My name is Tamica Berry. I am currently a special education teacher at Oscar DePriest Elementary School. I have spent my entire 29 year career as a special education teacher serving students with special needs. I served as delegate in one school for 15 years, leading teachers and schools in several strikes, walk-ins, informational pickets, and parent communication. I am a product of Chicago Public Schools, always advocating for myself and others as a student. As a teacher, I am a strong advocate for my students and have always fought to keep their learning experiences specific to their individual needs. It was a natural move for me to go into fighting for my coworkers. As I assessed that our school had a hostile environment, I began to speak out, challenging things that were unfair for teachers and staff.
Seeing my advocacy for my students, others encouraged me to become more involved in CTU. I became an associate delegate. As a result of my curiosity, constant query and outspoken manner, I was elected delegate and served in that position for 15 years, never losing a grievance. Throughout my tenure, I was able to encourage teachers to know their rights, ask questions and to get involved in CTU. This resulted in teachers becoming more active, outspoken, unafraid to question administration, and organized. This collective strength made the workplace to a better, more positive space.
In 2018, I transferred to another school and was asked to serve as a District Organizer. In that role, I stayed in regular communication with and helped 18 delegates organize their schools and teaching them how to work with their parents and communities, building relationships along the way. Meanwhile, the members at my school elected me to the position of delegate. I lead the teachers in creating and working on the PPCs, PPLCs and also encouraged teachers to get involved in the LSCs.
As we lose many students of color each year, we must fight against the racial and economic injustices that have caused this mass exodus from Chicago. We must fight for proper school funding and affordable housing and against widespread gentrification of black and brown neighborhoods in Chicago. We must fight for affordable housing for our students in their own gentrified communities. I have worked and fought in low income communities my entire career and am highly qualified to fight as a member of the executive board of the Chicago Teachers Union.
As Area Vice President, I will continue the work of collaborating with district organizers in my area. I will lead and support district organizers, passing along my knowledge of organizing and helping schools and delegates work for their teachers and students, making our working conditions better learning conditions. I will teach district organizers how to go outside the walls of their building and to get involved in their communities, building relationships. I will sit on the Executive Board, representing the voices of these teachers, delegates, district organizers and their communities’ needs, such as their building conditions, racial equality, affordable housing, and economic equality.