Tuesday is a big decision day in a battle that has drawn national attention, the weeklong strike by the Chicago Teachers Union. Union delegates meeting Sunday asked for time to consult with the rank-and-file before a vote on the tentative agreement that they were just learning about in detail.
The union's vote on whether to accept the draft contract and go back to work is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. If they vote it down, the mayor will be going to court on Wednesday for an injunction, attempting to force teachers back to work.
A number of the points of contention being fought out in Chicago are hot-button issues nationally and relevant to Philadelphia -- some of them illustrating competing visions of what teachers' role should be in school reform:
• How should teachers be evaluated and how big a factor in that evaluation should student performance on standardized tests be?
• What kind of job security protections should there be for teachers who are displaced by school closings or otherwise laid off? Should principals be free to hire whomever they choose?
• Should teachers continue to earn automatic increases for years of experience and for earning degrees, as most union contracts provide? Or should increases be based on measures of performance?
• How long should the school day and year be, and how should teachers be compensated for additional time?