Email Print

Rauner challenged by CPS educators to ‘read-off’ on importance of civil rights, public education

by chicago teachers union  |  July 22, 2016

CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members challenged Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to a “read-off” this morning at his office in the James R. Thompson Center following the release of emails in which the governor claimed that half of Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) teachers are “virtually illiterate" and half of Chicago’s public school principals are “incompetent.” Educators demonstrated their literacy in sharing with the governor the ways in which he and his administration are destroying the state of Illinois and the collective outrage over how he and his millionaire friends are primarily responsible for Illinois’ budget woes, criminally negligent denial of resources for social services and inadequate school funding.

“Contrary to the governor’s rude and inflammatory [Donald] Trump-like comments, I don’t know any illiterate teachers,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “If he thinks we’re illiterate and schools are crumbling prisons, imagine what he and his elitist buddies say about our students behind closed doors.”

CTU educators today demonstrated their literacy by presenting to the governor the ways he has undermined schools and social services in Chicago and downstate Illinois for the entirety of his tenure:

  • From 2009 to 2012, the top 1 percent in Illinois—people like Rauner—captured a whopping 97.2 percent of all income growth, far surpassing the overall Midwest average of 72 percent.
  • This past year, Governor Rauner has pursued his Turnaround Agenda at the expense of working families. Across the state, families have been denied basic human needs, institutions vital to our public life such as universities and municipal governments have started to collapse, and our state infrastructure is being put at risk.
  • If Illinois had kept up with funding education, health care and human services at 2002 levels, the budget for the 2015 fiscal year would have seen more than $6.6 billion for funding to services and programs that every family in Illinois depends on.
  • Illinois ranks No. 5 in the nation for the least fair tax system.
  • In 2013, Illinois spent $1,150 per person on core public services, while Minnesota, a state only slightly wealthier than Illinois, spent $2,742 per person—almost 2 ½ times as much as Illinois.
  • The poorest 20 percent of Illinois residents pay 13.2 percent of their income in taxes—the third highest amount in the country. In comparison, the middle 60 percent pays 10.9 percent, while the top 1 percent pays 4.6 percent.
  • Governor Rauner has supported charter school expansion that has jeopardized the fiscal integrity of Chicago Public Schools. Charter schools expel and suspend Black students at 11 times the rate of traditional, neighborhood schools.

The governor has been in cahoots with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in closing the most schools in American history in minority communities and putting the most resources in the schools that need them the least. His comments reveal who he truly is, and are also outright and cruel lies with no evidentiary basis, created to suit his false narrative that scapegoats hardworking Chicago public school teachers.

Source: The People’s Agenda, a Grassroots Collaborative plan for the prosperity of Illinois families of all incomes.

ILLUSTRATION: Rauner 'Read-Off'(Photo: Jackson Potter/CTU)

Rauner Revealed: “Half of [Chicago] teachers are virtually illiterate”

by illinois federation of teachers  |  July 22, 2016

CHICAGO—As GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump prepares to take the convention stage in Cleveland, Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery responded to revealing emails written by one of Trump’s supporters, Governor Bruce Rauner.

“Governor Bruce Rauner's statement that half of Chicago teachers are ‘virtually illiterate’ is a grotesque affront to the thousands of dedicated, hardworking, and talented educators and, indeed, the children who learn from them and love them,” said Montgomery, a high school English teacher.

“Perhaps the Governor is trying to one-up Donald Trump, whom he said he would support, in the level of hate and impropriety in civic deliberations.

“While Rauner publicly claims to love Illinois teachers, his private emails reveal the appalling truth: he holds them in contempt. No public servant, let alone a governor, is fit to oversee the education of our children when he or she has so little regard for those who teach.”

CTU joins national teachers’ unions in unanimous passage of AFT resolution to strengthen ESSA re-authorization

by ctu communications  |  July 20, 2016

CHICAGO—Following yesterday’s unanimous passage of a resolution at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) national convention to expand community alliances for educators’ vision of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Chicago Teachers Union calls for monumental investment in children and their education through the ESSA process in Illinois and throughout the country. This action is part of the Union’s agenda for vibrant schools for all Illinoisans that include doubling funding for K-12 education, universal and full-day child care for all families, and free state and community college tuition for all. 

