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Public School Educators, Public Service, Child Care and Health Care Workers Call on Mayor to End ‘Toxic’ Swap Deals and Restore Millions to City and Schools

by ctu communications  |  September 16, 2014

Logos of: CTU, AFSCME Council 31, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana

CHICAGO—Three of the city’s largest unions are calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to immediately file for arbitration to seek a refund of sums expended on fraudulent interest rate swaps that are costing the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public School district more than $100 million every year.
 
In a letter to the mayor, the Chicago Teachers Union, AFSCME Council 31 and SEIU Healthcare IL charged that Chicagoans are losing out as banks profit from risky interest rate swap deals.  More than $800 million has already gone into the coffers of a handful of big banks, such as Bank of America, and private investment firms such as Loop Capital.
 
These toxic swaps were entered into by government bodies in hopes of stabilizing their financial planning and protecting against major losses of public resources. But the banks’ failure to fully disclose the risks of these agreements has cost the public billions in cities and towns across the country.
 
“Ending these deals would generate additional revenue that would help the city meet a wide range of vital needs—mental health services, early childhood education, public safety and the growing pension obligation,” wrote CTU President Karen Lewis, AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch and SEIU Healthcare IL President Keith Kelleher in a September 15th letter to the mayor. “…Recouping the city’s losses on interest rate swaps is one viable option and we urge you to pursue it aggressively….”
 
Record low interest rates caused by Wall Street’s crashing of the economy in 2008, and a bailout by tax payers have worked to put the banks on the winning side of these toxic swaps. Banks have profited from these deals while the city has justified closing schools, shutting down clinics and slashing retirement savings due to a lack of cash.
 
Public officials around the country are beginning to challenge these deals and the banks that benefit from them. Now Chicago labor and community organizations are urging Mayor Emanuel to do the same by filing for arbitration under the federal Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
 
An arbitration panel recently found that swaps with the Baldwin County Sewer Service in Alabama were obtained through misrepresentation of the risks associated with these deals. The county Sewer Service was awarded all money lost ($7.4 million) on the bad swaps from the bank and was allowed to terminate the agreement with no penalties. The Los Angeles City Council and Harris County (Houston), Texas have both taken first steps to end these deals and recoup money lost to these fraudulent agreements as well.
 
Filing for arbitration for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools is a simple but essential step to force renegotiation of the deals and recover the hundreds of millions of dollars already lost to the banks which have left Chicago taxpayers on the hook.  The unions’ letter to the mayor made clear that action is needed immediately, pointing out that the “option of filing for arbitration under the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority could end as early as October.”  Unions, along with concerned community groups, are planning a series of actions focused on exposing the biggest abusers of these agreements.

Chicago teachers union leader and mayoral hopeful comes to Newark to learn from Mayor Baraka

September 15, 2014

NEWARK - Chicago Teachers Union president and potential mayoral candidate Karen Lewis came to Newark on Friday for a series of meetings and seminars. But as she prepares for a possible run against incumbent Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the most important meeting in the days ahead is with one particular man: Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.

"I want to talk to [Baraka] about his progress - his move from the education sphere into the political sphere, and how he's managed that," said Lewis, a reference to Baraka's former job as principal of Newark's Central High School before he was sworn in as mayor in July. 

There are some considerable parallels between the careers of Lewis and Baraka. 

Lewis was the fiery leader of the Chicago teachers union during the 2012 teachers' strike, and she vocally opposed the closure of about 50 schools in mostly poor, minority neighborhoods of Chicago in 2013. 

Baraka was elected with strong public sector union support and on a wave of discontent emanating from the announcement of the One Newark school reorganization plan in December, six months before the May mayoral election  in Newark. 

The initiative includes the expansion of charter schools, which already serve approximately 20 percent of the city's students, as well as the closure or consolidation of certain public schools.

Read more at Chicago teachers union leader and mayoral hopeful comes to Newark to learn from Mayor Baraka | Politicker NJ.

Chicago Teachers Union Formally Endorses Incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn for Governor

by ctu communications  |  September 12, 2014

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union today endorsed incumbent Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in his re-election bid against school privatization proponent Bruce Rauner. The endorsement came after the governor met with leaders of the union’s Political-Legislative Committee (PAC/LEG) and where he fielded tough questions about collective bargaining, charter schools, teacher evaluations, the city’s under-resourced schools, school closings, job creation, among a myriad of other topics.

In making the announcement, CTU President Karen Lewis said, “I am proud CTU’s rank-and-file has made Governor Quinn their choice to lead Illinois. He is a consensus builder, will support public school educators and will continue his work to strengthen public education in Illinois and protect working families. Governor Quinn believes in public schools and I know he will fight to make sure every child has a great education."

