Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for March 13, 2001
Facing Important Issues...


After a lot of publicity and a flurry of activity, the recertification process has quieted down. Approximately 30 CAT members have submitted recertification plans and been approved. The Cairo LPDC--the 7-member committee that is responsible for this process--regularly meets on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the Board office. Each bargaining unit member is responsible for obtaining a form (from your building office), completing the form, and delivering it to the Central Office to be date stamped by personnel there. (I would recommend that you request a stamped copy for your files.) The LPDC then has 60 days to approve or disapprove the plan and notify you of its action. Once your plan is approved, you can begin submitting documentation of professional growth as outlined in your plan. If your certificate expired this past June 30th, then you must submit a plan by April 30th! So if you have not done so…the clock is ticking.

For those of you whose certificate expires this coming June 30th…you may begin submitting plans now! You have until October, 2001, but you should submit your plan no later than June 30. WHY? You must have a plan submitted PRIOR to taking any professional development activities for credit. Example: Let's say your certificate expires on June 30, 2001. You do not submit a recertification plan until October, 2001. If you participate in workshops this summer or take a college course this summer, you will NOT be able to claim credit for that activity on your recertification plan…because you did not submit a plan prior to your professional development activities. Bottom Line: You MUST submit a recertification plan PRIOR to taking professional development activities for credit!


In 1992, a group of parents in Chicago brought a federal lawsuit against the Chicago public schools and the State Board of Education. Named the Corey H. suit after one of the plaintiffs' children, the suit claimed that the school district unduly segregated special education students and was not meeting those students' needs. A federal judge ruled in favor of the parents and against the ISBE. The IEA could not actively participate in this case--it does not represent Chicago teachers. However, the IEA has monitored this situation closely for fear that it might well have ramifications for the rest of the State. Unfortunately, that now appears to be the case. ISBE is trying to show its compliance with the federal judge's finding against Chicago--a finding that was probably correct since Chicago did NOT provide the programs that the rest of the State already provides--by forcing "Chicago remedies" on the rest of the State. THIS MANDATE WOULD AFFECT EVERY TEACHER--NOT JUST SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS. The INCLUSION threat would become a reality!

I have attached a brochure prepared by IEA President Anne Davis. PLEASE read this brochure carefully. If you have any contacts…or know people who do have contacts…with State legislators, urge them to support the recommendations of the General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR)--do NOT impose the court's ruling on the rest of Illinois!

Attached, you will also find an e-mail from the IEA urging members to attend a series of hearings conducted by ISBE this month throughout Illinois. We must get the message across that WE OPPOSE CHANGES TO THE CERTIFICATION OF SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS. The hearing that is geographically closest to us is at the Rend Lake College Student Center on March 28th beginning at 6 p.m. (If you cannot attend, PLEASE do one of the suggested activities on the attached borchure/e-mail…ignoring this will make it a reality!)

Again, please read the attached documents carefully. An unfavorable ruling could radically change special education as we know it…and negatively affect ALL OF US!


Most of you have seen the latest reports in the media about the financial crisis in Cairo School District Number One--again blaming the high salaries of (greedy) employees. According to Dr. Isom, CSD #1 has been placed on the Financial Watch List. (Remember 1993 when the superintendent called the State and asked to be placed on the Financial Watch List…right before negotiations? Hmmmmmmmmm)

The Cairo Board of Education held a special meeting last Wednesday night, March 7, 2001. The stated purpose of the meeting was to consider "Finance and Personnel". Prior to the meeting, Superintendent Isom had solicited written input from various employee groups as to what could be done to reduce operating expenses. At last Wednesday's meeting, CAT expressed its view that already announced resignations and retirements would reduce district payroll by almost $200,000--out of a projected total deficit of $500,000. The CAT stated that the resultant increased class sizes and increased responsibilities should be enough burden borne by employees of CSD #1. The CAT encouraged the Board to accept this approach, announce that there would be no RIFs (thereby reducing the tension and anxiety that accompanies this time of year), and reach out to its employee groups for assistance in finding other ways to reduce the projected deficit.

Unfortunately, the Board emerged from closed session and announced an "intent to reduce in force". The President of the Board stated that the Board was taking this action because of contractual timelines and to keep its options open…that it did not mean that the Board would actually RIF any employees. So the threat continues…


Yes, it's that time again…after a 3-year respite! Due to past posturing by the District, it is difficult to take their current pleadings seriously. Another cry of WOLF? And…even if it's true…then what happened to the money??? When they proposed the RIF of 18 teachers last year, your bargaining team asked that very question. The answer…well…let's RIF one teacher. Does that satisfy your curiosity? Well…if at first you don't...get an answer…ask, ask again…and we will.

But…money aside…LANGUAGE! Your bargaining team needs you to do the following:

  • Think about what has happened to you this past year(s)…what did you NOT like? How could we fix it?
  • If nothing comes to mind…I will see that copies of the current contract are placed in each lounge…or if you want your own individual (new) copy…let your building rep know…we will get you one.
  • Fill out the attached form and return it to De De O'Shea, Ledora Beard, Deborah Hammel, or Ron Newell. (If you misplace your form, write your suggestion(s) on a plain sheet of paper. We want to know what YOU want!!!)
  • Help us!


In closing, I had the pleasure of being invited to and participating in an "Educational Summit Workshop" this past Saturday, March 10th, which was held in the Cairo High School cafeteria. The summit was jointly sponsored by the Cairo Public Schools, United Front of Cairo, The Communiversity, Christian Hope Church, Chicago. Although the gathering was small, all segments of the targeted community were represented. Emphasis was placed on "PACTS" as the key to a successful educational system. "PACTS" is an acronym for "Parents, Administrators, Community, Teachers & Students". The refreshing thing from our perspective…teachers were NOT the target for blame…we were NOT branded the enemy as is so often the case. It was readily recognized that teachers cannot hope to succeed without the active participation and support of the other four groups.

Organizers of the summit hope to enhance--NOT replace--the District's current commitment to restructuring through the adoption of the Modern Red School House model. They hope to bring additional resources--including financial assistance--to Cairo School District Number One. Look for the announcement of the next summit…and attend!