Some of the key issues in the dispute Chicago were teacher evaluations, job security for teachers in light of potential school closures, and salary and benefits, according to the Associated Press.
Other issues included the length of the school day, professional development requirements, the ability for teachers to file grievances, class sizes, and fine arts staffing.
Brock Gregg, governmental relations director for the Associate of Texas Professional Educators, said Texas is dealing with some of these issues as well, but in a very different way.
The ATPE is part of the Texas Teaching Commission, a group of people looking at all aspects of the profession including entrance into it, salary structure, evaluation systems and more, Gregg said.
The yearlong project will culminate with a set of policy recommendations for the Texas Legislatures, analysis and recommendations for the administrative code and information about promising practices for superintendents and school boards, according to a commission webpage.
Gregg said as far as his organization is concerned, too much emphasis is placed on standardized testing already and Texas' current testing system is not an effective tool to evaluate teacher performance.
“You would then be basing a teacher's livelihood, often times, on something that is entirely out of their control …” he said, “one test, one day — that is a student's responsibility.”
He said factors such as the income level of a student's family, their English-speaking ability and their attendance rate contribute greatly to their performance level and teachers have little control over any of those.
Dr. Ross Sherman, interim dean for the College of Education and Psychology at The University of Texas at Tyler, said the idea of incorporating student performance on standardized tests into a teacher's evaluation poses many problems.
Sherman, who is also chairman of the Department of Education Leadership and Policy Studies, said students do not typically enter a grade on the same level nor do they progress at the same pace. In order to truly measure student performance a school should do a pre- and post-test for the year, he said.
Neither Sherman nor Gregg sees the Chicago teachers strike as having a significant effect in Texas. Sherman said it could have greater implications in other big cities where there are unions.
Gregg said what will have larger impact is what the federal government does about the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was scheduled to be reauthorized in 2009 but hasn't been.
“What's happening with that law because it's completely unrealistic … is more and more schools are being labeled as failures across the nation,” he said.
Because of that law, the federal government is involved in what happens at the local school level, and that is inappropriate, he said.
Gregg said it is important for classroom teachers to have a significant voice in policy that affects students, and that is accomplished all over Texas without collective bargaining or strikes.
“We do believe that there are better ways to resolve disputes in public education than strikes,” he said. “We would much prefer to see local community working to reach their goals. We don't believe unions should control schools just like we don't believe corporations should control schools.”