by center for popular democracy | January 30, 2015
Today, Friday, January 30, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and Action Now in Illinois unveiled a new report finding that the Illinois charter system is extremely vulnerable to fraud.
Click here for the report.
The report found that, years after the federal government warned of poor oversight of fiscal controls in Illinois charter schools, the daunting lack of transparency and oversight could have led to tens of millions of dollars in fraud – in 2014 alone.
“Illinois has invested in charter growth, but not adequately in charter oversight. The purpose of this report is to provide lawmakers with concrete solutions to prevent and deter future fraud,” said Kyle Serrette, Director of Education at the Center for Popular Democracy.
“The proliferation of charter schools in Chicago has diverted millions of dollars of taxpayer money away from public neighborhood schools without proper oversight – and the instances of fraud have been well documented. Chicago Public Schools says they are broke, but a small investment in financial oversight of charters would pay dividends for our schools. Instead of losing millions to fraud, we could have more librarians, after-school programs and gym. We could build real, high-quality education that our children need,” said Katelyn Johnson, Executive Director of Action Now.
Click here for the report.
Illinois public schools are hardly alone. A national 2014 report by the Center for Popular Democracy documented the growing problem of fraud, waste, and abuse, and found more than $100 million lost to lack of oversight.
by ctu communications | January 28, 2015
CHICAGO—A little more than two weeks since his inauguration, Governor Bruce Rauner has wasted little time in returning to his pre-campaign roots as public enemy No. 1 of working class citizens in the state of Illinois. Gov. Rauner, who spent more than $60 million in defeating incumbent Pat Quinn in November, recently spoke before a crowd in Decatur—a town ranked in 2014 as having the second fastest shrinking economy in the U.S.—and vowed to remove privileges from Illinois public service workers who have organized to defend their interests and collective bargaining rights.
The content of the governor’s speech was in direct contrast to the folksy, “regular guy” persona he adopted during the gubernatorial campaign, where he replaced his suit and tie with a plaid shirt, and masked his anti-worker rhetoric with images of his wife “who trusts him and will vote for him even though she is a Democrat.” The real Gov. Rauner, however, has returned—the billionaire who will run Illinois like his businesses and slash the state budget, cut taxes and crush labor leaders. This Gov. Rauner believes in lowering, not raising, the minimum wage. This Gov. Rauner believes state employees and retirees are overpaid, and also opposed $160 billion in cuts enacted by the state legislature last year because the cuts were not deep enough.
This Gov. Rauner is proud of the wealth that put him not only in the top 1 percent, but in the top .01 percent, and allowed him to spend $35.88 per vote to win last year’s election. This Gov. Rauner has promised to rein in collective bargaining rights of teachers and to privatize more public schools by increasing the number of the state’s charter schools over the opposition of locally elected school boards. He has made no secret of his goal to weaken workers’ rights, and has privately bragged that he will "shut down" state government with a tax plan that would result in extreme and radical cuts to education that will lay off one out of every six teachers.
“We’ve always known of Gov. Rauner's disdain for the working class, and weren’t for one second fooled by his ‘average Joe’ act during last year’s campaign,” says CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “He attempts to misdirect attention away from looming cuts to workers and the poor by claiming to attack ‘government unions’ when he really attacks public services and the people who provide them.”
“He’s going to find governing a much greater challenging than winning an election if he insists on attacking teachers, paraprofessionals, clinicians, public sector workers and the poor, because these are the people who need our help the most.”
by ctu communications | January 28, 2015
Hearing today on injunction against unfair, unconstitutional pension cuts
A group of active and retired Chicago city employees and four unions that represent them—AFSCME Council 31, the Chicago Teachers Union, the Illinois Nurses Associations and Teamsters Local 700—will be in Cook County Circuit Court this afternoon (Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.) seeking an injunction against Senate Bill 1922 (Public Act 98-0641), legislation to sharply reduce pension benefits for city workers and retirees who participate in the Municipal Employees Annuity and Benefit Fund.
