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Sun-Times: New package of ordinances aims to increase CPS per pupil funding

by Jacob Wittich - chicago sun-times  |  July 28, 2016

Chicago Public Schools students, parents and Local School Council members united Wednesday to protest the struggling district’s recent round of budget cuts and call for an increase to its per-student funding.

About two dozen community organizers gathered outside CPS headquarters, 1 N. Dearborn St., before a meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. They were there to tout a package of ordinances that would increase per student funding in CPS by $1,000, and called on the CPS board to work with City Council to pass the ordinances and funnel the extra money into the broke school district.

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Washington Post: Why charter schools get public education advocates so angry

by valerie strauss - washington post  |  July 26, 2016

When Hillary Clinton mentioned public charter schools in her speech to the National Education Association earlier this month, she was greeted with some boos. Her remarks about sharing “what works” seemed innocuous enough.  So why did the teachers in attendance react so strongly?

The obvious answer is the charter sector’s distaste for collective bargaining.  But the antipathy directed at charters runs deeper than that. Charters, regardless of their original intent, have become a threat to democratically governed, neighborhood public schools, and questions about their practices, opacity and lack of accountability are increasing as their numbers grow.

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Rauner challenged by CPS educators to ‘read-off’ on importance of civil rights, public education

by chicago teachers union  |  July 22, 2016

CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members challenged Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to a “read-off” this morning at his office in the James R. Thompson Center following the release of emails in which the governor claimed that half of Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) teachers are “virtually illiterate" and half of Chicago’s public school principals are “incompetent.” Educators demonstrated their literacy in sharing with the governor the ways in which he and his administration are destroying the state of Illinois and the collective outrage over how he and his millionaire friends are primarily responsible for Illinois’ budget woes, criminally negligent denial of resources for social services and inadequate school funding.

“Contrary to the governor’s rude and inflammatory [Donald] Trump-like comments, I don’t know any illiterate teachers,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “If he thinks we’re illiterate and schools are crumbling prisons, imagine what he and his elitist buddies say about our students behind closed doors.”

CTU educators today demonstrated their literacy by presenting to the governor the ways he has undermined schools and social services in Chicago and downstate Illinois for the entirety of his tenure:

  • From 2009 to 2012, the top 1 percent in Illinois—people like Rauner—captured a whopping 97.2 percent of all income growth, far surpassing the overall Midwest average of 72 percent.
  • This past year, Governor Rauner has pursued his Turnaround Agenda at the expense of working families. Across the state, families have been denied basic human needs, institutions vital to our public life such as universities and municipal governments have started to collapse, and our state infrastructure is being put at risk.
  • If Illinois had kept up with funding education, health care and human services at 2002 levels, the budget for the 2015 fiscal year would have seen more than $6.6 billion for funding to services and programs that every family in Illinois depends on.
  • Illinois ranks No. 5 in the nation for the least fair tax system.
  • In 2013, Illinois spent $1,150 per person on core public services, while Minnesota, a state only slightly wealthier than Illinois, spent $2,742 per person—almost 2 ½ times as much as Illinois.
  • The poorest 20 percent of Illinois residents pay 13.2 percent of their income in taxes—the third highest amount in the country. In comparison, the middle 60 percent pays 10.9 percent, while the top 1 percent pays 4.6 percent.
  • Governor Rauner has supported charter school expansion that has jeopardized the fiscal integrity of Chicago Public Schools. Charter schools expel and suspend Black students at 11 times the rate of traditional, neighborhood schools.

The governor has been in cahoots with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in closing the most schools in American history in minority communities and putting the most resources in the schools that need them the least. His comments reveal who he truly is, and are also outright and cruel lies with no evidentiary basis, created to suit his false narrative that scapegoats hardworking Chicago public school teachers.

Source: The People’s Agenda, a Grassroots Collaborative plan for the prosperity of Illinois families of all incomes.

ILLUSTRATION: Rauner 'Read-Off'(Photo: Jackson Potter/CTU)

Rauner Revealed: “Half of [Chicago] teachers are virtually illiterate”

by illinois federation of teachers  |  July 22, 2016

CHICAGO—As GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump prepares to take the convention stage in Cleveland, Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery responded to revealing emails written by one of Trump’s supporters, Governor Bruce Rauner.

“Governor Bruce Rauner's statement that half of Chicago teachers are ‘virtually illiterate’ is a grotesque affront to the thousands of dedicated, hardworking, and talented educators and, indeed, the children who learn from them and love them,” said Montgomery, a high school English teacher.

“Perhaps the Governor is trying to one-up Donald Trump, whom he said he would support, in the level of hate and impropriety in civic deliberations.

