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Shared Responsibility, Forrest? We have shared plenty.

by alison eichhorn - Lindblom Math & Science Academy  |  February 10, 2016

A few days ago I was checking my newsfeed and found an ask—to me as a Big Bargaining Team member and a member of the Chicago Teachers Union. You, CEO of Chicago Public Schools Forrest Claypool, asked me for shared responsibility in this financial crisis. In your February 5 op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, you talked about how you so badly want to "right the ship" of the district’s finances, but in order to do that, you need the CTU’s help. Your idea of help is for us to sign the proposal that you offered us last week. You say this offer, which you have implied as generous, would help prevent CPS from jumping off of the financial cliff that they have intentionally created over the past ten years. 

Forrest, you have only been here six months, so I will cut you some slack. Here is a refresher course on how we have sacrificed. 

Your instability has cost us our mental health. The crisis that you and your predecessors have created over the past few months—even years—has led to a climate and culture of fear in our buildings. We walk into our schools each and every day not knowing whether or not you will make true on your threats—will you impose arbitrary cuts and fire thousands of teachers? In what profession does one enter the door each and every day with the uncertainty of whether or not they will keep their job? You make this a reality in CPS.

During the 2011-12 school year, the mayor refused to honor the 4 percent contractually agreed-upon raises that we, as members of the Chicago Teachers Union, were entitled to. Over the past 5 years, this sacrifice, on behalf of our membership, has saved the district more than $500 million. When the mayor found himself unable to fund extracurricular activities and sports programs, he cut them. What did teachers do? We sacrificed our time. Even though we had a longer day and year, we still sponsored clubs and coached sports with no compensation. We know how important it is for students to have opportunities outside of the classroom. When you and your unelected Board of Education fail to prioritize spending for what is important, we sacrifice to do right by students.

When the mayor implemented a longer school day and year and refused to put the adequate funding behind it, teachers, paraprofessionals and support staff didn’t receive the a raise proportionate to the additional work time. Students did not receive the rich curriculum that the mayor promised to provide with a longer day (art, music, recess, etc). Instead, the mayor made the teachers work longer and harder without giving them the resources they need to do the job.

While CPS privatizes janitorial services under the guise of saving money, teachers, literally, have spent their time cleaning up the mess. They have cut janitorial services and we have found our classrooms dirtier and our bathrooms void of toilet paper. Teachers have paid out-of-pocket for basic necessities like Kleenex, toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies. This is happening while Aramark continues to increase the costs of their contract—$22 million over budget in the first year alone with a bill of $86 million.

While CPS is passing unbalanced budgets and continuing to privatize the array of services in the district, teachers continue to advocate for short-term and long-term revenue solutions. We have built relationships with community groups, parents and students to fight for a fix to the financial mess that your friends created.

Lastly, we sacrifice our time. We are the educators. We are the professionals in this career. We made a decision to dedicate our lives to this profession and we will do everything we can to preserve the profession. If that means that we must spend it on the streets, spend it on a hunger strike or spend it in a jail cell, we will continue to fight for what is right for children. 

You, on the other hand, continue to steal—from the children and from the working class members who make Chicago run every single day. You did it to the CTA and you are attempting to do it to CTU. Forrest, we are ready for your fight.

CPS budget cuts threaten to gut public education, hit the neediest students the hardest

February 09, 2016

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today in response to reports of $120 million in mid-year budget cuts from Chicago Public Schools:  

“The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has worked for more than a year seeking a serious contract offer from Chicago Public Schools. After just three weeks of negotiations, the district made an offer that relied on a reduction of more than 2,000 educators from the system, made no provision against subsequent ballooning class sizes and included nothing but the vaguest indicators of where new revenue would be found. More importantly, the terms of that offer would not have impacted the current school year or existing school budgets in any way, so we find CPS’ reduction in school budgets by $120 million unnecessary and completely retaliatory, and not at all evident of some urgent crisis in our schools. 

“Now that the district has finally begun negotiating in earnest, the CTU will continue to work toward a contract that will address the daily challenges faced by both students and educators, and also address the long-term fiscal crisis that threatens to gut public education in the city of Chicago. The CTU also has requested a school-by-school breakdown of today’s budget adjustments to examine which communities are most impacted by the cuts, and whether attacks from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked Chicago Board of Education will continue to be centered on low-income, African-American and Latino communities.”

City Council Resolution for Full TIF Surplus

by CTU Communications  |  February 09, 2016

In January, 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa introduced a resolution calling on the mayor to redefine TIF Surplus. Previously, the mayor’s weak definition of a TIF Surplus resulted in re-issuing only a fraction of those extra monies. Below, the alderman answers questions about this resolution.


DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

How would you summarize this resolution?

This resolution calls for immediate TIF surplus action to offset drastic cuts at our Chicago Public Schools. Specifically it states: “we the undersigned members of this Council, hereby support that it is in the best interest of our City, its public schools system, and the youth it serves that an immediate new TIF surplus action, in addition to the surplus declared in August 2015, be utilized to mitigate any program cuts, layoffs of staff, and reductions in services in the Chicago Public Schools.”

How does the resolution propose we structure this TIF surplus?

It is up to the Mayor and the City Council to negotiate the structure of any TIF surplus. The resolution does not lay out a manner in which this proposed surplus should be structured, the resolution simply states: “65 ILCS 5/11-74.4-7 requires that any monies held by a municipality and not required for the payment and securing of obligations of a tax increment financing district and/or redevelopment project costs shall be deemed to be "Surplus Funds"; and this surplus includes moneys not required, pledged, earmarked, or otherwise designated for payment and securing of the obligations and anticipated redevelopment project costs.”