The average yearly pension of a city retiree in the municipal fund today is just $34,000—and city workers do not earn Social Security as part of their city employment. The suit was brought last month by individual plaintiffs who work in or are retired from city libraries, schools, and the health, aviation, transportation and streets and sanitation departments, along with their unions.
Active and retired city employees earned their promised pension in retirement and always paid their share into the pension fund, the lawsuit noted. Meanwhile, politicians who failed to make adequate payments now seek to force workers and retirees alone to bear the burden of pension-cutting legislation that violates the Illinois Constitution.
The constitutional pension protection clause is “an ethical and moral promise to provide a certain level of retirement security for the women and men who chose public service,” the suit stated. “For many of these individuals, their pensions comprise their life savings and are all that stands between them and poverty.”
The plaintiffs seek to enjoin further implementation of the pension-cutting legislation while the legal case proceeds.
To obtain an injunction, the workers, retirees and their unions must demonstrate a “fair question” that their case will succeed, and that they will suffer irreparable harm if an injunction is not granted. As the plaintiffs show in their legal brief supporting the injunction request, clearly they have met and exceeded these requirements: Their suit is likely to succeed because the legislation violates the plain and unambiguous language of the constitutional pension protection clause as well as established precedent in Illinois courts, and workers and retirees will suffer irreparable harm—such as being forced to defer needed medical care or being made to choose between paying a mortgage or filling prescriptions—if the cuts to their modest income remain in effect.
CITY HAS OTHER OPTIONS
While the city’s attorneys claim it has no choice but to cut the pensions of employees and retirees of modest means, the unions have pointed out a number of other feasible options. A report last spring presented a menu of potential ways to raise adequate revenue to fund city schools, libraries, health care and other public services while meeting commitments to retirees, including:
- Taxing wealthy corporations by implementing true TIF reform;
- Recouping money that banks made through questionable toxic swaps;
- Closing corporate loopholes;
- Implementing a tax on high-speed trading (known as a “LaSalle Street tax”) to provide upwards of $1 billion in revenue to the city, and more.
The estimates of revenue from pursuing these and other sensible revenue options could total anywhere from $1.6 to $2.4 billion in annual revenue for the City of Chicago.
In the brief supporting their injunction request, the plaintiffs note that by refusing to consider these or other options to raise revenue or to reamortize debt, the city is attempting to:
- Contribute less to the retirement fund than is actuarially required to meet pension obligations;
- Cause the pension system to face insolvency absent an increase in contributions; and then
- Claim that diminishments and impairments of pension benefits, with or without increased employer contributions, are necessary to save the pension fund from insolvency.
Such a scenario is exactly what the framers of the Illinois Constitution anticipated and sought to prevent in crafting the pension protection clause.
UNEQUAL IMPACT OF PENSION CUTS
Chicago's retirees form the stable core of city neighborhoods that are too often overlooked. Indeed, another recent study showed that none of the top 15 Chicago zip codes ranked by the annual amount of public employee retirement benefits are located near downtown, and that pension cuts would fall disproportionately on women (who make up 60% of participants in the Municipal Fund) and people of color, for whom public sector jobs have long provided a pathway to the middle class and a dignified retirement. Having barely emerged from the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis, these communities where public employment is a bulwark of the middle class now face another economic disaster in the form of pension cuts.
by illinois federation of teachers | January 28, 2015
IFT educators have a unique opportunity to help outstanding special education students pursue higher education or career training by sponsoring them for the union’s Carl J. Megel Special Education Scholarship.
In 2015 the IFT will award two $1,000 Megel scholarships to deserving high school seniors who are enrolled in a special education school, class, or program for students with disabilities. Applicants must be high school seniors who will graduate in 2015.
IFT members who work directly with (or previously worked with) an eligible student must provide a letter of sponsorship for the applicant. (Children of IFT members may also apply.) Click here for more information and an application form.
The application deadline is March 2, 2015.
