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Don’t let Rahm pass the buck for CPS cuts.

by ctu communications  |  May 23, 2016

Chicago Public Schools are broke on purpose. Our students and their families now face the prospect of forty-plus students in their classrooms, elimination of arts, after-school and even special education services.

In the wake of the Chicago Teachers Union’s April 1 strike and day of solidarity, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has instigated a public relations campaign: 20-4-20. The Chicago Public School’s 20/20 campaign lacks clear vision. It is a public relations stunt and not a long-term solution for the revenue needs of our school district. Claypool won’t dare approach his boss or his wealthy backers for the funds our students desperately need..

Instead Claypool has teamed up with the anti-union school privatization group “Stand onfor Children” — a group that Bruce Rauner himself brought to Illinois to pursue his education disruption agenda. This Stand group opposes an elected school board, they are against common-sense limits on charter proliferation, and their first order of business in Illinois was anti-union legislation. These are the people organizing Claypool’s buses. This is the same old ‘astro-turf organizing’ that Rahm and Rauner have pursued from the start.

Our union has worked consistently over the years to support initiatives like the Millionaire’s Tax, The Progressive Income Tax, and The LaSalle Street Tax.

We have also supported legislation to close corporate loopholes and lobbied against the sunset of the Quinn Income Tax. Further, we have led the charge on pushing the Chicago Board of Education to renegotiate the costly and ill-advised Toxic Interest Rate SWAP deals our former Board President, David Vitale, engineered during his time with the Chicago Public Schools. We have been nothing but consistent in rallying not only our members but their neighbors to appeal for increased and equitable funding for our school district.

Unlike status quo operators Emanuel, Rauner and Claypool, the Chicago Teachers Union has led the fight to fund our schools for years. Currently, we support Senator Manar’s SB231 — a school funding formula reboot that’s a step in the right direction but ultimately insufficient in meeting the funding needs of our school district. Governor Rauner’s Springfield is dysfunctional and has led to mass layoff at Chicago State, a back log of unpaid bills and the crippling of childcare services throughout the state.

Springfield is not the only place that can support CPS. Unlike Claypool and his Stand allies, CTU has proposed a Revenue Recovery Plan. This recovery plan will provide our district with a way to sustain itself until the governor and the state legislature pass a budget that will provide equitable funding to the Chicago Public Schools. The CTU Revenue Recovery Plan proposes the following realizable actions through which City Hall can raise funds for our students:

  • Reinstate the Employer’s Expense Tax
  • Raise the Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax
  • Instate a Ride-Share Tax
  • Repurpose the Entire TIF Surplus
  • Raise the Hotel Tax
  • Establish an SSA Tax Levy
  • Raise the Chicago Vehicle Fuel Tax
  • Make Use of the Lucas “Star Wars” Museum Set-asides

You can read in greater depth about these proposals at the CTU website.

Rahm and Claypool are pursuing a Broke on Purpose plan to pin the budget cuts on Springfield’s gridlock. City Hall can act today. Let the mayor, your alderman, and your school’s alderman know that you support both real revenuefrom Springfield and the CTU Revenue Recovery Plan.

Take Action Now

CTU joins Canadian, Mexican teachers in solidarity with colleagues facing severe repression

by jackson potter - ctu staff coordinator   |  May 20, 2016

At the 12th Tri-national Conference in Defense of Public Education, attendees passed a strongly worded resolution unanimously at the concluding plenary, where delegates called on the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto to own up to the role of the state and police in the 2014 disappearances of 43 indigenous student teachers from the state of Guerrero. The biennial conference, held at the University of British Columbia May 12-15, came just two weeks after the release of a scathing report by a panel of forensic experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which said that the Mexican government stonewalled their investigation into the students’ apparent massacre, in effect granting impunity to those responsible.

The conference brought together teacher unionists from across the three countries, including the British Columbian Teachers Federation President Jim Iker, Canadian Teachers’ Federation President Heather Smith, leaders of provincial teacher unions in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland, as well as the future financial secretary of the Chicago Teachers Union, Maria Moreno. Moreno said that the U.S. teachers shared a sense of admiration for their Mexican counterparts, who must sacrifice so much and take such serious personal risks in their work.

“Through our work with the Tri-national Coalition for the past eight years, we’ve learned that teachers across Mexico face repression just because they speak up for their labor rights and the rights of their students to a good education,” Moreno said. “We need to hold those responsible for not keeping up with funding our schools and listening to the experts in our classrooms in both the U.S and Mexico.”

