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School Board President: ‘We Want Our Kids Back In School’

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David Vitale

Chicago School Board President David Vitale. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago School Board President David Vitale says the board has issued more than 20 proposals in an effort to end the teachers’ strike, and he wants to see children back in school by Wednesday.

Speaking on the CBS 2 Morning News Tuesday, Vitale said the disagreement between the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union is down to two issues – one dealing with teacher evaluations, and the other with recalling teachers for work if they are laid off through a school closure.

“There are a number of other issues that we are really not very far apart on, and they worked late into the night to close a lot of those last night, so we continue to say that we have, in fact, been responsive,” he said. “We’ve been working hard. We’ve made over 20 proposals over the last few days to close the gap, and we think the process is moving ahead, and we see no reason why we won’t solve this, and we have an urgency to get this solved, because we think our kids ought to be in school.”

Vitale reiterated Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s statement Sunday that the teachers’ strike is a “strike of choice.” He also disputed Teachers Union President Karen Lewis’ remark that the board has made “no movement.”

“We wouldn’t have the same point of view,” Vitale said. “As I’ve pointed out, since last Thursday, we’ve made over 20 proposals for change and improvement to meet their needs, and so we’ve not been obstinate.”

A major issue for teachers is a proposal to evaluate their performance based on student test scores – a plan they say fails to take into account other factors that such as poverty. Vitale said the evaluation proposal is required to comply with state law.

“We have to implement the law, and the law requires that. And we’ve, in fact, worked with them almost for the better part of a year to design something that meets the law, and even in that regard, we have agreed to compromise in a variety of different ways, including saying that the first year, implementation of that would not be what’s called high stakes – in other words, the information that’s gathered from that would be used to help both principals and teachers understand the system better, and we’ve agreed to a committee that would analyze that work, and if there need to be changes, we’ve agreed to make the changes,” Vitale said.

Vitale said he thought the two sides were close on Monday morning, and he hopes all issues will be settled Tuesday.

“When we left last night, we said we could probably get there today – or at least we could get everybody comfortable enough that we could get our kids back in school, and we believe we can do that, and we can get our kids back in school tomorrow,” he said.

He added that the Children First programs that have been set up to accommodate children at some schools has gone well so far.

“I would say that us and the Chicago community have made every effort to help parents and students in that regard, and yesterday went reasonably well in providing that support, and so we want our kids back in school. We want them back in school tomorrow.”

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