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March 2012 Archive

Frequently Asked Questions on the CPS Evaluation System

March 30, 2012

Teacher Evaluation Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a new teacher evaluation plan?

The State of Illinois passed the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) in January, 2010, to get Race to the Top funds. They did not get the funds, but the law stands.

What is the philosophy behind the push for teacher evaluation?

The corporate reformers who push teacher evaluation as the new “solution” to the problem of low student achievement ignore the fact that at least 75% of differences in achievement can be explained by non-school factors. Teachers, while important, still account for less than half of the school components, or about 10% overall. Instead of working on the factors that account for 90% of the achievement differences, such as health, poverty, mobility, segregation, and poorly-run schools, legislation is focused narrowly on teacher evaluation. Further, by making student growth a significant factor in teacher evaluation, the corporate reformers are continuing the failed policies of the test-based No Child Left Behind. More emphasis on testing leads to less conceptual understanding, independent thinking, and creativity. The new teacher evaluation policies are bad for students and bad for education.

What are the main features of the Performance Evaluation Review Act (PERA)?

Student growth must be a significant part of teacher and principal evaluation. Every evaluator must pass a state training. There will be four performance ratings: Excellent, Proficient, Needs Improvement, and Unsatisfactory. All school districts must implement PERA-based teacher evaluation by 2016. Some must do so earlier, with Chicago being the earliest: September, 2012 for at least 300 schools.

How are the details of the evaluation plan determined?

In Chicago, CPS and CTU had 90 days to meet and discuss the evaluation plan. If they did not agree, then the “last best offer” of CPS would be the plan. In the rest of the state, unions and districts have 180 days and if they don’t agree, will have to default to a state model plan.

What has been the result of negotiations on the teacher evaluation plan?

The negotiations concluded March 29, 2012. The law gives CPS the right to implement their “last best offer”, which is explained in other Questions. However, we were able to push CPS on several issues. We feel that our participation in the negotiations helped create a plan that is better for teachers than what CPS initially proposed. For example:

  • CPS initially proposed that student growth count for 45% of a teacher’s evaluation. They now plan to use 25% in 2012-13 and 2013-14. However, they do plan to move up to 40% by 2016-17.

  • Initially, CPS wanted to use student surveys as part of teacher evaluation. Now they will pilot surveys in 2012-13, and not count them toward teacher evaluation, although they plan to use them as 10% of a teacher’s evaluation after that.

  • CPS wanted to use Explore, Plan, and ACT to measure high school student growth. Now they will pilot using these tests for evaluation in 2012-13, and not count them toward teacher evaluation but, depending on pilot results, may use them in future years.

  • CPS initially wanted to evaluate every teacher every year. They will still do that, but in 2012-13, they will not evaluate tenured teachers who this year have superior or excellent ratings.

  • CPS wanted to make student growth part of the evaluation of non-classroom teachers. They will not do that in 2012-13 but will look for appropriate growth measures to use in subsequent years. 

    Click here to download the full list of FAQs. 

2% is good for milk, bad for teaching and learning.

March 30, 2012

The following is a list of demands in the current fight for the next contract. 

We Want:
A Fair Contract Our Teachers & Paraprofessionals Deserve
• Adequate staffing in all areas including art, music, physical education; nurses, librarians, and counselors!
• Smaller class sizes! 
• Resources for our students and our schools!
• Don’t cut our wages:  A fair raise next year!
• Hold the line on benefits: Protect our health care and pensions!
• Dignity for our veteran members—hire qualified tenured teachers before new employees!
The Board Wants:
Draconian Policies & Benefits Cuts
• A five-year contract with only a 2% raise 
• No more raises unless we agree to testingbased Merit pay 
• A longer school day and year, but a DECREASE in prep time and professional development  and no additional resources
• An End to Accumulated Sick Days 
• Increased health care costs 
• No job security—tenured teachers who are laid off from closing schools get no rehire rights and arbitrary evaluation systems, which makes it easier to fire even the best of teachers.

Edweek: Value-Added Evaluation Hurts Teaching

March 30, 2012

Click here to access the original article.

The harm behind the hype

By Linda Darling-Hammond

Here’s the hype: New York City’s “worst teacher” was recently singled out and so labeled by the New York Post after the city’s education department released value-added test-score ratings to the media for thousands of city teachers, identifying each by name.

The tabloid treatment didn’t stop there. Reporters chased down teacher Pascale Mauclair, the subject of the “worst teacher” slam, bombarding her with questions about her lack of skill and commitment. They even went to her father’s home and told him his daughter was among the worst teachers in the city.

Joanna Cannon, executive director of the New York City Department of Education's Office of Research and Data, speaks to reporters about the release of individual performance rankings of 18,000 public school teachers while New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott looks on at the Tweed Courthouse in New York City on Feb. 24.

Now the facts: Mauclair is an experienced and much-admired English-as-a-second-language teacher. She works with new immigrant students who do not yet speak English at one of the city’s strongest elementary schools. Her school, PS 11, received an A from the city’s rating system and is led by one of the city’s most respected principals, Anna Efkarpides, who declares Mauclair an excellent teacher. She adds: “I would put my own children in her class.”

Most troubling is that the city released the scores while warning that huge margins of error surround the ratings: more than 30 percentile points in math and more than 50 percentile points in English language arts. Soon these scores will be used in a newly negotiated evaluation system that, as it is designed, will identify most teachers in New York state as less than effective.

Is this what we want to achieve with teacher-evaluation reform?

Everyone agrees that teacher evaluation in the United States needs an overhaul. Although successful systems exist, most districts are not using approaches that help teachers improve or remove those who cannot improve in a timely way. Clearly, we need a change.

"As in other professions, good evaluation starts with rigorous, ongoing assessment by experts who review teachers’ instruction based on professional standards."

As student learning is the primary goal of teaching, it seems like common sense to evaluate teachers based on how much their students gain on state standardized tests. Indeed, many states have adopted this idea in response to federal incentives tied to much-needed funding.

However, previous experience is not promising. Recently evaluated experiments in Tennessee and New York did not improve achievement when teachers were evaluated and rewarded based on student test scores. In the District of Columbia, contrary to expectations, reading scores on national tests dropped and achievement gaps grew after a new test-based teacher-evaluation system was installed. In Portugal, a study of test-based merit pay attributed score declines to the negative effects of teacher competition, leading to less collaboration and sharing of knowledge.

I was once bullish on the idea of using “value-added methods” for assessing teacher effectiveness. I have since realized that these measures, while valuable for large-scale studies, are seriously flawed for evaluating individual teachers, and that rigorous, ongoing assessment by teaching experts serves everyone better. Indeed, reviews by the National Research Council, the RAND Corp., and the Educational Testing Service have all concluded that value-added estimates of teacher effectiveness should not be used to make high-stakes decisions about teachers.


First, test-score gains—even using very fancy value-added models—reflect much more than an individual teacher’s effort, including students’ health, home life, and school attendance, and schools’ class sizes, curriculum materials, and administrative supports, as well as the influence of other teachers, tutors, and specialists. These factors differ widely in rich and poor schools.

Second, teachers’ ratings are highly unstable: They differ substantially across classes, tests, and years. Teachers who rank at the bottom one year are more likely to rank above average the following year than to rate poorly again. The same holds true for teachers at the top. If the scores truly measured a teacher’s ability, these wild swings would not occur.

