Email Print

From PSRP to Certified Teacher with GYO

by CTU Communications  |  May 25, 2017

Grow Your Own for PSRPs

Learn More

Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

Do you have a passion for
your community and social justice?

GYO might be for you!

GYO helps community members like you—individuals committed to education, justice and young people—become teachers. GYO provides tuition assistance, tutoring and test preparation. With GYO’s assistance, you will complete a traditional college degree and become a certified teacher. In return for the supports and assistance provided by GYO, graduates are required to teach at least five years in a high needs school.

To be eligible you must have:

  • A GED or high school diploma
  • A desire and commitment to teach in a high needs school for at least 5 years
  • Demonstrated commitment to your community
  • At least an 18 on the ACT

GYO will be accepting applications for new teacher candidates to begin the program Fall 2017. The application materials and instructions are available now at

The application deadline is July 1 and the process requires references and other documentation that may take some time to collect. So don’t delay, start the process A.S.A.P.!

After you have reviewed the application, you can email GYO Executive Director Kate VanWinkle with any remaining questions. Please do not email her until you have first reviewed the application process.

Apply Now!

Chicago Teachers Union Grow Your Own Teachers Chicago Teachers Union Foundation

Charter teachers reach tentative agreement with Passages, narrowly averting first charter strike in U.S. history

by passages council  |  May 25, 2017

CHICAGO, May 25, 2017: Union educators at Passages Charter School signed off on a tentative agreement Wednesday night for their first contract since unionizing a year ago -- narrowly averting what would have been the first strike of a charter operator in U.S. history.
“Had we not unionized, we could never have gotten to this tentative agreement tonight -- and taken such strong steps to begin to improve classroom conditions and win fair pay for our members,” said Gina Mengarelli, a member of Passages’ ChiACTS bargaining team. “We’re so grateful for the overwhelming support we have received over the course of the past year from our students’ families, the community, and the labor movement. There is nothing more important to us than our students, and we’re glad that we have been able to make progress on improving our school in ways that will produce tangible benefits for our students. We look forward to working with AHS to make sure that the school is able to provide the best education possible to the children and families we serve. And we look forward to being in class with our students on Thursday!”
Passages’ union educators -- who work longer days for less pay than the vast majority of educators at Chicago’s other charter schools -- won major concessions from management, including in wages for teachers, a third of whom currently earn less than $40,000 for a work week that can top 60 hours.
Based on salaries at the end of 2016, and for the life of the three-year contract, salaries for union educators will go up an average of 21.5% and a median of 19%, with the lowest-paid educators -- some of whom earn less than $25,000 per year -- looking at increases of over 40%
The tentative agreement also makes major strides in critical non-economic issues, including increasing teacher voice in decisions that affect students, providing safe and healthy working and learning conditions, and putting in place a fair and collaborative teacher evaluation system. Class size limits are held to 28 students, and the agreement includes language that provides for more meaningful prep time for teachers.
In the coming days, the union’s bargaining team will be presenting the tentative agreement to its membership, with discussion and a vote on ratification to follow in the coming weeks.
Key sticking points before Wednesday night’s marathon bargaining session included management’s persistent opposition to greater financial transparency, insufficient resources to support classrooms, and wage proposals that consistently failed to address rock-bottom wages for teachers and other front-line workers -- including management’s proposal to tie modest wage increases to layoffs of  more than 10% of union staff. Among management’s proposed layoffs: the school’s only counselor, whose portfolio ranges from emotional support for students to helping young people apply for high school.
“These brave teachers have fought for and now won a contract that will make critical improvements in their school,” said Chris Baehrend, president of the Passages’ educators’ union, ChiACTS Local 4343. “These teachers have also built power for charter teachers nationwide, teaching by example, that when teachers exercise their collective power as a union, they can do even more for their students. This is a strong contract -- and a strong contract makes a school better, which helps students attain the brighter futures that we know they are capable of.”
This was the third strike authorization of ChiACTS members in the last seven months. “Our educators at charter schools are servants of the public and their students, not the private businesses that cut our paychecks -- and too often cut our budgets -- while maintaining high management salaries,” said Baehrend. “Unions are the solution to the problem of our tax dollars being privatized by management companies, while our students’ educational needs get a lower priority. That’s why unions will continue to grow and assert their voices in charter schools. Our union is the democratic voice for our teachers and, as our teachers’ voice, in daily cooperation with students and parents, speaks for our schools.”
Passages was one of the first charter schools created in Chicago, and today serves just under 500 students—including a large population of immigrant and refugee students of Asian and African heritage. The school’s 46 union educators — teachers, teachers assistants and paraprofessionals — were certified last April as members of ChiACTS Local 4343, which represents 32 charter schools in Chicago. The school’s educators began negotiating for a new contract in May of 2016.

