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President Lewis to Make Special Appearance at Tonight’s CTU LEAD

by ctu communications  |  October 31, 2014

ILLUSTRATION: CTU President Karen LewisCHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis will be among the speakers at tonight’s 2014 Legislators and Educators Appreciation Dinner (LEAD) at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd. This annual event, organized by the CTU Political Action/Legislative Committee, provides an opportunity for rank and file members to engage elected officials and discuss the conditions in Chicago’s public schools and the Union’s fight for the city that Chicago’s students deserve.

Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia will be the keynote speaker at 2014 LEAD. A 30-year veteran of Chicago politics, Garcia was elected to the Chicago City Council as alderman of the 22nd Ward in 1986, where he helped enact progressive legislation as a reformer and supporter of Mayor Harold Washington. In 1992, he became the first-ever Mexican-American elected to the Illinois Senate, where he served two terms and pushed forward a broad range of legislation to benefit working families.

Among the speakers joining Garcia and President Lewis at 2014 LEAD are Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Congressman Danny Davis.

WHO:     Chicago Teachers Union active and retiree members, officers, administration and staff; community partners and allies; and elected officials.

WHAT:     2014 Legislators Educators Appreciation Dinner (LEAD)

WHEN:     Friday, October 31
             5:30 p.m.

WHERE:     Plumbers Hall
               1344 W. Washington Blvd.
               Chicago

County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to give CTU LEAD keynote

by ctu communications  |  October 31, 2014

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, will hold its 2014 Legislators and Educators Appreciation Dinner (LEAD) at 5:30 p.m. at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd. This annual event, organized by the CTU Political Action/Legislative Committee (PAC), provides an opportunity for rank and file members to engage elected officials and discuss the conditions in Chicago’s public schools and the Union’s fight for the city that Chicago’s students deserve.

Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia will be the keynote speaker at 2014 LEAD. A 30-year veteran of Chicago politics, García was elected to the Chicago City Council as alderman of the 22nd Ward in 1986, where he helped enact progressive legislation as a reformer and supporter of Mayor Harold Washington. In 1992, he became the first-ever Mexican-American elected to the Illinois Senate, where he served two terms and pushed forward a broad range of legislation to benefit working families.

In 2010, García successfully ran for Cook County Commissioner of the 7th District, and is committed to improving county government by advocating for the most vulnerable, increasing transparency and being a good steward of public resources. Among the speakers joining Garcia at 2014 LEAD are Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Congressman Danny Davis.

ILLUSTRATION: 2013 LEADThe past legislative session netted the CTU some of the strongest charter accountability laws in the country, proving that rank-and-file power has made the difference in Springfield. While 2014 LEAD will celebrate these legislative wins, the event also charts the path to 2015, as across our city, Chicagoans call for an end to the top-down, undemocratic administration that seeks to destroy schools, disinvest in neighborhoods and stifle community participation.

In 2013, CTU members and allies heeded the call to advance support and resources to fight for a smaller class sizes, defense of retiree pensions and the promotion of a broad and rich curriculum that reduces the emphasis on high-stakes, standardized testing. This year, the Union is encouraging its members to engage in a political process of their choosing. Some CTU rank-and-file members are exploring a run for alderman, while many others are collecting signatures to make sure voters weigh in on the question of whether Chicago’s public schools should have an elected, representative school board.

The CTU PAC is committed to electing candidates who support authentic education reform and stand strong with labor; fight privatizers; and advance meaningful legislation and a vision for our city that honors and respects the voice of every Chicagoan.

Power in the

Rank and File

LEAD

Legislators

Educators

Appreciation

Dinner

Friday, Oct. 31

Unity brings victory for Waukegan teachers

by Illinois Federation of Teachers  |  October 30, 2014

Waukegan Teachers and Supporters on the Picket LineFrom our sisters and brothers at the Illinois Federation of Teachers:

Great news! Members of the Waukegan Teachers’ Council (Local 504) reached a tentative agreement late last night with the District 60 school board. The 1,200 members were forced to the picket lines for 20 days in their difficult struggle for a fair contract, professional respect, and quality education for their students.
 
The teachers stayed strong and unified throughout the strike, and Waukegan parents and community members stood with them every step of the way. The assistance of Governor Pat Quinn and State Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico were also invaluable in helping reach an agreement.   
 
In a joint statement issued late last night, Waukegan Teachers’ Council President Kathy Schwarz expressed her thanks.

IFT President Dan Montgomery said he was “inspired” by the teachers and the entire community.
 
Teachers are meeting today to take a ratification vote. They are expected to be back at work on Friday. Students are scheduled to return on Monday, November 3.
 
Hats off to these inspiring IFT members who have reminded us about the power of solidarity!