Third, teachers who rate highest on the low-level multiple-choice tests currently in use are often not those who raise scores on assessments of more-challenging learning. Pressure to teach to these fill-in-the-bubble tests will further reduce the focus on research, writing, and complex problem-solving, areas where students will need to compete with their peers in high-achieving countries.

But, most importantly, these test scores largely reflect whom a teacher teaches, not how well they teach. In particular, teachers show lower gains when they have large numbers of new English-learners and students with disabilities than when they teach other students. This is true even when statistical methods are used to “control” for student characteristics.

For this reason, Chris Steinhauser, the superintendent in award-winning Long Beach, Calif., where schools have been nationally recognized for progress in closing the achievement gap, refuses to include state test scores in teacher evaluations. He points to one of the district’s expert veteran teachers, who routinely takes the highest-need 4th graders. Because she can move such students forward where others often cannot, they gain much more than they otherwise would. Meanwhile, other teachers who have easier classes can experience greater success, and everyone wins.

"These test scores largely reflect whom a teacher teaches, not how well they teach."

Penalizing such a teacher for taking on the toughest assignment does not make sense. Rather, Steinhauser has spread this model to other schools, allocating the best talent to the neediest students and supporting teacher collaboration.

Similarly, Singapore’s minister of education explained at last year’s International Teaching Summit that his country would never rank teachers by student test scores because doing so would create the wrong incentives and undermine collaboration, which is emphasized in Singapore’s schools and teacher-evaluation system. In fact, no country in the world evaluates its teachers based on annual test-score gains.

Yet this has not stopped some policymakers in the United States from forging ahead. In Houston, where teachers are dismissed or rewarded based substantially on value-added scores, teachers can find little relationship between what they do and how they rate each year. As one put it: “I teach the same way every year. [My] first year got me pats on the back. [My] second year got me kicked in the backside. And for year three, my scores were off the charts. I got a huge bonus. What did I do differently? I have no clue.”

Among many teachers recently dismissed was a 10-year veteran who had been voted “teacher of the year.” Rated each year as “exceeding expectations,” she showed positive value-added scores in most subjects every year, except for the year she taught 4th grade, when English-language learners, or ELLs, are mainstreamed in Houston. The pattern of lower scores in classes with large numbers of ELLs is well known. As another teacher said: “I’m scared I might lose my job if I teach in an [ELL] transition-grade level, because my scores are going to drop, and I’m scared I’m going to get fired.” When teachers avoid these classes, high-need students are increasingly taught by less effective novices.

So what’s the alternative? As in other professions, good evaluation starts with rigorous, ongoing assessment by experts who review teachers’ instruction based on professional standards. Evaluators look at classroom practice, plus evidence of student outcomes from classroom work and school or district assessments. Studies show that feedback from this kind of evaluation improves student achievement, because it helps teachers get better at what they do. Systems that sponsor peer assistance and review programs also identify poor teachers, provide them intensive help, and effectively remove them if they don’t improve.

If we really want to improve teaching, we should look to such districts for models of effective evaluation, as well as to high-performing countries that have professionalized teaching by ensuring excellent preparation, on-the-job collaboration, and ongoing professional learning.

Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun professor of education at Stanford University and co-director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Her latest book is The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future (Teachers College Press, 2010).

Vol. 31, Issue 24, Pages 24,32

CPS’ New Teacher Evaluation System Has Serious Flaws; Not Endorsed by CTU

March 29, 2012

After four months and countless hours of bargaining, tonight the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) presented the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) with its “last best offer” for its new teacher evaluation plan.  The CTU does not endorse the new system. 

The Performance Evaluation Review Act (PERA), passed in January, 2010 gives CPS the right to make the final decision about the new teacher evaluation system mandated by PERA.  “This new system is deeply flawed, is unfunded and lacks an appeal process for educators who believe they have been unfairly evaluated,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “We do not understand how the District can even implement a far-reaching evaluation plan without the funding in place.  We support high standards.  We want what is best for our students.  We believe, however, that hurried implementation of an unproven and potentially harmful evaluation system will result in inaccurate assessments of our teachers and decreased learning among our students.” 


The Union’s primary objection to the new evaluation system is timing. There are many new components to teacher evaluation, on top of other new CPS initiatives being implemented in public schools. CTU asked CPS to delay implementation of teacher evaluation at least a year, and pilot the various components to learn how to best implement them and to give teachers an opportunity to become familiar with them in a low-stakes environment. The Performance Evaluation Review Act (PERA), passed in January, 2010 gives CPS the right to make the final decision about the student growth provisions of new teacher evaluation system mandated by law after good faith cooperation with the CTU and requires them to bargain over the plan. 

Another objection we have to the CPS evaluation system is the use of “value added.” A value added score is given to a teacher based on the difference between student test scores at the beginning and at the end of the school year, relative to scores of other teachers. The value added metric is supposed to account for important student variables (for example, poverty or IEP status) so that the remaining difference in initial and ending student test scores can be attributed to the teacher. Value added is unreliable—a teacher could be scored excellent one year and unsatisfactory the next—and it is a ranking--those with the lowest “value added” score always lose out, no matter how much they’ve helped students. CTU is one of many critics of value added telling CPS not to make it part of teacher evaluation.

One other problem with the system is that CPS would not agree to what CTU considers to be a reasonable safety net. CTU’s plan was to hire peer observers. They would serve as a check on principal observation scorings, especially for teachers with low observation scores. CTU also proposed an appeals process. CPS did not agree and have proposed instead measures that will only call for a review of scores in the most extreme cases.

The new observation system is an improvement over the checklist system currently in place, which allows principals to give teachers whatever summative ratings they want because there is nothing that links the checkmarks to particular ratings. Additionally, the checklist does not give teachers information about their pedagogical strengths and weaknesses and principals are not required to have substantial pre- and post-conferences with each observation. The new classroom observations will consist of a collection of evidence about your practice, using the Charlotte Danielson Framework (

Focusing so heavily on standardized testing (student growth) will lead to a narrowing of curriculum and teaching to the test. “It also undermines art and music education which is essential to a having a well-rounded education,” Lewis pointed out.

CTU will continue to work with CPS to help smooth the transition to the new system, even as it continues to push for evaluation practices that will better serve our members and our students.

CTU urges parent and teacher input in city arts planning; kicks off “Arts For All” campaign in public schools

March 29, 2012

The Chicago Teachers Union today urged Chicago Public School (CPS) parents and teachers to leverage their voices to strengthen the city’s current planning process on how to develop and support the arts in Chicago schools and communities. “Arts For All” is the theme of CTU’s new campaign to promote education in fine arts and music as fundamental components of a holistic curriculum for all students in the city’s public schools.

The U.S. Department of Education, in 2004, encouraged arts education, saying, “(It) can be particularly beneficial for students from economically disadvantaged circumstances and those who are at risk of not succeeding in school.” Yet, in 2011, only 25 percent of CPS neighborhood elementary schools provided instructor positions for both art and music; 40 schools had neither and most schools are forced to choose between the two; and 42 percent of neighborhood schools in Chicago are not funded for a full—time arts or music teacher.

“Most adults remember that their first and most profound experiences in formal arts education were led by teachers in their neighborhood schools. Most children know this too,” explained CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “Art programs have traditionally been underfunded in our school system. Now, in the face of even more threatened funding cuts, our parents and teachers must unite. We must support a strong role for arts education as an essential resource and tool for developing young minds, and as a fundamental component in the education of all children.”