“While Rauner publicly claims to love Illinois teachers, his private emails reveal the appalling truth: he holds them in contempt. No public servant, let alone a governor, is fit to oversee the education of our children when he or she has so little regard for those who teach.”

Chicago Public Education Revitalization Ordinance – Summary

by ctu communications  |  July 20, 2016

Chicago Public Education Revitalization Ordinance – Summary

July 19, 2016

Objective:  The Chicago Public Education Revitalization Ordinance (the Ordinance) provides the City of Chicago (the City) a process for directly aiding the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by declaring TIF surplus and providing a supplement grant from the City’s share of TIF surplus. 

Process:  Unlike past years in which the City determined the amount of TIF surplus by privately analyzing TIF funding requirements and surplus availability, the proposed Ordinance would require the City to annually calculate and distribute available TIF surplus based on incremental tax collections, existing contractual agreements, and financial obligations, excluding potential future project obligations, which may or may not occur. 

Enhanced Transparency:  The Ordinance would require the City to provide its annual TIF surplus calculations on the City’s website detailing its assumptions and contractual obligations.

Increased City Support of Public Education:  In addition to the CPS receiving its proportional share of TIF surplus distribution (approximately 53%), the proposed Ordinance would require the City to contribute its proportional share of TIF surplus distribution (approximately 20%) as a Public School Revitalization Grant to pay for CPS operating costs.  The Ordinance also requires the City to encourage other taxing districts (e.g. Cook County, Chicago Park District, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and City Colleges of Chicago) to contribute their respective proportional shares of TIF surplus as additional Public School Revitalization Grants.

Expected Impact:  From the Fall 2015 TIF collections of approximately $371 million and fund balances, the City of Chicago declared TIF surplus of $116 million during through June 30, 2016, of which CPS received an estimated $61 million (53% of surplus distribution) for operations.

Fall 2016 collections are projected to be $89 million more than 2015 or $461 million (Source:  Office of the Cook County Clerk).  Under the proposed ordinance, if the City contributed $205 million of TIF surplus by December 31, 2016, CPS would receive an estimated $150 million (73% of surplus distribution) for operations

CTU joins national teachers’ unions in unanimous passage of AFT resolution to strengthen ESSA re-authorization

by ctu communications  |  July 20, 2016

CHICAGO—Following yesterday’s unanimous passage of a resolution at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) national convention to expand community alliances for educators’ vision of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Chicago Teachers Union calls for monumental investment in children and their education through the ESSA process in Illinois and throughout the country. This action is part of the Union’s agenda for vibrant schools for all Illinoisans that include doubling funding for K-12 education, universal and full-day child care for all families, and free state and community college tuition for all. 

On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed ESSA into law as a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replacement for the failed No Child Left Behind (NCLB). ESSA eliminates some of the most damaging components of NLCB’s high-stakes testing and accountability regime, and ends the School Improvement Grants program, whose school closure, chartering and reconstitution requirements have destabilized Black and Brown communities across the country.

In rewriting ESEA, Congress maintained the commitment of federal funding to disadvantaged students and ended the use of standardized tests as the sole basis for accountability. But the most significant long-term change is that the new law assigns responsibility for how federal education dollars are used to the states. During this past year, the federal government designated state school districts as the central political arena to determine education policy around critical issues such as testing, school closings, expansion of charters, implementation of restorative justice programming and adequate funding and support for students who are minorities, disabled or English Language Learners.

“We have a tremendous opportunity in Illinois and all other states to restore democracy and equity in our school districts,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “We can go from a state that funds schools at one of the lowest levels in the country to becoming a state that supports high-quality schools for all children. 

To that end, the CTU encourages the Illinois General Assembly to adopt the following visionary platform to advance school funding and design. These demands are part of a national platform supported by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS), of which the American Federation of Teachers is a part, along with thousands of parents, teachers, students and community activists.  

  • More teaching and less testing. Testing companies are siphoning millions out of our classrooms and into their coffers while distorting teacher and school efficacy. Let's do away with these harmful tests and adequately fund our schools.
  • Tax the wealthy. Only a progressive income tax and millionaires tax can increase funding across the state for the schools that have the most low-income students. We need to ensure that students in Harvey and Peoria receive per-pupil funding that is equivalent to that which students in Winnetka receive.
  • Elected, Representative School Board for Chicago. It is time for Chicago to join the rest of the state and empower its citizens to take control of their school district.
  • Restorative Justice and Wraparound Supports, not punitive discipline, to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • Sustainable Community Schools, and not charters, turnarounds or other disruptive school actions.

The CTU and its partner organizations in AROS have created this model to invest in our community schools. We encourage educators and school communities everywhere to demand that this platform be enacted during the ESSA process over the next year. 

