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Notarize ERSB Petitions

by ctu communications  |  September 30, 2014

Are you a notary public? The CTU needs your help. Our members are canvassing in neighborhoods across Chicago, petitioning for CTU-friendly candidates and to secure a referendum on the Elected Representative School Board on ballots in every ward! If you are a Notary Public and can volunteer to notarize petitions, please email Lupe Coyle at or call 312-329-6227.

The CTU is Hiring an Organizer

by norine gutekanst - Organizing Coordinator  |  September 29, 2014

The CTU is interviewing to fill an Organizer position. This position plays a key role in our fight to enforce our contract and for good schools for all.


  • Work with CTU members to involve them in acting upon member concerns, as well as educational and legislative issues that impact schools.
  • Plan appropriate local actions in collaboration with school members to promote our members’ rights and fight for educational justice.
  • Mobilize for union-wide events and campaigns.
  • Develop grassroots leaders.
  • Work with parents and community organizations around issues related to funding and other struggles to improve our schools and communities.

The ideal candidate will:

  • Have demonstrated union/community/political/organizing experience
  • Have served as union delegate or other union leadership position
  • Possess excellent interpersonal skills
  • Possess strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Be well-organized, self-motivated, with demonstrated initiative and commitment
  • Be able to manage multiple tasks and projects simultaneously and meet established deadlines
  • Have the flexibility to work irregular, often long, hours
  • Have proficiency in Microsoft Office tools
  • Be willing to travel throughout the city and have daily access to an automobile

Women and people of color strongly encouraged to apply. Open to all CTU members. Bilingual abilities are a plus.

Please submit your resume with references and a cover letter outlining your qualifications to Lupe Coyle at by Tuesday, October 7, 2014.

Sun-Times: Ease up on school budgets permanently

by chicago sun-times  |  September 29, 2014

Chicago Public Schools officials made a good call about money on Friday.

Now let’s make it permanent.

Nearly a month into the school year, Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett opted against clawing back money from individual schools that had enrolled fewer students than the schools had budgeted for based on opening day enrollment projections. This reprieve means many schools can avoid laying off staff, cutting supplies or programs after school already has begun.

In a year when neighborhood school budgets already were cut by $67 million, this is not only a wise move but also a humane one (not to mention good for the mayor’s re-election campaign).

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Sun-Times: City Hall sit-in wins concessions for Dyett High School students

by lauren fitzpatrick - chicago sun-times  |  September 26, 2014

Dyett High School, home to just 13 seniors, is getting a gym teacher, entry for the students through the front door and a prom, protesters said, following a sit-in of parents and supporters Tuesday night at City Hall that ended in the arrest of 11 adults.

In 2012, Dyett was approved for phasing out — one grade level at a time. As its population shrank, the remaining students have had to use the back door of the school, 555 E. 51st St. And they’ve taken gym, art and music online.

“We won some major changes as of next week” said Jitu Brown, a Bronzeville-based community activist who’s been advocating for the school. The Dyett students also will have after-school tutoring, a Life After Dyett program that includes college tours and help with college forms, and typical senior year activities such as a prom and luncheons, he said.

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Chicago Teachers Union Supports “Dyett 13” and City Hall Arrestees

by ctu communications  |  September 26, 2014

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) supports 11 members of the Coalition to Save Dyett High School who were arrested at City Hall late yesterday evening for their efforts to prevent the Bronzeville community’s only open-enrollment high school from permanent closure. The group has engaged more than 2,000 South Side residents in its plan for a new Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School, but has received little support from 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns and the mayor’s handpicked Chicago Board of Education.

As a result, the coalition took its fight to City Hall yesterday afternoon, which resulted in arrests after hours of failed negotiations with city officials. Among those arrested and escorted into a Chicago Police Department vehicle shortly before midnight was a 73-year-old member of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, who walks with the aid of a mobility walker. The detainees were released from police custody early this morning.

The Bronzeville neighborhood community has been devastated by school closings, phase-outs and turnarounds that have not improved the quality of education that students receive. Parents, students, teachers, community members and academic partners developed a plan to transform Dyett High School into Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School to meet the need for a public, open-enrollment neighborhood school in the area. The Coalition contends there are enough neighborhood elementary school children from feeder schools surrounding Dyett to have sufficient enrollment at the revitalized Dyett in 2015 with a 9th grade class.

“We should not have to go to these extremes to have our voices heard and respected by the mayor of this city,” said Angela Ross, a parent at Mollison Elementary, before yesterday’s protest and arrests. Mollison is one of the proposed feeder schools to Dyett.

