On September 18, 2012, the Chicago Teachers Union negotiated a settlement with the City after going on strike for seven days. At issue in the dispute were critical issues like teacher salaries, working conditions, and teacher evaluations. As is typical in these situations, neither side held all the high cards. The two parties had to agree to compromises that patched up the current difficulties without implementing any sensible long-term reforms.
The wage piece of the deal is likely to add about $74 million per year over the next four years to a municipal budget that is already deeply in the red. The extra dollars that go into wages will be taken out of other budgets, rendering classrooms and other facilities less suitable than before. The moderately stiffer standards for teacher evaluation, both before and after tenure, may make marginal improvements in teaching performance, but none that will be significant in the short term. The overall dismal performance of the Chicago public school system, with its 60 percent graduation rate, will remain more or less what it has been.