Lewis urged parents and teachers to attend the current series of Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 public meetings convened by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Arts and education is an agenda item at these meetings held across the city. The remaining meetings will be held: Saturday, March 31, 2012, 10:00AM - 12:00 PM at Pritzker Elementary School,2009 West Schiller St.; Tuesday, April 3, 2012 , 6:00 - 8:00 PM, Gage Park, 2411 West 55th St.; and Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 6:00 - 8:00 PM, Pullman State Historic Site: Clocktower/Administration Building, 11057 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

She explained that, “By collaborating as parents and teachers concerned about children’s education, we can offer volumes of testimony to city officials about our expectation that schools deliver a strong arts education curriculum. A major goal is to insist that our Chicago school board fund full-time art and music teachers in every school.”

A report of international studies on the impact of arts education revealed several benefits from arts programs. Arts education was found to:

  • improve students’ aesthetic development and appreciation of the arts

  • enhance children’s self-awareness, self-confidence and acceptance of others

  • increase class attendance and significantly lower drop-out rates

  • promote enthusiasm, motivation and engagement in learning

  • improve student behaviors in terms of greater motivation to read, awakening of student interest and

    emotional growth

  • develop interpersonal skills such as teamwork, tolerance, and appreciation of diversity in people and ideas

  • enhance academic attitude and aspiration
CTU has pushed for quality over quantity in public schools or a better school year in the wake of a longer one. It advocates for smaller class sizes, a robust, well-rounded curriculum and in-school services that address students’ social, emotional, intellectual and health needs. In addition the Union believes all students deserve professional teachers who are treated as such, fully resourced school buildings and a school system that partners with parents. 


CPS Agrees To Pay Teachers Fair Wages for Longer School Day

March 28, 2012

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have settled a long-running dispute over CPS’s unlawful implementation of a longer school day at 13 neighborhood schools without properly compensating the teachers for the extra hours of work. The agreement was signed by both parties following today’s Board of Education meeting.

CPS unilaterally implemented the Longer School Day Pioneer Program beginning on September 26, 2011, with the last implementation date in January 2012, at a total of 13 schools. To induce teacher cooperation, CPS paid teachers up to $750 stipends and up to $150,000 to each school that participated in the program.  The CTU filed Labor Board charges, alleging that the Longer School Day violated its bargaining rights, and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board unanimously voted on October 20, 2011 to seek injunctive relief blocking CPS from implementing the program at any of other 600+ public schools whose staff is represented by the CTU, and referring the initial 13 schools to a hearing before an Administrative Law judge.  Rather than face a court fight, CPS agreed not to impose the longer school day at any more schools this school year.

“Today’s settlement is a great victory for collective bargaining in Chicago, and a step forward for the Chicago Public Schools,” says CTU President Karen GJ Lewis.  “The longer school day will give CPS students the schools they deserve only if sufficient resources are devoted to making it work, including fair compensation for teachers.  We have serious reservations whether CPS will devote sufficient resources system-wide to maintain reasonable class size, educate the whole child, provide robust wrap-around services, and provide quality facilities.  But CPS makes its first good faith step in that direction today.”

Today’s settlement resolves the fate of the 13 schools.  The agreement effectively guarantees those teachers the same salary for the 2011-12 school year that teachers will receive next school year when the longer school day is implemented system-wide.  Under the agreement, CPS will initially pay over $300,000 in prorated payments of up to $1,500 for each teacher employed at the 13 schools.

CPS has also agreed that when the labor contract is concluded for the 2012-13 school year, these teachers will be paid the difference between this year’s compensation (including the $750 stipend and $1500 settlement) and next year’s negotiated salary.  The effect will be that the salaries negotiated for next school year – when Mayor Rahm Emanuel imposes the longer school day at all CPS schools – will be paid to the teachers at the 13 schools retroactively for this year.

Educators Urge City to "Proceed with Caution" in Race to Implement New Evaluation System

March 27, 2012

Click here to read the open letter to Mayor Emanuel, CEO Brizard, and the Chicago Board of Education.

"The proposed changes not only lack a sound research basis, but in some instances have already proven to be harmful," concluded CReATE, a volunteer group of local education professors and researchers, about a new system the City plans to implement this fall to evaluate teachers and principals in at least half its 600 schools.

In January 2010, the Illinois Legislature approved inclusion by 2016 of "student growth" as a significant portion of teacher and principal evaluation.  CPS successfully lobbied for permission to begin four years earlier than most other districts in the state.

"Over a year ago, we began issuing reports to contrast CPS's approaches to school reform with the research," noted Kevin Kumashiro at a recent news conference on the University of Illinois-Chicago campus, where he is a professor.  "These messages similarly frame our open letter about teacher evaluation," signed by 88 faculty members from 15 area universities and delivered to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and the Chicago School Board.

CReATE called upon school authorities to first pilot the new system - as New Jersey did for several years with ultimate success. Tennessee did not, with disastrous results.  Assured Kumashiro, "There's no need to rush."

Several speakers referred to "large-scale educational testing" as a relic of the industrial revolution.  "In today's globalized, information-based economy, 'student growth' must be more meaningfully defined and assessed," stated Isabel Nunez, associate professor at Concordia University Chicago. 

Nunez considers "frightening" the current misapplication of assessment instruments and criticized the new CPS evaluation system for "breaking some of the most fundamental principles of measurement."   

Active in several local and national parent groups focused on education, Julie Woestehoff reported grassroots support for resisting the federally funded push to tie teacher jobs and compensation to test scores.   

"Teacher evaluation is not just a contractual issue," Woestehoff reminds. "It is an issue of educational quality that will have just as much impact on our children as it will on their teachers.  The experts are warning us today that CPS is moving in the wrong direction."

For more information, visit


UIC Prof. Kevin Kumashiro reads a letter, signed by 88 education experts from 15 area universities and delivered to officials in charge of Chicago Public Schools, calling a new teacher and principal evaluation system "flawed and in need of piloting."  Among those also speaking at the March news conference were (left to right) Erica R. Meiners, Northeastern; Diane Horwitz and Michael Klonsky, DePaul; Therese Quinn, School of the Art Institute; David Omotoso Stovall, UIC;  Isabel Nunez, Concordia; Julie Woestehoff, Parents United for Responsible Education; and Bill Kennedy, University of Chicago.


Washington Post: The war on teachers: Why the public is watching it happen

by Valerie Strauss  |  March 27, 2012

Original post available here

This was written by Mark Naison, professor of African and African American Studies at Fordham University in New York and chair of the department of African and African-American Studies. He is also co-director of the Urban Studies Program, African-American History 20th Century. A version of this first appeared on the blog With A Brooklyn Accent.

By Mark Naison

All over the nation, teachers are under attack. Politicians of both parties, in every state, have blamed teachers and their unions for the nation’s low standing on international tests and our nation’s inability to create the educated labor force our economy needs.

Mass firings of teachers in so-called failing schools have taken place in municipalities throughout the nation and some states have made a public ritual of humiliating teachers. In Los Angeles and New York, teacher ratings based on student standardized test scores — said by many to be inaccurate — have been published by the press. As a result, great teachers have been labeled as incompetent and some are leaving the profession. A new study showed that teachers’ job satisfaction has plummeted in recent years.

