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Teachers Claim CPS ‘Harassing’ Members Over Sick Leave

by Brandis Friedman and Nicole Cardos - Chicago Tonight.   |  April 21, 2017

An email from an employer can be nerve-wrecking, as some Chicago teachers have been recently discovering.

Dozens of Chicago Teachers Union members have been contacted by the Chicago Public Schools Office of Internal Audit and Compliance to show proof of appropriate sick day usage, according to CTU Teacher Field Representative Joseph McDermott.

The CPS Policy Manual states that, depending on years of service, 10 to 12 sick days a year are granted for an “employee’s personal illness or serious illness in the immediate family or household.” Immediate family or household includes parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings, spouses, domestic partners, in-laws, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts and cousins.

The manual goes on to say a doctor’s note is required for any employee who’s absent for more than three consecutive work days.

Nora Flanagan, an English teacher at Northside College Prep High School, said she received an email from IAC last month that requested documentation to corroborate the sick day she took in February.

Please click here to continue reading at chicagotonight.wttw.com.  

DePaul University College Of Education Spring Education Issues Forum

by ctu communications  |  April 20, 2017

ILLUSTRATION: DePaul spring issues

Karen Lewis: How to avoid calamity of closing schools early

by karen lewis - ctu president  |  April 19, 2017

Chance the Rapper has recently stepped up to address the fiscal crisis in Chicago Public Schools. Unlike Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner, Chance has not made excuses, but instead, made a sincere effort to avoid the calamity of ending the 2016-2017 school year a month early on June 1.

Private philanthropy and goodwill, however, are a wholly inadequate method for providing a sustainable and fully funded school district. At this rate, we would need more than 200 Chances to emerge to fill in the gaps already imposed and planned for CPS this year.

There is incredible violence, fear and trauma throughout Chicago that students are harboring within their schools. Additionally, the mayor’s handpicked Chicago Board of Education callously cut budgets in February at low-income, predominantly Black and Latino schools at twice the rate as predominantly white schools, exacerbating an already separate and unequal school system in our city.

Whether it is the one part-time social worker serving 1,700 students at Sawyer Elementary one day a week, the 37 English as a Second Language students in a Roosevelt High School class, or the shooting deaths of CPS students such as Kanari Gentry Bowers and Diego Villada, right now is the absolutely worst moment to impose greater harm upon our most vulnerable children. But this is what Emanuel and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool are proposing.

Please click here to continue reading at chicago.suntimes.com

Resolution for the Chicago Board of Education: Sanctuary and Safe Schools for All Students

by ctu communications  |  April 18, 2017

WHEREAS, The Chicago Board of Education (CBOE) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) enthusiastically embrace its responsibilities to welcome and educate all students regardless of their race, immigration status, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation and celebrates their contribution to our diverse learning community, and will not be impeded or intimidated from exercising its responsibility; and

WHEREAS, numerous students whose education, safety, emotional well-being, and family relationships are at-risk whether it is because of their immigration status, race, sexual orientation, or religion, and will in the future be, enrolled in CPS; and

WHEREAS, the CBOE is committed to ensuring that CPS is a safe and welcoming place for all its students and their families; and

WHEREAS, federal immigration law enforcement activities and stop and frisk practices on or around District property and transportation routes, whether by surveillance, interview, demand for information, arrest, detention, or any other means, have the potential to harmfully disrupt the learning environment to which all students, regardless of immigration status, race, religion, or sexual orientation are entitled; and

WHEREAS, no federal or state law obligates a public school district to devote any resources, financial or otherwise, to the enforcement of federal immigration laws or stop and frisk policies; and

WHEREAS, educational personnel are often the primary source of support, resources, and information to assist and support students and student learning, which includes their emotional health; and

WHEREAS, the CBOE believes that it is in the best interests of the students, staff, families, and community of CPS that it takes action to ensure that disruptions to the educational environment that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions may create will be opposed by any legal means available; and

WHEREAS, the 1982 Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe established that undocumented children have a constitutional right to receive a free public K-12 education in the United States.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the Chicago Board of Education and the Chicago Public Schools, do the following:

