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Our Mission

The Chicago Teachers Union is an organization of educators dedicated to advancing and promoting quality public education, improving teaching and learning conditions, and protecting members’ rights.

For more than 75 years the Chicago Teachers Union has been in the forefront of education advocacy and public school reform in Chicago. The CTU represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve.

An affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), CTU is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois. Chicago Teachers Union affiliations also include the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL), the Illinois State Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (ISFL-CIO) and the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).


Karen Lewis

President Karen Lewis

 was elected president of the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union on June 11, 2010. A member of CTU since 1988, Mrs. Lewis taught high school chemistry in the Chicago Public Schools for 22 years. She believes that students, parents, teachers and community members are educators’ natural allies. Her goal is to truly improve Chicago Public Schools and stand firmly against the privatization of public education. She also serves as executive vice president to the Illinois Federation of Teachers and as vice president of the American Federation of Teachers. Karen is a product of Chicago Public Schools, having attended Kozminski Elementary School and Kenwood High School, until accepting early admission at Mount Holyoke College. She later transferred to Dartmouth College, where she earned the distinction of being the only African American woman in the class of 1974. Mrs. Lewis comes from a family of educators — her father, mother and husband, John Lewis, who is now retired, all were CPS teachers. 

Jesse Sharkey

Vice President Jesse Sharkey

 taught social studies for ten years, primarily at Senn High School, and also served as the school’s union delegate before winning election as CTU vice president in 2010. In 2004 he played a leading role in a campaign that mobilized hundreds of parents, launched a website, put a ballot initiative up in the 48th ward, and built relationships with dozens of community organizations and religious groups to oppose the takeover of Senn by a military academy. That experience taught him that we can defend our public schools against privatization. He studied history and education at Brown University (Bachelor of Arts, 1992 and Masters of Arts in Teaching, 1997) where he studied and worked with many of the leaders of the Coalition of Essential Schools.

Michael Brunson

Recording Secretary Michael E. Brunson

 is first and foremost an educator. Prior to his election as CTU recording secretary in 2010, he spent most of his time in CPS teaching in the primary grades. He was a strong advocate of CPS local school councils and served as Recording Secretary of South Side United, an organization whose main goal was to network local school councils on Chicago’s South Side. He became active in the CTU after working with its members in the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) coalition.


Maria MorenoFinancial Secretary Maria T. Moreno

 worked in CPS as a bilingual education teacher and as a speech-language pathologist prior to her election as CTU financial secretary in May 2016. As an elementary bilingual education teacher, she served as a delegate, district supervisor and strike coordinator. As a district supervisor for Midway Network 1, she worked with the CTU’s organizing department, parents, teachers and community members in the fight to oppose the turnaround of Marquette Elementary School and against abusive and counterproductive network administrators. As a speech-language pathologist, she served as an executive board elementary functional vice president and Big Bargaining Team member. As a rank-and-file member, she was active in the charter outreach committee, clinicians’ steering committee and the CTU Latino Caucus’ policy committee.

Chicago Teachers Union