Conference delegates also expressed support for the tens of thousands of Mexican teachers who took strike action starting on Monday, May 15 (Teachers' Day in Mexico). The strike is an effort to convince the government to repeal a sweeping series of constitutional changes and education reforms that are harming public education.

Striking teachers from Mexico City, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Chiapas and other states who are members of the teachers' union, Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, are demanding:

  • Freedom for political prisoners jailed for defending public education
  • An end to the repression of indigenous teachers 
  • Reinstatement of 360 teachers recently fired for protesting government reforms
  • An end to the criminalization of teachers’ opposition to the reforms
  • Cessation of attacks on labor rights

“It was humbling to see, listen to, and speak with the Mexican delegation,” said Curie Metro High School teacher Adam Heenan. “They noted how they were inspired by the work we do in Chicago, but I am in awe of  how they have bravely unified in confrontation of political oppression manifested in mass abduction, incarceration, and murder in the wake of the Global Education Reform Movement.”

The Tri-national Coalition also urged the Mexican government to respect the knowledge and professional expertise of its teachers and end the privatization of public education.

ILLUSTRATION: Tri-national logo

PSRP Informational Meetings

by ctu communications  |  May 20, 2016

The Chicago Teachers Union has two upcoming PSRP informational meetings. You are invited to attend one of these meetings. Please choose one nearest your home or the school/worksite to which you are assigned. Functional vice presidents, district supervisors and delegates are asked to attend as many meetings as possible. Refreshments will be served.

Please plan on joining us! Don't miss this opportunity to meet your union leaders, ask questions and hear from other PSRPs with common issues and concerns.

Please confirm your attendance by contacting June Davis at least three days before your meeting at 312-329-6234 or carolynfulton@ctulocal1.com. We look forward to seeing you!

Monday, May 23
4:30-6:30 p.m.
Beverly Woods Restaurant
11532 S. Western Ave.
Tuesday, May 24
4:30-6:30 p.m.
Home Run Inn Pizza
4254 W. 31st St.

Luncheon for Retiring CTU Members

by ctu communications  |  May 16, 2016

Will you be retiring this 2015-16 school year? Register by Friday, June 17 for this luncheon honoring all CTU members who will enjoy the fruits of their service. Luncheon is Friday, June 24 at Harry Caray’s Water Tower Place.

Download the registration form.

PUSH Teacher Appreciation Day

by ctu communications  |  May 16, 2016

CELEBRATING OUR
SUPER HEROIC
TEACHERS AND COACHES

TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Rainbow PUSH Coalition

930 East 50 th Street

Chicago, IL

 

Let your voice be heard!

Luncheon and Town Hall Meeting

 

Door Prizes, Tokens of Appreciation and other Tributes to You for a Job Well Done

 

Join us at 10:00 a.m. for the Live International Radio, Television, and Internet Broadcasts

11:30 a.m. OPEN HOUSE TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT

12:00 Noon Luncheon and Town Hall Meeting

Dr. Sandra Leconte, Entertainment

FOR MORE INFORMATION and/or to RSVP, PLEASE
CALL 773-256-2761 OR 773-256-2762

Cancer-Causing Environmental Hazards in CPS Schools

by sarah hainds  |  May 06, 2016

The Asbestos Nation campaign of national watchdog the Environmental Working Group recently issued a report and interactive map on the continued prevalence of asbestos in CPS schools. In total, 184 CPS schools had asbestos-laden materials that needed to be repaired or removed but only 11 schools complied (or CPS complied for only 11 schools).

The US banned the use of asbestos in 1980, but many buildings built prior to that still have asbestos in places like plaster, ceiling tiles, pipe insulation and linoleum tiles. In general, asbestos, which causes a deadly form of lung cancer or a disease called mesothelioma, is not harmful as long as it is not disturbed, since inhaling the dust particles is what makes it so dangerous. Broken or cracked linoleum tiles and deteriorating ceiling tiles can expose people to the asbestos dust.

Children running around, kicking up the dust, or sitting on classroom floors can be exposed – and children are more susceptible to the dangers than adults are. Unfortunately, it can decades for the diseases to appear but the prevalence in schools is not uncommon because “elementary school teachers are more than twice as likely to die from the disease than Americans as a whole,” according to the report. 15,000 people die every year from asbestos-related illnesses.

Please click here to continue reading at ajusthcicago.org.