Voting Info: Nov. 4, 2014 General Election

by ctu communications  |  October 29, 2014

REGISTRATION

  • If you have missed the October 7 deadline for voter registration, you can still register during the grace period. The grace period lasts through November 4 at your local election authority’s office.
  • If you register during the grace period, you can “Early Vote” and your vote will be counted with the other ballots on Election Day, or you can cast a provisional ballot on Election Day.
  • If you register during the last two days of the grace period (November 3-4) your ballot will be cast provisionally.

EARLY VOTING

ABSENTEE VOTING

  • Absentee Voting allows you to cast your ballot early and avoid the polling place on Election Day. You do not need to give a reason to cast an absentee ballot.
  • You can request an absentee ballot in person at your local election authority, online, or by mail. You can request an absentee ballot until October 30.
  • Your completed absentee ballot must be postmarked by midnight on November 3.
  • If you request an absentee ballot, generally you will only receive a provisional ballot at your polling place on Election Day. There are some exceptions:
    • You bring your ballot in to the election judges so it can be cancelled
    • You fill out an affidavit stating that you never received an absentee ballot
    • Even if you have received an absentee ballot in the past, you need to apply for it again.

VOTING ON ELECTION DAY

  • You must vote at your assigned polling location. Your polling location can be found on your registration card or online at:

http://www.elections.il.gov/votinginformation/registrationlookup.aspx.

  • If this is your first time voting at a polling place, you may need to show some form of ID that has your name and address listed (drivers license, utility bill, lease agreement, etc.).
  • Unless you are in prison for a crime you have been convicted of, you are eligible to vote.
  • If you have a disability, you can receive assistance casting your vote.
  • If your voting status is challenged, you have the right to vote provisionally and to find out if your vote was counted.

Building the Rauner Platform

by ctu communications  |  October 29, 2014

ILLUSTRATION: Building the Rauner Platform

Greetings from Rauner's Illinois

by illinois federation of teachers  |  October 28, 2014

ILLUSTRATION: Greetings from Rauner's Illinois

Two CPS high school teachers reflect on Forgotten Future: The Education Project

by ctu communcations  |  October 24, 2014

Two CPS high school teachers reflect on Forgotten Future: The Education Project
Now through October 26 at Collaboraction Theatre in Wicker Park

If you are frustrated with the current state of Chicago Public Schools, the new Collaboraction play Forgotten Future: The Education Project provides an inside view of the impacts on children, parents, and teachers in particular of the dogma, bureaucracy, and institutionalism that plague our schools. The play also is a thought-provoking conversation-starter about issues CPS teachers confront every day, and how we can make positive change.

Forgotten Future takes place in three classroom settings – an elementary, middle, and high school room -- all in one large space. The audience is integrated into these classrooms, seated at school desks, cafeteria tables and on bleachers.


Jasmin Cardenas portrays a Common Core presenter, and Susie Griffith plays a teacher,
Mrs. Fischer, in Collaboraction’s world premiere of Forgotten Future: The Education Project.

The main characters are three Chicago teachers – each at very different points of their careers – three students, their parents, along with representations of a principal, a Common Core instructor, an alderman and the chief of the school system, Barbara Boyd-Bennett. 

Throughout the play, the students struggle to survive the altered courses of violent paths to school and daunting test and enrollment criteria, the parents are helpless to understand or affect any aspect of their children’s experience, and the teachers are barraged with changes in curriculum and policies coming down from the administration.

As a teacher, I found myself reliving my own frustration with the system through the portrayal of the actors. The elementary teacher, a veteran of over twenty years, is no less passionate about her job, but despite her experience feels unprepared as a result of constantly changing curriculum and the sudden influx of new students from a nearby shuttered school.

The mid-career, middle school teacher wants to focus more on teaching practical life skills, but is forced to dedicate nearly all of her class time to test preparation.

The high school history teacher, fresh out of college, has the drive and passion to do what it takes to help his underperforming students score better on the ACT, but even a 100% increase in a score is not enough to help them get into college.

 
Scott Merchant portrays Mr. Wright, a new teacher at a school determined
to make a difference in his students’ lives in Forgotten Future

Through well-researched, clearly written and adeptly performed vignettes, Forgotten Future exposes how, in our current political climate, a teacher is isolated both from families and communities, as well as the administration that directs their instruction. Parents direct frustration at the teachers for not having enough time to get to know a student, not giving a student an A, or being unable to improve a standardized test score sufficiently to get into a magnet school or college. Conversely, alderman, administrators, and the board give directives and sweeping statements to teachers, but offer no solutions or resources to make the increased stakes and requirements tenable. 

Everyone believes themselves an expert about public education, but the folks at Collaboraction provide a timely lesson about the ways in which this system is crushing us all, and subtly suggests that is up to each of us to make a change.

