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Oppose SB 316!

by ctu communications  |  July 02, 2015

SB 316 for web

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CTU Budget Briefing

by Pavlyn Jankov - CTU research  |  July 01, 2015

The following was cross-posted from A Just Chicago.

CPS: Broke on purpose

CPS: Broke on purpose

As the new fiscal year started for the Chicago Public Schools, Rahm Emanuel and interim-CEO Jesse Ruiz announced $200 million in cuts, including 1400 layoffs, while warning that even more devastating cuts to the classrooms will be coming down the line if the state fails to act on his legislative agenda – a legislative agenda that included no new progressive revenue sources.  The mayor claimed that CPS has made hundreds of millions in central office cuts that have spared the classroom, and decried the state for holding CPS hostage to the state-level fiscal impasse.

Both narratives are false. The mayor and his hand-picked unelected school board are in large part to blame for passing gimmick budgets and failing to pursue sound progressive revenue options for four years, and instead prioritizing their privatization and corporate reform agenda. Furthermore, the claim that CPS has kept cuts away from the classrooms is untrue.

Immediately after the mayor’s press conference, the  Chicago Teachers Union released a budget briefing  that highlighted CPS’ false claims about central office cuts, the misplaced priorities of the administration, reckless outsourcing approved by the Board,  dangerous indebtedness to banks, and ways by which CPS should prioritize their budget to meet the needs of students. Despite claiming over $900 million in aggregate cuts ‘away’ from schools over 4 years, CPS has actually increased spending on central office salaries since 2011, by $22 million. CPS has not only held the line against budget cuts to its central offices involved in standardized-testing (Department of Assessment), expanding school choice (Innovation and Incubation) and test-based management of schools (Accountability), but they’ve increased spending on staff by 11% since 2011. The district spends nearly $300 million a year on interest on debt owed to the banks, and pays millions a year in fees to banks just to be able to sell more debt to the bond market.

CPS is broke on purpose. Through their refusal to get progressive revenue, the mayor and his peers from the financial sector have trapped the city and CPS in a cycle of broken budgets and a dependence on financial instruments that exploit Chicago residents to enrich the corporate class.

Summer School In Session on July 3 and 6

by CTU Communications  |  July 01, 2015

The Chicago Public Schools Law Department confirmed to the union on Tuesday that, contrary to rumors, CPS will not be canceled on Friday, July 3 or Monday, July 6. Class will take place as previously scheduled.

Press statement on layoffs

by CTU Communications  |  July 01, 2015

June 30, 2015
CONTACT:  Stephanie Gadlin

Mayor Emanuel blindsides teachers by cutting 1,400 in retaliation for making the school district’s $634 million pension obligation

chicago – The Chicago Teachers Union released the following statement upon learning from media that interim schools CEO Jesse Ruiz allegedly intends to lay off 1,400 educators on Wednesday. The CTU labor agreement expires in three and one half hours.

“We are blindsided by reports that the district intends to lay off 1,400 public school educators, given that we just met with them yesterday and there was no mention of this action. These layoffs prove that the Board never intended to make the pension payment in good faith and that they are using this to justify more attacks on our classrooms,” said Karen Lewis, president of the CTU. “Putting 1,400 people out of work is no way to balance a budget and resource our schools. This is going to hurt our students and the most vulnerable children in our district. These cuts are a result of a history of poor fiscal management by the Board of Education. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked board has led this district over a financial cliff.

“We are outraged at this deceptive action that only furthers the distrust teachers, parents and students have of the Board. We thought it suspect at the time that the Board was pressuring us to sign off on an agreement yesterday, before we had a complete agreement. This is retaliatory and unnecessary because the mayor refuses to seek revenue options to stabilize CPS.”


Mayor loses cool and attacks teachers who are fighting for resources for the city’s school children; issues false statement

by jesse sharkey - CTU Vice PResident   |  June 26, 2015

CHICAGO – CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey responded to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s recent statement on stalled labor talks between educators and his handpicked board which refuses to agree to the union’s no-cost proposals:

“The mayor’s statement is outrageous with no basis in fact. Teachers and other school employees have never asked for less accountability or the elimination of evaluation. He is highly misinformed. His comment is designed to cover up his role in running the school district into the ground. The mayor is the one who made the appointments of people who have made poor fiscal decisions that have led to lowered bond ratings and billion dollar deficits. The mayor added 20 percent to the school day and school year at the same time he’s trying to cut 20 percent out of school budgets. The mayor’s handpicked board has increased spending on things that have nothing to do with education.

“The teachers union made a proposal to address an inconsistency in the teacher evaluation system whereby educators with 'proficient' observations could nevertheless be given a 'developing' rating and therefore moved to the front of the layoff line. It is simply untrue that we proposed eliminating evaluations for tens of thousands of employees.

“We hope this statement from the mayor does not signal he’s removed his fuzzy sweater and is back to his old ways of trying to bully public school teachers into an agreement that does nothing to help school children. Apparently, he’s lost his cool. The mayor is trying to shirk responsibility as the sole power who appointed the people responsible for the district financial problems.”