Cast your vote now for your favorite AFT Everyday Hero, Erika Wozniak-Francis, for 2016!

by ctu communications  |  May 06, 2016

Semifinalists from each AFT division have been chosen, representing teachers, PSRPs, higher education staff and faculty, public employees, healthcare professionals, early childhood educators and retirees. Voting is open through May 29, 2016.

The semifinalist who gets the most votes in each division will be named his or her division’s 2016 Everyday Hero and will be honored at this year’s AFT convention.

VOTE!

About Erika:

Passionate. Brave. Articulate. The adjectives can pile up quickly when people bring up Erika Wozniak. But press Wozniak about her style of speaking up and out—for kids, colleagues and public schools—and the fifth-grade science teacher concocts an entirely new formula: "strategic troublemaker."

For the past 12 years, Wozniak has taught in Chicago Public Schools, finding ways to take public discussion of the urban education challenge to the granular level of the classroom. Her commentaries have been published in the Chicago Tribune. She's been in campaign ads for local candidates running on a strong school platform, and she even hosts a monthly stage show called "Girl Talk with Erika Wozniak."

Although she could probably write her own ticket on any path she chooses in life, Wozniak says there was never any doubt what that path would be: She loves helping her students discover through science the richness of inquiry, of being unafraid to try and fail, understanding there is value in that process. With science, "you have to explore and fail—and learn from that failure," explains Wozniak, a CPS mentor teacher and a member of the Educator and Licensure Board for the state Board of Education.

She also spearheaded a successful campaign to stop taxpayer money needed for public schools from bankrolling a new basketball arena for DePaul University, her alma mater. She's worked as a local union representative for most of her career, serving so aggressively in one building that it cost her a chance to return for the next year. But that aggressive union stand also has its rewards—it's why her school is moving to honor the contract's class-size limits. When she walked in a classroom and saw only 26 kids, rather than the 36 she had worked with in prior years, the sight was so overwhelming, she had to sneak into the restroom to wipe away a few tears. "She is absolutely unafraid to stand up for the rights of her students and for the future of public education," one colleague says.

VOTE!

CTU releases CPS Revenue Recovery Package; calls on mayor, City Council to engage in self-help

by ctu communications  |  May 05, 2016

CHICAGO—Ahead of the May 4 House of Delegates meeting, the Chicago Teachers Union released details of a $502 million Chicago Public Schools (CPS) revenue recovery package and called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council to implement the plan in order to stabilize the district. The Union said this act of “self-help” will ensure lawmakers in Springfield that local leaders are fully committed to restoring funding to our schools.

The issues facing CPS revolve around the failure of leadership, the consistent and troubling disregard of community, parent and educator voice, and the lack of equitable funding for our district. These challenges beg for structural changes—changes that will significantly alter the manner in which schools are administered in Chicago.

The CTU and the Chicago Board of Education have been in negotiations for well over a year and have yet to settle a new collective bargaining agreement. Since 2011, public school educators have absorbed $2 billion worth of cuts, including layoffs, a reduction of benefits and threats to pensions. Teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians voted to authorize a strike last December, with the earliest date of a possible strike set as May 16 after a 30-day cooling off period. Union officials and school leaders have not set a strike date, but are prepared to do so should one become necessary. State law requires the Union to give a 10-day notice to the Board of Education before striking.

“Teachers are about providing solutions to problems, and CPS and the city have no plan on the table…all they’ve done is beg a tone deaf governor for a bailout he is unwilling to give,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “We have identified half a billion dollars that can triage the bleeding at CPS, and we are asking the mayor and aldermen to implement what we believe is a solid package of financial emergency supports to ensure our district does not go belly up.”

“The CTU will continue to fight for long-term solutions to address the structural deficits in the district that only the state can implement,” Sharkey continued. “However, our revenue recovery package is necessary right now to stave off mass layoffs, school closings and more furloughs that will wreak havoc on our students and classrooms. Over the next few weeks we’ll be lobbying every City Council member to support this plan.”