- Jennifer O’Neil, 3 years with CPS

Forgotten Future stars three young Chicago actors, each the same age as their character in the play, each with life stories not so dissimilar from their on stage alter ego. As a parent, CPS teacher and life-long Chicagoan, I could honestly relate to the plights of all three students, not to mention their parents and teachers. I’ve seen earlier Collaboraction productions confronting topics such as Chicago’s crime epidemic, and they’ve always resonated with me.  But as a CPS teacher, Forgotten Future was deeply personal for me and I highly recommend it to all of my fellow education professionals.

 
Esmé Ayvar-Perez, a sophomore at Lane Tech High School, plays Carolina Rodriguez, with Jasmin Cardenas as her mother 

Even the most well-intentioned teachers often have no idea what an upward struggle it is for a low-performing student to make significant headway in the competitive world of high-stakes college placement testing, no matter how hard she tries, even with the support of family and faculty. This everyday occurrence is beautifully and poignantly made clear via the story of Carolina Rodriguez, a smart, frustrated young Latina student at a low-resource CPS high school, so soulfully and artfully portrayed by Esmé Ayvar-Perez.


Leah Aberman, a 7th-grader at Lane Tech Academic Center, plays high-achiever Lauren Perry

As the parent of two CPS students who went through the ultra-competitive, golden-ticket selective enrollment high school race, the plight of 7th grade super-student Lauren Perry hit very close to home. Lauren’s story and “No back-ups, only Northside” attitude is portrayed with gut-wrenching accuracy by Leah Aberman, herself a new 7th-grader at Lane Tech Academic Center. We all know students who feel Chicago’s top selective enrollment schools are the only path to a successful future. This is a situation that many Chicago families and students fear and face on a daily basis, and it is incredibly harmful to the physical and psychological development of our adolescents.


Tyrese Hall, a 6th-grader at Alaine Lock Charter School on Chicago’s West side, plays Issac Tate, here with Ebony Joy as his mother

Isaac’s West side neighborhood school was shut down, forcing him to walk a half hour through unsafe streets to a new school, where he is bullied and made to feel like an outsider. I was witness to a similar scenario when two nearby CPS elementary schools where my own students volunteer, Jenner and Manierre, were nearly merged. We heard from teachers, parents and students from both schools about fears born from decades-old gang rivalries passed on through several generations. I can only imagine those were the same very real fears brought to life by Forgotten Future’s fictional young boy.

- Alicia González, 17 years with CPS 

In These Times: Karen Lewis Has Already Redefined Chicago Politics

by BY JAMES THINDWA - in these times  |  October 21, 2014

The news that Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis will not run for mayor of Chicago due to illness is heartbreaking.

Speaking as a colleague, comrade and friend, I can say with certainty that Karen Lewis is one of most brilliant and committed labor leaders today. Underneath her down-to-earth demeanor are nerves of steel.

After she took office, I attended several debates between Lewis and Etoy Ridgnal, then a local director of Stand for Children, a corporate-backed booster for school privatization. The Chicago Urban League debate was particularly instructive. After Lewis schooled her opponent about the relationship between race, poverty and education—the “opportunity gap”—an African American woman, in apparent awe of Lewis, asked me why no one had explained the connection “like she just did.” She wondered out loud why other union leaders had “allowed them to blame the teachers.”

At one point, Lewis interrogated Ridgnal about the rightwing billionaires who fund Stand for Children—like the Walton Family Foundation, started by Walmart’s founders. As Ridgnal, seemingly flummoxed, processed the question, Lewis, with visible contempt, questioned how “these rich white people can pretend to love our children more than we do.” I recall that moment because Lewis’ emotion touched me, and the audience went wild.

But she wasn’t done. Lewis dared Ridgnal to reconcile her funders’ newfound sensitivity to the needs of black children with business practices and actions—Walmart’s low wages and right-wing politics—that marginalize black workers and impoverish their neighborhoods. The debate was effectively over.

Please click here to continue reading at inthesetimes.com

Catalyst Chicago: As CPS irons out school budgets, charters will also get more cash

by Sarah Karp - Catalyst Chicago  |  October 17, 2014

CPS is increasing the per-pupil funding provided to charter schools for this year in order to “equalize” funding between them and traditional schools.

Charter school operators say that even with the slight increase, some of them are down so many students that they have had to shift spending around to create a balanced budget.

CPS will spend an additional $7.8 million on charter schools, but spokesman Bill McCaffrey says he is not sure how much more per-pupil that amounts to. 

Please click here to continue reading at Catalyst Chicago.

Forum: Greed vs. Need

by ctu communications  |  October 15, 2014

ILLUSTRATION: This is the Fight! forum

Chicago Teachers Union