“What we are doing today is a sign that we have had it with people taking our tax money and ignoring our voices,” Ross said. “We will not move until Mayor Emmanuel works with us.”


CTU Bereavement Project

by susan hickey, lcsw - cps social worker  |  September 23, 2014

Loss of loved oneIn March 2013, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis received an email from the American Federation of Teachers asking if the CTU would be willing to develop a pilot project with the National Resource Center for School Crisis and Bereavement. The project included a small grant to develop a training program for school staff on how to understand and support grieving students. President Lewis approached the CTU Clinician’s Steering Committee to work with both the AFT and the National Resource Center for School Crisis and Bereavement.

A committee of school nurses, psychologists and social workers was formed in April 2013 to develop how to approach this issue. The members of the committee are: Brian Apollo, Maribeth Doody, Delores Jackson, Paula Leifer, Cathy Mizicko, Connie Senter, Bonnie Smith, Regina Trice Carter and chair Susan Hickey. It was decided early on to focus the training on long-term bereavement and its ramifications on students. The committee felt that instead of concentrating on a small number of schools, it would be better served to develop a program that would be shared in every Chicago public school.

At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, Dr. David Schonfeld gave PowerPoint presentation to the Citywide Clinicians’ Professional Development. Dr. Schonfeld worked with schools in New York City after the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and is considered a leading expert on bereavement and loss. The presentation was well received, and he allowed it to be available for this project.

The committee put together a disc of Dr. Schonfeld’s presentation that will be given to all social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists and school nurses. There was a refresher presentation at the first Professional Development meeting of all clinicians, and the designated clinicians will be giving an in-service at all CPS public schools at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

Along with the PowerPoint presentation, a booklet was developed for every teacher, paraprofessional and school administrator. This booklet is a resource guide for teachers and other school staff on how to work with students who are experiencing grief.

“We know that students in our public schools too often face violence and loss,” President Lewis wrote in the booklet’s introduction. “As adults who work with children, we are acutely aware of the toll these tragedies take on them, including difficulty learning and difficulty controlling behavior. This brochure is for you to use as a resource when you are faced with students who are dealing with loss and grief issues.”

Teachers, how often do you have students who appear not to be able to focus, and you can tell their thoughts are somewhere else? The booklet is a guide for school staff to help those students. It is also important for teachers to bring in the school counselor, school nurse, psychologist, occupational therapist or social worker to help those students who need a professional trained in dealing with these issues.

From Ferguson to Chicago to San Pedro Sula

by ctu communications  |  September 23, 2014

Event for Nestor Aleman

Annenberg study calls for new charter school standards to be implemented in policy

by National Education Association  |  September 19, 2014

WASHINGTON— A new report just released by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University calls for increased accountability, transparency and equity in the taxpayer-funded charter school sector. The Institute is proposing standards to be implemented into state and charter authorizer policies that would better serve all students and protect the public’s investment in public education. Approximately 2.57 million students are enrolled in over 6,000 charter schools nationwide.

“Charters began as a way to free teams of educators to devise innovative ways to engage students and learn from effective practices to improve all of public education,” said National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García. “Unfortunately, the lack of vigorous oversight and a superficial regulatory structure in the charter sector has enabled too many of these schools to fall short of delivering on what they promise students and families. Charter sector standards are key to making sure that more of our charter schools serve their students well and do not make the job of our traditional public education sector even more challenging.”

As charter schools have expanded rapidly across the country, this frequently lax oversight has harmed taxpayers and communities as well. A May 2014 report by the Center for Popular Democracy documented over $100 million in waste, fraud and abuse in 17 areas alone. Closing loopholes, stronger regulation and vigorous oversight is essential to prevent further bilking of taxpayers and undermining the strength of public school systems in our communities, while allowing the best qualities of chartering to flourish.

“Children deserve choices, but not just for the sake of offering choices,” said National Education President Lily Eskelsen García. “If charters are to continue receiving public funds, they should be accountable to the public – the very communities they exist in.  But more and more we see the voices of educators, parents and community members bypassed in favor of doing what’s best for corporate profits—and students end up truly paying the cost.”

The Annenberg report found some common concerns: uneven academic performance; practices that pushed or kept students out of charter schools; overly harsh discipline policies; funding patterns that destabilized traditional schools; and a lack of representative governance, transparency, and adequate oversight.

Eskelsen García said it’s time for the charter industry to be just as transparent in enrollment, discipline and oversight as traditional public schools. “The public deserves to know that all taxpayer-funded schools, charter as well as traditional and magnet, are working to provide the best education they can for students. Good standards are about protecting their investment and protecting our students. It’s time to shine a light on charters and make sure they are serving students and communities first.”

