ERIC SANDY / SCENE
Teachers face the board in 2015.
As promised, the Cleveland Teachers Union (CTU) called for a strike at its meeting Monday night. Though classes across the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) resumed Monday, the most recent teachers' contract expired June 30, and sides failed to come together over the summer on a few key issues. Despite three days of in-depth negotiations last week, as reported by the Plain Dealer,
the contract remains unresolved.
In a statement Tuesday morning, CTU president David Quolke said the strike would begin on Thursday, September 1.
“Issuing a notice to strike is not an easy thing to do,” he said. “It is our hope that the CMSD and the mayor will commit to using the next two weeks to resolve the contract… We seek a contract that addresses the many concerns our educators have voiced over the broken promises of the last three years. All throughout this process, CTU has fought for a contract that is good for kids and fair for educators and we will not take a contract back to the membership that does not meet that standard."
Predictably, chief among the sticking points is teacher compensation. Right now, teachers are given raises based exclusively on ratings in annual evaluations. Those evaluations are determined, in large part, by student test scores.
Though Cleveland teachers make comparatively good money, (median salary: $76,652), they’d prefer that additional factors — outside coursework, teaching in low-performing schools, for example — be factored into the compensation calculus.
CMSD spokeswoman Roseann Canfora lamented, on behalf of the district, that parties had spent “hundreds of hours” at the bargaining table and only had a few items left to resolve: “It is unfortunate, therefore, that the CTU has chosen to put its efforts toward a strike rather than working to resolve the few remaining items.”
Quolke said that he's hopeful negotiations can continue, strike notwithstanding, but no new sessions have been scheduled.
On the horizon, of course, is the renewal of the Cleveland school levy, originally passed in 2012 and on the ballot in 2016. David Quolke and the CTU gang want nothing more than to help campaign for the levy, he said, and it is therefore “essential” to settle these contractual disputes post-haste.