On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed ESSA into law as a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replacement for the failed No Child Left Behind (NCLB). ESSA eliminates some of the most damaging components of NLCB’s high-stakes testing and accountability regime, and ends the School Improvement Grants program, whose school closure, chartering and reconstitution requirements have destabilized Black and Brown communities across the country.

In rewriting ESEA, Congress maintained the commitment of federal funding to disadvantaged students and ended the use of standardized tests as the sole basis for accountability. But the most significant long-term change is that the new law assigns responsibility for how federal education dollars are used to the states. During this past year, the federal government designated state school districts as the central political arena to determine education policy around critical issues such as testing, school closings, expansion of charters, implementation of restorative justice programming and adequate funding and support for students who are minorities, disabled or English Language Learners.

“We have a tremendous opportunity in Illinois and all other states to restore democracy and equity in our school districts,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “We can go from a state that funds schools at one of the lowest levels in the country to becoming a state that supports high-quality schools for all children. 

To that end, the CTU encourages the Illinois General Assembly to adopt the following visionary platform to advance school funding and design. These demands are part of a national platform supported by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS), of which the American Federation of Teachers is a part, along with thousands of parents, teachers, students and community activists.  

  • More teaching and less testing. Testing companies are siphoning millions out of our classrooms and into their coffers while distorting teacher and school efficacy. Let's do away with these harmful tests and adequately fund our schools.
  • Tax the wealthy. Only a progressive income tax and millionaires tax can increase funding across the state for the schools that have the most low-income students. We need to ensure that students in Harvey and Peoria receive per-pupil funding that is equivalent to that which students in Winnetka receive.
  • Elected, Representative School Board for Chicago. It is time for Chicago to join the rest of the state and empower its citizens to take control of their school district.
  • Restorative Justice and Wraparound Supports, not punitive discipline, to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • Sustainable Community Schools, and not charters, turnarounds or other disruptive school actions.

The CTU and its partner organizations in AROS have created this model to invest in our community schools. We encourage educators and school communities everywhere to demand that this platform be enacted during the ESSA process over the next year. 

Chicago Teachers Union, champion of the schools Chicago's students deserve

by karen lewis - ctu president  |  July 18, 2016

Over the last six years, the Chicago Teachers Union has been the most consistent champion of the schools Chicago’s students deserve. As such, we politely disagree with the premise and loose facts in the recent editorial on CTU.

Let’s look at those facts.

Since 2010, CTU has given up more than $2 billion in lost pay raises, employer contributions to our pension fund and thousands of teacher layoffs. Our contributions this year, through the loss of pay, benefits and laid-off teachers and paraprofessionals, stretch well into nine figures.

The biggest cost drivers in the Chicago Public Schools are not teacher salaries. Total teacher and administrator salaries have been flat for the last five years. Yet, costs tied to debt service, charter school proliferation and pension contributions have exploded. CPS’ costs are tied to terrible management decisions, such as skipping 10 years of pension payments or using operations money to pay debt service.

Educators did not agree to the SUPES contract that led former CPS CEO to plead guilty to a felony last year. CTU members did not agree to the Aramark outsourcing deal that cost more but left schools filthy. We did not target the South and West sides of the city with the largest mass school closing in U.S. history. Those decisions were made by the mayor and his hand-picked board of education.

Please click here to continue reading at

Third Annual Construction Expo

by ctu communications  |  July 14, 2016

Download the print flyer.

Do you want to learn how to become an electrician, carpenter or bricklayer?
Then this Hands-On Expo is for you!

3rd Annual Construction Expo

Thursday, August 25, 2016
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
St. Paul Community Development Ministries
4550 S. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60653

Register here

During the Expo you will get a chance to learn first-hand what it takes to become an electrician, carpenter, bricklayer, operating engineer, pipefitter or other union building trades careers.