CTU Revenue Recovery Package for Chicago Public Schools

In addition to pursuing school funding solutions with the State of Illinois such as a progressive income tax, Millionaire’s Tax, and financial transaction tax, the CTU recommends that CPS and the mayor’s office consider a number of local revenue options, which the Chicago City Council could approve. The proposal also includes a provision that allows for the plan to sunset at the conclusion of what CTU expects to be Governor Bruce Rauner’s first and only term in office, and when the first session of the Illinois General Assembly without his interference ends. The CTU Revenue Recovery Package for Chicago Public Schools calls for:

Reinstate and increase the Corporate Employer Expense Tax (“Head Tax”) – Reinstate and increase the Employers Expense Tax at four times the previous level. Annual Revenue Potential: $94 million

Personal Property Lease Tax (Mun. Code Ref. 3-32) – Increase the Personal Property Lease Tax rate from 9.0% to 11.0%. This most impacts people visiting from outside of Chicago when they rent vehicles. Annual Revenue Potential: $35 million

Rideshare Tax – Impose a tax on ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Annual Revenue Potential: $15 million

TIF Surplus – Make funds in the city’s 150-plus TIF accounts that are not already tied to debt service or an active project available for use to address the funding needs at the Chicago Public Schools. Declare surplus funds and distribute those funds immediately. Increase reporting requirements for improved transparency on TIF accounts. Annual Revenue Potential: $100 million

Chicago Hotel Accommodations Tax (Mun. Code Ref. 3-24) – Increase the City’s Hotel Accommodations Tax from 4.5% to 6.0%. Annual Revenue Potential: $30 million

Commercial Property Tax assessment Upon the sale of a building, the assessed valuation is automatically set at 25% of sale price. Annual Revenue Potential: $100 million

Chicago Vehicle Fuel Tax (Mun. Code Ref. 3-52) – The City’s current rate of 5 cents/gallon generates an estimated $48.9 million per year (FY 2015). Due to falling gas prices over the past few years, an additional 10 cents may be imposed without consumers feeling as much pain as other tax increases. Annual Revenue Potential: $98 million

Special Service Area (SSA) Tax Levy (35 ILCS 200/27-5) – Under Illinois law, the City of Chicago has the authority to establish special service areas within the City of Chicago and levy taxes (on the properties within the SSA boundaries) to fund debt service and/or annual operations associated with the special municipal services and related capital improvements. Conceptually, the City could create special service areas to pay for certain educational programs, which are only offered in certain geographic areas of the City or CPS capital improvements, which only benefit a well-defined geography. Annual Revenue Potential: $100 million

Redirect $1.2 billion Lucas Museum Bond to Chicago Public Schools – It looks like a museum on the lakefront for a billionaire’s private collection is not viable. Now we have an opportunity to redirect those critical resources to 400,000 students in CPS. Revenue Potential: $30 million

CTU Revenue Recovery Package for CPS

Annual Revenue (Preliminary Estimates)

Reinstate Employers Expense Tax

$94 million

Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax

$35 million

Ride-Share Tax

$15 million

TIF Surplus

$100 million

Hotel Tax

$30 million

SSA Tax Levy

$100 million

Chicago Vehicle Fuel Tax

$98 million

Lucas “Star Wars” Museum

$30 million

 TOTAL

$502 million

“In an effort to bridge the funding gap for the CPS we believe it is imperative that you offer the City Council a clear pathway to help mitigate the costly and protracted budget stalemate in Springfield that has the ability to harm our schools,” said CTU President Karen Lewis in a letter sent to the mayor this afternoon about the recovery plan.

“We need a recovery plan for the school district and the City Council to consider. Our plan will provide our district with a way to sustain itself until the governor and the legislature pass a budget that will provide equitable funding to CPS. The revenue recovery plan is an effort to prevent more cuts in student programming and education services,” Lewis said. “We look forward to working with you and members of the City Council to manage this dilemma. Budget cuts do not solve funding problems. Revenue solves funding problems.”

May Day 2016

by ctu communications  |  April 29, 2016

ILLUSTRATION: May Day 2016

Stop ignoring proposals for financial transactions tax

by Robert Reich  |  April 28, 2016

Why is there so little discussion about one of Bernie Sanders’ most important proposals – to tax financial speculation?

Buying and selling stocks and bonds in order to beat others who are buying and selling stocks and bonds is a giant zero-sum game that wastes countless resources, uses up the talents of some of the nation’s best and brightest, and subjects financial market to unnecessary risk.

High-speed traders who employ advanced technologies in order to get information a millisecond before other traders get it don’t make financial markets more efficient. They make them more vulnerable to debacles like the “Flash Crash” of May 2010.

Wall Street insiders who trade on confidential information unavailable to small investors don’t improve the productivity of financial markets. They just rig the game for themselves.

Bankers who trade in ever more complex derivatives – making bets on bets – don’t add real value. They only make the system more vulnerable to big losses, as occurred in the financial crisis of 2008.

All of which makes Bernie Sanders’ proposal for a speculation tax right on the mark.

Please click here to continue reading at chicago.suntimes.com.

Chicago Teachers Union