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IFT: Protect kids and communities! Call NOW

by illinois federation of teachers  |  March 30, 2015

This just in: Lawmakers in Springfield are rushing through FY15 budget bills that would negatively impact remaining current year funding at K-12 and higher education institutions and immediately cut payments to important programs and state services. We must ACT NOW to stop them!
 
Yesterday, the IL House of Representatives quickly passed HB 317 and HB 318, bills designed to patch the $1.6 billion budget hole that was created when Governor Rauner let the temporary income tax rate expire on January 1, 2015. If the Governor had addressed this important revenue issue instead of calling for draconian cuts to services middle class families depend on, this crisis could have been averted.

These 11th hour bills would:

  • cut education funding immediately by 2.25 percent
  • “sweep” $1.3 billion from dozens of important state funds (including diversions of funding set aside for teacher licensure, workers compensation, and the road fund)
  • provide Governor Rauner with a $97 million slush fund to “manage the cuts” to K-12 education, with no defined process for accountability.

The Senate is expected to hear these bills as early as TODAYWednesday, March 25 – so call your State Senator now to make your voice heard.

Your State Senator is and can be reached at .

Tell your Senator:
School districts and programs have already budgeted for the remainder of the year based upon promised funding. These bills would lead to significant cuts in staff and services. We've already endured enough. Please vote NO on HB 317 and HB 318 to protect our kids and communities!

 
If you can't reach your Senator directly, please leave a message.
 
Protect our kids and communities from these harmful cuts. Call NOW!

Turnaround Lawsuit: Oral Arguments Tuesday

by Robin Potter  |  March 30, 2015

No. 14-2843

In the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION, LOCAL 1, DONALD L. GARRETT JR.; ROBERT GREEN, and VIVONELL BROWN, JR., individually and on behalf of all similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

vs.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant-Appellees.

* * *

Appeal from the May 27, 2014 Class Certification Decision of the United States District Court – For the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division,

No. 12 C 10311

ORAL ARGUMENT – Public Courtroom

WHERE: Court of Appeals – 219 S. Dearborn St – 27th Floor

WHEN: TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2015 @ 9:30 A.M.

Please join the CTU and our lawyers when Professor Randall Schmidt of the University of Chicago Law School argues the case of CTU v CPS, seeking class certification challenging the turnaround of 10 schools in 2012 and continuing through the present

STOP THE RACIALLY DISRIMINATORY TURNAROUNDS – LAYOFFS – SCHOOL CLOSINGS & CPS POLICIES DESTROYING COMMUNITIES & NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

Join us

For more information, please contact Robin Potter & Associates, attorneys for the plaintiffs
111 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 2600, Chicago, IL 60601
(p) 312.861.1800/ (f) 312.861.3009
ROBIN AT POTTERLAW DOT ORG

CTU Releases Transformational Contract Demands for City Chicago’s Students Deserve

by ctu communications  |  March 27, 2015

CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT, will lead 50 teachers and education support personnel into contract negotiations with the Chicago Board of Education today, in which the Union will present its proposals for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (contract). Many of the proposals are designed to vastly improve the academic and social/emotional supports for Chicago’s most underserved students, who rely on the city’s public schools to improve their life opportunities. The current CTU/Chicago Board of Education contract expires June 30, 2015.

“Our new contract will reflect our values as educators, and the stake we have—and our city should have—in the education of the children we serve,” President Lewis said. “There is absolutely no greater interest for our members than the lives of their students, and we look forward to honest, transparent conversations with the Board on how to strengthen the district and provide adequate resources for all of its students, their families and the city our students deserve.”

Throughout negotiations, the CTU will be strongly advocating for the services and supports needed by all CPS schools. Among the contract demands the CTU proposes are:

  1. Establish lower and compulsory class size limits in all schools.
  2. Ensure that every school has: the necessary clinicians and a school counselor and nurse; a truant officer, restorative justice coordinator, librarian and playground instructors; and art, music, physical education and other teachers to create robust and effective educational programs. 
  3. Restore adequate preparation time and enforce paperwork limits for teachers.
  4. Dedicate resources previously committed to Teach for America to the Grow Your Own Program instead to develop a more diverse and local teaching force directly from CPS student graduates.
  5. Engage in legal action against big banks to retrieve upwards of $1 billion for our classrooms; end contracts with these same financial institutions that refuse to renegotiate excessive fees and penalties.
  6. Return diverted revenues from the tax increment financing (TIF) program to the schools.
  7. Place a freeze on charter school expansion, school closings and turnarounds; allow for union rights for teachers at charter schools and legislative advocacy for an elected school board.
  8. Expanded pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) for parents at 300% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  9. Reduce significantly the number and duration of standardized tests; prohibit tests entirely for students in Pre-K through 2nd grade.
  10. Establish 50 sustainable community schools and strive for policies to achieve increasing integration of students and increased access to curriculum which reflects the experiences and identities of our students.

