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Negotiations continued today between CTU, Board of Ed following Thursday’s march of thousands through Loop

by ctu communications  |  February 05, 2016

CHICAGO—More than 3,000 Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) rank-and-file members, parents, students, public education supporters, union allies and community organizations representing all backgrounds braved freezing winter temperatures last night in marching throughout the Loop in support of the Union’s efforts in securing a fair contract for the city and schools Chicago’s students deserve. In an act of civil disobedience, 16 CTU members (pictured) staged a sit-in in the Bank of America (BOA) branch at 135 S. LaSalle, and were subsequently arrested and detained by Chicago police.

The arrestees demanded that Chicago BOA President Paul Lambert begin negotiations with the Union and the district for the return of the toxic swap termination money paid out to CPS. All 16 arrestees were released last night shortly before midnight. 

“Rahm has money for the banks but not for our students,” said teacher Sarah Chambers, one of the arrestees. “When it’s reached a point where teachers are occupying banks to make their voices heard, it shows that we need an elected school board.” 

The march came two days after Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Forrest Claypool declared war on public school educators by threatening $100 million in classroom cuts—roughly 1,000 layoffs—and just one day after the CTU withdrew nearly $1 million from Bank of America. The CTU closed its BOA savings account in protest of that bank and other financial institutions that sold CPS toxic interest rate swaps, and are demanding a payout of at least $228 million—almost the exact same amount as cuts enacted by the Chicago Board of Education to schools and special education.

Fact finding continued today between the CTU and the Board of Ed, and the CTU continues its series of non-violent direct actions with a canvass this afternoon from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the 95th Street Red Line station in conjunction with SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana and Amalgamated Transit Union locals 241 and 308.

ILLUSTRATION: Bank of America 16

Why the CTU still doesn’t have a contract.

by phil cantor  |  February 04, 2016

Two days ago I posed the question, “Does CPS have a contract?” The answer is clearly a strong “NO.” The Chicago Teachers Union 40 person Big Bargaining Team unanimously rejected the tentative agreement that CPS had proposed.

The CPS offer basically froze compensation for most teachers for four years. I was OK with that… even though CPS has taken about $2 Billion from teachers in the past five years. I like the idea of getting rid of the pension pick-up, but don’t want teachers to suffer 7% pay cuts to achieve it. Some teachers would have come out with a tiny increase over 4 years, other teachers – longer serving teachers-  would have had to take a significant pay cut.

CPS’s offer also included a requirement – added at the last minute – that over 2000 CTU members take early retirement with the provision that if that number didn’t leave the profession the contract would be re-opened. In other words… the whole thing would be scrapped. To me this seems like a poison pill. How could CTU agree to a contract that forced a 10% reduction in teachers and school staff? How could CTU agree to a contract which had a self-destruct clause in it? 

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CTU has triple the public support of Emanuel

by Chicago Tribune  |  February 04, 2016

Read this article at the Chicago Tribune.

By Bill Ruthhart and Juan Perez Jr.

Three times as many Chicagoans side with the teachers union as with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on how to improve public schools at a time when the two sides remain locked in contentious contract negotiations, a Chicago Tribune poll has found.

The survey also found that Emanuel's approval rating on education has fallen to a record low as the mayor and Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool are slashing budgets and cutting jobs in the face of the latest massive budget shortfall. Voters' displeasure with the mayor's handling of education tracks with the similarly low marks they gave Emanuel on his overall job performance and handling of crime.

As CPS has faced surging pension costs and a plummeting credit rating — the district borrowed $725 million Wednesday at an extraordinarily high interest rate to stay afloat this year — Emanuel has sought budget relief from the state. Those efforts, however, have been caught up in the Springfield stalemate. And now Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling for a state takeover of CPS and suggesting the district file for bankruptcy.

Amid all that, Emanuel offered a new contract that would have provided teachers with modest raises while requiring them to pay more toward their health care and pensions. A union bargaining team unanimously rejected it.

The poll found that 60 percent of Chicagoans said they side with the Chicago Teachers Union over improving schools while 20 percent backed Emanuel. Another 12 percent sided with neither, while 7 percent had no opinion.

Read the rest of this article at the Chicago Tribune.

