by Noel Perez-White and Dave Woo - Urban Prep Charter Academies teachers | May 22, 2015
In February, teachers and staff at Chicago's Urban Prep Academies announced that they were forming a union. They stood up to improve teaching and learning conditions in their schools, and asked CEO Tim King to respect their decision and their dedication to the schools.
At the time, Mayor Emanuel publicly expressed his support for these educators. Now, unfortunately, Urban Prep administrators are responding by requiring teachers and staff to listen to anti-union speeches, cutting into valuable work time. One speech made misleading claims about the union that the teachers and staff seek to join, Chicago ACTS. These speeches aim to sow fear and misunderstanding about how unions work.
Until educators vote on June 3rd in the union election, they may continue to be bombarded by administrators’ claims that having a union could result in worse teaching conditions and that a union would not be true to the mission of Urban Prep—a mission that these educators take very seriously and would use their union to uphold. The teachers and staff have discovered how much their administration spends on consultants, lobbyists, and outside events, while seeing the challenge of meeting their students needs despite continued turnover of staff each year.They have discovered how much their administration spends on consultants, lobbyists, and outside events, while teachers keep striving to meet their students’ needs, despite high staff turnover. The teachers and staff at Urban Prep are dedicated to their schools’ long-term success and are organizing to bring greater accountability and stability to their schools and their students.
Public schools like Urban Prep should remain neutral when educators seek to form a union. Mayor Rahm Emanuel should live up to his pledge of support for teachers at charter schools, by telling Tim King to respect the educators at Urban Prep and to stop using anti-union messages to discourage them in their upcoming election.
by ctu communications | May 22, 2015
Governor Bruce Rauner and charter advocates are demanding that the cap on charter schools be lifted with House Bill 814. It is tremendously irresponsible to push such legislation in this environment. Their amendment could receive a vote in the House today!
The Board is considering 30+ charter proposals at the same time that the Charter industry wants to build even more in a city that is supposedly “underutilized.” Meanwhile, CPS claims they won’t be able to make payroll in the fall and need to cut teacher pay by a whopping 10%. More evidence, if we ever needed it, that CPS is broke on purpose!
It shows that charter operators don’t care about public schools, budget conditions, or about the revenue our children throughout Illinois need and deserve. They only care about expanding their footprint to make their hedge fund daddies, like Ken Griffin and Governor Bruce Rauner happy. This is consistent with Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” which sees union-busting as the key to his vision of Illinois.
Our legislators need to know that we oppose lifting the cap on charters, as charters drain valuable resources and take a disproportionately lower number of ELL and special education students, leaving fewer resources to educate all of our students. Please tell your Representative that you oppose lifting the cap on charter schools. Email your State Representative and tell him/her to oppose HB814 House Amendment #2!
by ctu communications | May 20, 2015
CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) on Thursday, May 21, will lead a coalition of members, retirees and paraprofessionals to Springfield to send a message to Governor Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly: Choose working families over millionaires. The CTU will join more than 1,000 parents, workers and community activists downstate to advocate for fair wages, adequate health care and educational opportunities, affordable housing and child care, and safe neighborhoods for all families in Illinois.
In the four months since his inauguration, Gov. Rauner has proven to be both impractical and unrealistic in his plans for running state government, with his narrow-minded “turnaround” agenda forcing a number of cuts to services in a budget that even the conservative Civic Federation has called “unachievable.” The governor has pressed for changes that would negatively impact not only health care, child care and affordable college, but also retirement security for Illinois families.
“It’s extremely dangerous for the governor to push right-to-work and tout his plans to attack and weaken unions while he’s cutting funding from services that union workers need for their families,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “Last week’s zero votes for right-to-work sent a message that he’s in for a long fight from the people of this state.”
Thursday’s trip to Springfield will provide Illinois citizens the opportunity to demand that government focus on increased revenue, and to outline the broad range of available revenue options that policymakers can choose to avoid cuts to essential services—including income tax reform and urging businesses and wealthy individuals to pay their fair share.
“By spreading his union-busting agenda, while at the same time proposing cuts to thousands of working class families—including union families—throughout the state, the governor is proving himself to be a dual threat to labor,” Lewis said. “And this is the same person who reportedly cut funding for the state’s autism programs on World Autism Day, so he’d be better served listening to and learning from the people he’s governing instead of trying to run this state like his billion-dollar businesses.”