Spread the word! Please share this flier and tell your colleagues about this union-sponsored scholarship for special education students.
by Jana Kasperkevic - The Guardian (U.K.) | January 28, 2015
Want to know the real state of the US economy? Visit a local public school and find out how many student qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
A new report found that, at 51%, the number of children who qualified for federal programs for free or reduced-price lunches is the highest in at least 50 years, according to the Southern Education Foundation. In other words, in 2013, more than half of the students attending public school lived in poverty.
Those numbers are representative of the growing problem of child poverty in the US. Overall, one in five US children live in poverty. It has only recently been dropping, with 14.7 million US children living in poverty in 2013, down from 16.1 million in 2012. In 2012, out of 35 economically developed countries, only Romania had a higher child poverty rate than the US.
The Southern Education Foundation found that with each passing year, an increasing number of states are seeing needy children in their classrooms.
Educators, Parents, Activists Call for Quazzo’s Resignation From Board of Ed due to conflicts of interest
by ctu communications | January 27, 2015
CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union will join parents, educators, activists and other concerned citizens in a Tuesday morning picket against Chicago Board of Education member Deborah Quazzo, as companies controlled by the venture capitalist have been paid nearly $3 million by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) since her appointment to the Board by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Union believes Quazzo’s seat on the board represents an unethical conflict of interest and has elevated its campaign for an elected representative school board (ERSB).
Mayor Emanuel denounced Chicagoans' overwhelming support for an ERSB by suggesting that the 60,000 registered voters who signed petitions to have the issue placed on a ballot in 37 wards are part of a “trick.” If there is any sleight of hand, it is in the fact that it is highly unusual for a public official to profit from businesses over which they have direct oversight authority. According to published reports, Quazzo has called for “an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards.” A firm she owns has stakes in education technology companies working to displace teachers. Since joining the school board, Quazzo has invested her own money in companies that sell curricular materials to public schools in 11 states on a subscription basis.
WHO: CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey, parents, activists and others who are demanding an elected representative school board.
WHAT: Informational picketing at GSV Advisors, a private investment firm owned by Deborah Quazzo, which has received nearly $4 million in public dollars since Quazzo was seated by Mayor Emanuel on the Chicago Board of Education.
WHEN: Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 10:00 a.m. (Press Availability)
WHERE: John Hancock Building, 875 N. Michigan Avenue (GSV Advisors, founded by Quazzo, has offices on the 35th floor of the building.)
by CTU Communications | January 26, 2015
|Douglas Johnson, C.||28||winner|
Hearing and Vision Testers
Health Service Nurses
NOMINATION NUMBERS WERE LESS THAN OR EQUAL TO THE VACANCIES
TO BE SEATED FEBRUARY 2015
CR SCHOOL COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVE
- Heard, Yvonne
DT CITYWIDE TEACHER (SOCIAL WORKER, SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST AND CITYWIDE TEACHER)
- Bashir, Gloria
- Boyle, Therese M.
- Cairo, Jo-Anne
- Clam, Matthew
- Gunn, Sharon
- Hayse, Carol
- Hickey, Susan
- Nevels, Leigh
- Nyberg, Angelica
- Penn, Emily
- Rodriguez, Lourdes
- Shanley, Kirstie
- Schechtman, Judith B.
- Schwartz, Jennifer
- Tsitsopoulos, Bessie
- Tuite, Jacqueline L.
- Whitfield, Benita A.
- Wildi, Brad A.
- Wittbrodt, Gary
HS HEAD START
- Guerrero, Genoveva
PN HOSPITAL LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE
- Hathaway, Ida M.
- Johnson, Bonnie R.
SC SCHOOL CLERK
- Butler, Mary S.
- Callahan, Sharon
- Davis, Barbara J.
- Doss, Tonya
- Fells, Denise M.
- Gaither, Arttice S.
- Jimenez, Jose
- Krantz-Perlman, Isaac
- Spivey-Brown, Cheryl
- Thompson, Lucille
- Woods, Sabrina
TA TEACHER ASSISTANT
- Bullocks, Latonya
- Dabney-Parker, Sherri L.