In the CTU’s recent research report, “A Just Chicago: Fighting for the City our Students Deserve,” the Union argued that the families of Chicago students deserve adequate pay and permanent jobs; freedom from judicial inequities; stable, affordable and appropriate housing; better access to whole health care; equitably- funded, high-quality education; and political action to equalize opportunity. To that end, the demands presented to the Board will reflect this vision.

“Teachers and PSRPs are demanding the schools our students deserve, a commitment to public education and real actions to address the social crisis so many of our students in their communities face, so we demand that Chicago’s leaders treat our children as the priority—not the bankers and stock-traders who fund their campaigns,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “If we are to be accountable to the needs of our children, we will have to hold the wealthy accountable for the massive investments that our schools deserve.”

Today at 4:30 p.m., the CTU will release its proposals publicly with hundreds of educators, parents, students and community members from across the city and country during a rally at the James R. Thompson Center. The Grassroots Education Movement and Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, citywide and national networks, will join the CTU in support of this visionary agenda.

ILLUSTRATION: Fair Contract Now

Sun-Times: Homeless Students Need More Than ‘Token’ Attention from CPS

by Mark Brown, Chicago Sun-Times  |  March 25, 2015

 

The Chicago Public Schools’ official policy for handling homeless students instructs school personnel to provide them with CTA “tokens” to help them travel back and forth to class from wherever they are temporarily staying.

The reference to the long-obsolete token system is only the most obvious example of how the 1996 policy is outdated,  homeless advocates, students and parents say.

They are pressing CPS to rewrite the policy in recognition of important legal protections for homeless children enacted in the intervening years — and to place greater emphasis in schools on providing them the support to which they are entitled.

“If they don’t see it in the policy, you pretty much won’t get the services,” said Marilyn Escoe, 39, referring to her experiences with local school personnel after ending up in a Rogers Park homeless shelter with her four children in 2011.

Escoe said she struggled to use mass transit to get her children to and from their old school on the West Side — a four-hour combined commute — before learning a year later that they were entitled to have a school bus pick them up at the shelter because she had a job.

“We were already unstable, so I didn’t want to make it worse,” Escoe said of her decision to keep the kids at the old school.

Read the rest of the story at the Chicago Sun-Times…

CPS to Stop Printing Pay Stubs

March 24, 2015

ATTENTION ALL MEMBERS:  Effective with the April 3, 2015 pay date, CPS will no longer provide printed pay statements.  Your pay statement will be available on HR4U  as printable PDF and will include additional information such as your current step/lane.  Utilizing this default method of receiving your deposit advice will result in cost-savings for CPS. 

Should you wish to continue receiving paper direct deposit statements, you can opt to receive them at your home by mail. To elect that option, you must complete the following steps no later than March 27, 2015 at 5 pm.

  1. Go to HR4U.cps.edu. Go to Payroll and Compensation.
  2. Click Payroll Information under the Payroll section. Click on Helpful Links.
  3. Select Change My Direct Deposit.  Click on enroll in/edit Direct Deposit Information.
  4. Choose Send a paper copy of direct deposit pay statement to my home address.
  5. Click Submit and Okay.

*

We recommend that members who are planning resignation or retirement at the end of this year follow the above procedure to ensure that they receive the information from their final check/s which may be paid after they have lost access to the online system.

Seven Ways Chicago Can Put Working Families Before Wall Street

by Saqib Bhatti - Director, ReFund America Project  |  March 24, 2015

The ReFund America Project released a new report this morning, “Our Kind of Town: A Financial Plan that Puts Chicago’s Communities First.” The report lays out a plan for getting Chicago’s finances back on track without painful austerity measures, which exacerbate economic inequality by forcing working families to shoulder the cost.