NEA believes that the Annenberg standards and report are a major contribution to identifying and offering constructive suggestions on key concerns in the charter sector. “We urge policymakers, parents, educators in all sectors and communities to read it, discuss it and draw from it to develop measures that work for students,” said Eskelsen García.

Follow NEA at Join the conversation using #CharterStnds.

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

New CTU report highlights failures of school maintenance outsourcing, calls for the reinstatement of nearly 500 laid-off custodians

by ctu communications  |  September 18, 2014

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today released a report on the decision of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in February 2014 to move union Operating Engineers custodians out of schools and outsource management of public school custodians to two private companies—Aramark and Sodexomagic—which has resulted in poor maintenance conditions throughout the district. The study, titled “Outsourced: Aramark’s Filthy Mishandling of Chicago’s Public Schools,” examines what occurred in the aftermath of the outsourcing, as promises made by the district were broken, sanitation conditions deteriorated, and parents and staff were forced to clean and maintain schools themselves to ensure student safety.

The release of the report follows an announcement from CPS on September 13 that Aramark would lay off 468 public school custodians by the end of the month. In June, the CTU surveyed all members for whom an email address was available and received more than 1,000 responses expressing anger over the new outsourcing and concern about the health and safety of students in their schools. Concerns were generally raised about Aramark, and not Sodexomagic.

The teachers did not, however, blame the custodians in the schools—they blamed CPS for outsourcing janitorial services to Aramark, and both Aramark and the district for their mismanagement and the relocation of custodians with experience at a particular building to other buildings. “Outsourced: Aramark’s Filthy Mishandling of Chicago’s Public Schools” finds that CPS’ and Aramark’s stated goal was to save money by increasing productivity by 50 percent, meaning custodians would do 1.5 times as much work for less pay. Due to cutbacks, 625 custodians are now responsible for cleaning 485 school buildings serving 307,110 students.

Among the survey comments found in the report:

  • “A parent pulled my student out of my school because the room was filthy [and] not cleaned for weeks. We also had two bouts of bed bugs.”
  • “All of this dust and grime aggravates the respiratory systems of children and makes those with asthma and other respiratory problems seriously ill.”
  • “Our administration and teacher leaders have found the CPS/Aramark middle managers full of excuses and unresponsive. Repeated complaints are met with repetitive promises of, ‘We’re working on it.’” 
  • “Students are asked to bring in their own toilet paper, soap, paper towel and tissues. If they don’t, I supply.”
  • “Our rooms get cleaned on average two days a week. Previously, they were cleaned every day. Floors are rarely swept and never mopped.”

“The physical condition of our schools is a very serious problem, but the issue isn’t with the maintenance workers, but the way in which they are managed, which has left students in extremely unsafe and unsanitary conditions,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “If the district wants to create a healthy learning environment, a big part of that is having safe and clean facilities, and custodians who work in accordance with teachers and principals more so than their private employers.”

“Outsourced: Aramark’s Filthy Mishandling of Chicago’s Public Schools” finds that school contracts with Aramark have been controversial throughout the United States, particularly as a result of cost-saving measures that drastically reduce the number of custodians required to keep schools cleans and children and staff healthy. The CTU calls on CPS to demand the rehire of all 468 laid-off custodians and placement in their original assignments and management under Operating Engineers.

Bloomberg: Chicago at Brink of Swaps Fee as Bond Ratings Fall: Muni Credit

by Darrell Preston and Elizabeth Campbell - Bloomberg  |  September 18, 2014

Chicago’s deteriorating credit quality has pushed taxpayers to the brink of paying almost $400 million to Wall Street banks on derivatives contracts that are backfiring.

The city and Chicago Public Schools, both at risk of rating reductions as pension obligations mount, agreed to interest-rate swaps with companies including Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Loop Capital Markets LLC last decade as part of debt sales. The accords were designed to cap expenses in case interest rates rose. The deals went awry as the Federal Reserve cut borrowing costs during the recession.

The issuers’ combined bill to exit the deals has reached about $400 million, almost two-thirds more than the metropolis spent on streets and sanitation in 2013. The contracts on the derivatives stipulate that the banks can demand payment when the issuers’ credit rating falls to a specified level. For the city, that trigger is one level away on most contracts after Moody’s Investors Service cut it to three steps above junk.

“These governments are in a precarious position,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a Chicago watchdog on government finance. “Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.”

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Chicago Teachers Union