For more information about the building trades, contact Johnetta Ryan,
CISCO’s Education-to-Careers Director at (630) 472-9411.

For more details about the Construction Expo, contact Elder Kevin A. Ford,
Executive Director, St. Paul Community Development Ministries at (773) 538-5120.

CTU responds to new, vague school budgets that continue to hurt students and cripple public education

by jesse sharkey - ctu vice president  |  July 13, 2016

CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Vice President Jesse Sharkey released the following statement in response to the school district’s release of new school budgets:
“While we are glad that 40 percent of the student-based budgeting (SBB) is off the table, school budgets are still lower than last year. Unacceptable school-level cuts continue, and to be clear, these fiscal decisions hurt our students. A short-term fix from Springfield cannot resolve the long-term damage done to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by the Chicago Board of Education and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Simply put, our schools need sustainable, progressive revenue.
“We’ve had year after year of reductions in support personnel to schools, and ‘efficiencies’ that principals have tried to wring out of their schools. There have been hundreds of millions in cuts that CPS claims are ‘away from the classroom,’ but that have cut essential programming from transportation, counseling, after-school programs and even school libraries. Meanwhile, CPS has continued its decades-long practice of furthering segregation by funneling capital funds (long-term debt) towards expanding selective enrollment buildings while neglecting the ‘under-enrolled’ neighborhood schools in their shadow.
“Today’s vague SBB plan offers no details on how these new ‘efficiencies’ will be wrung out from ‘schedules.’ More importantly, there is no mention of any city effort beyond the state-authorized, state-implemented property tax—an authorization that returns us to the funding structure that existed prior to 1995.
“CPS states it’s faced an ‘agonizing’ choice, although the choice is actually a legal requirement resulting from its own fiscal irresponsibility and unwillingness to raise revenue on those who can afford it. The real choice is the one that the CTU has posed repeatedly—choosing to raise revenue from the wealthy to make our schools whole and move towards the schools Chicago’s students deserve, and not cede to the status quo of relegating urban public education to under-funding and worsening segregation.
“TIFs and a corporate head tax will resolve the budget gap completely and result in no cuts to our classrooms. Mayor Emanuel, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and their wealthy friends and developers should pay their fair share instead of paying lip service to teachers, students and parents.”

CTU President Karen Lewis on sharing the pain

by karen lewis - ctu president  |  July 12, 2016


Let me count the ways we’ve already given.

2010 – 1200 educators laid off.

$1.2B heist from our pension fund.

2011 – 4% raise, stolen when they had a surplus.

2012 – 20% increase in school day/year without commensurate compensation.

2013 – 52 schools closed, hundreds laid off.

2015 – 100s of special educators laid off. No raises, no steps/lanes.

I’d say we’ve given a lot, not to mention a brutalizing evaluation culture based on voodoo VAM, incessant paperwork and a system so corrupt and vicious, principals and teachers at “good” schools are fleeing the system in droves let alone the so-called crumbling prisons. STOP THE FALSE EQUIVALENCY. CTU MEMBERS HAVE ALREADY GIVEN AND WE GOT OUR TAX BILLS TOO.

-Karen Lewis

Proposal of Mexican teachers unionists facing official government repression

July 11, 2016

Below is a summary of the proposal made to the government of Mexico by the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores Educacionales (la CNTE), a union of educational workers who have seen their leaders imprisoned and protesting members killed by Mexican police. You can also download a PDF version of this document.

National Education Workers Coordinator1,2

The National Education Workers Coordinator has always claimed our disposition to an open and frank dialogue for the resolution of our demands. In these hard times for our homeland, it is our conviction to contribute in order to make the government and teachers´ conflict, derived from the Education Reform, find ways of solution.

The amendments to the 3rd and 73rd articles, which give contents to the Education Reform, counteract other articles of the Mexican United States´ Political Constitution. It is not from stubbornness that the National Education Workers Coordinator rejects this reform –even more needless to say that our political action in the streets is not our way of acting and living.