  1. Designate CPS to be a safe haven for all students and families threatened by immigration enforcement, discrimination, and stop and frisk policies to the fullest extent permitted by law; and communicate safe haven status through correspondence, signage and other messaging to student, parent, and community members;
  2. Not release information or assist ICE and/or local law enforcement with identifying and apprehending undocumented students, parents, or their families;
  3. Require agencies it holds intergovernmental agreements with, such as the Chicago Police Department (CPD), to uphold the determinations outlined in this resolution;
  4. Not use district resources for detecting or assisting in the apprehension of persons who may be targeted in immigration enforcement, unless specifically supported by a valid and properly issued criminal warrant,
  5. Not assist or facilitate the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) access to school databases, facilities, equipment, personnel, and other resources for purposes of implementing registries based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status, or national or ethnic origin to conduct civil immigration enforcement;
  6. Reject any effort to create religious litmus tests or screenings for individuals or families to navigate the immigration process and most importantly, reject any federal or state effort to create a registry of individuals based on religion or ethnicity;
  7. Eliminate the use of the gang database by school security officers, school police or CPD officers placed at CPS, removing such database will increase protections for all students;
  8. Not assist with existing or future federal mandates to implement stop and frisk policies in and around schools that have and will continue to contribute to the growth of the school to prison pipeline for African American students; and for undocumented students a fast track to deportations;
  9. Not cooperate with ICE, DHS or other agencies charged with implementing the above policies and will not ask students or families about immigration status;
  10. Not grant ICE officers or other immigration law enforcement personnel access to CPS premises for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws, unless:
    (a)  The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is notified of the intention to enter, with adequate notice so that the CEO can take steps to provide for the emotional and physical safety of students and staff, and
    (b)  Those requesting to enter provide the CEO with credentials, the reasons for the requested entry, and written authority, provided by law, for such entry, and
    (c)  The CEO determines, upon consultation, as appropriate, with District legal counsel, that acquiescence to the requested entry is required by law.
  11. Open its doors to be a first point of safety for families under threat of deportation until arrangements are made to a longer-term sanctuary space;
  12. Provide additional and sustainable funding for food, academic, counseling, and mental health support for students and their families experiencing trauma due to violence, deportations and/or or other immigration related trauma;
  13. Require the school district to work with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Community Organizations to accurately train school personnel about the rights of undocumented students and parents, the regulations around DACA and the implications of removing those provisions, the guidelines of a sanctuary school, the rights of educators to defend their students in the face of deportation, detention or the threats thereof, implementing emergency response plans, provide training for school personnel about applicability of U and T visas for students and their family members;
  14. Mandate district/schools to have a written policy where they agree to not restrain, discourage or punish (in any way, including affecting students’ grades) students or staff from engaging in collective demonstrations through direct actions and protests as is their right protected by the U.S. Constitution;
  15. Develop protocols and emergency plans for responding to ICE raids, deportations and other forms of violence such as shootings. These plans will be created via the PPC or PPLC committees in collaboration with counselors, social workers, the principal and if possible organizations partnering with the school. Planning and training time will be mandated, supported and if necessary paid for by the district and not the individual schools budget;
  16. Not deny services due to documentation status to any student receiving services through schools like special education, ELL, or any other service funded by the city, state or federal government;
  17. Remove the request for social security number off of any forms requesting such information that may be deemed as unnecessary;
  18. Commit to not terminate employment or contracts with any staff with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), in the event that DACA is rescinded.
  19. Not ask its employees to divulge their citizenship status to their employers;
  20. Protect all students from deportation by CPD without exceptions;
  21. Reduce the police footprint in our schools and avoid the normalization of police presence by shifting resources from policing in schools to alternatives such as school counselors, paraprofessionals, restorative justice practitioners and coordinators, behavioral health services and other crucial resources to address trauma;
  22. Not assign the term nor recognize ‘illegal immigrant’ or ‘illegal alien;’
  23. Prohibit abusive or coercive language, including improper or unlawful threats of deportation, or engage in verbal abuse of any person based upon the person’s or the person’s family members’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation;
  24. Establish and implement district-wide system and language access protocols to provide linguistically appropriate and necessary informational materials or referrals to families of CPS students and appropriate community organizations who work with immigrant students and families in need of legal, health, and mental health assistance;
  25. Guarantee volunteers, students, and prospective staff going through a fingerprint and/or background check process will not have their information exposed, voluntary or involuntary, to ICE; Raise the threshold to 25 volunteer hours per week for Level I volunteer requirements