Lewis blasted Rauner as an “out-of-touch” privatizer who will lay off one out of every six teachers across the state. “A Rauner vote is a vote for more school closings, more than 27,000 teacher lay-offs, statewide charter proliferation and an erosion of our collective bargaining rights,” she said. “Rauner's Tea Party-type policies have no place in Illinois."

It is no secret Rauner considers teachers’ unions a hurdle to privatization.  The multimillionaire has publicly stated that he wants to dismantle unions, and if elected, he will seek to create in Illinois a type of Wisconsin vs. Scott Walker dangerous scenario. Rauner has privately bragged that he will "shut down" state government and his tax plan would result in extreme and radical cuts to education that will lay off one out of every six teachers. The corporate broker was also the mastermind behind bringing Stand for Children to Illinois.

Governor Quinn has a strong record of fighting to improve education in Illinois. Since taking office, he has increased education funding by $2.2 billion, securing revenue in 2011 to protect the classroom from cuts sought by Republicans. Under his leadership, Illinois has increased students taking AP exams and dual credit enrollment, allowing more high school students opportunities to gain college credits, making higher education more accessible and affordable. The governor also has mobilized the state’s education system behind the “60 by 2025” goal—60% of our adult workforce with a degree or career certificate by the year 2025—and has been hitting the targets each year.

Governor Quinn laid out a 5-year blueprint for economic growth that focuses on delivering stronger education to all students, including the largest increase in classroom funding in Illinois history and a game-changing investment in early childhood.

“Governor Quinn will fight for a living wage in Illinois, will stand with organized labor and will champion the voice of everyday citizens who want safe neighborhoods, affordable and safe housing and quality neighborhood schools,” added Gloria Higgins, co-chair of CTU’s PAC/LEG. “Our members agreed we want our state to continue moving forward. Illinois can’t afford to become Bruce Rauner’s financial playpen and some egotistical political experiment. We’re going to encourage every CTU member to turn out for Governor Quinn in November.”

The governor will protect the classroom from cuts sought by Republicans, and proposed the largest increase in classroom funding in Illinois history. Under his leadership, Illinois has increased students taking AP exam and dual credit enrollment, allowing more high school students opportunities to gain college credits, making higher education more accessible and affordable. Gov. Quinn also has mobilized the state’s education system behind the “60 by 2025” goal—60 percent of our adult workforce with a degree or career certificate by the year 2025.

Resolution on CTU Exploratory Political Activity

by ctu communications  |  September 10, 2014

WHEREAS, to more forcefully advocate for the schools and city Chicagoans deserve, the CTU has decided to undertake an increased level of involvement in campaigns for state and local elective office, and

WHEREAS, CTU members from across the city have actively run, are currently running, or are considering running, for elective office, and

WHEREAS, as a general rule, CTU does not formally endorse candidates until they have officially secured a place on the ballot, and

WHEREAS, and CTU members and staff have expertise in the significant campaign work that must occur prior to official ballot recognition therefore be it

RESOLVED, that, in the interest of the Union as a whole, the Executive Board and House of Delegates officially authorize CTU staff to assist members in a reasonable and appropriate manner in accordance with Illinois election laws and past practice to explore campaigns for elective office prior to official candidate or campaign endorsements, and be it further

RESOLVED, that such assistance from CTU staff in no way constitutes an endorsement of a particular candidate or campaign. Official endorsements shall only occur through the process outlined in the CTU constitution, which requires a recommendation from the CTU Political Action Committee and approval by both the CTU Executive Board and the House of Delegates. 

X  Adopted          o Adopted as Amended          o Defeated           o Tabled          o  Other         

Passed Executive Board by unanimous vote.

Passed by House of Delegates 9.3.2014 by majority vote.

SURVEY: Professional Learning Needs

by CTU COMMUNICATIONS  |  September 10, 2014

The CTU Quest Center wants to hear from YOU!

 
 

The CTU Quest Center values your input. Help us to determine the categories of professional learning opportunities that meet your professional development needs. We will analyze the data to determine the courses, workshops and study groups CTU membership would like the Quest Center to provide during this school year so we can plan accordingly.

 
 

Please take a few minutes to click the link below and complete this survey to tell us how we can support you!

 

 
Click Here to Start the Survey

TONIGHT: Karen Lewis in South Shore

by ctu communications  |  September 08, 2014

  

Hosted by the Chicago Teachers Union and
The Planning Coalition

 

You're invited to a "Conversations with Karen" event in South Shore! All CTU members and their families are invited to share their concerns regarding such issues as how to strengthen our neighborhood schools, misguided school reform, the attacks on our pensions, preserving union rights and the upcoming elections.