In the past, the Mayor’s office has only sought to surplus funds from TIF districts with an excess balance of $3 million, not dipping below that $3 million threshold. As reported yesterday in the Chicago Sun-Times, Alds. Moreno (1) and Pawar (47) are putting TIF funded projects in their wards “on the chopping block,” to go towards a TIF surplus.

Ultimately, this resolution does not lay out the manner in which this surplus should be structured. The passage of this resolution simply means that the City Council supports declaring a TIF surplus to help our Chicago Public Schools, it is up to the Mayor to work with the City Council to structure this TIF surplus, as has occurred in the past.

Who supports this resolution?

As of today, this resolution is co-sponsored by Clerk Mendoza and 34 Aldermen: Moreno (1), Hopkins (2), Hairston (5), Sawyer (6), Sadlowski Garza (10), Cardenas (12), Quinn (13), Foulkes (16), Moore (17), O’Shea (19), Cochran (20), Brookins (21), Munoz (22), Scott (24), Solis (25), Maldonado (26), Taliaferro (29), Reboyras (30), Santiago (31), Waguespack (32), Mell (33), Ramirez-Rosa (35), Villegas (36), Sposato (38), Laurino (39), O’Connor (40), Napolitano (41), Reilly (42), Tunney (44), Arena (45), Cappleman (46), Pawar (47), Osterman (48), Silverstein (50). The resolution has also received the support of the Chicago Teachers Union, and IL Raise Your Hand, a parent-led group.

What happens once the resolution passes?

Once the resolution passes, it is up to the Mayor’s office to begin structuring a TIF surplus to help our Chicago Public Schools, with the input from the City Council.

RESOLUTION R2016-21

Expression of support for use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) surplus funds to offset budget deficit at Chicago Public Schools

Whereas, the Chicago Public Schools face an immediate and wrenching crisis: a 2016 budget deficit of near $500,000,000 along with the potential layoff of 5,000 teachers and staff; and

Whereas, the resulting disorder for hundreds of thousands of students and their families would be devastating to the educational experience of some of the state's most vulnerable children; and

Whereas, a sustainable long term revenue solution to avoid the disruption and resulting educational decline has not been agreed upon by state and city leaders; and

Whereas, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a tool intended by Illinois state law to encourage economic development by providing public support to encourage investment in targeted areas that meet certain conditions of blight, decay or underperformance; and

Whereas, a 2015 annual financial analysis by the City of Chicago established that active TIF districts had an aggregate balance of $1.38 billion dollars; and

Whereas, in light of the current economic circumstances for our school system, a short term infusion of funds back into the Chicago Public School operating budget will offset drastic cuts, helping achieve the ultimate goal of preserving essential programs, alleviating potential mass layoffs, and thereby investing in our city's future generations; and

Whereas, 65 ILCS 5/11-74.4-7 requires that any monies held by a municipality and not required for the payment and securing of obligations of a tax increment financing district and/or redevelopment project costs shall be deemed to be "Surplus Funds"; and

Whereas, this surplus includes moneys not required, pledged, earmarked, or othenwise designated for payment and securing of the obligations and anticipated redevelopment project costs; therefore

Be it resolved, we the undersigned members of this Council, hereby support that it is in the best interest of our City, its public schools system, and the youth It serves that an immediate new TIF surplus action, in addition to the surplus declared in August 2015, be utilized to mitigate any program cuts, layoffs of staff, and reductions in services in the Chicago Public Schools.

Signed Resolution

Join the #ToxicTakeovers Twitter Storm Feb. 9!

by norine gutekanst - CTU organizing   |  February 08, 2016

In January, teachers, clinicians and paraprofessionals in Detroit electrified the nation with rolling sick-outs to protest the shocking educational conditions in their schools, and the abysmal emergency management that has devastated their classrooms. 

Tomorrow, February 9, teachers, PSRPs, parents and students will stage walk-ins across the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system as they join with a national coalition and Chicago Teachers Union ally Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools to reclaim their schools from the folly of state control.

Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, has destabilized schools and services in six majority African-American communities, including Flint, Benton Harbor and Detroit. Detroit Public Schools has been under state-imposed emergency management for seven years, and last week Darnell Earley, the DPS emergency manager, was forced to resign. Earley also was the emergency manager for Flint when its water source was switched in 2014, resulting in the poisoning of Flint’s water supply.

Like Gov. Snyder, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has extolled the virtues of emergency management despite the contamination of Flint’s water supply and subsequent health crisis, or the disastrous conditions of Detroit's public schools, a district with schools buildings littered with mold and vermin. To oppose these harmful measures and support educators in Detroit, our brothers and sisters in Michigan ask CTU members and allies to create a Twitter Storm and support the #ReclaimOurSchools and  #ToxicTakeovers hashtags at noon Chicago time on Tuesday, February 9.

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? 

Please click here to continue reading at phillipcantor.com

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?!

Please click here to continue reading at huffingtonpost.com.

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 Greensgpsp17@gmail.com
Dulles School of Excellence 6311 S. Calumet 4:30 pm pick-up Contact: Ernestine Clarkcernestine73@yahoo.com
Lindblom HS 6130 S. Wolcott 4:30 pm pick up Contact:Ed Hershey:efhershe@gmail.com
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.

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

Chicago Teachers Union