Fall 2017 Administrative Transfer Deadline Extended

by CTU Communications  |  May 24, 2017

The Chicago Public Schools has extended the deadline for individuals to transfer to another school without principal approval. CTU members can accept a new position up until June 20, 2017.

Teachers to announce strike date at one of Chicago’s oldest charter schools

by Passages Council  |  May 18, 2017

Union educators at Passages Charter School will rally before their next bargaining session on Friday -- and announce a strike date. The announcement will come at a 4:00 PM rally at Passages Charter School, 1643 W. Bryn Mawr on Chicago’s north side.

The strike would be the first in the nation at a charter school. Teachers voted unanimously to strike on May 4, after a year of bargaining with management has failed to produce a fair contract.


Passages was one of the first charter schools created in Chicago, and today serves just under 500 students -- including a large population of immigrant and refugee students of Asian and African heritage. Passages 46 union teachers, teaching assistants and paraprofessionals were certified last April as members of ChiACTS Local 4343, which represents educators at 32 Chicago charter schools. The school’s educators have been negotiating for a new contract since last May.

The most recently available tax documents show that the current and former former CEOs of AHS -- Asian Human Services, the agency that runs Passages -- together earned $540,000 -- more than twice that of Forrest Claypool, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools and its 400,000 students. The combined current salaries for Passages’ 46 bargaining unit members is $1.7 million.

AHS spends a greater percentage of the Passages budget on management costs and a lower percentage on direct student and personnel costs than every other single- site charter in the city except one. The average single-site charter spends a quarter on management and overhead for every dollar they spend on school staff and students, whereas Passages spends fifty cents for every dollar.

Passages is also an outlier when it comes to teacher salaries, with teachers earning 20% less than teachers at other Chicago charters. Management has also proposed eliminating paid maternity and paternity leave -- at a workplace where the vast majority of employees are women. In addition, management has cut classes that include music and Spanish -- which, along with Urdu, is the language most commonly spoken by immigrant students -- and failed to fulfill promises to create recreational programs like basketball for students.

Besides asking for more fair compensation, teachers are calling for greater fiscal oversight at the school -- including improvements in the percentage of dollars that management spends on students instead of on its own compensation.

Passages has no income outside of what it collects from CPS, and union members charge that the disparity in salaries for Passages educators and those at other charters is driven by AHS mismanagement of funds and the fact that AHS simply does not contribute enough to the school’s budget from its own funds. Chicago’s other single-site charters typically provide 5-10% of their financial resources from private fundraising revenue -- a practice touted in the early days of the CPS push for charters as a way to harness private dollars to support publicly funded education. Passages raises zero dollars from private fundraising revenue. 

MemberLink Portal

by CTU Communications  |  May 17, 2017

Delegates who want to report their vote tallies can find the MemberLink Portal here.

11 ways Chicago is the beating heart of the disastrous charter school agenda

by Steven Rosenfeld - Alternet  |  May 15, 2017

Chicago’s public school system has become a showcase for the negative effects of K-12 privatization, according to a new report that tracks how the city replaced struggling local schools with dozens of charters that didn’t perform better, yet deprived traditional schools of funds, students and public accountability.

The report, “Closed by Choice: The Spatial Relationship between Charter School Expansion, School Closures and Fiscal Stress in Chicago Public Schools,” tracks 108 charter schools that opened between 2000 and 2015, a period when Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was shutting struggling schools, cutting district funding and reducing staff. It details and confirms what many charter critics have long said, that lobbying from pro-privatization forces swayed the city’ political leaders to impose top-down reforms that riled neighborhoods, undermined traditional K-12 schools, increased segregation and did not lead to schools with better academic results.