ILLUSTRATION: Broke on purpose

No Deal

by ctu communications  |  June 25, 2015

CHICAGO—Today, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) said negotiations with the Chicago Board of Education have not produced a one-year agreement and that talks are at a standstill. CTU President Karen Lewis, speaking during a briefing with reporters said: “We have not reached an agreement with the Board of Education. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) refuses to budge on our contract proposals that will have no cost impact on the district. Initially, we thought we might be close to a deal, but today we have found out that their bargaining rhetoric is as empty as their bank accounts.

ILLUSTRATION: Contract briefing screenshot

“What we’re asking for speaks to the very heart of our profession—which is being able to provide high-quality education for our district's 400,000-plus students. Instead of making a deal with us, they’ve made threats—threats to terminate 3,000 educators; threats to increase our class sizes; threats to eliminate our pension pick-up; and threats to enforce another $200 million worth of cuts.

“We are insulted by these punitive proposals and corporate-driven directives from CPS. We are professional educators who have been asked to work 20 percent longer with 20 percent fewer resources. 

“We are clear that CPS is broke on purpose and their fiscal crisis, though of their own making, is real. That is why we are negotiating for meaningful solutions to the corporate-sponsored policies that make our jobs difficult. This isn’t about money, this is about standing up for what is right in pedagogy and for what is right for our students and their families.

“We want the autonomy to properly grade and an end to countless, unnecessary testing; more counselors, nurses, social workers and other clinicians in our school buildings to help students deal with environmental stresses (such as poverty, homelessness and violence that hinder learning); and we want the cuts to special education to end. The Board refuses to even discuss progressive revenue options that are available to provide long-term solutions to their self-created fiscal crisis. Why? If they are cash strapped, then why won’t they look into these options at all?

"While we are willing to remain at the bargaining table and our talks will eventually resume, right now these negotiations have broken. This is not about the money—this is about the working and learning conditions in our school buildings. We have said repeatedly that we are willing to compromise on raises if we can be assured we can have the tools necessary to provide a high-quality education for children.

“Our contract expires next Tuesday and if no agreement is in place we will remain under our old agreement.”

ILLUSTRATION: Broke on purpose 

Thursday rally for teachers fired illegally at recently unionized charter Urban Prep

by ctu communications  |  June 24, 2015

ILLUSTRATION: Union Now!On June 3rd, teachers at Urban Prep voted over 60% “yes” to be represented by AFT Local 4343—Chicago ACTS, despite a very determined anti-union campaign. But this decisive election seems not to have stopped management’s efforts to bust the union. Last Friday, management illegally fired 16 teachers and staff, most of them union supporters. Two of those fired—Mathias Muschal and Natasha Robinson—are leaders of the organizing committee and exemplary teachers who had dedicated 6 and 7 years to students at Urban Prep.

Will you join us at the board meeting this Thursday, the 25th, at 3:30 PM? We will meet outside the meeting site at Urban Prep Englewood Campus, 6201 S. Stewart Ave.

Please note the new location. This was just changed from their downtown headquarters late this Tuesday!

Officers and organizers of ChiACTS are taking legal steps to right this injustice, including filing unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. While we know we have a strong case, the legal process can be long and drawn-out, especially when fighting an employer so determined not to have to answer to its teachers.

A strong showing by education activists such as yourself will go a long way toward not only getting these teachers their jobs back, but getting UP management to the negotiations table. Together with teachers, parents and students from across the city, we can show the network’s management that an injury to one of us is an injury to all.

RSVP today if you plan to attend the board meeting!

In These Times: Why Chicago Won’t Go Bankrupt—And Detroit Didn’t Have To

by BY SAQIB BHATTI - Roosevelt institute   |  June 24, 2015

When Detroit became the largest city in the history of the United States to file bankruptcy in 2013, a question quickly emerged: Which city would be next?

Because conventional wisdom held that bloated pensions had bankrupted Detroit, the conversation revolved around other cities with large pension shortfalls, such as New York, Philadelphia and Jacksonville, Florida. Anti-union politicians used the opportunity to hold up Detroit as a boogeyman. Bruce Rauner, then a Republican candidate for Illinois governor, ran a campaign ad in 2013 that said, “Detroit just declared bankruptcy, and if we don’t change direction, Illinois is next,” explicitly invoking the state’s unfunded pension liability as the reason (it should be noted that this claim was untrue, as federal law bars states from filing bankruptcy).

All of this uproar rested on a basic falsehood in the dominant public narrative around Detroit: that pensions played a key role in driving the city bankrupt. But those who studied the bankruptcy closely know that the reverse is true: The city filed bankruptcy so that it could cut pensions.

Detroit’s bankruptcy was not borne out of financial necessity and was not a foregone conclusion. It was a political decision made by state officials. Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature chose to push the distressed city over the edge in order to accomplish two otherwise difficult political goals: slashing pensions and regionalizing the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. It was disaster capitalism at its finest.

Austerity hawks are now hoping to use the Detroit playbook in other cities to force the public to accept extreme measures to fix budget crises. And the bond markets seem to have finally settled on an answer to that question about which city will be the next Detroit: Chicago. Moody’s Investor Service, one of the three major credit rating agencies, just downgraded Chicago’s credit rating to junk level—the municipal equivalent of a subprime credit score, cautioning potential lenders that the city may not be able to pay them back—making it the lowest-rated major city in the country after Detroit.