CPS -- A Petulant Child That Feigns Never Having Heard "No" Before

by dave stieber  |  February 04, 2016

When two sides enter into a negotiation, it is expected for the two sides to go back and forth on various points and details. One side will submit a proposal and the other side will reflect on the offer and then come back to the table to discuss what they like or do not like about the proposal.

Our teacher's contract expired July 1st 2015 and it took until January 28th 2016 for CPS to make their 1st "serious offer" regarding our contract. The teachers that make up the bargaining team of the Chicago Teachers Union had been making proposals for months about how to help our schools, our students, and our teachers, while CPS had been unreceptive and/or unwilling to negotiate in good faith. But now almost 6 months after our contract has expired CPS submits one proposal and we are all of a sudden expected to take it, like it was the greatest gift ever presented to teachers?!

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Buses for Thursday rally

by CTU Communications  |  February 03, 2016

Buses from across the city will pick up participants for the

Rally Against Layoffs & Cuts
4:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 4
Bank of America
135 S. LaSalle
Facebook Page

Members and allies can take these buses at the locations & times indicated. As you know, due to the longer school day bus schedules prohibit early pick-up. Tomorrow’s rally will begin to gather at 4:30 pm and the march won’t begin until at the earliest 5:15 pm.

Encourage members to wear red and bring signs.

87th & Dan Ryan (Jewel Parking lot) 4:45 pm pick up  
Morgan Park HS 1744 W. Pryor Av. 4:45 pm pick up  
Hitch ES, school door #2 5625 N. McVicker 3:45 pm pick up Contact: Shane
Dulles School of Excellence 6311 S. Calumet 4:30 pm pick-up Contact: Ernestine
Lindblom HS 6130 S. Wolcott 4:30 pm pick up Contact:Ed
Westinghouse HS 3223 W Franklin 4:45 pm pick up  
King HS 4445 S. Drexel 4:45 pm pick up  
Kelly HS 4136 S. California 4:45 pm pickup  
Lane Tech HS 2501 W. Addison 4:30 pm pick up  

Commentary: Why I teach — and why I fight for my CPS students

by erika wozniak  |  February 03, 2016

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be only one thing when I grew up — a teacher. When my older brother, John, walked down the street to school, I would walk with him and "practice" going to school. I couldn't wait until it was my turn to go, so my mom would let me put on my backpack and we would walk down our street to John's school.

My dad was a teacher for 38 years. He taught adult education for the latter part of his career. He taught night classes, and sometimes I would get lucky and be able to go to work with him and hang out with his secretary. She would let me help out, and I would get to witness my dad changing lives as he helped numerous adults get their high school diplomas and GEDs.

Growing up in East Grand Rapids, Mich., I went to excellent public schools. I had art, music, library and P.E. I could choose from several foreign languages to take, and there were so many sports and extracurricular options that nearly every student's interest was represented somewhere in our school. We had nurses, counselors and social workers. Our teachers had 10 years or more of teaching experience. My own school experience not only prepared me for college but it also left a lasting impression and notion of what a school experience should look like.

I moved to Chicago in 2000 with one goal in mind, to teach, and with that I would change the world, just like my dad. I spent four years studying the science of teaching at DePaul University's College of Education. I finally began my career with Chicago Public Schools in 2004.

I am in love with my job. I love getting up in the morning and going to work. I love being at school. I love my students, past and present. I love my colleagues. I love having the amazing honor of being a teacher, my dream job since I was 3. That will never change.

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CTU rejects CPS' latest contract offer

by ctu communications  |  February 01, 2016

CHICAGO – After much deliberation, the Chicago Teachers Union has rejected the Board of Education’s most recent contract proposal because it does not address the difficult conditions in the schools, the lack of services to our neediest students or address the long-term fiscal crisis that threatens to gut public education in the city. Moreover, educators do not believe the Board will honor its promises because it has lacked the will to join with parents, students, community and others in identifying existing revenue solutions that can stabilize the district.

“Chicago Public Schools (CPS) challenges are a revenue-based problem because two of the three biggest cost drivers are things that have to be paid: pensions and debt service (which includes the swap termination payments),” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “The third biggest cost driver is charter school proliferation—and though they’ve promised to halt charter expansion there is a state commission that can override their decision. There are no guarantees.” 

