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Sue Garza in Crain’s: Betsy DeVos, Bruce Rauner and the myth of 'school choice'

by Alderwoman Sue Sadlowski Garza  |  January 23, 2017

Soon Congress will hold the confirmation vote for billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos, whom Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Department of Education.

DeVos is not an educator, researcher or policymaker. Her only qualification is her extraordinary wealth, which she has used to buy influence in her home state of Michigan and fund a private takeover of public education.

The result has been chaos and dysfunction. In Michigan, there is no cap on the number of private operators, no track record required to set up shop and no accountability for poor performers. The state leads the nation in the number of for-profit schools siphoning tax dollars toward private investors.

DeVos has bankrolled the lobby behind these efforts to recklessly expand and deregulate the billion-dollar charter school industry. But she is not alone. When it comes to funneling public school dollars into private enterprises—or into tax cuts for the wealthy—there is a bipartisan consensus among those at the top.

Here in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner recently appointed Democrat Paul Vallas to the board of Chicago State University, the primarily African-American university that Rauner has underfunded to the brink of closure. Vallas has made a career out of closing black schools and firing black workers, most notably in New Orleans, where he fired every single school employee and turned the entire system over to private operators after Hurricane Katrina. It's not hard to imagine what fate awaits Chicago State in his hands.

DeVos would also likely approve of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's track record in Chicago, where charter school proliferation has sucked millions of dollars from traditional public schools, with scant evidence of improved results. After Emanuel closed 50 neighborhood schools, the number of black teachers in Chicago Public Schools dropped by 30 percent—coming at a time when the unemployment rate in the city's black neighborhoods is a whopping 25 percent.

From 1994 to 2015, I was a counselor in Chicago Public Schools…

Read the entire article in Crain’s Chicago Business Opinion section.

I teach because it matters

by roxana gonzalez - prieto academy  |  January 20, 2017

It’s hard to put into words the profound effect that the Trump campaign and election has had on me as a Latinx educator leading a classroom of Black and brown students. For weeks, I had been looking forward to election night because it would mark the end of the tumultuous and emotionally taxing campaign season. As I watched the Electoral College map turned red, the reality and all the accompanying emotions of a Trump presidency were simply overwhelming.

I was angry and fearful, but I wasn’t necessarily surprised at the outcome. Trump had run a campaign of hate that relied on people’s racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia to win the vote. The politics of fear won, but every day in my classroom, my students remind me of the beauty and power of communities that Trump repeatedly attacked.

ILLUSTRATION: Resistance wall

I teach middle school social studies on the West Side of Chicago, and my students embody tenacity in the face of adversity. They are resilient not despite of who they are as Black and brown youth, but because of who they are. On our toughest days, they remind me that our work towards “freedom and justice for all” is a work in progress, and one which they will lead.

As a social justice educator, I am always looking for ways to uplift the voices in history that have historically been left out of textbooks. In the same way, we seek to understand the issues and conflicts that affect our communities the most, and students’ interests are driving the curriculum. In a roundabout way, the Trump campaign re-energized me because it reminded me that teaching and empowering students is not only necessary, but urgent.

People often ask me why I teach. The short answer is, “I teach because it matters.” As inauguration day approaches, remember that threats to our community's stability and progress are much closer than Washington, D.C. On the same day that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked Board of Education announced four forced furlough days for Chicago Public Schools teachers and staff members, the U.S. Department of Justice released a scathing report on Chicago policing practices. Both of these are examples that local leadership and institutions will not prioritize the needs and safety of our communities. As an educator, I commit to fostering civic engagement and critical thinking in my classroom. For starters, the president can expect 100+ letters of advice on the morning of inauguration day from the eighth grade scholars that I have the privilege of working with every day.

To my fellow educators, remember that in a political climate that treats teachers and students in communities of color with disdain, teaching with love and joy is also an act of resistance. Stay mad. Keep loving. Resist. Organize. And as Solange Knowles sings, “Don’t let anyone steal your magic.”

ILLUSTRATION: We would like you to know

Teaching during a Trump presidency

by Linda Perales - Corkery Elementary  |  January 19, 2017

As a Latina educator who is a product of CPS and has parents, family members, friends and students that are immigrants, there are so many implications to teaching during a Trump presidency. I fell asleep before the results of the election were announced, and although Trump was in the lead at the time, I figured that when I woke up things would go back to “normal,” and this lunatic that spews hate would not be given the highest office in the country. Yet, when I woke up and found out the news, I was stunned to learn that this racist and sexist extremist would be our next president.

The implications of this new era were further solidified in my mind when I had the first opportunity to see my students after the news broke. Imagine a group of K-2 special education students, the majority of which are immigrants or come from immigrant families, sitting on the rug in front of me, saying “Ese hombre no me gusta, es malo.” (I don’t like that man, he’s bad.) How ironic, seeing that Trump is the one who called our brothers, uncles, fathers and grandfathers “bad hombres.” The concern and worry that my students voiced immediately fueled my fire to let my students know that I am their advocate, and their protector.