Big budget films such as Bad Teacher and the documentary Waiting for Superman popularize the idea that public school teachers prevent poor children of color from getting a good education, while corporate funded organizations perpetuate the idea that the only way for children to excel is if their teachers lose their job security and bargaining rights.

Why has this campaign attracted such strong bipartisan support and why has the public failed to speak out loudly against it?

Attacks on teachers have occurred in the midst of a broad-based attack on the bargaining rights and benefits of all public workers — but even by that standard, teachers have been singled out.

In New York State, where teacher evaluations were just released to the press, the state Legislature just passed — and the governor signed — a bill that exempted police and firefighters from having their evaluations released to the public. What better symbolizes the way teachers have become “fair game” for public demonization?

There are huge profits to be made in the testing industry, in educational technologies that replace teachers, and in constructing and managing charter schools, so it is not hard to see why some people in the corporate world would benefit from attacking public education and teachers unions.

But why are so many parents and the general public buying into this campaign? Certainly politicians wouldn’t be voting to take away teachers’ rights if they didn’t think it would get votes.

Let’s look at the way many in America’s shrinking middle class and battered working class view the teachers in their midst.

Large numbers of people are losing their jobs and homes, earning sub-standard wages and taking in their children who can’t find jobs. All the while, they see teachers, 80 percent of them women, who make better salaries than they do, have better health plans and pensions, and get two or three months off in the summer!

Many say to themselves: “Who do teachers think they are? Why should they live so well on my tax dollars when I can barely keep my head above water? At the very least, they should feel some of the insecurity I feel every day and face the kind of performance assessments workers in the private sector deal with all the time.”

That is the same sentiment that America’s unionized blue collar workers faced in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and ‘90’s when big corporations started closing factories and slashing wages and benefits. The non-unionized work force in big industrial states refused to rally to the defense of their unionized counterparts, and industrial unions lost battles to maintain their wage and benefit levels that allowed them to live a middle-class life style or prevent plants from relocating.

That posture is short-sighted for two reasons.

First the same policies that create an insecure, deeply resentful teaching force will end up harming children.

Not only will excessive standardized tests — now used to evaluate teachers — make children hate school, but the whole test-based accountability movement has served to narrow the curriculum and turn many classrooms into test-prep factories. Parents are discovering that their children are not only unhappy at school but not well prepared for higher education or challenging careers.

There is another more insidious consequence of the attack on teaching. Every time you undermine the job security, working conditions, and wages of one group of workers, it makes it easier for employers to undermine them for all workers. This is why, during the Depression, many unemployed people organized in support of workers on strike, even though anybody with a job in that era was relatively privileged. They believed in the concept of solidarity — the idea that working people could only progress if they did so together, and if one group of workers improved their conditions, it would ultimately improve conditions for all.

That kind of solidarity, for the most part, is gone now. If American workers are ever going to regain their fair share of national income and win back respect on and off the jobs, it is something they are going to have to re-learn. The Occupy Movement has brought back the idea of solidarity with its image of “the 99 percent fighting the 1 Percent,” but this idea has not yet spread fast enough to stop the war on teachers.

There are, though, signs of hope. In Chicago and New York, Occupy groups are uniting with teachers, parents and students to fight school closings; in New York, parents groups have rallied to the defense of teachers stigmatized by the publication of outrageously inaccurate teacher ratings; in Florida, a pernicious “parent trigger” law favoring charter schools was just defeated in the legislature with a big push from parents.

These actions are, hopefully, just the beginning of a transformation of public consciousness that will lead to an end of the war on teachers.

Education Week: Blame It All On Teachers Unions

by Walt Gardner   |  March 27, 2012

Original post available here

Scapegoating is a powerful tool to sway public opinion. That's why I'm not surprised that teachers unions are consistently being singled out for the shortcomings of public schools ("Can Teachers Unions Do Education Reform?" The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 3). After all, they are such an easy target at a time when the public's patience over the glacial pace of school reform is running out.

The latest example was an essay by Juan Williams, who is now a political analyst for Fox News ("Will Business Boost School Reform?" The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 28). He claims that teachers unions are "formidable opponents willing to fight even modest efforts to alter the status quo." Their obstructionism is responsible for the one million high school dropouts each year and for a graduation rate of less than 50 percent for black and Hispanic students. Williams says that when schools are free of unions, they succeed because they can fire ineffective teachers, implement merit pay, lengthen the school day, enrich the curriculum and deal with classroom discipline.

These assertions have great intuitive appeal to taxpayers who are angry and frustrated, but the truth is far different from what Williams maintains.

First, if teachers unions are responsible for low student achievement, then students in states where teachers unions are weak should do much better than students in states where teachers unions are strong. This is not the case. In Massachusetts and Minnesota, where teachers are heavily unionized, students post the highest scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation's report card. Conversely, in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas, which have few teachers union members and virtually no union contracts, students have the lowest NAEP scores ("Beyond Silver Bullets for American Education," The Nation, Dec. 22, 2010).

Second, teachers unions are not obstructionists. New Haven has the full cooperation of the New Haven Federation of Teachers in transforming its schools ("The New Haven Experiment," The New York Times, Feb. 15). Two years ago, the district and the union reached an historic agreement whereby job security would be sacrificed in exchange for better pay and benefits. And the National Education Association, often thought of as a hidebound organization, has agreed to re-evaluate its stand on determining employment and advancement of teachers ("NEA proposes criteria reform for teacher jobs," The Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2011).

Third, teachers unions do not have a chokehold on teachers. Educators 4 Excellence in New York City, NewTLA in Los Angeles, and Teach Plus in six cities, including Boston, Chicago and Memphis, want to change how teachers are evaluated and retained ("Teacher Faction Expands to L.A.," The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2011). Although the overwhelming majority of members are young teachers, there are also veteran teachers who share their vision for overhauling schools.

Finally, teachers unions are not nearly as powerful as critics claim. In Los Angeles, home of the nation's second largest school district, United Teachers Los Angeles no longer exerts the influence it once did ("Once-mighty UTLA loses political muscle," Los Angeles Times, Feb. 18, 2011). The change is the result of UTLA's slowness in adapting to the demand for school reform. Depicting UTLA as calling all the shots is a caricature.

I don't know why Williams chose to perpetuate hoary myths at this time, but his charges will only set back the cause he claims to espouse. Teachers unions are not saintly, but neither are they evil. Bringing about change first requires the acknowledgement of reality.

Picket the new school year calendar!

March 22, 2012

CPS released a school calendar that, when combined with the longer day, will be the longest school year in the country. This relentless schedule will produce student burnout and lacks appropriate professional development time for staff.

Let's tell CPS that the calendar should reflect what is best for kids, not political talking points. 

Wednesday, March 28

9 AM - 11 AM

CPS Monthly School Board Meeting

125 S. Clark St.

Arrive at 6 AM to sign up to speak.


Among the specific problems with the new calendar:

* Report card pickups will now conflict with work hours for parents and will leave only three hours for teachers to meet with up to 200 sets of parents.

* The calendar provides for no Professional Development days between the first day of student attendance in September and the last day on June 17. This is particularly egregious at a time when new district initiatives including the Common Core State Standards, a new evaluation system and a longer day will require planning and collaboration.

* By eliminating the federal holiday, Columbus Day, the school year begins with nine uninterrupted weeks of school.

* Track E—comprised of at least 240 schools—will lose a week of spring break and still gets no relief from sweltering school conditions in August.