Chicago Teachers Union, champion of the schools Chicago's students deserve

by karen lewis - ctu president  |  July 18, 2016

Over the last six years, the Chicago Teachers Union has been the most consistent champion of the schools Chicago’s students deserve. As such, we politely disagree with the premise and loose facts in the recent editorial on CTU.

Let’s look at those facts.

Since 2010, CTU has given up more than $2 billion in lost pay raises, employer contributions to our pension fund and thousands of teacher layoffs. Our contributions this year, through the loss of pay, benefits and laid-off teachers and paraprofessionals, stretch well into nine figures.

The biggest cost drivers in the Chicago Public Schools are not teacher salaries. Total teacher and administrator salaries have been flat for the last five years. Yet, costs tied to debt service, charter school proliferation and pension contributions have exploded. CPS’ costs are tied to terrible management decisions, such as skipping 10 years of pension payments or using operations money to pay debt service.

Educators did not agree to the SUPES contract that led former CPS CEO to plead guilty to a felony last year. CTU members did not agree to the Aramark outsourcing deal that cost more but left schools filthy. We did not target the South and West sides of the city with the largest mass school closing in U.S. history. Those decisions were made by the mayor and his hand-picked board of education.

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Third Annual Construction Expo

by ctu communications  |  July 14, 2016

Download the print flyer.

Do you want to learn how to become an electrician, carpenter or bricklayer?
Then this Hands-On Expo is for you!

3rd Annual Construction Expo

Thursday, August 25, 2016
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
St. Paul Community Development Ministries
4550 S. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60653

Register here

During the Expo you will get a chance to learn first-hand what it takes to become an electrician, carpenter, bricklayer, operating engineer, pipefitter or other union building trades careers.

For more information about the building trades, contact Johnetta Ryan,
CISCO’s Education-to-Careers Director at (630) 472-9411.

For more details about the Construction Expo, contact Elder Kevin A. Ford,
Executive Director, St. Paul Community Development Ministries at (773) 538-5120.

CTU responds to new, vague school budgets that continue to hurt students and cripple public education

by jesse sharkey - ctu vice president  |  July 13, 2016

CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Vice President Jesse Sharkey released the following statement in response to the school district’s release of new school budgets:
“While we are glad that 40 percent of the student-based budgeting (SBB) is off the table, school budgets are still lower than last year. Unacceptable school-level cuts continue, and to be clear, these fiscal decisions hurt our students. A short-term fix from Springfield cannot resolve the long-term damage done to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by the Chicago Board of Education and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Simply put, our schools need sustainable, progressive revenue.
“We’ve had year after year of reductions in support personnel to schools, and ‘efficiencies’ that principals have tried to wring out of their schools. There have been hundreds of millions in cuts that CPS claims are ‘away from the classroom,’ but that have cut essential programming from transportation, counseling, after-school programs and even school libraries. Meanwhile, CPS has continued its decades-long practice of furthering segregation by funneling capital funds (long-term debt) towards expanding selective enrollment buildings while neglecting the ‘under-enrolled’ neighborhood schools in their shadow.
“Today’s vague SBB plan offers no details on how these new ‘efficiencies’ will be wrung out from ‘schedules.’ More importantly, there is no mention of any city effort beyond the state-authorized, state-implemented property tax—an authorization that returns us to the funding structure that existed prior to 1995.
“CPS states it’s faced an ‘agonizing’ choice, although the choice is actually a legal requirement resulting from its own fiscal irresponsibility and unwillingness to raise revenue on those who can afford it. The real choice is the one that the CTU has posed repeatedly—choosing to raise revenue from the wealthy to make our schools whole and move towards the schools Chicago’s students deserve, and not cede to the status quo of relegating urban public education to under-funding and worsening segregation.
“TIFs and a corporate head tax will resolve the budget gap completely and result in no cuts to our classrooms. Mayor Emanuel, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and their wealthy friends and developers should pay their fair share instead of paying lip service to teachers, students and parents.”

CTU President Karen Lewis on sharing the pain

by karen lewis - ctu president  |  July 12, 2016


Let me count the ways we’ve already given.

2010 – 1200 educators laid off.

$1.2B heist from our pension fund.

2011 – 4% raise, stolen when they had a surplus.

2012 – 20% increase in school day/year without commensurate compensation.

2013 – 52 schools closed, hundreds laid off.

2015 – 100s of special educators laid off. No raises, no steps/lanes.

I’d say we’ve given a lot, not to mention a brutalizing evaluation culture based on voodoo VAM, incessant paperwork and a system so corrupt and vicious, principals and teachers at “good” schools are fleeing the system in droves let alone the so-called crumbling prisons. STOP THE FALSE EQUIVALENCY. CTU MEMBERS HAVE ALREADY GIVEN AND WE GOT OUR TAX BILLS TOO.

-Karen Lewis

Chicago Teachers Union