Gov. Rauner has stressed the notion of “shared sacrifice” to solve Illinois’ financial problems, but it is obvious that in cutting services from the most vulnerable, the only sacrifices are coming from those who are most in need of assistance. The coalition that the CTU is part of will expose on Thursday the hypocrisy and dangerous intent of the governor’s “turnaround,” and how his tax breaks for the wealthy and refusal to call upon the state’s most fiscally sound individuals and companies to contribute to a real turnaround prove that he is no agent of change.
The CTU will also continue bargaining with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s hand-picked Chicago Board of Education to renew the contract for 25,000 of Chicago’s public school educators, and during a June 9th rally at the James R. Thompson Center, will call upon both the mayor and the governor to make a quality education for every Chicago student and a quality workplace for every Chicago teacher a priority.
by chicago teachers' pension fund | May 15, 2015
by norine gutekanst - ctu organizing coordinator | May 15, 2015
Take a leading role in the campaign to promote our members’ rights and fight for educational justice! CTU’s Summer Organizing Institute will provide training in organizing skills, leadership, and union and community education issues.
Summer Organizing interns will meet with CTU members, parents, and community leaders to build our contract campaign, fight for revenue for schools, oppose cuts and charter expansion, and engage in other struggles to improve our schools, jobs and city. Interns will mobilize supporters and develop grassroots leaders, organize meetings and public events and participate in neighborhood canvasses. Help build the movement for good schools for all, while learning skills that will help you become a school leader in our contract fight when you return in the fall!
- Interns will receive a weekly stipend
- 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 five week commitment. Five days/week including evenings and some Saturdays.
- Women and people of color strongly encouraged to apply.
- Bilingual abilities are a plus.
- Open to all CTU members: PSRPs, Clinicians and others encouraged to apply.
- Summer Organizing Internship begins Monday, July 6. Internship will end on August 8.
To apply or for more information, please send a resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be accepted until May 29, 2015
May 13, 2015
Teachers --- The deadline for Administrative Transfer (without your current principal’s approval) has been extended from May 26th to June 30th. This gives you more time to secure the position of your choice for the 2015-16 school year.
by ctu communications | May 13, 2015
CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union released the following statement regarding Moody’s downgrade of the Chicago Public Schools bond rating:
“The downgrade is an example of how the rating agencies work in concert with bond holders in pushing our city and schools to the brink by recklessly increasing termination fees and costs of borrowing. Today’s action by Moody's induces further political panic to force the city to implement even more misguided fiscal decisions that will hurt our students and public schools,” said CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin.
“Mayor Emanuel and his handpicked school board have refused to challenge big banks like Loop Capital and Bank of America for misrepresenting the risks of toxic swap deals or take responsibility for market conditions in the 2008 collapse that have greatly increased Chicago's liabilities. Additionally, rating agencies have consistently argued that the mayor must get more revenue and repair a rocky relationship with the CTU in order to improve Chicago's ratings.
“Instead of heeding this advice, the mayor has provoked more labor discord by demanding a 7 percent reduction in compensation for teachers and paraprofessionals while promulgating a fiscal ‘crisis’ of the Board’s own making. He has also refused to support progressive revenue options like a LaSalle St. Tax, releasing the TIF surplus, suing the banks for toxic swaps, advocating for a Millionaires Tax and other revenue options.”
by ctu communications | May 13, 2015
CHICAGO—As bargaining continues at a slug’s pace, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) offers this primer on our contract proposals and the fiscal crisis created by the District to weaken a new collective bargaining agreement. The CTU and the BOARD will continue labor talks on Thursday, May 14.
The Board of Education chose to not extend the current contract for 3 percent raises:
The 2012-2015 contract between the Board and the CTU contained a clause allowing the CTU to agree on a reasonable 3 percent raise for the 2015-2016 school year. Although the new CPS CEO Jesse Ruiz originally called the raise “well-deserved,” he then claimed salaries must be cut, not continued. This is based on a shortfall fostered by tax policies and misplaced spending priorities designed to make CPS “broke on purpose.”