Since state law was changed in 1995, the appointed Chicago Board of Education has had the right to impose the academic calendar without bargaining with the union.

This calendar represents an example of what the Chicago school board will do when it doesn’t listen to the voices of the teachers, parents, and others who will be directly affected by their policies.

Get on the bus to support neighborhood schools!

March 22, 2012

Illinois State Rep. Cynthia Soto sponsored HB4487 which would place a moratorium on school closings, consolidations and phase-outs in CPS for the 2012-2013 school year. Sen. Iris Martinez sponsored the Senate version of the bill. 

We need your help to get these crucial bills passed. We need you to testify at the Illinois House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee hearing.

Lobby Day:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Depart:  4:30 AM from 1100 S. Hamilton (parking in the Juvenile Detention facility parking garage)

Return:  Around 4:00 PM

To get on the bus you must register with CTU organizer Martin Ritter:; 312-329-6283

Additional details on this important legislation: During this moratorium period, the district must establish policies that address and remedy the academic performance of schools in which ISAT scores reflect students performing at or below 75%. CPS must establish clear processes for establishing criteria for making school facility decisions and include clear criteria for setting priorities with respect to school openings, school closings, school consolidations, school turnarounds, school phase-outs, school construction, school repairs, school modernizations, school boundary changes, and other related school facility decisions, including the encouragement of multiple community uses for school space. 

Local School Councils Say City Sabotages Community Control

March 22, 2012

Local School Council supporters from across Chicago will be detailing ways the City has been undermining democratically run schools, at a news conference Thursday, March 22, at 11:30 pm, at Chicago Public Schools headquarters, 125 South Clark St.   They will also encourage more LSC candidates to submit their nomination forms by the next day’s deadline, for April 19 elections.

The LSC members and candidates have different priorities – some fighting school closings, others longer school days.  All dispute claims that outside, politically connected private managers can run schools better than parents, teachers and other local stakeholders.

Speakers are expected to tackle a broad range of topics, including legislation CPS has put forth to limit the power of LSCs and promote privatized education, civil rights complaints filed with the federal government on behalf of several schools,   and how the city has used control of local school budgets to further other agendas.


Don't forget to wear red on Friday!

March 22, 2012

Contrary to rumors, the Chicago Police Department has not issued a warning to CTU against wearing red on Fridays. Feel free to show your solidarity as we fight for a strong contract that protects learning and teaching in Chicago.

Register Today -- 2012 Eleventh Annual Lesson Study Conference

March 21, 2012

2012 Eleventh Annual Lesson Study Conference

Using Level 3 teaching to cultivate the mathematical practices
of the Common Core State Standards

Thursday – Friday, May 3 & 4, 2012

Prieto Math and Science Academy,
2231 N. Central, Chicago, IL

CPDUs will be available for Illinois teachers

At the 2011 Chicago Lesson Study Conference, we presented the concept of Level 3 teaching, in which the teacher creates circumstances that lead students to discover important ideas for themselves. This kind of teaching naturally cultivates many of the mathematical practices called for in the Common Core State Standards. But what does that kind of teaching look like, and how can lesson study help teachers progress towards it?

This year’s Chicago Lesson Study Conference will feature speakers and, of course, live research lessons to foster discussion among participants around the challenge of implementing the Mathematical Practices of the Common Core State Standards.

New: CPS' Office of Literacy will pay for substitutes.


Featured Presentations

  • Cultivating Mathematical Practices in a Community of All Mathematics Teachers
    Sybilla Beckmann, Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Mathematics, University of Georgia; member of the mathematics writing team for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
  • Differences in how level 1, level 2, and level 3 teachers use a textbook
    Akihiko Takahashi, Department of Teacher Education, DePaul University
  • Bansho—Using the blackboard effectively to support the mathematical practices
    Makoto Yoshida, Director of the Center for Lesson Study, William Paterson University, New Jersey
  • Using Lesson Study to Cultivate and Spread Mathematical Practices
    Catherine Lewis, School of Education, Mills College
  • Lesson study and Race to the Top: Report from Florida
    Lance King, Learning Systems Institute, Florida State University, Florida
  • Research Lessons: There will be 2 sets of concurrent research lessons—one pair on Thursday, one on Friday.


  • Akihiko Takahashi, Department of Teacher Education, DePaul University, Illinois
  • Tad Watanabe, Department of Mathematics, Kennesaw State University, Georgia
  • Makoto Yoshida, Director of the Center for Lesson Study, William Paterson University, New Jersey
  • Toshiakira Fujii, Tokyo Gakkugei University
  • Thomas McDougal, Lesson Study Alliance

Tentative Agenda

A tentative agenda may be viewed here.


Lesson study is a collaborative process, so we encourage registration of teams of at least 3 persons.
Special rate for CTU members! The Chicago Teachers Union is subsidizing teams of 3 or more CTU members at 50%!

Register by clicking here.

Early bird (before April 1):

  • $280 per person
  • $250 per person for teams of 3 or more
  • $125 for CTU members, in teams of 3 or more

April 1 – 24:

  • $310 per person
  • $280 per person for teams of 3 or more
  • $140 for CTU members, in teams of 3 or more

The cost includes breakfast, lunch, and refreshments both days.


All registrations must be received by April 24. There will be no on-site registration.


Refunds of 85% will be issued for cancellations received before April 24. No refunds can be issued for cancellations after April 24.


A block of rooms has been reserved at The Holiday Inn O'Hare. The cost is $99+tax per night for a room with 2 queen beds. Reservations should be made by April 14 by phone at 1-800-465-4329 (mention the group name "Chicago Lesson Study Conference") or online. Bus service between the hotel and Prieto Math and Science Academy will be provided.

Holiday Inn Chicago is three (3) miles to O’Hare Airport with complimentary 24-hour airport transportation. It is also walking distance from the CTA Blue Line, which provides easy access to downtown. Guestrooms include a refrigerator, microwave oven, complimentary high speed wireless. Other amenities include an outdoor pool, fitness center, business center, gift shop, valet, guest laundry.

What is Lesson Study?

Lesson study is the primary engine of educational improvement in Japan, shaping classroom practice and informing national policy. When a new national curriculum is released, lesson study helps teachers understand it and enables them to bring the new standards to life in their own lessons.

In lesson study, teachers work together to:

  1. formulate long-term goals for student learning and development;
  2. plan, conduct, and observe a ‘research lesson’ designed to bring these long-term goals to life as well as to teach a particular academic content;
  3. carefully observe student learning, engagement, and behavior during the lesson; and
  4. discuss and revise the lesson and the approach to instruction based on these observations.

The research lesson is taught with students, and participants observe as the lesson unfolds in the actual teaching-learning context. Discussion following the lesson is developed around the student-learning data collected during the observation. Through the process, teachers are given opportunities to reflect on their teaching and student learning.

Lesson study has become increasingly visible in state, national, and international conferences, open houses, high-profile policy reports, and special journal issues in recent years in the United States.

Chicago Lesson Study Group

The Chicago Lesson Study Group was launched in November of 2002 with several volunteer teachers in Chicago area. Since its inception, this informal study group has met regularly to discuss issues in mathematics teaching and learning and to develop research lesson plans. As part of the lesson study cycle, the group hosts this annual lesson study conference with public research lessons.

