I share this from her Resources blog:


I wanted to share this thought. I was watching a movie today with my daughter. The movie spanned the decades, touching on historical moments that our changed society. Americans developed from those moments. Wars, presidents, and culture. But at the heart of the movie was one of the spokes within that system of wheels that influenced how our communities grew: teachers.

At the end of the movie, after watching the main character find his way through his teaching career, there is an event to honor him. One of his former students gives this message:

Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.

The same can be said of each of our teachers. Our children are molds. And each teacher leaves an imprint on them. Looking back at my own years K-12 there were teachers who always had a smile on their faces. Their tones were always sweet. Their instruction always nurturing. I may not remember exactly what information they taught me, but I know I wanted to learn in their classrooms. There were teachers who just through hallway interactions could brighten your day. And there were teachers who got you hooked on a subject, so much so, that your college application was written on the foundation they created with you.

I know the arguments are about money. And that’s truly unfortunate. That our students are affected by money. Sure they may not have a clear appreciation of how money is the focal point of the current negotiations… and we should be thankful for that. Because what would they say if they really understood? Some parents don’t even understand why the issue is being contested. I wish I could say “money aside,” but no one can say that. What I can say is that the same teachers we are leaving in limbo are the same ones who have never faltered in their mission to serve our students. They have come to work without a contract and taught our children. To those who think this is about money to them… it’s clearly not.

While we may not all agree on the outcome of this situation, I encourage parents to share their thoughts about this situation. All your thoughts, good or bad. You’re welcome to share in comments on this post or via email ( For those sharing via email I would like to post your message on my blog, omitting the name of the sender.

One voice may create a stir, but many voices will create a storm.

Teachers Rock!!

From the lips of President Obama:

Let me say something about teachers, by the way.  Teachers are the men and women who might be working harder than just about anybody these days.  (Applause.)  Whether you go to a big school or a small one, whether you attend a public or a private or charter school –- your teachers are giving up their weekends; they’re waking up at dawn; they’re cramming their days full of classes and extra-curricular activities.   And then they’re going home, eating some dinner, and then they’ve got to stay up sometimes past midnight, grading your papers and correcting your grammar, and making sure you got that algebra formula properly.

And they don’t do it for a fancy office.  They don’t — they sure don’t do it for the big salary.  They do it for you.  They do it because nothing gives them more satisfaction than seeing you learn.  They live for those moments when something clicks; when you amaze them with your intellect or your vocabulary, or they see what kind of person you’re becoming.  And they’re proud of you.  And they say, I had something to do with that, that wonderful young person who is going to succeed.  They have confidence in you that you will be citizens and leaders who take us into tomorrow.  They know you’re our future.  So your teachers are pouring everything they got into you, and they’re not alone.

So I have to ask, why does not the nation prioritize teaching and education more? It is almost as if someone in government (or shall I say, Government) said “You know, in order to get really good teachers, they have to really want it. The only way to make them really want it is to give them an embarrassing compensation. And this video proves it.”


This takes “do more with less” to a whole new level.


Jess Bachman’s wildly popular “Death & Taxes” poster shows that the Department of Education gets $56billion out of $1trillion (5.6%). Hard to say how much of that actually finds it way into teachers’ pockets. I know throwing more money at schools is not necessarily the answer, but the National Budget makes it quite clear what the national priorities are. My point is that we put a lot of things higher up than Education, let alone teachers. As a society, we idolize sport stars, Hollywood and laud excessive acclaim on CEOs. This is what you really wanted, eh?


STEM: the new not-new "is this really education?"


I am really torn about how we do education in our modern day. On the one hand, there is all this global pressure to prove to the world that the USA can produce top engineers and scientists. On the other hand, science can be downright boring, both in the classroom and in the Real World™. There are some really awesome projects you can do with all branches of science. Yet so often we dumb it down to having to memorize and regurgitate the Periodic Table or the Family and Genus of the “common dog”. History is the same way, spitting back a bunch of dates and alleged important events. We have these standardized tests that we use to measure our academic yearly average progress, and we end up “teaching to the test”.

I mentor a kid at Edison, and I have asked him a few times what he wants to do when he grows up. By now, he is tired of adults asking this question. He simply does not do. I told him what I do, and I could not keep his attention for 10 seconds. He wants to do something with sports. That’s great – he is a very athletic, competitive and driven young fellow. But the line between learning about music, math, english, history, drama and science and a career in athletics is very ill-defined. Basically, if you get “good” grades you can ignore education altogether. Or can you?

On the flip side, I can look at the current job market and see where the big bucks are. Or I can even find where the hot jobs are. Google and Microsoft are currently having a war to see who can hire the most people in one year. Do you really want to program your child’s learning such that you funnel them into this kind of career? Will your child even want to follow that lead once they can make their own choices?

I want an education, and an educational system, that puts on emphasis on learning how to live. I would love to see kids excited about school. Kids who are so into the science projects, kids who are loving band, kids who think their teachers are the next best thing since hot pizza! Our modern school has become boring, and our school districts have become rigid businesses who function it is to have the highest percentage of their students take a test well.

Last, I need to shout out to our teachers. They are doing an awesome job! (at least the ones I know of) Keep it up! And I am sorry for all the crap you have to put up with.