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Chicago Defender: Simeon’s Electricity Program Reinstated

August 20, 2014

Simeon Students

After much pushing from the community and alumni, Simeon Career Academy High School’s electricity program will be brought back this fall.

Chicago Public School announced the news Wednesday. A partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will provide high school graduates an opportunity to become an electrical apprentice. Initially, the program was cut due to lack of enrollment from incoming freshmen.

“After hearing from students, parents and the community, CPS is restoring the electricity program, providing our students the opportunity to learn technical skills and secure electrician jobs across the City,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Through our partnerships with local unions, local businesses and education institutions, we are committed to preparing the next generation of Chicago’s workforce.”

For the full story please visit the Chicago Defender website at

On Due Process, Or What You Call Tenure

by ctu communications  |  August 20, 2014

For the purposes of this essay, I’m using the term “due process” in lieu of tenure because people like Whoopi Goldberg (and millions of others) confuse “tenure” for “job for life.” If that’s what we call “tenure,” then “due process” is more exact. More and more, what it means for K-12 educators and college professors is coming to a confluence.

As far as my contract is concerned, it’s not like, after my third year, I got a job for life. Due process just gives me a better chance at talking back.

Teachers earn (please know this) due process after three years of working and building up a portfolio of pieces that we’ve gathered showing that we have the right to object to our dismissal for frivolous reasons. This carries tons of implications, especially in places where school funding waxes and wanes depending on who the principal, superintendent, mayor, or governor were / are. It means teachers can’t get fired for frivolous reasons, many of which include being pregnant, speaking out of turn, dress code, or different racial make-up than the students they serve, or because the principal just doesn’t like you.

Within reason.

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Sun-Times: Million buck pledge changes Lewis’ ‘calculus’ — but not timeline

by ctu communications  |  August 20, 2014

Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, (right) talks with Walter Jacobson Tuesday night at the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall. | Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times

Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, (right) talks with Walter Jacobson Tuesday night at the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall. | Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times

Karen Lewis said Tuesday that a $1 million pledge of support from the American Federation of Teachers “automatically changes the calculus” of a potential mayoral campaign.

But apparently not enough to push the Chicago Teachers Union president any closer to deciding whether or not to actually challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“I want to run things on my time line,” Lewis told a capacity crowd of union members at Morgan Park’s Beverly Woods Banquet Hall.

It was her third “conversation” with Chicagoans.

And she’s got 74 more to go.


CPS Teacher Career Fair Cancelled for Aug. 19

August 18, 2014

CTU Logo

The CPS Teacher Career Fair scheduled for Tuesday, August 19, Local 399 Union Hall, 2260 S. Grove St., has been cancelled. Please visit the Rights at Work -> Layoff Rights section of the CTU website for future dates as they become available.

The Chicago Teachers Union is committed to supporting all of our members affected by layoffs, as well as working to mobilize and educate the community about how our mayor and his handpicked Board of Education cut resources from those who need them the most.   

Please stay in touch with CTU throughout the school year for further information on our political, community outreach and organization efforts. 

Sun-Times: Lewis: Rahm’s CPS preference plan in firefighter hiring a ‘stunt’

by karen lewis - ctu president  |  August 20, 2014

The City of Chicago is gearing up to enforce its Chicago Public Schools preference policy, which would give CPS graduates preferential standing among other firefighter applicants, providing an unfair advantage above students enrolled in private or religious schools. While Mayor Rahm Emanuel apparently seeks to encourage more opportunity for CPS high school graduates to serve in the Chicago Fire Department, it seems like a shortsighted approach to creating educational stability and opportunities for Chicago’s youth.

With dwindling poll numbers as it relates to his education policies, it appears the mayor yet again has not given much thought towards how to empower Chicago’s youth.

I suggest a real and meaningful incentive plan that goes beyond the mayor’s proposal.

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NYTimes: Teaching Is Not a Business

by David L. Kirp  |  August 18, 2014

Today's education reformers believe that schools are broken and that business can supply the remedy. Some place their faith in the idea of competition. Others embrace disruptive innovation, mainly through online learning. Both camps share the belief that the solution resides in the impersonal, whether it’s the invisible hand of the market or the transformative power of technology.
Neither strategy has lived up to its hype, and with good reason. It’s impossible to improve education by doing an end run around inherently complicated and messy human relationships. All youngsters need to believe that they have a stake in the future, a goal worth striving for, if they’re going to make it in school. They need a champion, someone who believes in them, and that’s where teachers enter the picture. The most effective approaches foster bonds of caring between teachers and their students.