CTU Candidates Win Big in Contested Primary Races

March 21, 2012

Illinois March 20th Primary Results

Yesterday, Chicago Teachers Union demonstrated its power by beating back special interests that seek to destroy us. The results show that we are building a strong political program. CTU donated time and money and organized members to canvass, make phone calls, and get out the vote.

Rep. Monique Davis, a CTU member, will again be the Democratic candidate in the 27th House District. Joining her are fellow CTU endorsees: Rep. Camille Lilly (District 78), Rep. Al Riley (District 38), Rep. Derrick Smith (District 10), and Rep. Ken Dunkin (District 5).

CTU-endorsed newcomers Elgie Sims (District 34) in the House and Napoleon Harris (District 15) in the Senate were also victorious. The Will Guzzardi and Toni Berrios race (House District 39) is still too close to call at the time of this posting.  This was CTU-endorsed candidate Guzzardi’s first time running for office. The last contested race in his district was the November 2010 general election where Berrios won with 65% of the vote.

The biggest disappointments were the 26th District House race between Kenny Johnson and Christian Mitchell and the 21st District House race between Rudy Lozano, Jr. and Silvana Tabares.  The Tabares and  Mitchell campaigns relied heavily on outside money generated by astroturf anti-Union special interest group Stand for Children.  Although Mitchell’s race was infused with $134,000 three days before the election by Stand and Ty Fahner (The Republican behind the SB512 – anti-public pension legislation), he only won by 507 votes.  Tabares won narrowly by 318 votes after an intensely negative mail campaign and support from the old-school Chicago Machine. Longtime statehouse incumbent Annazette Collins was defeated by Patricia Van-Pelt Watkins (Senate District 5) in another nail biter. 

Moving forward, we have to continue building our political power through our Political Action Committee (PAC) Fund. The Statehouse dictates school policy.  We have to continue supporting candidates and incumbents who understand the need for common sense school policy.

Competing at a high level requires resources. Contact for a PAC payroll deduction form if you are not currently contributing to the PAC. Please make an additional donation by writing a check to “CTU PAC” and mailing it to the following address:

Chicago Teachers Union
C/O Debra Loch
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60654

Charter Schools: The Great Scam of Our Time [Education Radio]

March 21, 2012

From Education Radio's website (Click to listen):

In this weeks episode of Education Radio we begin an examination of charter schools by attempting to answer two questions: "Why is it important to keep public education public?" and "What role do charter schools play in privatizing education?"

We spoke with a variety of  teachers, parents, activists, and scholars, including Julie Cavanaugh, Lisa Donlan, Pauline Lipman, Brian Jones, William Watkins, Karen Lewis, and Kevin Kumashiro, who are all active in the fight to keep public education public. While their experiences and stories are different, they have all come to the understanding that current education reform policies undermine the goal of public education, and that charter schools and the charter school movement play a significant role in this process.  While no one would argue that public education is where it needs to be, we unite in our belief that privatizing education is harmful and dangerous not only to students but to the ideals of democracy and society as a whole.

Please listen and distribute throughout your networks!

The Education Radio Collective


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Senator Martinez Goes Online to Stop Closings

March 19, 2012

State Senator Iris Martinez (D-20) has taken her fight for community inclusion in school closing decisions online. Visit to sign her online petition.

The petition's text reads:

CPS officials are moving ahead with school closures and turnarounds despite lingering questions about whether they followed the required guidelines for public input in their planning. Students, parents and the impacted communities have lingering questions about why their schools are being targeted and exactly how these plans are in the best interests of the children. The Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force put these guidelines together in hopes of preventing the very situation that’s now occurring.

We are not opposed to closing failing schools, but the current process is negatively impacting the students and their families. In fact, two of the schools scheduled to close are under a process of self-turnaround and have already gained better scores. We should give them more time to continue on their path of growth. CPS should take a step back, let the public have its say and work with the communities to make sure educational opportunities are improved. A proposed one-year halt to closures and turnarounds would give CPS more time to implement and share required transitional plans that would identify academic support, security and transportation issues before students are re-assigned.

Now is the time to let your voice be heard. Sign the petition and let CPS administrators know that you support a one-year moratorium on facility closures.

Herzl School Teacher Octavia Sansing-Rhodes Named February "Teacher of the Month"

March 19, 2012

Click here to watch the video.

From WGN News:

February’s Teacher of the Month honoree credits her effectiveness as a math teacher -- in part -- to her childhood memories.

Octavia Sansing-Rhodes: “I didn’t get it as a child.  It was confusing, complicated and I thought only the super smart students could get it, but now as an adult I get it.”

She not only gets it, but she is having tremendous success in helping her students get it. Octavia Sansing-Rhodes teaches math at Chicago’s Herzl Elementary School on the city’s west side.

Charlisha Harris, Student: “She came here last year. Our scores were low, low, low.  Now mostly everybody in our class meets or exceeds the standard in math.

Giovanni Fowler presented quite a challenge. The oldest student in his class, he failed math twice and was beginning to think a passing grade was out of the question.

Giovanni Fowler, Student: “She didn’t give up on me.”

Giving up her students never crosses her mind and with good reason.

Jasmine Harper, Student: “Mrs. Sansing-Rhodes is a very good teacher.

Charlisha Harris, student:  “She wants us to do better and to succeed in life, because it is hard to get jobs without a good education.”

Octavia Sansing-Rhodes “I became a teacher not because it was something I had to do in college. I did it because I wanted to make a difference. And I love it.”

Bev Gulley, Saint Xavier University: “On behalf of Saint Xavier University, I’m pleased to present this check for $1,000.”

Muriel Clair: “And on behalf of WGN, congratulations on being our February Teacher of the Month.”

Herzl School is one of those slated for Turnaround. All of the staff will be replaced later this year. Sansing-Rhodes says she will miss her students, and she hopes the replacement staff will continue that which is good while improving on that which isn’t. Meantime in the time that she has left she says she will use the check she received from Saint Xavier University on creative supplies to engage her math students in the learning process.

Parents and LSC members call on U.S. Attorney General to Investigate Chicago's Educational Apartheid

March 13, 2012

Opponents of the city's plans for drastic changes at 14  schools recently announced they have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene, based on civil rights violations.  Parents, students, and local school council members rallying under the slogan "We say NO to the status quo,"  said the federal government has a responsibility to correct the inequities in city’s education system that have lead many to dub accuse the Board of Education of engaging in “educational apartheid.”

In a six-page letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan,  Chicago parent Steven Guy asked the federal government  to bring legal action against the school district in order to stop the turnaround of his grandson’s school. Citing numerous education disparities, he also called on a  federal investigation of the Board of Education under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

“Approximately 42 percent of the children in the Chicago public schools are African American, but over 82 percent of the children affected by these fourteen closings, phase-outs and turnarounds are African American,” Guy wrote. “With respect to just the school closings and phase-outs, nearly 100 percent are African American.  Furthermore, the Board has concentrated the closings in so-called gentrifying areas—with the effect of moving out poor African American families for the benefit of high income racially-mixed buyers.”

The letter follows a series of actions by parents, students, educators and community leaders to stop the Board’s mission to destabilize neighborhood schools.

"Closings, turnarounds, phase-outs - however you label them - lead to increased violence and destabilization affecting both our children and their overall communities," says Jitu Brown, a member of the Dyett High School Local School Council.  "We are firm in our commitment to use whatever peaceful means at our disposal to stop these destructive educational policies.  We will make our voices heard by those in power - if not here, then wherever else we have to go."    

