To her fans, Deborah Lynch, a slim, intense woman of 49, represents a new take on teacher unionism, someone as passionate about professional improvement and curriculum as pay and benefits. “Debbie is a terrific example of the teacher-union leader of the future,” says Adam Urbanski, long-time president of the Rochester Teachers Association and the grand old man of union progressives. “Chicago is in for a pleasant surprise.”
Lately Duncan has moved to tighten his administrative structure, particularly on the non-education side. With the departure of several top administrators associated with Vallas, he has hired a new phalanx of educators, businessmen and lawyers to do his bidding. Newly piped aboard are David Vitale, and Jill Wine-Banks.
David Vitale, now 56, spent the bulk of his career at the First National Bank of Chicago, which merged with NBD Corp. and then with Bank One Corp. He began working for the bank in 1968, straight out of Harvard, and was picked as bank treasurer at age 26. For a decade he directed the bank’s capital markets.
Cincinnati followed the lead of Toledo, Ohio, and Rochester, N.Y., in establishing peer-evaluation. But it broke out on its own with a pay-for-performance component that was introduced in 2000. “The eyes of the nation are upon us,” Superintendent Steven Adamowski said at the time. “We can’t afford to let this fail.”
in recent years factors such as increased public scrutiny, cries for improved student performance and political pressure have made it all the more arduous. The average urban schools chief now stays on the job an average of three years, according to the Council of the Great City Schools, and a handful of systems, such as Chicago, San Diego, Cleveland and New York.
Last year The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education rated the U. of C. dead last among 26 elite universities in terms of attracting, enrolling and graduating African-American students, as well as hiring black professors. The publication lauded the university for “good progress” in increasing its percentage of black faculty, but said, “…in every other category of our survey, the university is among the worst performers.”
Historically, union leaders have operated in a highly adversarial environment with their school board counterparts, warring intensely and publicly every two or three years over economic and work-place issues such as salaries, due process protections, student discipline and seniority rights.
The transfer of power from the Reece to the Lynch regime was chilly. “You could not call what happened a transition,” says one member of the prior order. “We were here until June 30, and they came in on July 1. It was not a friendly exchange of the baton.” Lynch says she had one brief transition meeting with Reece, who continues as president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. “It was civil,” says Lynch of their huddle. “We [the CTU] are his biggest local, so it had to be civil.”
“You’re in an overcrowded school, with a large class size and unfilled vacancies, so you never get a preparation period. You feel stressed-out, and nobody cares about your concerns—with no time to talk with your colleagues, with no say over what happens in the building, except how to use the annual $100 you get from the Board of Education for supplies. You hold no decision-making power. You have a system that says your test scores better go up, or they’ll put you on intervention. In those circumstances, it’s rough being a teacher.
Daley appeared prepared for the gathering. He had digested a reading “bill of rights” drafted by a committee of the Golden Apple Academy, the group of all past winners. The mayor took notes on a yellow pad as the hour-long meeting progressed, but he was doing more than listening. “He had some concrete ideas, and he wanted to run them past us,” relates Penny Lundquist, academy director, who also was present.