by ctu communications | May 24, 2013
The Chicago Teachers Union launched its series of voter registration and education workshops last night at AME Bethel Church in Bronzeville, where a capacity crowd of nearly 150 CTU rank-and-file members, retirees, Grassroots Education Movement allies and others were trained by officials from the City of Chicago's Office of the City Clerk to become deputy voter registrars.
Recently re-elected CTU President Karen Lewis was among the trainees, and received a standing ovation as she addressed the crowd and announced the next phase in the Union's fight for education justice and equality in Chicago. "Brothers and sisters, mayoral control is a disaster," Lewis said. "We must change the conversation, so we must change the political landscape."
The next voter registrar training is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, June 27, 2013, at Quinn Chapel AME Church, 2401 S. Wabash. To register, or for more information, please visit the ctunet.com political education workshop sign-up page.
by Jackson Potter - Staff Coordinator | May 24, 2013
Now, CPS is ending deferred pay after this summer and will no longer make advance payments to members with negative balances. As a result, people who currently have a negative balance are repaying their debts with their existing deferred deductions.
If you have a negative deferred balance on your paycheck, it means that you will not receive full paychecks throughout all five of the summer pay periods. You will be paid out your full deferred bank balance at your regular summer rates until your deferred bank is exhausted. After that, there may be some pay periods at the end of the summer where you will receive no deferred pay
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Mark Brown - Chicago Sun-Times | May 23, 2013
Before Wednesday, I’d never thought it would make much sense for Chicago to switch to an elected school board, given the problems we already face electing good people to the offices we now fill.
Then I changed my mind while watching Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s six appointees to the Board of Education vote unanimously to close 50 schools next year despite thoughtful and impassioned pleas from community members begging them to reconsider.
Securing a unanimous vote was intended to project strength, I suppose, as in: “they must be doing the right thing if all of them agreed.”
But it struck me as quite the opposite, to think that here in a city as vast and diverse as this there was nobody on its school board who felt the need to reflect the dissenting point of view of those on the receiving end of the closings.
In the end, the board was so tone deaf to its audience that on the crucial vote that closed most of the schools, they used the parliamentary maneuver of adopting the previous favorable roll call — instead of taking the extra 30 seconds to each say “yes” once more. The average person in attendance didn’t even know the closings had been approved until it was over.
Some of the school board members are known personally to me as substantial, thoughtful and well-intentioned individuals, and I’m happy to assume the same of the rest. I have no doubt they all believe they did what is right, although I am among those who would have favored far fewer closings.
But as a whole, this appointed school board is not truly representative of the community.
And more important, they’re not accountable to anyone except the guy who appointed them — the mayor, whose desired end result on the issue of school closings drove the process.
The mayor would say the accountability lies with him. And I have to admit this has been a gutsy stance on his part from the start because there are now more voters than ever hoping to take him up on that.
“Hey, hey. Ho-ho. Rahm Emanuel has got to go,” was the chant from sidewalk protesters who greeted early arrivals at Board of Education headquarters.
With school closings most affecting the African-American community, where population losses have been greatest, a contingent of black aldermen put in appearances Wednesday, scrambling to get on the correct side of an issue that could be politically dangerous for them as well.
For the most part, though, they only argued to preserve schools in their own wards, didn’t stick up for each other and were careful not to say anything to rankle the mayor.
I was more impressed by the protest group that declared, “Every school is my school,” which seemed to get lost in the process of schools being pitted against each other in what one woman called “CPS’ version of ‘The Hunger Games.’”
Still, the black alderman raised some points that needed to be made about the valid safety concerns of parents due to gang boundaries, about how some parents will now pull their kids out of CPS rather than send them to their assigned school; and how more families will end up abandoning the city — all of it adding up to more “underutilization.”
Only Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), who was ticketed for political extinction by ward redistricting and therefore has nothing to lose, offered a give-em-hell speech in which he argued no schools should be closed.
Ald. Howard Brookins Jr., who chairs the City Council’s Black Caucus, was noticeable by his absence and called me later — at the suggestion of the mayor’s press office, he explained — to tell me “the system at least worked.”
It worked better for Brookins than others because one of the schools in his ward slated for closing — Mahalia Jackson Elementary — was among four schools granted a last-minute reprieve by schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.