Organizations supporting the resolution:

Action Now

Arab American Action Network

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Chicago Black Lives Matter Chicago

Black Youth Project

100 Blocks Together

Brighton Park Neighborhood Council

Chicago Religious Leadership Network

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos

Chicago Teachers Union

Communities United

Organized Communities Against Deportations

Enlace Chicago

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Journey for Justice

Kenwood Oakland Community Organization

Logan Square Neighborhood Association

Northside Action 4 Justice

Parents 4 Teachers

Pilsen Alliance

Teachers for Social Justice

Two Education Appointments to Worry Over (If You Care about Civil Rights in Schools)

by Martin Levine - Nonprofit Quarterly  |  April 11, 2017

Concerns about the Trump administration’s commitment to protecting civil liberties rose this week. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that he has ordered a review of the Justice Department’s efforts to combat police racism made front-page news. Less attention was paid to two appointments to two senior positions at the U.S. Department of Education that may portend a serious change in that department’s approach to combatting discrimination in public schools.

Within the Department of Education, its Office for Civil Rights was established “to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.” During the Obama administration, an aggressive OCR leadership saw its caseload grow to more than 16,000 complaints annually. The recent nominations of Carlos Muñiz as the Education Department’s general counsel and Candice Jackson as acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights appear to be strong signs that President Trump and Secretary DeVos want to make the department’s civil rights efforts less vigorous.

Please click here to continue reading at nonprofitquarterly.org.

Apply for 2017 CTU Summer Organizing Institute

by Organizing Department  |  April 04, 2017

Take a leading role in the campaign to promote our members’ rights and fight for educational justice! CTU’s 2017 Summer Organizing Internship will provide training in organizing skills, leadership, and union and community education issues.

Interns will meet with CTU members, parents, and community leaders to fight for school funding, oppose educational cuts and closings, demand an elected school board, and engage in other struggles to improve our schools, our jobs and support our school communities. Interns will organize meetings and public events, mobilize supporters and develop grassroots leaders. Help build the movement for good schools for all, while learning skills that will help you become a school leader when you return in the fall!

  • Interns will receive a weekly stipend and reimbursement for transportation expenses.

  • Position requires strong communications skills and a passion for social justice.

  • Must be willing to travel throughout the city and have access to an automobile.

  • Minimum four week commitment.

  • Bilingual abilities are a plus.

  • Open to all CTU members: PSRPs, clinicians and others are encouraged to apply.

  • Summer Organizing Internship begins July 3. Internship will end on July 28.

  • Deadline for applying for the 2017 Summer Organizing Internship is Monday, April 24, 2017.

If interested, please send a cover letter and resume via email to Romel Ferguson in the Organizing Department.

Sick Day Audits

by CTU Communications  |  March 31, 2017

CEO Claypool has hired a posse of sick day auditors, spending more than $1 million of scarce CPS resources to harass and trail our members for using their benefit days. We know this is because Claypool wants to retaliate for our Work to Rule actions and usage of days. If you spot an investigator at your home or at your school, here is what you need to know:

  1. Invoke your Weingarten Rights: Tell the investigator you will not speak with them about the matter unless a union representative is present. They cannot interview alone once you invoke that right. Then contact your field representative immediately.
  2. The Board can make you produce a doctor’s note if you take more than three (3) consecutive work days using sick time. The Board’s sick day policy reads that “if a supervisor has a reasonable suspicion that an employee is abusing sick days, s/he may demand that the employee provide a certificate that the employee has received treatment from a physician, advisor or practitioner regardless of the number of days of absence.” Please keep in mind that requesting a sick day in advance raises their suspicion and will likely result in CPS asking for documentation about the nature of the illness.
  3. Let us know your story. We are collecting them to expose this witch hunt through our grievance and communications departments and need this evidence to protect our members from further indignities. Send us your story by email to Jackson Potter, CTU Staff Coordinator.