Click here to download the letter. 

The Chicago Teachers Union wins reinstatement and back pay for group of Audiometric & Vision Screening Technicians

March 12, 2012

CTU recently won reinstatement and back pay for eight Audiometric and Vision Screening Technicians (V&HTs) who were permanently laid off by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in 2010 without just cause.  The paraprofessionals, all of whom are African American and highly regarded in their field,  worked in schools with children with a preponderance of social service needs.

“This is a victory for paraprofessionals across the District,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “CTU’s PRSP field staff, under the leadership of June Davis, helped these brave individuals stand in solidarity and fight together to restore their jobs and demand respect for their peers. Instead of cutting the specialists who offer our students these critical health interventions the District should be adding more of them.”

The V&HTs test CPS students for hearing and vision loss, which is critical given the District’s student demographics. More than three-fourths of CPS students come from families who are eligible for free lunch. The relationship between poverty and academics is well documented. About 15,000 CPS students are homeless.  Students in poverty are more likely to struggle with poor health, including hearing or vision problems that affect their school performance.

On June 30, 2010, Jane Lee-Kwon, manager of CPS’s Office of Special Education and Support, laid off the technicians citing budget constraints.  Following a grievance filed on the employees’ behalf, on February 21 of this year the complaint was finally advanced to arbitration.  Arbitrator Lawrence Cohen ruled that technicians Tangela Burton, Darnitia Ciscero, Robert Faulkner, Edna Johnson, Cheryl Jolly-Hansford, Sheila Lott, Gloria Prince, and Percy Suggs were “cherry-picked” and “capriciously and arbitrarily laid off,” by CPS.  He ordered the Board to reinstate the technicians to their former positions without loss of seniority. 

Cohen ruled, “The grievants shall also be made whole for any lost wages and benefits subsequent to their layoff.”  The news was met with elation by the technicians. “Personally I didn’t think we’d ever get our jobs back, “said Suggs.  “I applied to 60 schools (over a two year period) and not one of them would call me back.”

Added Ciscero, “The outlook was bleak because paraprofessionals are thought to be the ‘little people’ and a not a lot of emphasis is placed on what we go through in dealing the District—we’re here to help our students get the support they need,” she said. “I appreciate what CTU did for us. They never stopped being our advocates. They fought long and hard and because of that we all were able to stand together during this fight.”

According to Davis, Lee-Kwon, who also manages all CPS social workers, psychologists, and school nurses, has “harassed our members and used union-busting tactics since her appointment to the OSES in January of 2010,” she said. “We hope this ends her reckless, punitive, dictatorial and unprofessional management of clinicians.  This is a great victory for all our members because a win for one is a win for all.”


(Pictured above from left) CTU PRSP Field Specialist Anthony Lopez, Technicians Shelia Lott, Technician Darnitia Ciscero, CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey, Technician Tangela Burton, Technician Gloria Prince, Technician Robert Faulkner, Technician Edna Johnson, PRSP Field Specialist Anita Burks, CTU President Karen GJ Lewis, CTU Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle, Technician Cheryl Jolly-Hansford, CTU PRSP Field Staff Coordinator June Davis, Technician Percy Suggs, and CTU Recording Secretary Michael Brunson.

CTU News Round-Up

March 09, 2012

CTU President criticizes Brizard over funding remarks  Chicago Tribune - ‎Mar 6, 2012‎

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis on Tuesday criticized Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard for remarks made a day earlier that he supported public dollars being invested in scholarships for students at private schools.

Deadline extension for local school councils Chicago Tribune 

On Tuesday, Designs for Change and 26 other parties, including the Chicago Teachers Union, sent schools CEOJean-Claude Brizardan email explaining they had ...

Chicago Teachers Union offers blueprint for better schools WBEZ - ‎Feb 17, 2012‎

Saying everyone deserves to have the same education as the children of the wealthy, the Chicago Teachers Union Thursday issued a detailed plan - with a $713 million pricetag - for improving city schools. The teachers union wants lower class sizes in ...

Teachers union to pitch solutions to improve CPS schools - ‎Feb 16, 2012‎

February 16, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- The Chicago Teachers Union plans to unveil Thursday what they call solutions to improve CPS schools targeted for closings and turnarounds. The CTU wants a reduction in class size, improved school facilities, ...

CTU's New Tack: Here's How We'd Improve Schools Chicago News Cooperative - ‎Feb 16, 2012‎

by REBECCA VEVEA | Feb 16, 2012 The Chicago Teachers Union unveiled its blueprint for improving public schools Thursday–calling for smaller elementary class sizes and more art and computer offerings–in an apparent effort to broaden the narrative around ...

CPS plans to revise sick day policy that cost district $37M yearly Chicago Tribune - ‎Feb 14, 2012‎

CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said Tuesday that changes to the sick day policy would affect only non-union employees but gave no other details about the district's proposal. The Chicago Teachers Union would have to agree to any changes in the sick day ...

CTU President, Rev. Jackson say CPS students face 'apartheid' WLS - Feb 23, 2012

CHICAGO (WLS) - 'Apartheid' was the incendiary word thrown at the school board. The Rev. Jesse Jackson used it and so did Chicago Teachers Union President ...

A Witch Hunt Against Teachers by Lois Weiner

A shameful witch hunt against teachers is underway, a full-blown hysteria being fanned by the media working hand in hand with politicians… In contrast to UFT, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has produced a remarkable document describing a vision for schooling that is truly equitable and high-quality.  The plan addresses, head-on, the historic inequality in education and refuses to compromise on quality.  The CTU's new leaders have also been battling school closings and privatization with parents and students as allies.

Emanuel calls teachers union chief's account of private chat 'totally false' Chicago Sun-Times - ‎Feb 29, 2012‎

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday denounced as “totally false” Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis' explosive claim that Emanuel once told her 25 percent of Chicago's Public School students “are never going to amount to anything,” so he “won't ...

Will Business Boost School Reform? Wall Street Journal - ‎Feb 27, 2012‎

Andrew Cuomo and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. On the other side are the teachers unions, which have proven to be formidable opponents willing to fight even modest efforts to alter the status quo. With one hand, they dangle a carrot before politicians in ...

CTU chief: Rahm gives up on many Chicago kids Chicago Sun-Times - ‎Feb 29, 2012‎

By ROSALIND ROSSI Education Reporter February 29, 2012 12:08PM Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said Tuesday that Mayor Rahm Emanuel told her a quarter of the city's public school students “are never going to amount to ...

Does Rahm Emanuel's Endorsement Help Christian Mitchell in Legislative Primary ... Huffington Post (blog) - ‎Mar 2, 2012‎

Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Chicago) and Danny Davis (D-Chicago) and powerful labor groups, such as the Chicago Teachers Union. The presumed big enchilada endorsement comes from the mayor. "Christian Mitchell has the right values, strength, and character to ...

CPS chief backs federal dollars 'following' students to private ...‎ Chicago Tribune

Chicago Public Schools chiefJean-Claude Brizard voiced support Monday for ... can implement a longer day without support from the Chicago Teachers Union.

Think of the Children - ‎Feb 28, 2012‎

by Jack Mann on February 28, 2012 · 1 comment Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers' Union, has alleged that Rahm Emanuel privately told her that “25 percent of the students in this city are never going to be anything, never going to amount to ...