 

Monday, September 8
6–8pm

The Quarry 75

2423 E. 75th Street
(Admission Free of Charge)

 
 
Click to register and for more info
 
 

Huffington Post: Why This Chicago High School Has Only 12 Students Left

by Joseph Erbentraut  |  September 04, 2014

Once Dyett High School closes, as it is expected to, Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood will be without an open-enrollment high school.Classes began districtwide at Chicago's public schools on Tuesday, and the scene at most of the city's hundreds of schools was one of excitement as groups of students crowded into the campus doors.

This was not the case, however, at Dyett High School in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side. There, only 12 students -- all seniors -- showed up for classes at the school, which is slated to complete its four-year "phaseout" process and close by the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.

Chicago Public Schools voted in 2012 to eventually close Dyett due to low academic performance. The school stopped accepting freshman students but allowed current students to continue there if they wished to do so. At the end of the 2014 term, 25 Dyett juniors transferred to other schools, leaving behind only the dozen who will graduate in 2015, according to NBC Chicago. Others may still transfer before the year's end.

In the meantime, Dyett's staff of three teachers and one principal continue to offer classes to the remaining students. Certain courses -- such as art, gym and music -- are taught online.

CBS Chicago reports the school's budget for the year is $1.085 million.

Critics of the Board of Education's decision to phase out Dyett accused the district of pressuring the school's remaining students to abandon the school, DNAinfo Chicago previously reported.

Please click here to continue reading at HuffingtonPost.com.

Sun-Times: CPS outpaces charter schools in improvements, especially in reading

by Art Golab, Becky Schlikerman and Lauren FitzPatrick - Chicago sun-times  |  September 02, 2014

Chicago’s public neighborhood elementary schools improved greatly in reading and slightly in math, outpacing average charter school growth last year, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of recently released testing data.

Though neighborhood schools scored just a hair higher than charters in 2014 scores — landing in the 49th percentile nationally for reading and math compared with the 48th for charters — Chicago Public Schools’ open-enrollment schools made much better progress than charters in reading over 2013, according to the analysis of the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress test data.

CPS schools, on average, scored better than 75 percent of all schools nationwide in reading growth.

By contrast, reading growth was about 27 percentile points lower, meaning charters scored better than 48.2 percent of all schools nationwide, among charter schools with available testing data.

In math, the growth gap was much smaller, as neighborhood schools squeaked past charter schools — in the 54.9th percentile versus the 49.5th percentile, according to the analysis, which weighted the scores according to the number of kids who took the test.

Fifty-nine charter schools reported results, but Chicago International Charter School’s Loomis, Alain Locke Charter Elementary Academy, Global Citizenship and Namaste and the LEARN schools were not included in the data CPS provided.

Troy LaRaviere, a Lake View principal who has been critical of charters, said the similar attainment scores could result from charter schools starting with students who are more motivated.

“They’re just getting students that perform at a higher level, but they’re doing far less with them in terms of fostering growth in the students they get,” LaRaviere said.

Please click here to continue reading at suntimes.com.  

Schools Matter! Logan Square united for public schools

by ctu communications  |  September 02, 2014

Join us at 4pm on Friday at the Illinois Centennial Memorial Column in Logan Square, which is located at the intersection of North Milwaukee Avenue and Logan Boulevard. A CTU social event will follow at 5:15 p.m. at El Cid bar and restaurant, 2645 N. Kedzie Ave.

Are you on Facebook?? Then visit the Schools Matter sign-up page!!

Logan Square Party for Neighborhood Schools

Sun-Times: Let CPS counselors do their jobs

by Kristy Brooks  |  September 02, 2014

After two hours running a meeting for a student’s medical needs, I walk out to find Ana, a teenager in tears. A friend was shot and killed in her neighborhood last night, and she’s struggling to make sense of it. I wish I knew Ana (a pseudonym) had been waiting, but what if I had known?

Like 75 percent of my Chicago Public Schools elementary/middle school counselor colleagues, I’m forced to assume the additional “duty” of case manager, overseeing all special-education student services. How do I choose what’s more important: working with students who have great social-emotional needs, or handling the endless crush of legally mandated special-education meetings and paperwork? It’s an impossible choice, as both are essential. After eight years in this district, the dilemma continues to break my heart each day.

School counselors hold master’s degrees and licenses to address social-emotional, academic, and career needs. We are trained to teach whole classroom guidance, run small groups, and work with students one-on-one in crisis situations. While every Chicago public school has at least one school counselor, often that’s in title only. The hundreds of us who also are case managers are able to respond only to students with immediate needs such as suicidal thoughts or abuse instead of teaching preventive lessons for everyone.

Please visit Chicago Sun-Times.com for the full story. 

Chicago Teachers Union