Expanding our bargaining rights

by sarah karp - wbez  |  March 30, 2017

A bill that would give the Chicago Teachers Union the right to strike over more issues — including class size, length of the school day, layoffs and outsourcing — got the go-ahead from an Illinois House committee on Wednesday. 

Currently, economic issues are the only areas in which the school district is compelled to negotiate with the CTU, and the only areas over which teachers can strike. The issues included in Wednesday's bill can come up in bargaining, but current law gives CPS the final say. The CTU is the only Illinois school district subject to these strike and bargaining limits. 

Please click here to continue reading at wbez.org.

Retirement Incentive Deadline Friday, March 31

by Grievance Department  |  March 28, 2017

Click here for PSRP Information

Teachers: $1,500×YEARS OF SERVICE

As negotiated in the 2015–19 contract, any teacher eligible to retire* at the end of this school year has until this Friday, March 31, 2017, to submit your intended date of retirement or resignation to the Board in order to take advantage of the one-time, lump-sum retirement incentive of $1,500 for each year of service. Your insurance benefits will continue until the end of the month in which you retire or resign.

In order to receive the benefit, at least 1,500 teachers must take advantage of the offer by March 31. However, if that number is not reached then teachers may rescind their resignation and retirement. This one-time offer is valid for anyone currently employed as a full- or part-time appointed teacher by the Board, which includes regular teachers, special education teachers, temporary assigned teachers, related service personnel (clinicians) or counselors, but does NOT include cadre or day-to-day substitute teachers.

In order to qualify, you do not need to retire and begin drawing your pension immediately, you only need to be eligible to retire between June 23, 2017, and August 25, 2017 and resign within that period.

You must be logged into your CPS google account to access the form.
* The Board will not warn you if you are ineligible to retire and receive your pension. You must verify eligibility yourself by using the tools on the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund website and/or by contacting the CTPF by phone at 312-641-4464.

PSRPs: $750×YEARS OF SERVICE

As negotiated in the 2015–19 contract, any PSRP member of the CTU with ten or more years of service at the end of this school year has until this Friday, March 31, 2017, to submit your intended date of retirement* or resignation to the Board in order to take advantage of the one-time, lump-sum voluntary separation incentive of $750 for each year of service. If you do so, your insurance benefits will continue through the end of August 2017.

In order to receive the benefit, at least 600 PSRPs must take advantage of the offer by March 31. However, if that number is not reached then PSRPs may rescind their resignation. This one-time offer is valid for any non-teacher CTU member currently employed by the Board, but does NOT include Day-to-day Substitute PSRPs.

If you have any questions about the program, do not hesitate to email the CPS “Talent Office” for more information.

You must be logged into your CPS google account to access the form.
* The Board will not warn you if you are ineligible to retire and receive your pension. You must verify eligibility yourself by using the tools on the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago website and/or by contacting the MEABF by phone at 312-236-4700.

Stop New Charters Until Public Schools Are Properly Funded, Guzzardi Says

by mina bloom - DNAinfo Chicago  |  March 28, 2017

State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Logan Square) has introduced a bill that would block new charter schools from opening in the city so long as Chicago Public Schools is in financial distress.

Under bill HB3567, Illinois school districts that are in financial trouble, including CPS, would not be able to open new charter schools until they improve their financial health, which lawmakers hope will motivate districts to make investing in struggling neighborhood schools a priority.

"We need to prioritize. Our priority must be investing in the schools we have," said Guzzardi, who led a press conference Monday morning at Prosser Career Academy, 2148 N. Long Ave., a struggling neighborhood school that sits across from ITW David Speer Academy, 5321 W. Grand Ave., a charter school Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) described as a "nice, new shiny object."

Please click here to continue reading at www.dnainfo.com.

Chicago Teachers Union