In between the dramatic scenes of angry audience members refusing to leave the podium, there were so many speakers who raised such thoughtful issues about why it made no sense for their school to be closed that it would have given anyone pause. But there was to be no pause.
“The time is always right to do what is right,” Byrd-Bennett would later say of the 50 schools being closed, using a quotation from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to defend a policy decision that I can’t imagine King would have favored.
King would have been more likely to lead a campaign for an elected school board.
by ctu communications | May 23, 2013
Yesterday was a day of mourning for the children of Chicago. Their education has been hijacked by an unrepresentative, unelected corporate school board, acting at the behest of a mayor who has no vision for improving the education of our children. Closing schools is not an education plan. It is a scorched earth policy. Evidence shows that the underutilization crisis has been manufactured. Their own evidence also shows the school district will not garner any significant savings from closing these schools.
Our fight for education justice has now moved to the courts, but it must eventually move to the ballot box. The parents are amazing leaders in their school communities and because of this administration’s actions we have all become closer and more united. We must resist this neoliberal savagery masquerading as school reform. We must resist racism in all of its forms as well as the escalating attacks on the working –class and the poor. Our movement will continue. This is the next level:
Learn to register voters
Bethel AME Church
by Rev. John Thomas - Chicago Theological Seminary | May 23, 2013
Two articles in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune provided a revealing, if unintended reminder of the injustices lying at the heart of America’s public schools. At New Trier High School in one of the wealthier suburbs of Chicago, all students will have iPads for their course work by the Fall of 2014. The district will pay about 40% of the costs, leaving families to come up with the remaining $350 in purchase or leasing options. School officials justify this by touting the educational benefits and by pointing out that this will allow the school to phase out some of its 1200 laptops. One page away is an article about the school board of the City of Chicago which voted yesterday afternoon to close 50 public elementary schools. In thousands of districts like New Trier, students are getting iPads; in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and many other places, students are getting moving orders and teachers are losing jobs.
Later on in the same paper The Tribune revealed its editorial bias, offering Mayor Rahm Emmanuel space to justify the closings, while devoting its editorial to a cynical and shameful attack on Chicago teachers. Praising the “heroic” teachers who saved lives in Moore, Oklahoma, The Tribune called on teachers in Chicago to abandon their protest against the massive school closings and become “heroes” by obediently implementing the policies of the Chicago Public School Board and its leader, the Mayor. Excuse me! Chicago Public School teachers are already heroes. They don’t need the condescension of The Tribune. And they don’t need to be unjustly demeaned as less worthy than teachers in Moore. Today they need our gratitude for speaking the truth about the nature and impact of these school closings.
Unlike the teachers in Moore, Chicago teachers’ schools are not gone because of some capricious act of nature. They are gone because of decades of very deliberate decisions by public officials, corporate interests and ordinary citizens that have eviscerated the neighborhoods of Chicago, displacing people with the demolition of public housing, gutting communities with foreclosures and the elimination of jobs. The schools are gone because they have been replaced by charter schools, the darlings of politically well-connected school reformers making a profit on tax money while public officials eliminate the inconvenience of teachers unions. The schools are gone because poor African Americans and Hispanics in Chicago are disenfranchised by school governance that is appointed by the mayor with limited accountability to the communities. The schools are gone because public funding in this country remains tied to real estate taxes that benefit wealthy suburbs at the expense of the urban core. The schools are gone because years of school reforms imposed from the latest outside savior have left front line teachers abused and demoralized and their students underachieving. And the schools are gone because white flight that began decades ago has left the cities brown and black and poor.
Who makes decisions about public schools today? The President who attended the prestigious Punahou private school in Hawaii and who sends his daughters to the University of Chicago Laboratory School and the Sidwell Friends School in Washington. The Secretary of Education who attended the same Lab School in Chicago. An appointed school board whose membership until recently included billionaire Penny Pritzker, now the appointee to be Secretary of Commerce. She attended the Castilleja School in Palo Alto where 415 girls in grades six to twelve enjoy the attention of 70 full and part time faculty members. In Chicago that school would be deemed “underutilized.” And where do the Mayor’s kids go to school? No threats from school closings for them. They, too, are at the University of Chicago Lab School. These powerful gurus of public school reform didn’t go to public schools and don’t send their children to public schools. They benefited from the growing educational apartheid in this country and they participate in it today.