Perhaps most insidiously, the report describes in great detail how the CPS system aggressively shut down struggling schools in neighborhoods where student numbers were dwindling, while allowing better-funded charters to open up nearby, taking a greater share of taxpayer funds that might have been used to rescue struggling schools. The report was written by Roosevelt University’s associate professor of sociology Stephanie Farmer, Loyola University PhD candidate Ashley Baber and University of Illinois PhD candidate Chris Poulos.

“CPS’ approach to saturating neighborhoods with declining school-age population with new charter schools is stripping all middle- class, working-class and lower-income children, families, and communities of education security, where schools are rendered insecure by budgetary cuts, deprivation, or closure,” the report’s conclusion begins. “Education insecurity is the product of the school reform agenda focused on cannibalizing the neighborhood public schools in order to convert CPS into a privatized ‘choice’ school system.”

Please click here to continue reading at

Claypool No Confidence Vote

by CTU Communications  |  May 12, 2017

This week, 25,000 CTU members took a NO CONFIDENCE referendum on CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. Join us May 23 to rally, present vote results and explain the vote to the public.

  • Demand Rahm find revenue to stop devastating school cuts.
  • Help show the public Claypool and Rahm’s FAILURE to advocate for our schools or students and their REFUSAL to take needed actions to properly fund and protect CPS.
  • Add to the public pressure the mayor is feeling to avoid year-end cuts by using his access to TIF funds, ending corporate tax breaks and taking other progressive revenue actions available to him.

We demand that Mayor Rahm Emanuel immediately declare a surplus of ALL Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds and reinstate the Corporate Head Tax, directing this revenue to the Chicago Public Schools. We also demand that Rahm fire Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool for his poor stewardship of the school district.

We declare a vote of No Confidence in Claypool for:

  • Maintaining a separate and unequal school district by underfunding Black and Latino schools
  • Destroying Special Education services
  • Targeting and firing experienced teachers
  • Targeting union activists for firing and discipline
  • Aiming to eliminate hundreds of School Clerk positions
  • Refusing to use local revenue sources to help our schools
  • Breaking our Contract and giving educators 4 furlough days


If the event information does not appear, click here to open the event in another window.

Two Schools: Putting A Face On Inequity

by dusty rhodes + NPR illinois  |  May 11, 2017

Too often, when I report on the school funding debate that has been going on in our state capitol for the past several years, I get bogged down in numbers — school district numbers, dollar amounts, bill and amendment numbers assigned to various reform plans, vote numbers tallying up support for each one.

This story, however, is about school funding without numbers.

Instead, we’ll hear from four students who recently visited the statehouse.

Jacob Imber and Mackenzie Fleming are both juniors at New Trier High School in Winnetka. Instead of describing it myself, I asked them to explain what it’s known for.

“I would say New Trier is known for the amount of wealth that goes into that school, as well as kind of the alumni that come out of it,” Mackenzie says.

“I think New Trier is also known for having a really extensive extracurricular program, and the arts are really well-funded,” Jacob says.

Jose Florentino and Yaritza Perez attend Kelvyn Park High School on Chicago’s northwest side. Again, I asked the students to describe their own school.

“I believe that Kelvyn Park is known as like a community school,” Jose says, “where people are, like, trying to pass their classes. They’re trying to do their best. And they wish to join, like, a lot of clubs and sports, but we don’t really have the privileges to have them.”

Please click here to continue reading at NPR Illinois

I appreciate you.

by karen lewis - ctu president  |  May 08, 2017

I want to thank you for your tremendous commitment and dedication to the students and families served by Chicago Public Schools. In a year where virtually everything has been turned upside down, you have stood your ground and remained a constant force in your students' lives. So let’s make no mistake about it—despite the names you see in papers and hear on the news, you are the real leaders of our district and defenders of public education in Chicago.  

After a long contract campaign, we hoped for some stability for our schools, but you then had to endure furlough days, unconscionable mid-year budget cuts and threats to end the year early. In spite of it all, you never wavered in the effort you put forth for your students and your union, and for that, I am grateful. While none of us expected teaching to be easy, those of us in CPS had to become especially adept at mastering endurance and perseverance—both inside and outside of the classroom. From launching GoFundMe pages to help pay for classroom expenses, to joining thousands in the fight for true sanctuary schools in Chicago, you are protecting your classrooms and students in ways that few people outside of our profession can imagine.  