Petition: Save Simeon Electrical Program

by Michael Brunson, CTU Recording Secretary  |  August 07, 2014

The youth unemployment rate in Chicago is very high. Training programs leading to employment opportunities for the youth are hard to find. Urge the Chicago Board of Education to continue Simeon’s Electrical Program. This petition to Rep. LaShawn Ford will help us get crucial support to bring back an essential training program for young Chicagoans. Click below and sign it.


District 205 teachers reject offer

by antwon r. martin - the register-mail  |  August 18, 2014

Teachers rejected a contract offer late Tuesday night from District 205, which means they will be on the picket line Wednesday morning, just one day before school was to begin.

It’s the first strike in the district in nearly 37 years.

Following more than 15 hours of mediation over the past two days and a three-and-a-half hour meeting Tuesday evening, the Galesburg Education Union membership turned down a proposal from the District 205 Board of Education without a vote. As they exited First Lutheran Church after 9 p.m. Tuesday, the teachers, professionals and paraprofessionals carried signs for Wednesday’s picket.

“The proposal does not adequately address safe working conditions for educators and students,” GEA Spokeswoman Tami Qualls said, reading from the union’s prepared news release. “Fair working conditions such as just cause for dismissal and the number of days and hours employed are not included.”

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Washington Post: New NEA leader to nation’s educators: Revolt, ignore ‘stupid’ reforms

by Valerie Strauss - washington post  |  August 18, 2014

To call the woman who is about to take the helm of the National Education Association “outspoken” would be something of an understatement. Lily Eskelsen García, who will take over next month as president of the largest teachers union in the country (and, for that matter, the largest union of any kind in the country), is nauseatingly sick of what she calls “factory school reform” and she doesn’t mind telling everybody about it in clear, challenging words. “Stop doing stupid,” she says.

That’s not all. Acknowledging that sometimes it is hard for her to be diplomatic, García says she wants to shake things up: “The revolution I want is ‘proceed until apprehended.’” Translation: Teachers, administrators and everybody else involved should ignore bad school reform policy and do “the right thing” for kids. “Don’t you dare,” she said, ” let someone tell you not to do that Shakespeare play because it’s not on the achievement tests. Whether they [reformers] have sinister motives or misguided honest motives, we should say, ‘We are not going to listen to you anymore. We are going to do what’s right.’”

The biggest problem in education today, she said, is the obsession many school reformers — including Education Secretary Arne Duncan — have with standardized tests and using student scores to make high-stakes decisions on  whether students move to the next grade or graduate high school, how much teachers get paid and whether they can keep their jobs, and even if schools are reconstituted or closed. “I will go down to my last breath telling people that the most corrupting influence in public influence today is a high-stakes consequence for not hitting the cut score on a standardized test,” she said.

What would she do if she were still teaching and an administrator told her to do something in class to improve student’s standardized test scores so that her test-based evaluation would be better?  “I would totally ignore them,” she said. ” ‘Go stand out in the hall and don’t waste five seconds of my time.’ I would not make that change one thing in my classroom.”

You can read this story by my colleague Lyndsey Layton about García’s rise to the top of the NEA, a journey that started when she worked in a school lunch room, moved through years of teaching (during which she was named Utah’s Teacher of the Year)  and took her to the leadership of her union. And here are some excerpts from the recent interview I just had with García about her views on challenges facing educators today.

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Chicago Teachers’ New Political Awakening

by Michelle Gunderson  |  August 18, 2014

What would our city look like if it were run by Chicago teachers alongside other labor and community groups? This was the thought that kept running through my head as we gathered to support the launch of the new United Working Families political organization in Chicago.

I have strong hope that Chicago would look much different than it does now. It has to.

Mayor Emanuel states over and over again that Chicago is a world class city. Yet this is a place where we do not have resources for our schools to educate our children, where we do not have wages and jobs so we can afford our own city, and where we do not have affordable, safe housing for our families.

Mayor Emanuel, we are far from being a world class city.

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Chicago Teachers Union