How can I do this? How can I let them know that our culture is beautiful? That our language is beautiful? That our brown skin and indigenous roots are beautiful? That the sacrifices and struggles that our parents face every single day are not in vain? I plan to do this with softness, with caring, with realness and with authentic caring connections. I will continue to cultivate a loving environment in my classroom in which the experiences of my students and their families are validated and valued. I will set the example to them as a Latina with a master’s degree, and show them that their teachers can look like them. I will help my students understand that the neighborhood of Little Village that they are being raised in is filled with hard-working, self sacrificing and resourceful adults. My students have strong, powerful and brilliant young minds, and can fulfill every ounce of potential that they possess.

We, the Latinx community, make major contributions to the neighborhood, the city, the state and the country as a whole, and although this new era will heighten and intensify the existing injustices that we face, we should not be frightened. We should see this as a push to personally begin, or continue, our fight to combat this oppression, both inside and outside of the classroom.

ILLUSTRATION: Pareles/Corkery

Part-Time Job Opening for Citywide Member

by ctu communications  |  January 17, 2017

City-wide part-time grievance and organizing correspondent

The CTU is looking for an active city-wide member to help coordinate grievance and organizing efforts with our rank and file clinicians.

The position is part-time for 6 to 8 hours a week.

The position requires the following:

  1. Managing communications with city-wide members about their contractual rights, organizing opportunities, and functional group meetings for the Union and with Chicago Public Schools.
  2. Attending city-wide SPED/Clinician taskforce meetings where possible
  3. Coordinating member outreach with direction from the grievance director, organizing director, and SPED campaign leaders.
  4. Check in on a weekly basis with the Financial Secretary to track outreach with city-wide members and planning meeting agendas and scheduling.
  5. Chairing the City-wide Clinician Committees and planning collaborative efforts with the CTU SPED committee.

Compensation is $30 per hour.

Please send a cover letter and résumé to Maria Moreno via email.

Student Essay and Art Contests

by ctu communications  |  January 17, 2017

The CTU Foundation is sponsoring an essay contest on ending racim and an art contest on the theme of sanctuary schools. Submissions accepted until Feb 15.

Click here for more information on the student contests.

CTU resolution to defend targets of President-elect Donald Trump's attacks

by ctu communications  |  January 13, 2017

WHEREAS, the recent presidential election resulted in a president-elect who uses fear and hate against undocumented immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ, women, and African Americans to invigorate his base and the Alt-Right in order to win the elections; and whose campaign included promises to build a wall, deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, create a registry for Muslims living in the U.S., and scale up detrimental stop and frisk policies that contribute to the school to prison pipeline; and 

WHEREAS, The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) will not tolerate hate or discrimination against any of these identified groups or populations; and

WHEREAS, The CTU membership is comprised of teachers, clinicians and PSRP’s who receive temporary legal status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is an executive action issued by the current President’s administration; and

WHEREAS, The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has one of the most ethnically diverse bodies of students in the world: it is estimated 5% of the student population is undocumented; and

WHEREAS, there are students that live in mixed status households, meaning one or various members of the family can be undocumented while others have some kind of temporary or permanent status; and

WHEREAS, young people who applied for DACA relief are under direct threat by the President Elect’s first 100 days’ plan to eliminate the Presidential Executive Action; and

WHEREAS, CTU members, students and their families will be impacted by the policy decisions made by the President Elect; and

WHEREAS, The CTU members shares a responsibility to support and protect students and their families; and

WHEREAS, the CTU acknowledges that the policies of deporting and criminalizing immigrants are policies Mayor Rahm Emanuel devised as adviser and chief of staff of the Clinton and Obama administrations respectively; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the CTU hereby condemn the hateful, racist and xenophobic rhetoric promulgated by the President Elect which will become policy after his inauguration; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the CTU will not participate in or perpetuate the divisiveness created by politicians by labeling undocumented immigrants as good or bad immigrants; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the CTU will not participate in pitting black and brown communities against each other as the President-elect pushes to do; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the CTU will provide trainings to CTU members such as how to support undocumented youth and provide informational trainings on immigrant students rights, understanding DACA; and training on college counseling for undocumented students, as well as curriculum; and be it further

RESOLVED, The CTU will advocate for the President-elect to keep the executive action for DACA; and be it further

RESOLVED, the CTU will not support ICE raids and deportations even if federal funding is cut or threatened to be cut; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the CTU will oppose any efforts to create a Muslim registry system, build a wall, enforce massive deportations, and impose stop and frisk civil rights violations upon our communities; and be it further

RESOLVED, the CTU advocates that all public and charter schools in the city of
Chicago become sanctuary schools; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the CTU will support the ACCESS Bill currently in the state legislature; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the CTU will advocate for and support students or members facing disciplinary action for participating in any activism in response to harmful policies; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the CTU will support community organizations and immigrant rights organizations demanding changes to the welcoming cities ordinance; and be it further

RESOLVED, the CTU will join the efforts of organizations like the Immigration Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and other immigrant rights organizations; and be it further 

RESOLVED, That the Chicago Teachers Union hereby asks the City of Chicago to reaffirm its status as a welcoming city and its commitment to remain a place of safety and refuge for refugees from around the world, instructing that law enforcement and city officials shall not participate, cooperate, or facilitate planned raids to apprehend undocumented immigrants; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the CTU will support rallies, marches or other actions that further protections for students and their families against harmful policies that aim to divide or incarcerate students and /or their families including but not limited to local and national protests such as those in Washington, DC on the 20th and the 21st for January 2017.

