...the city of Chicago abandoned its efforts to institute this latter, phony merit pay. As the Chicago Teachers Union put it: “The Board agreed to move away from ‘Differentiated Compensation,’ which would have allowed them to pay one set of teachers (based on unknown criteria) one set of pay versus another set of pay for others.”
But the city preserved key provisions that result in at least some amount of true merit pay. Specifically, the city preserved the ability to continue opening new, non-unionized charter schools at a rapid clip. It is already the case that almost 50,000 of the 400,000 students in Chicago’s public schools attend charter schools. As students migrate from traditional to charter schools, enrollment in the unionized sector has plummeted, causing 86 traditional public school closures over the last decade. Enrollment is so low in many existing traditional public schools that 120 additional schools are eligible for closure next year. As long as the city can continue to open charter schools and as long as there is demand by students to leave for charters, traditional public schools will continue to be closed in large numbers.
When Chicago closes a traditional public school for low enrollment the teachers are laid off. The new contract appears to place some limits on this, but the practice has generally been preserved.