The Board wants to take about 10 PERCENT of EDUCATOR salaries through benefit changes:
The Board wants to rescind the 7 percent pension pickup accepted by the CTU in the 1980s instead of the raises we are due. They also want to renegotiate health care premiums and co-pays with demands that would likely eat up about 3 percent of our salary.
The Board rejected the bulk of CTU proposals, such as:
- Vermin removal and air quality control
- A library for every school
- A proposal to help reduce the substitute teacher shortage by allowing and encouraging teachers to bank benefit days
- Every single one of the CTU’s proposals related to class size or proper staffing for teachers, clinicians and PSRPs
- Appropriate funding for special education students in the Least Restrictive Environment
- Strengthened layoff rights and protections for rank and file union advocates
- Moving excessive Teach for America fees to a successful program that supports paraprofessionals (PRSP) pursuing teacher certification
- Returning daily prep time before student arrival. In fact, they rejected every single proposal around prep time
- Expanded Pre-K, despite Rahm Emanuel’s claim that he has already accomplished this goal
- PSRP rights to have their evaluations fairly reviewed by a neutral evaluation board
- Parental leave for four weeks
- Limit compliance paperwork to a level that can be completed during the teacher prep time
The Board ALSO wants to take away current provisions, such as:
- Safeguards to defend against unfair discipline
- The right of specialists and more experienced teachers to first refusal for summer school jobs
- They even want to add mandatory after-school meetings requiring teachers stay two extra hours each month
The Board refuses to even bargain over key proposals:
- Limits on standardized testing to only those tests mandated by the State.
- $15 per hour for all CPS workers, claiming this is illegal
- Removing costly police presence in schools where no written plan mandates their presence
- Protection of promised pensions, claiming “no responsible stakeholder” would support
- Moratorium on school closings, turnarounds and reconstitutions
- Basic union rights for educators at charter schools, claiming they are powerless to make charter managers comply
- Joint lobbying for an elected school board or for responsible revenue sources that fairly tax the biggest profit takers
The city and state are broke on purpose, and not because of pensions:
The average teacher pension annual benefit in Illinois is a modest $45,000 and we receive no social security. The Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund gets only a penny on the dollar compared to the Teacher Retirement System, though we are 20 percent of the teachers in the state. The CTPF has been undermined by politicians who have engaged in repeated pension holidays that increased pension liability. In the past few decades, this is typical for public service pensions.
Giveaways to the rich are the real cause of revenue shortfalls:
The top 11.8 percent of Illinois tax filers took away more than half of the revenue the State gave up with the January 1, 2015 tax cut for individuals and corporations. That’s more than $2 billion to the wealthy out of the $3.7 billion returned throughout Illinois. Gov. Rauner’s individual cut alone was over $700,000. Compare this revenue cut-off to the slashing of budgets for Illinois families: more than $100 million from CPS, more from seniors, the disabled and orphans. Rauner even cut the budget for autistic residents on National Autism Day—all while increasing special tax breaks for individual corporations.
The CPS budget deficit comes from misplaced priorities:
Like Rauner and Rahm, Ruiz and the entire Board of Education are totally unwilling to demand reasonable revenue from those who have plenty to spare. But CPS makes things even worse by throwing money away through outsourcing schemes that increase bureaucracy while rewarding business class insiders—like Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s scandals from SUPES to Synesi; like Tim Cawley’s filthy giveaway to Aramark; like Magic Johnson Sodexo’s magic contract; like Board President David Vitale’s subprime financial advice to lock in toxic swaps; and like the hedge fund charter operators who promise results but see only their own bottom line. Rahm’s appointed school board has thrown away enough money to fix most of its mess.
Illinois has options. Shortchanging schools and pensions shouldn’t be one of them:
Bruce Rauner is a major league tax dodger just like his buddy Ken Griffin (the richest man in Illinois). Illinois could go after offshore tax shelters and rake in $8.5 billion more per year. That would not only fix the deficit, it could greatly expand the services to children, seniors, the disabled and the average resident. Corporate tax breaks cost Illinois nearly twice as much as pensions and Chicago’s TIF surplus for the last five years would have completely covered normal pension payments. Wealthy campaign donors secured that money instead, digging the hole the mayor wants to put us in.
