CHICAGO — For six years and two consecutive collective bargaining agreements, Paul Vallas, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools gave his take on the current strike.
The former CEO also ran for mayor of the city and had he won, would have been in the same place as Lightfoot. He said he thinks she’s doing everything right, and believes the union was just itching for a fight.
Vallas has made a career out of running school systems all over the country and running for office in Illinois. From 1995-2001 he was the CEO of CPS and successfully delivered two teachers’ contracts to his boss Mayor Richard M. Daley. Back then, he said everyone at the bargaining table had the same goal: to sign a contract.
“I never heard the word strike. Period. Because we all know what a strike does,” he said.
Strikes can lead to kids being out of school and sets them back greatly in the classroom when it happens during the academic year.
One of Vallas’ strategies to avoid this: Never negotiate during the school year. Do it in the summer. When talks get pushed down the road, he says, kids and parents have the most to lose.
Vallas believes Lightfoot has offered a good deal, and if he were in her shoes, he would do exactly what she’s doing now: Wait it out.
“What the union wants is a three year contract, which the city simply can’t afford. Plus 3-4,000 employees. Clearly they can’t afford it,” he said.
In the latest CPS offer, teachers stand to make an average of $100,000 a year.
Vallas is willing to bet this round of negotiations will carry into next week so that when the national news follows President Donald Trump to Chicago for his first visit to the city as president where the sea of red, protests in the streets and the disruptions in the city will be seen and heard from coast to coast.
Vallas says he’s not criticizing teachers, but he said the city is going to lose money and CPS students are the ones being punished.
Vallas says during his career he has negotiated at total of five teachers contracts in Chicago and in other cities. He said not one of them resulted in a strike. He’s proud of that.