Lewis said CTU members have given more than $2 billion back to the district over the last five years, including $500 million from the 4 percent raise that was rescinded in 2011; $500 million from layoffs over this period, including from the school closings; and $1.2 billion from the three- year partial pension holiday between 2011 to 2013. 

“Simply signing a contract with CPS will not bring them a windfall of resources from the state,” Lewis said. “We have to exhaust every option available, which includes terminating those swap deals, returning the TIFs to the schools and a financial transaction tax that could bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the city. Without some real movement on the revenue problems, we can’t trust that they will honor any words offered in a four-year contract deal.”

It should be noted that the CPS bond sale went south last week because investors are skittish about the real financial challenges the district faces. The downgrades came after investors' concerns about the city’s inability to raise revenue. Also, the district is using short-term credit lines to manage cash flow because its cash flow is so limited. The money from property taxes is already spent - those short-term lines have to be repaid. 

“CPS has been living on borrowing for too long,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “Now to turn around and blame teachers and staff for that debt while letting bankers off the hook is not acceptable. We think bankruptcy is a bluff, but if it isn’t, the mayor and his handpicked school board need to examine our commitments to progressive revenue.”

CPS’ uses this math to plug its budget hole:

  • $200 million from the state for pensions
  • $150 million from the state in a school aid formula change
  • $170 million from a new local property tax levy for pensions
  • $150 to $175 million from eliminating the teacher’s pension pickup and from increased healthcare costs.

“That's about $700 million of the claimed $800 million deficit,” said Sharkey. “They want us to foot two chunks of that through property tax increases and classrooms cuts. We need a big fix to school funding at the state level through progressive taxes on wealthy people. The Board cannot continue to balance its budget on teachers and students by cutting our compensation and eliminating vital education services such as special education.”

Remember Who You’re Working For

by MADDIE ANDERSON - South Side Weekly  |  January 29, 2016

Last Thursday evening at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago, a panel of six Chicago Public Schools students provided perspectives on Chicago’s education crisis before an audience of over fifty captivated educators, students and parents. Opening the event, the choir from Lindblom Math and Science Academy performed “When We Gonna Change,” a moving original composition with lyrics that reflected on how Chicago’s leaders seem to make decisions regarding schools without taking student opinions into consideration.

Following their performance, moderator Becky Vevea, an education reporter for WBEZ, introduced the panel of CPS seniors from schools across the city. The panelists came from Whitney Young High School on the Near West Side, Wendell Phillips Academy in Bronzeville, Rauner College Prep in West Town, Amundsen High School in Ravenswood, Foreman High School in Belmont-Cragin, and Jones College Prep in downtown Chicago.

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Contract Update: Board of Ed makes a serious offer

by karen lewis - ctu president  |  January 28, 2016

After a period of intense and difficult bargaining, the Chicago Teachers Union has received a serious offer from CPS. The CTU requires that any Tentative Agreements be made by its Big Bargaining Team—a 40-member committee of teachers, PSRPs and clinicians—which will convene, deliberate and vote on Monday. While the Union will not release details of the offer without Big Bargaining Team approval, the basic framework calls for economic concessions in exchange for enforceable protections of education quality and job security. If the Union is able to reach a Tentative Agreement, delegates will be apprised of details shortly.

A New Lawsuit Challenges The Legality Of 'No Excuse' Charter Schools

by Jeff Bryant - The Progressive  |  January 28, 2016

How should public schools and classroom teachers address a student population increasingly traumatized by the effects of chronic poverty?

A majority of children attending the nation’s public schools now come from low-income families, according to a study released a year ago by The Southern Education Foundation. And there are more homeless students in American schools than ever before.

We’ve long recognized the impact of poverty on the future wellbeing of children. Students who come to school hungry have more difficulties focusing on schoolwork. Students who grow up without books in the home, or without computers or Internet access at home are at a severe disadvantage in school. Students who don’t have stable home lives or lack clothing or medical care are more apt to have behavioral problems.

What are schools to do? This question is urgent at a time when budget cuts have decimated student health services traditionally provided by social workers, counselors, nurses, and other support staff.

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Chicago Teachers Union