Over the last month, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the credit ratings of the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to near junk level. Last week, Fitch Ratings followed by cutting CPS’s rating to just one notch above junk. Even though the major credit rating agencies are unreliable institutions, rife with conflicts of interest, a history of missed calls, and a reputation for using their ratings to push political agendas, these downgrades have put the issue of financial management front and center in Chicago's political debate. Questions about how best to manage the city’s money shine a spotlight on the competing interests of Chicago residents and the powerful Wall Street firms that have been profiting from the city’s financial problems.

In the developing world, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank require financially distressed governments to enact painful cuts in order to obtain financing. Moody’s and Fitch are similarly using these downgrades to push an austerity agenda in Chicago. These downgrades will benefit Wall Street firms because the city and CPS will be forced to take out more expensive products like credit enhancements and bond insurance to boost investor confidence in their bonds. Already, the city and CPS are on the hook for a combined $300 million in penalties connected to interest rate swaps as a result of these downgrades. But all of this is wholly unnecessary because none of Chicago’s governmental units are actually in any danger of defaulting on their bonds.

Please click here to continue reading at nextnewdeal.net.

Profile of CTU Member, 10th Ward Aldermanic Candidate Sue Sadlowski Garza

by Mark Brown - Chicago sun-times  |  March 24, 2015

As a child of a union leader, 10th Ward aldermanic candidate Susan Sadlowski Garza used to get up at the crack of dawn to join herILLUSTRATION: Sue Garza and Karen brothers and sisters outside the U.S. Steel plant leafleting workers coming through the gates.

I’m not talking union brothers and sisters either, but actual siblings, mustered out of bed by their father, Chicago labor icon Edward Sadlowski, to play their part in “the struggle.”

Back then, the significance of what her father was doing — extending the fight for “working people” into a movement to bring democratic reform to the unions themselves — didn’t really register with Garza.

It wasn’t until she was assigned to write a college paper on somebody she admired that days of combing through the archives at the Chicago Historical Society educated Garza about her father’s historic 1977 run for the national presidency of the steelworkers union.

“All of a sudden, it was like this light bulb moment,” she told me last week in an interview at her campaign office, her father’s old campaign poster looming from the wall above us. “I thought, ‘Oh, my god.’ I remember I went to a pay phone on North Avenue, and I called him and I was actually emotional, because I said, “God, I didn’t realize this is what you did.”

Garza, 55, is now engaged in her own struggle — trying to oust 16-year incumbent Ald. John Pope in a runoff election. Pope took 44 percent of the vote to 24 percent for Garza in a seven-way race on Feb. 24, leaving a slim opening for her to unite the opposition on April 7.

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

 

Early Voting Starts Today

by ctu communications  |  March 23, 2015

There is a grace period for those who missed the March 10, 2015 deadline to vote online. If you missed this deadline, you must register in-person before April 4, and then vote during the same visit. 

From March 23 through April 4, grace period registration and early voting is offered either at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners office or at 50 other locations around the city.

Again, early voting takes place March 23 through April 4.You must show two forms of I.D. Find locations to register to vote here.

FOR CPS TEACHERS AND EDUCATION SUPPORT PERSONNEL: The runoff election takes place during the Chicago Public Schools Spring Break from April 6-10, so if you plan to travel, you may want to vote early or vote absentee. Learn all about absentee voting here.

For more information, check the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners website often at chicagoelections.com.

ILLUSTRATION: I voted.


ILLUSTRATION: Choose Chuy - Choose Community

Visit a field office! A visit to a field office will help you find a role in Chuy's run-off campaign, ranging from door knocking to outreach. Visiting is the perfect opportunity to become involved in the grassroots operations of the campaign or simply pick up buttons, signs and literature. Find a location nearest you and visit between 10am and 7 pm, seven days a week.

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Downtown citywide office: 651 W. Washington; Phone: 312-207-0152

  

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Southeast office: 6306 S. Woodlawn; Phone: 872-202-1600

  

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South-Central office: 4249 S. Archer, Suite 100; Phone: 312-208-8391

  

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Southwest office: 3020 W. 63rd; Phone: 312-721-0074

  

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Central office: 5215 W. Chicago; Phone: 678-280-4836

  

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Mid-city office: 1902 W Cermak; Phone: 312-208-8391

  

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North-Central office: 3426 W. Diversey; Phone: 773-657-0102

  

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Northeast office: 1144 W. Wilson; Phone: 773-746-6587

  

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Northwest office: 4314 W. Irving Park; Phone: 773-283-3930


Click here to find the websites
through which you can volunteer for our member-candidates and other endorsed candidates in April 7 run-off elections.