Chicago is not an obvious choice. It remains the third largest city in the country, has a thriving downtown and is home to some of the largest and most profitable corporations and wealthiest people in the world. Chicago clearly has money, even though its distribution is wildly unequal.

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Chicago Teachers Union responds to Springfield legislation seeking a ‘mini’ pension holiday

by ctu communications  |  June 23, 2015

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union released the following statement in response to new legislation filed today in Springfield seeking to amend Senate Bill 437 in order to establish a pension holiday until August 10, 2015:

“Our labor agreement with the Board expires next Tuesday. Chicago’s public school educators are united in their belief that the $634 million payment must be made as required by law; that we receive a fair contract that will improve both learning and working conditions in our buildings; and, that our schools must open in the fall.  Understanding that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is broke on purpose,  the CTU continues to offer its expertise in working with CPS and the mayor toward finding a long-term solution to operating the school district and meeting the district’s pension obligations without massive layoffs and more closed schools. We continue to be dismayed at the Board’s refusal to even look at the multitude of progressive revenue options available. A mini pension holiday is like putting a tiny piece of gauze on a hemorrhaging wound. If there is any light at the end of this tunnel, we want to make sure it’s not an oncoming train.” ~ Stephanie Gadlin, CTU spokeswoman.

Emanuel’s new handpicked Board of Ed members serving under Vitale’s failed leadership, mirroring predecessors

by ctu communications  |  June 23, 2015

CHICAGO—The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday will unveil four new handpicked appointees who have replaced dispatched members and will undoubtedly maintain the status quo under Board president David Vitale. Recent media reports also have stated what the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has shared publicly for months—that Vitale led the charge for failed toxic interest rate swap agreements with Loop Capital, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Canada that will cost the district hundreds of millions of dollars. Vitale also has refused to consider filing suit to claw money back from these costly transactions, and through his actions, has contributed heavily to the district’s current state of financial decay.

With less than one week left until the expiration of the teachers’ contract with the Board and the approaching deadline of a pension payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, the CTU continues to demand a clean slate for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) leadership—starting with Vitale’s removal—and an elected, representative school board. 

In overhauling the Board, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has changed very little by inserting individuals with similar backgrounds to serve the same function as their predecessors. The four new members are very closely connected to the privatization of public education, which is evidence that while CPS is crying broke, the district will more than likely continue its charter expansion, failed turnarounds under the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), irresponsible banking agreements and an increase in expensive and unproven education technology contracts.

Mark F. Furlong, recently retired CEO of BMO Harris Bank, replaces Deborah Quazzo, founder and managing partner of brokerage firm GSV Advisors. Like Quazzo, Furlong is an education technology investor and the founding board director of the politically connected non-profit organization LEAP Innovations. LEAP Innovations, which has a $250,000 contract with CPS, helps education technology companies gain access to schools in order to use classrooms to test their technologies and build their reputations. Through LEAP, Furlong worked directly with the organization’s founder and CEO, Phyllis Lockett, who is a long-time proponent of charter schools through New Schools for Chicago—another organization Lockett founded and runs. In addition, Furlong's bank, BMO Harris, profits off of CPS through a toxic swap deal which charges the district exorbitant interest rates.

Dominique Jordan Turner, president and CEO of the Chicago Scholars Foundation, replaces Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of the Urban League. Turner is currently a 2014-15 Urban League IMPACT Fellow and has strong ties to the charter community through her previous employment managing network growth for KIPP Foundation charter schools, and her training in charter school administration at the Broad Center’s Residency in Urban Education. The Broad Center is an arm of the Broad Foundation, which literally wrote the book on school closings in 2009 with its “School Closure Guide: Closing Schools as a Means for Addressing Budgetary Challenges.”

The Rev. Michael Garanzini, former president and CEO of Loyola University, replaces Henry Bienen, former president of Northwestern University. Garanzini is often heralded for improving Loyola’s fiscal outlook, yet he accomplished this by pushing costs onto students and squeezing full-time faculty out of positions. During his tenure, tuition increased 73 percent at the school and the use of part-time and contingent teaching faculty more than tripled. Garanzini's leadership is in line with those of his peers who have collectively helped foster today's crisis in higher education. Garanzini also has strong connections to the Cristo Rey and UNO networks of charter schools, which will be providing Arrupe College—Loyola's new two-year college—with the majority of its students.

Gail Ward, a retired CPS principal, replaces Carlos Azcoitia, another former CPS principal. While Azcoitia has roots in the Little Village community school movement, Ward represents the Chicago elite and currently serves as an advisor to an early childhood school that charges families $24,000 annual tuition.  She is also a board member at AUSL and Providence Englewood Charter School.

“While these appointments appear to be a shift toward individuals connected to education, a closer look at their backgrounds shows even deeper connections to continued efforts at privatizing our schools,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “I just hope that a district which claims to be in such dire financial straits will refrain from turning our students’ lives over to the highest bidder.”

Chicago Teachers Union