Petition Against KRONOS Self-Service

by ctu communications  |  January 12, 2017

This petition opposes the unfair practice of forcing teachers to manage and monitor their own payroll, including benefit days, absences, and leaves. Educators also object to the harms this will cause to clerks around the system as positions are eliminated and combined.

Arguments against this practice are as follows:

  • No other profession is forced to follow such practice;
  • time is taken from instructional preps, lunch, and/or personal time at least once a week, including training;
  • no hard copies or further instruction was provided prior to installation of the program;
  • no technological support for staff; and
  • staff and faculty are being asked to perform technology tasks outside of the realm of instruction, thus creating excessive paperwork for teachers.

Additionally, the instructional material has been inadequate and the new system creates stress, unease and fear of lost pay. This unnecessary and onerous system will deprive educators of time necessary to prepare instruction, mentor students, and attend to the needs of our classrooms.

Download the petition

House of Delegates Agenda for Jan 11, 2017

by Michael Brunson  |  January 10, 2017

Download the agenda.

A horrifying prospect for public schools

by erika wozniak - oriole park elementary  |  January 09, 2017

Betsy DeVos has never gone to public schools. Her children have never attended public schools. She has never taught or served as an administrator in public schools. She has made a career out of funding schemes to cripple or destroy public schools. And now Donald Trump has a new way to put Betsy DeVos and public schools in the same sentence: Let Betsy DeVos help shape the future of public schools as head of the Education Department.

Is it any wonder why a public school teacher like me — someone who knows the value of this institution both as educator and as student — finds this idea nothing short of horrifying?

Please click here to continue reading at medium.com.

Social justice in the elementary classroom

by Theresa Insalaco-DeCicco, M.Ed. NBCT - CTUF quest center  |  January 06, 2017

In alignment with the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation's mission to ensure equity, equality and fairness in public education, the Quest Center is offering a new, unique, special project that focuses on providing teachers with long-term support in developing instructional units that incorporate social justice related topics into every day elementary level instruction. Social Justice in the Elementary Classroom—An Action Lab is a six-month professional learning opportunity worth 36 Illinois State Board of Education professional development hours that promotes actions that address school and community issues students have identified as impacting their learning, personal and group well-being or social-emotional growth, and daily life in their community. The Action Lab also supports teachers as they plan units of instruction that lead their students to take ownership of their own learning and determine how that learning impacts their daily lives. 

The Action Lab will begin with a three-week intensive survey and planning period in which participants become familiar with the needs, interests and concerns their students have about issues in their schools and communities. They will address teaching for diversity in their classrooms and plan accordingly.

Once the students determine an area of focus, teachers return to the Action Lab to learn strategies and techniques for supporting their students in decision-making processes that lead to an action for improvement. For each school and community, this action for improvement will vary, and might be related to issues such as setting up a recycling program or garden at the school, designing and starting a community garden, or reaching out to local businesses and resources to set up a program for parents or community members. Whatever need or issue students identify, elementary teachers will collaborate through the Action Lab to plan ways to support their students' success. They learn how to be facilitators of conversations in the classroom that are sometimes difficult but need to occur in order to meet a need or identify a true problem. 

Participants will also read and discuss research and articles about teaching for social justice and addressing diversity to inform and support their facilitation of the instructional unit with their students. 

The Action Lab is also unique because it is the inaugural hybrid professional learning opportunity of the Quest Center. Participants hold online discussions between class meetings to collaborate, analyze videos of students working together and holding discussions about social justice-related topics and the unit of instruction leading to the action, and reflect on the process of the social justice unit they are teaching. They also access videos about social justice education, related articles and other resources, and participate in an online forum about the development of their unit and student action. 

As a catalyst for instructional planning in social justice topics, the Quest Center looks forward to seeing the long term impact of the Action Lab in elementary schools throughout the district.

REGISTER TODAY!

Theresa Insalaco-DeCicco, M.Ed. NBCT, is a CTUF Quest Center professional development facilitator and the Social Justice in the Elementary Classroom—An Action Lab instructor. The Action Lab begins January 17, 2017. Participants may earn 36 ISBE PD Hours and/or two Lane Placement Credits for completion of the entire project. To learn more and register online go to www.ctuf.org or contact Insalaco-DeCicco at 312-329-6270 or theresainsalaco-decicco@ctuf.org.

Chicago Teachers Union