CTU statement given by President Karen Lewis
“Negotiations have been intense but productive, however we have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike. This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could avoid. Throughout these negotiations have I remained hopeful but determined. We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.
“Talks have been productive in many areas. We have successfully won concessions for nursing mothers and have put more than 500 of our members back to work. We have restored some of the art, music, world language, technology and physical education classes to many of our students. The Board also agreed that we will now have textbooks on the first day of school rather than have our students and teachers wait up to six weeks before receiving instructional materials.
“Recognizing the Board’s fiscal woes, we are not far apart on compensation. However, we are apart on benefits. We want to maintain the existing health benefits.
“Another concern is evaluation procedures. After the initial phase-in of the new evaluation system it could result in 6,000 teachers (or nearly 30 percent of our members) being discharged within one or two years. This is unacceptable. We are also concerned that too much of the new evaluations will be based on students’ standardized test scores. This is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator. Further there are too many factors beyond our control which impact how well some students perform on standardized tests such as poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control.
“We want job security. Despite a new curriculum and new, stringent evaluation system, CPS proposes no increase (or even decreases) in teacher training. This is notable because our Union through our Quest Center is at the forefront of teacher professional development in Illinois. We have been lauded by the District and our colleagues across the country for our extensive teacher training programs that helped emerging teachers strengthen their craft and increased the number of nationally board certified educators.
“We are demanding a reasonable timetable for the installation of air-conditioning in student classrooms–a sweltering, 98-degree classroom is not a productive learning environment for children. This type of environment is unacceptable for our members and all school personnel. A lack of climate control is unacceptable to our parents.
“As we continue to bargain in good faith, we stand in solidarity with parents, clergy and community-based organizations who are advocating for smaller class sizes, a better school day and an elected school board. Class size matters. It matters to parents. In the third largest school district in Illinois there are only 350 social workers—putting their caseloads at nearly 1,000 students each. We join them in their call for more social workers, counselors, audio/visual and hearing technicians and school nurses. Our children are exposed to unprecedented levels of neighborhood violence and other social issues, so the fight for wraparound services is critically important to all of us. Our members will continue to support this ground swell of parent activism and grassroots engagement on these issues. And we hope the Board will not shut these voices out.
“While new Illinois law prohibits us from striking over the recall of laid-off teachers and compensation for a longer school year, we do not intend to sign an agreement until these matters are addressed.
“Again, we are committed to staying at the table until a contract is place. However, in the morning no CTU member will be inside our schools. We will walk the picket lines. We will talk to parents. We will talk to clergy. We will talk to the community. We will talk to anyone who will listen—we demand a fair contract today, we demand a fair contract now. And, until there is one in place that our members accept, we will be on the line.
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the state and country who are currently bargaining for their own fair contracts. We stand with those who have already declared they too are prepared to strike, in the best interests of their students.”
“This announcement is made now so our parents and community are empowered with this knowledge and will know that schools will not open on tomorrow. Please seek alternative care for your children. And, we ask all of you to join us in our education justice fight—for a fair contract—and call on the mayor and CEO Brizard to settle this matter now. Thank you.”
The union is not on strike over matters governed exclusively by IELRA Section 4.5 and 12(b).
Art Teachers Redefined is an art exhibition organized by art teachers “honorably dismissed” by the 2010 Chicago Board of Education policy that gave CEO Ron Huberman and local principals unlimited power to fire teachers without due process. The teachers were forcibly unable to work, losing benefits, pensions, and the respect of their communities. Hosted by Chicago Temple Fine Arts Committee, the exhibit will be housed in the second floor gallery of First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington — from May 15 through June 26, 2011. The opening reception for the art exhibition will be held in the gallery on Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm. The art exhibition is free and open to the public during the following times: Monday through Friday 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday 9 am to 3 pm. Click here to see the show’s flyer: ATR_Flyer-May2011.
The Chicago Teachers Union originally hosted the art teachers’ show in February. “We are excited and extremely grateful to the First United Methodist Church for hosting us in their new gallery space”, explains show organizer Cezar Simeon, “The show’s artists have created new works specifically for the Chicago Temple show.” The exhibition features the works of Sunny Neater-DuBow and Lourdes S. Guerrero, whose dismissals were reported in the Chicago Reader “Filed Away” article (9/23/10). Other art teachers are Katrina Barge, Gina Baruch, Chris Busse, Carmela Rago and Daniela Veljkovic.
The exhibit conveys the artists’ anxiety and frustration toward a system that has forgotten its educational mission. But they also hope the show serves to demonstrate that art – and they as art teachers – can proffer insight and inspiration to the educational community in the midst of conflict and crisis.
