Daley honors master teachers

January 6, 2010 4:51:31 AM PST
As Chicago Mayor Richard Daley applauded the city's master teachers, another politician called for changes in the way the Chicago Public Schools system is run.The mayor called a news conference Tuesday to celebrate the report that during last year, the Chicago Public Schools had hired more certified Master Teachers than any district in the country.

"The teachers have earned the highest achievement in their profession, certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards," said Mayor Daley.

But Illinois Senate Education Committee Chairman the Reverend James Meeks says too many Chicago Public Schools are failing because the district will not fire what he says are its many more unqualified teachers who are heavily concentrated in predominantly black and Latino schools.

"Unqualified teachers are there because the principals say they don't have the right to remove unqualified teachers because of their contracts," said Sen. James Meeks, (D) Chicago.

Senator Meeks says the politically-sensitive mayor wants peace with the Chicago Teachers Union so much he's allowed the union to write contract rules that make it virtually impossible to fire bad teachers:

"We don't shelter or protect anyone, there's a due process right that's in our contract," said Marilyn Steward, Chicago Teachers Union President. "We're not gonna talk about the negative. We're here to talk about what's right with Chicago Public Schools."

Meeks has filed a bill in the State Senate to take back control of the Chicago Public Schools from the Mayor's Office and return the district to state supervision. Meeks says the successes the mayor has talked about during press conferences...has not translated into a better education for children in the city's poorest neighborhoods:

"We're talking about getting rid of Vinnie Del Negro because the Bulls have a losing record. You mean to tell me we're going to keep the person over the schools and for 14 years now the schools have a failing record," said Meeks.

"I really believe on a daily basis we are improving our public school system," said Mayor Daley.

Meeks wants to return to the system in which schools are run by professional educators instead of politicians. The mayor said one person needs to be held accountable--and he doesn't mind the responsibility.

Senator Meeks said changing how Chicago Public Schools is run, as well as how it's funded, will be his major goal during the upcoming legislative session.