This week, we are launching a campaign to recognize some of our union’s most ardent fighters for teacher and student rights who have been targeted by CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and his administration. Please consider taking the time to post in social media and lift up these brave educators for their work. This is, in part, also why our House of Delegates decided last week to run a “no confidence” vote for Claypool this month. We will reveal the results of that referendum in the upcoming weeks, and I hope your school can send a contingent to join us in delivering that message.

Please tweet at #ThankATeacher and email us at this week to share stories of how you go above and beyond for the schools that your students and their families and communities deserve. And on behalf of my fellow CTU officers, happy Teacher Appreciation Week, and we thank you this week and every week for all that you do.

In solidarity,
Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT
President, Chicago Teachers Union

ILLUSTRATION: Support our Teachers

Our members in classrooms; our district in courtrooms

by Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers Union President  |  April 28, 2017

The events that will unfold today in two separate Chicago courtrooms are the result of the turmoil and financial irresponsibility that has defined our mayoral controlled school district for the past six years. First, former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett will be sentenced to federal prison for her role in defrauding Chicago Public Schools by soliciting and agreeing to accept bribes and kickbacks from her involvement with SUPES Academy, a third-party contractor to which she steered a $20 million no-bid contract as the head of CPS.

Shortly thereafter, a Cook County Circuit Court judge will issue a ruling in a suit filed by the Chicago Board of Education against Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois State Board of Education over unfair funding for education in Illinois. It’s a legal challenge that has cost taxpayers both time and money, and ironically, finds its basis in the same racially discriminatory practices that have been a hallmark of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration and its policies regarding Chicago’s public schools.

For more than 24,000 Chicago public school teachers, clinicians, and paraprofessionals, however, today will be business as usual as they work tirelessly, as they do every day, to provide true sanctuary and the schools that Chicago’s students deserve. These are Chicagoans, heads of single-parent families, minority women of color and parents of CPS students themselves who have been battered by incessant cuts and indignities over the past several years—from privatized custodial services that have led to dirtier schools, to the loss of librarians and special education teachers, to the last two years of furloughs. Their jobs are challenging enough without the embarrassment of a SUPES scandal, or infantile bickering among elected and appointed leaders.

Underlying these indignities is a long-term crisis that has severely impacted school funding—our schools are simply not supported by an adequate, sustainable, progressive source of revenue. As a result, each year our members are forced to endure more cuts, and are doubly impacted as both residents and taxpayers of the city of Chicago. So no matter the outcome today in the war of the roses with Rahm and his handpicked Chicago Board of Education on one side, and Rauner and his handpicked Illinois state board on the other, unless hundreds of millions of dollars in much-needed funding accompanies the judge’s ruling, we will still face the threat of budget cuts and mass layoffs in our schools.  

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has spoken of the budget cuts he and the mayor imposed in February as “tough choices,” yet these cuts came after their foolish choice of trusting a governor who has shown no desire to invest in nearly 400,000 children—the overwhelming majority of whom are Black and Latino. Tough choices would be taxing those who can most afford it, or exhausting all avenues to secure school funding, and not balancing budgets on the backs of educators, students and their families.

The Chicago Teachers Union is part of a vital group of institutions in the city that unfailingly argues for progressive revenue to fund our schools, and despite the political landscape, we have had remarkable success winning resources and legislation for our classrooms and students. But there is much work left to do. At our Union’s last House of Delegates meeting, I told a group of reporters that nothing is off the table should the district continue its plans to end the school year on June 1. And I meant that. Our goal is for CTU members and their students to finish the year strong and enjoy the summer break they have earned.

After the courtrooms clear today, our members will return to work Monday morning, rallying before and after classes in recognition of May Day, in their positions as the real leaders of Chicago’s public schools. They understand better than most that we are in a difficult climate, but they remain committed to their students and classrooms just as our union is committed to advocating for our schools, defending our profession and demanding fair funding for public education.

Chicago Teachers Union