For over three years, we have shown the pedagogical inconsistencies of the reform and the assessment it promotes, as well as those of the labor conditions attached to this reform.

The amendment to the education articles and the enforcement of the related secondary laws flagrantly violate individual and social guarantees3. In order to being able to discuss and solve the causes and consequences of the conflict the reform itself must be stopped. The Federal Government has the mechanisms: the Moratorium or Suspension of the Education Reform. This will allow the modification of the articles that violate the workers’ labor rights and the people´s social rights.


  1. The National Education System, SEN, from the very nucleus of the education process, must mobilize on its orbit the most important actors and social forces from the inside and the outside of Public Education; above all teachers, students, parents, communities and neighborhoods.

  2. The transformation of the National Education System must be based on a humanistic and integral education that substitutes the values of the market with the practice of such values as those which the very 3rd constitutional article claims: democracy, use and care of natural resources, comprehension of national issues, scientific work, best of human coexistence, strengthening and growth of culture, the society’s general interest, equity, fraternity, solidarity, and respect for diversity and as an integrative part of the Constitution: the right to free speech, to dignity in labor, and all human and labor rights without exclusion.

  3. The National Education System shall be available for all inhabitants of the country, no matter how far or small their community be or how huge the number of appliers to schools and institutions in the cities. And this education –creative and for all– is a responsibility of society that the state assumes through public, free and secular education. Education must be for all, at all levels, and it is necessary as well to recover for the curricula the ancient and modern pedagogical lessons which will allow us to offer children and young men and women an in-depth, broad and high-level education; in consequence, textbooks must be transformed, keeping them free of charge.

  4. The financial effort of the 12 per cent of the GDP for education, in order to grant the widening of infrastructure, equipment and number of teachers for education at all levels.

  5. The National Education System will turn the students into true conscientious citizens who care for the “general interest of society” (3rd Constitutional article). In this sense, the school must be a community that develops in an environment of freedom, in absence of fear, and regulated by the agreements and principles that, in their respective fields, students and teachers build in the classroom, in the school, and in their relationship to their community. But this cannot be afforded as long as a legal structure prevails which establishes that assessment leads to the layoff or classroom segregation of thousands of teachers, which imposes seven new causes for dismissal and, moreover, which conveys the education authority the faculty to start a process for punishment on the mere suspicion that a teacher has committed an irregularity.

  6. Truly autonomous education in such a way that our schools have freedom to, in the framework of a national education, suggest and define how the curricula, the contents, and the pedagogical practices inside and outside the classroom should be.

  7. Substantial improvement of tenths of thousands of schools, supply of enough teachers to multilevel and unitary schools, school breakfasts, utensils, uniforms and footwear, as well as scholarships and books for all school levels.

  8. In the National Education System assessment is from bottom to top. A horizontal assessment made by teachers and students from the very schools and communities, developed as a dialogic exercise in each zone, region and federal entity. An assessment that, while describing the problems, analyzes the factors that provoke them, the remedies that can suit and that collects on the successful experiences of teachers and schools to improve education. For it to be sincere and really teacher-and-student engaging, this assessment must not be punitive or imply labor or administrative sanctions on the teachers.

  9. An Assessment Council to be formed in each school elected by the community, which considers various elements as education funding, the government responsibility in the main variables of the working of the education system, the material conditions of the school, education programs, teaching training and practice, administrative workload, students attendance, academic results, the performance of education authorities, sociocultural contexts and the assessment methods themselves. This model must repeat at the state and national levels.

  10. A true education transformation must not lay aside the teacher training institutions. We agree to a re-foundation of normal schools4 to strengthen their historical mission. The discussion must revolve around three aspects: the ethical, the political and the epistemological, to make the Mexican normalism stronger and the automatic position appointment for every graduate of public normal schools in the country, who were credited by a training institution officially acknowledged and who qualify to the profile and the correspondent right. We do not support teacher-position sales or heritage, which are instruments for political patronage established by the “charro”5 leaderships of the SNTE.6

  11. The National Education System must advance on the way of strengthening our pluriculturality, on the basis of our multiple identities and of building, from them, a country of diverse potentialities.