- Gibson, Barbara J.
- Gomez, Melanie J.
- Hampton, Vermie
- Henry, Kimberly L.
- Higgins, Gloria E.
- Johnson, Catherine Y.
- Johnson, Marsha A.
- Johnson, Myra D.
- Maldonado, Nellie M.
- Piggee, Marilyn
- Powers, Reyne
- Ramsey, Barbara
- Sanders, Vicky
- Scott, Ella M.
- Stamps, Sharon
- Wallace, Lashawn
- Watson, Kimberly
- Williams, Linda F.
- Wright, Valarie
TN SCHOOL NURSE
- Bell, Benna L.
- Ford-Kendrick, Onna
- Lofton, Saria
- Racky, Denise M.
TT TEMPORARY TEACHER
- Christensen, William E.
- Green, Burma S.
- Guzman, Elaine
- Ong, Jantra
New U. of C. Report Shows Disconnect Between Data-Driven District and Realities of Life for CPS Families
by ctu communications | January 22, 2015
CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today responded to “School Closings in Chicago: Understanding Families’ Choices and Constraints for New School Enrollment,” a new report by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) that addresses the impact of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s mass school closings on thousands of Chicago children. The report finds that while the majority of students from closing schools enrolled in higher-rated schools—but not the highest-rated schools that prove most beneficial for students—there is a significant gap in the number of students enrolling in district-designated receiving schools and the number enrolling in a school of parents’ choosing.
“Among those students who reenrolled in a CPS school, 66 percent attended their designated welcoming school,” according to the report, as parents generally chose the school closest to their homes. Child safety, transportation and schedule challenges mattered far more to parents than the district’s school-quality rating, highlighting the growing disconnection between the city’s decision-makers and the lives of every day Chicagoans and their families. Many parents’ definition of school quality is different than the district’s view of school quality, which is based primarily on test scores. Parents, on the other hand, looked for qualitative indicators of a school’s success, such as “after-school programs, certain curricula and courses, small class sizes, positive and welcoming school environments, and/or one-on-one attention from teachers in classes,” according to the CCSR.
Such decisions by parents demonstrate that test scores are a minor consideration compared to more important day-to-day relationships and school activities. Parents demanded that their schools stay open to maintain small class sizes, relationships with staff and strong environments. The mayor’s decision to close schools obliterated these important social bonds, put student safety at risk and created unnecessary transportation and scheduling challenges for families. The mayor’s plan also did not save any money or lead to major improvements in student performance—which were among parent and community claims that fell on deaf ears throughout the closing process.
“The district’s claims of a failing system weren’t strong enough to justify closing 50 schools, and the promise of enrollment in a higher-rated school is no guarantee of success, especially when that school performs only marginally better,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “The mayor and his handpicked Board of Education are trying to spin the fact that school closings actually hurt students, and parents’ desire to enroll students in a school of their own choosing shows that community concerns are much different than what is coming out of the 5th floor of city hall.”
by ctu communications | January 21, 2015
by dan montgomery - president, illinois federation of teachers | January 19, 2015
|Today, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are reminded of the importance of supporting each other through both good times and bad.
During the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike of 1968 -- his final campaign -- Dr. King said,
“Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.”
King may not have been an AFSCME member of that local standing up for his own collective bargaining rights, but he stood tall with the community members whom he considered to be his sisters and brothers.
We should take a note from Dr. King as we continue his fight for dignity, non-violence, and respect for all. When one of us is bullied by someone in the workplace, a self-interested politician, or anyone in a position of power, it is our duty to show them our solidarity.
We honor Dr. King’s legacy when we look out for each other.
Let’s spend today – and every day – looking out for each other. Even when we aren’t on a picket line, every act of solidarity counts. The struggles for strong communities, strong schools, and a strong labor movement require all of us to put our differences aside, roll up our sleeves, and do the work together.