Read Valerie Strauss article in the Washington Post (04/08/2011) about the consequences of hiring the wrong people to head up the largest school district in the country. In typical form, the departing CEO blames media for highlighting her insensitive gaffes.
We Are One Rally. Chicago, Illinois. Saturday, April 9, 2011.
Thousands of Illinoisans rallied in downtown Chicago on Saturday, April 9th, to show solidarity with workers in Wisconsin and other states, to renew the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King who gave his life 43 years ago in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, and to stand up for the American middle class against political and corporate-funded attacks.
The April 9th rally included a program of speeches and entertainment in Daley Plaza (50 W Washington) at 1:00 p.m., as well as several marches of workers to the rally site (one from the Hyatt Regency at Stetson at Wacker, and another from the James R. Thompson Center at 100 W Randolph.
The demonstration at Hyatt Regency was a show of solidarity with the workers at Hyatt who have been struggling for justice for years. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) as well as union members from other Illinois Federation of Teacher (IFT) and Illinois Education Association (IEA) affiliates have joined the Hyatt workers to protest against the owners of Hyatt who have bankrolled legislation that intend to weaken teacher unions and hurt students – legislation that includes the privatization of Chicago’s public schools.
The Chicago rally will be the largest of more than a dozen such “We Are One” events held throughout Illinois. There were “We Are One” rallies in Bloomington, Carbondale, Champaign, Collinsville, Decatur, Gurnee, Kankakee, Ottawa, Peoria, Rock Island, Rockford and Springfield. They are part of the national “We Are One” campaign by the AFL-CIO and allied groups.
The week of April 4 through 9 was chosen in honor of Dr. King, who was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while in Memphis to march with sanitation workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Dr. King gave his life for the right of workers to bargain collectively for a better life and a pathway to the middle class—the same rights and freedoms that Republican Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and his counterparts in other states are trying to strip from teachers and other public- and private-sector workers.
(Source of information regarding rally: Chicago Federation of Labor’s website at www.ChicagoLabor.org. Photos: Cezar Simeon)
Here’s a link to the “Enough” video clip circulated by the organizers of the “We Are One” rally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APOzpztuzWg
On March 29th, the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the October 2010 ruling by Judge Coar in the US District Court which ordered CPS to rescind the discharge of tenured teachers, develop a recall policy, and cease from carrying out similar discharge proceduresactions in the future. The decision only affects the tenured teachers improperly terminated in the summer of 2010.
According to the ruling, CPS is required to create a recall policy that will give the terminated tenured teachers the chance to apply for upcoming vacancies — not reinstatement to their former teaching positions at their old schools. The ruling also does not require CPS to issue backpay and benefits to the teachers.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis today announced a stunning court victory that brings tremendous benefits to public school students and parents, and restores justice to teachers who were unlawfully fired by the Chicago Board of Education (BOARD).
U.S. District Judge David H. Coar today declared that the firing of tenured teachers under the Board’s June 15, 2010, resolution granting CEO Ron Huberman the power to fire teachers without regard to seniority or tenure was illegal. The judge further barred the Chicago Board of Education from “conducting future layoffs or ‘honorable discharges’ in a similarly unlawful manner.” The judge ordered the Chicago Board of Education to negotiate a set of recall rules within the next 30 days.
“Teachers unions were formed in the first place to protect mainly female teachers from retaliatory actions, political firings and crony hirings. Nothing’s changed. The need for strong unions to protect teachers, students and academic freedom, especially in Chicago, is upheld today. Through these illegal firings, the Chicago Board of Education tried to silence our tenured teachers who are the strongest advocates for students’ educational rights and the real fighters for better learning environments. Chicago Public Schools should stop slurring our teachers, suggesting that those fired somehow were less than exemplary teachers. The court appears to agree – tenure is necessary to academic freedom,” said Lewis.
CPS Budget Hearings
Teachers, students, parents and community members demonstrated their anger at open budget hearings Tuesday, Aug 18th at Lane Tech HS and Wednesday, Aug 19th at Westinghouse HS. Another hearing will take place tonight, Thursday, Aug 20th, at Corliss HS (821 W 103rd St).
From The Chicago Sun-Times:
…[A]s teachers union president, [Karen Lewis] is aiming for the top once again — right for Daley. She has her sights set on the mayor’s piggy bank of tax increment financing funds. She calls his pet education project, Renaissance 2010, “a disaster.”
“He’s had 15 years of reform…”
“All we ever hear about is how terrible the schools are. … People want to blame the teachers, but the person we should be blaming is Mayor Daley.”
Mayoral control of schools, Lewis says, is “an abomination. It’s made things worse. We’re going backwards in time. Mayoral control is a failed experiment.”