  12. Based on the individual and social guarantees in our Letter Magnus7, the National Education system will provide stability to the education workers in all three labor, administrative, and pedagogical fields.

For all hitherto said, we demand from the government:

  1. Absolute suspension of the Education Reform and all its implications, insofar as the 3rd and 73rd constitutional articles and the secondary laws are modified, which pose a risk to the free access to education, and which counteract the vision of a humanistic and integral education; as well as anything that threatens our job and labor stability.

  2. To start at once a social process for education transformation along with all the actors: education workers, parents and students, researchers, pedagogues, intellectuals, lawyers, writers. It means to develop a broad national debate in forums, lectures, work boards, conferences, etc., the results of which shall compulsorily be a part of the new education model. The whole of this process will happen in the framework of an accurate timing, with a wide dissemination campaign and a wide participation.

  3. To resolve the consequences and costs of the Education Reform, as related to victims, political imprisonments, layoffs and layoff processes, arrest warrants, pay suspensions, holding of union dues, etc.

  4. To regularize, in its faculty scope, the union life, as regards the bilateral relationship and the freedom of choice for both national and state union representatives.




1 Translated and annotated by Julio César Escorza for the Trinational Coalition for the Defense of Public Education, Mexican Section.

2 English for: Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE).

3 In Mexican Law, a “guarantee” is a law which protects the people from violations to their basic rights against powerful agents, e.g. the state. They are a consequence of social struggle since Mexican Revolution times.

4 “Escuelas Normales” is the name for the system of public schools for basic education teacher training across the country.

5 A "charro” leader is a government-appointed union boss.

6 Short for Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE), a yellow union of which CNTE is an independent and democratic branch.

7 “Carta Magna” is a common way of naming the country’s Political Constitution.

In fable of a giant, CPS kids and teachers get crushed

by michael brunson - ctu recording secretary  |  July 11, 2016

Michael E. Brunson, recording secretary of the Chicago Teachers Union, answers questions at a press conference supporting the Financial Transaction Tax Act. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

A wise older woman once told me a tale that offers a charmingly unique perspective on the creation of this world.

Somewhere high on a hidden mountain, she said, a giant is sleeping. He has been sleeping for a great number of years. And this world that we experience — and everything in it — is nothing more than his dream: figments and creatures of his imagination.

I told the wise older woman that the giant’s dream seemed to me more like a nightmare. I look around and see so much injustice: greed, unending folly, violence and suffering. I see people sifted and sorted like widgets and treated accordingly. I see lost souls and broken lives. Dreams are supposed to be pleasant, aren’t they? This dream is a nightmare.

But then, I realized, it all depends on where you fit and what role you play in the giant’s surreal cosmos.

The giant’s dream is peopled by some who gloriously but anxiously revel in wealth and power; by others who are ground down by anxiety and misery; and by fewer and fewer people who sit in the middle, watching and commenting as if untouched. And all think: “twas ever thus.”

The charmed few in the giant’s dream go by many titles: hedge funders, stock traders, private equity investors, corporate moguls, philanthropists, professional managers, CEOs, economists, media pundits — the list goes on. I’ve heard them called “the 1 percent.” I’ve heard some called “the 0.1 percent.” They sit atop a magnificent pyramidal financial-economic-political-social structure. They are ensconced in splendorous glory, while those closer and closer to the base of the pyramid are crushed under the weight of all who are situated above them. Life sucks at the bottom.

Please click here to continue reading at

Chicago teachers protest across Loop to demand school funding

by Jessica D'Onofrio and Sarah Schulte - ABC 7 Chicago  |  June 23, 2016

The Chicago Teachers Union dubbed the event "Fight Back Day" and targeted major corporations at sites including at the Thompson Center, Citadel and Willis Tower.

"They're demonstrations to call out and call attention to the amount of money that is being siphoned away from the public coffers which is going to benefit corporations and the politically connected in the city," said Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Please click here to continue reading at

Chicago Teachers Union