I don’t suggest that these policy makers sat down and said, “Let’s close the schools of poor Black and Hispanic kids in Chicago and make sure that New Trier kids have iPads.” But here are the facts: The schools closed today in Chicago are 88% black, 10 % Hispanic, and 94% low income. And next year the kids in New Trier will all have new iPads. Almost 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education our schools are more and more separate, and more and more unequal.
Please don’t tell me that this is a complex issue, that there are no good solutions, that anguished appointed school board members merely did what they had to do given the economic circumstances. I’ve read the reports. I’ve seen the studies. I’ve talked to experts. I can tell you what the real story is about charter school performance. I think I have made a pretty good effort to understand what’s going on. Whatever the specifics, this is about race and poverty and antipathy to unions and political influence and public indifference (how telling that for a time yesterday morning while the Board was deliberating on its closure vote, the lead online story for The Tribune was Bear’s football hero Brian Urlacher’s retirement announcement).
I have no doubt that the Chicago school teachers will do as much to protect their children this September navigating new routes to schools across dangerous gang lines as the teachers in Moore did for their students when the tornado came earlier this week. They don’t need editorial writers to tell them to do that. But when their students ask them why their school is gone, just as students in Moore are no doubt asking right now, Chicago teachers won’t have a changing and dangerous climate or the proverbial “act of God” to point to. Their answers will be equally sad, but far more sinister.
by ctu communications | May 22, 2013
Washington—AFT President Randi Weingarten’s statement on the Chicago school closings: “What we witnessed today was the largest mass school closing in America’s history. Sadly, the reasons for these closings seemed to have changed over the course of the last few months, as a May 16 WBEZ analysis demonstrated. When the district’s claims—namely, that these closings would produce the savings promised, that children would really go to better-quality schools, and that the closings were because of underenrollment and underutilization—were scrutinized, serious questions were raised. That leaves a strong impression that these were political decisions, not decisions made in the best interests of children. In addition, this school closure strategy is not what the people of Chicago want. According to a recent Chicago Tribune poll, just 19 percent of Chicagoans sided with this strategy.
“Separate and apart from what it means for the continuity and stability of children’s schooling, the evidence makes clear these mass closings will destabilize neighborhoods, and it has raised serious safety concerns for children in a city where there is already too much violence. “We are left at a loss as to why the board chose to ignore the parents, teachers, students and residents of Chicago in pursuing this reckless strategy that is not what the people want and will not help children.
“We commend CTU President Karen Lewis, CTU members, parents, students and the greater Chicago community, who have attempted at every step to do what is in the best interests of kids and Chicago’s public schools.”
by ctu communications | May 22, 2013
“Today is a day of mourning for the children of Chicago. Their education has been hijacked by an unrepresentative, unelected corporate school board, acting at the behest of a mayor who has no vision for improving the education of our children. Closing schools is not an education plan. It is a scorched earth policy. Evidence shows that the underutilization crisis has been manufactured. Their own evidence also shows the school district will not garner any significant savings from closing these schools.
“This is bad governance. CPS has consistently undermined school communities and sabotaged teachers and parents. Their actions have had a horrible domino effect. More than 40,000 students will lose at least three to six months of learning because of the Board’s actions. Because many of them will now have to travel into new neighborhoods to continue their schooling, some will be victims of bullying, physical assault and other forms of violence. Board members are wishing for a world that does not exist and have ignored the reality of the world we live in today. Who on the Board will be held responsible? Who at City Hall will be held responsible?
“Members of the Board of Education, the school CEO, the mayor and their corporate backers are on the wrong side of history. History will judge them for the tragedy they have inflicted upon our students; and it will not be kind.
“Our fight for education justice has now moved to the courts, but it must eventually move to the ballot box. The parents are amazing leaders in their school communities and because of this administration’s actions we have all become closer and more united. We must resist this neoliberal savagery masquerading as school reform. We must resist racism in all of its forms as well as the escalating attacks on the working class and the poor. Our movement will continue.”
by ctu communications | May 22, 2013
Our Twitter handle: @ctulocal1
Twitter Hashtag: #cpsclosings
Springfield protests tweeted by @ActionNowChi
Springfield protests on YouTube
by ctu communications | May 21, 2013
Click here to see the vote totals in detail for CTU's election of Friday, May 17, 2013.
by ctu communications | May 21, 2013
Asean Johnson - Marcus Garvey School