Sun-Times: CPS principals say schools remain 'filthy' under $340M janitorial contracts

by By Lauren FitzPatrick and Fran Spielman - chicago sun-times  |  March 20, 2015

A year after Chicago Public School hired private companies to clean schools, hundreds of principals remain disgusted with the work and are calling for an end to the $340 million contracts.

About 260 of 522 principals of district-run schools answered surveys by the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, with 200 saying their schools are dirtier since Aramark and SodexoMAGIC took over janitorial services in March 2014. More than 200 also said the private managers did not free them up to spend more time on instructional issues as promised.

“It’s been a year; it’s been an utter catastrophe,” President Clarice Berry said. “The survey we did indicates from my principals just how horrendous and how mismanaged and how unproductive these contracts are that CPS let to these two corporations at the taxpayer cost of $340 million.”

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

Inconsistent Testing Protocol, Mistreatment of Students Refusing PARCC in Network 6

by cassandre cresswell - More Than a Score  |  March 19, 2015

Dear Ms. Byrd-Bennett:

I am writing on behalf of More Than A Score to express my grave concerns with the treatment of refusing students and their families.

We have heard from students, parents and teachers all across CPS with stories of suppression of PARCC refusals through a variety of means.

Unfortunately, just as during the ISAT last year, there is a pattern of mistreatment and inappropriate pressure to test students refusing PARCC at some schools and not at others. We are hearing of problems concentrated within certain networks over and over again.

One of those is Network 6. The pattern of how students and parents are being treated within Network 6 strongly correlates with the socio-economic and racial-ethnic demographics of the school setting.  Schools with high percentage of low-income African-American and Latino students and large numbers of refusing students are not being treated the same as schools with mass refusal but with wealthier, whiter demographics.  

This is wrong.  Every child in Chicago Public Schools should have the right to refuse PARCC and receive kind, respectful treatment.

Mistreatment and testing irregularities we are concerned about:

Otis:

  • Refusing students are being made to login to TestNav in violation of ISBE’s protocol described here: http://www.isbe.net/assessment/listserv/2015/mar6.pdf
  • A third grade student who submitted a refusal letter and whose mother had a verbal conversation with the teacher about the child refusing was presented with the test. The child was not asked if he was refusing. Because he is in 3rd grade, he was confused by the situation and took the test.
  • Refusing students are not being allowed alternative activities in violation of the protocol sent to principals from your office.
  • Teachers have been told to call parents of refusing students for each unit of the test even if the student submitted a signed letter from the parent notifying the school that student would be refusing.

Pulaski:

  • Students are being asked to refuse the same PARCC unit more than once.  (Violation of ISBE protocol.)
  • Students are required to verbally refuse each unit.  (Not the case at other Network 6 schools.)
  • Students refusal of the test is not being respected if the test unit has begun; students are being pressured to “finish” a testing unit.  
  • Even though large numbers of students are refusing, they are not being placed in a separate location.

Pritzker:

  • Students were informed on the school PA system that if they did not have letters submitted to the network office by the Friday before testing began they could not refuse the test.
  • Parents’ refusal letters were turned away at the office rather than being accepted and their wishes noted and respected.

This type of mistreatment and testing irregularities are NOT taking place at other schools with large numbers of refusals elsewhere in the network.  The Network Chief himself stated publicly at a Drummond LSC meeting that students only need to refuse PARCC one time verbally.  A written note from a parent is not required. Refusing each unit is not required.

We are putting together a full list of student and family mistreatment during PARCC refusal that we will be releasing to the media next week.  

Given CPS' reluctance to administer this test it is truly reprehensible that the district is condoning the mistreatment of children who are sensibly refusing to participate by allowing Network Chiefs to once again inappropriately pressure principals to suppress opt-outs.  It is even more shameful that this mistreatment is being meted out with a decided class and racial-ethnic bias.

Please reply with details on how you plan to correct the injustice being done to refusing students at Otis and Pulaski, including specific instructions that will be given to principals to address parents' and students' concerns.

We, along with parents at these schools, would be happy to attend a meeting to discuss these issues and how you plan to correct them.

Sincerely,
Cassandre Creswell, on behalf of More Than A Score

ILLUSTRATION: More Than A Score

Chicago Teachers Union