Casinos and red light cameras are not reasonable solutions:
Mayor Emanuel would rather make the easy choice to pick the pockets of regular Chicagoans than ask his closest friends and campaign donors to pitch in their fair share. Rahm promises his casino would benefit schools. We heard that about the state lottery years ago. Red light cameras similarly target everyday Chicagoans with a backdoor tax. On the other hand, a LaSalle Street tax of just $1 on big ticket commodities trades would bring in $30 billion per year for the state. Adopting an Oregon-style fair tax system that provides very low rates for the lowest paid and higher rates for the biggest profit takers would eliminate debt and provide more services that make Illinois a better place to live and work.
by michelle gunderson | May 12, 2015
This is the time of year when teachers start thinking about what the next school year will bring. We wonder what classes we will be given, what our students will be like, what joys and challenges we will face. Teaching is a profession that occupies the mind – teachers think about schooling and children constantly.
What we also wonder about is whether or not we will have the same teaching position. Will our lives be totally turned upside by being asked to teach something entirely new? This has happened to me several times in my career, and I can tell you that the first time teaching a new subject or grade you always feel like you are on shaky ground.
Stability. This is what I want for my students and my school community.
Yet, imagine what it is like teaching for the Chicago Public Schools. Instead of stability – we know nothing but chaos. Our chief of schools just stepped down under federal investigation, our principals are unsure if they will have enough money to run their schools next year, and we have a privatized janitorial contract that has left us teaching in filth.
I have always said that if you can’t stand change you shouldn’t teach for the Chicago Schools. Yet on top of the usual chaos in our lives, the Chicago Public Schools are asking educators to take a 7% pay cut. This is beyond change – it is adding insult to injury.
Parent, Community Groups Urge CPS to Come Clean About Contract Talks with Teachers at Three Public Forums
by parents 4 teachers | May 08, 2015
Chicago parent and community groups are calling on Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials to come clean with the public about its negotiations over a new teachers’ contract and to discuss the talks in three public forums being held before the current contract expires June 30.
In a letter to CPS Board President David Vitale and interim CEO Jesse Ruiz, the groups said the current negotiations are of great concern to parents, teachers and students in the schools and the board’s silence on the issues at stake in the contract is a disservice to the public.
The call comes just days after CTU filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the district for bad-faith bargaining. CPS has declined to offer teachers an extension of the current contract and has refused to talk publicly about its bargaining stance. The union says the board has proposed a 7 percent pay cut.
“The CTU has been very public about what it wants to see in the next contract. It wants smaller class sizes, more teaching and less testing and more services for students like social workers, nurses and clinicians,” Erica Clark, co-founder of Parents 4 Teachers, said. “But the district hasn’t said a word about those issues or the other challenges facing Chicago classrooms. That wall of silence does a disservice to the public CPS is supposed to serve.”
At the April CPS Board meeting, a coalition of more than a dozen parent and community groups, from every corner of the city, invited officials from CPS and the CTU to engage in the public forums and to publicly discuss the issues of contention in the current negotiations. The CTU has agreed to participate, but so far CPS has declined.
The forums will be held, with or without the district’s participation, on the following dates:
Tuesday, May 19, 6 p.m., Luther Memorial Church, 2500 W. Wilson.
Thursday, June 4, 6 p.m., Mt. Carmel MB Church, 2978 S. Wabash Ave.
Wednesday, June 10, 6 p.m., Kelly Hall YMCA, 824 N. Hamlin Ave.
“With all the scandals surrounding CPS, and its recent financial decisions, public trust in the district is at an all-time low,” Cecille Carroll, co-director of Blocks Together, said. “Engaging in a public dialogue about the issues at stake in the teachers’ contract would be a good first step toward rebuilding credibility with the parents, teachers and students the schools serve. We need to be creating space for those impacted to participate.”
Jaribu Lee, of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), echoed concerns about the district’s lack of credibility in Chicago’s
“All we hear from CPS is that there’s a budget hole and the district can’t afford to provide the resources our students need in the classroom,” Lee said. “But, when it comes to expanding charters, entering into no-bid contracts with their friends and buying furniture for the central office, the money seems to magically appear. This is why families don't trust those running the district, because they are not from the community and don't represent their interests."
Parents and community members who want to learn about the issues at stake in the contract are being urged to call CPS CEO Jesse Ruiz, at 773-553-1500, and demand the district attend the public forums.