Karen Lewis: Mayor Rahm "absolutely" a liar - HEAR IT HERE WLS - ‎Mar 1, 2012‎

In the he-said, she-said war of words between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, Lewis denies fabricating a quote she attributed to Emanuel. Lewis told Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft on WLS-AM, "I have no reason to ...


Emanuel Denies Saying He'd Given Up On Some Schoolchildren CBS Local - ‎Feb 29, 2012‎

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel is denying an accusation from the head of the teachers union that he ever made comments suggesting he has given up on some Chicago Public schoolchildren. As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, ...

Emanuel: School 'Turnarounds' Lead To Better Academic Performance CBS Local - ‎Feb 29, 2012‎

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and some researchers have questioned the Emanuel administration's efforts to overhaul underperforming schools by replacing ...

Emanuel Disavows 25% of School Kids, Is One of Them Yours? ChicagoNow (blog) - ‎Feb 28, 2012‎

By Samantha Rowry, today at 12:13 am According to the Chicago's Teacher Union President, Karen Lewis, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated that 25% of Chicago's youth will never become anything. How disheartening is that to hear, especially from one of the city's ...

Emanuel's Former Driver Comes to His Defense NBC Chicago (blog) - ‎Feb 28, 2012‎

So we here at Ward Room were a bit surprised to receive an unsolicited letter defending Emanuel against claims made by Chicago Teacher's Union president Karen Lewis, in which she says the mayor wrote off 25% of Chicago Public School children.

Another Round Of Lewis-Emanuel Bickering ChicagoNow (blog) - ‎Mar 1, 2012‎

CTU chief: Rahm gives up on many Chicago kids Sun Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said Tuesday that Mayor Rahm Emanuel told her a quarter of the city's public school students “are never going to amount to anything'' and he won't ...

Occupy Chicago - Piccolo School Auburn Journal - ‎Feb 26, 2012‎

It is one of 16 Chicago public schools slated to be closed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's service cuts to the poor. Occupy Chicago and allies are outside the school building in solidarity and have set up an encampment. The Chicago Teachers Union has expressed ...

Emanuel Rejects CTU's "25 Percent" Anecdote NBC Chicago (blog) - ‎Feb 29, 2012‎

In a sit-down interview with NBC Chicago earlier this week, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis recalled a conversation she had with then Mayor-elect Emanuel. "In that conversation, he did say to me that 25 percent of the students in this city ...

Mayor Emanuel fires back at school critics WLS - ‎Feb 28, 2012‎

CHICAGO (WLS) - Lately the provocative term 'education apartheid' has been tossed around by Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and the Rev. Jesse Jackson to describe the Chicago Public School system. Rev. Jackson wants the feds to take a civil rights ...

Longer school day subject of dueling forums Chicago Tribune - ‎Mar 7, 2012‎

With the controversy over school closings and turnarounds behind the district—at least until next year—Chicago Public Schools advocates are refocusing efforts once again on the longer school day debate. Parents in Beverly and Mount Greenwood who are ...

National Nurses United, Local Labor Groups Say Protest Show Will ... In These Times

Both the Grassroots Collaborative and Stand Up! Chicago are coalitions of community and labor groups, including SEIU Local 73, the Chicago Teachers Union ..

 Chicago School Closures Have Devastated Students, Teachers Union ... Huffington Post - Feb 29, 2012

The Chicago Teachers Union has been opposed to planned school closures and turnarounds since they were first proposed, arguing that the move would unfairly ...

Teaching skill trumps tenure  Chicago Tribune - Feb 19, 2012

But that's the de facto impact of a big win for Chicago Public Schools at the expense of the Chicago Teachers Union. The broad context here is that, ...



Brizard: No 'educational apartheid' at Chicago Public Schools Chicago Sun-Times - Feb 26, 2012

Jackson, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis and other members of a panel Saturday blasted “vast inequities” in the public schools they said ...

CPS Chief Jean-Claude Brizard Fights Back From the Pulpit Against ... MyFox Chicago
Jean-Claude Brizard Responds To 'Educational Apartheid' Accusation ...‎ Huffington Post


Clout And Money May Decide The 26th District IL House Race Progress Illinois - 1 day ago

Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2), Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), the Chicago Teachers Union, and AFSCME, the service workers union. Mitchell's list of political backers, ...



Teachers Furious After Board Votes To Close, Overhaul Schools CBS Local - Feb 23, 2012

(Credit: CBS) CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Teachers Union is slamming the School Board, after the board approved a plan to close even public schools next ...


Sunlight, camera, action! Chicago Tribune - Feb 21, 2012

"We are not negotiating this in the public," said Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis last week. She was responding to reporters curious about the ...


Day of Action to Defend Education Real News Network - Mar 1, 2012

Chicago and New York City ? and the push to preserve quality public education amidst new ... Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union says, .

Teachers union calls for $713 million in CPS improvements Chicago Sun-Times - ‎Feb 16, 2012‎

By ROSALIND ROSSI Staff Reporter/ February 16, 2012 9:42AM Karen GJ Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union, unveiled a comprehensive plan to strengthen the quality of education in Chicago Public Schools during news conference at ...

Chicago teachers asking for 30% raises over next 2 years Chicago Tribune - ‎Feb 16, 2012‎

The Chicago Teachers Union is asking for raises amounting to 30 percent over the next two years, the opening salvo in heated contract negotiations with school officials who are implementing a longer school day across Chicago Public Schools next school ...

Non-union CPS employees to get paid maternity and sick leave Chicago Sun-Times - ‎Feb 16, 2012‎

By ROSALIND ROSSI Education Reporter February 16, 2012 7:24PM Chicago Public School principals and other non-union employees would for the first time receive paid maternity and illness leaves — but could no longer stockpile sick ...

Teachers union: Closing schools builds 'huge gulf of ill will' Chicago Tribune - Feb 23, 2012

Jesse Jackson approaches the podium at Chicago Public Schools Headquarters… (William DeShazer, Chicago Tribune) Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis ...


Teachers union, community groups want elected school board

Chicago Tribune - Feb 24, 2012

At a meeting Friday at Rainbow/PUSH Coalition headquarters on the South Side, Chicago Teachers Union officials met with the Rev.


State high court sides with CPS in dispute over teacher layoffs Chicago Tribune - Feb 17, 2012

The Illinois Supreme Court has sided with the Chicago Public Schools in a two-year legal battle with the Chicago Teachers Union over the layoffs of nearly ...



Ill. Supreme Court sides with CPS in laid off tenured teachers case WBEZ - ‎Feb 17, 2012‎

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that laid off tenured teachers in Chicago do not have a right to be rehired later. The 5-2 ruling Friday came after budget cuts in 2010 forced the city to lay off nearly 1300 teachers. The Chicago Board of Education ...

Illinois Supreme Court Sides With CPS Over Rehiring Laid Off Teachers Progress Illinois - ‎Feb 17, 2012‎

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled 5-2 this morning that the Chicago Public Schools don't have to rehire tenured CPS teachers they laid off when positions become available. The case concerned CTU's argument that, “Tenured teachers are entitled to fill ...

Report: Teachers Call For Big Raise In Contract Negotiations CBS Local - ‎Feb 17, 2012‎

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago teachers reportedly are proposing a huge raise as they begin negotiations with the Chicago Public Schools system. As WBBM Newsradio's Bernie Tafoya reports, the Chicago Teachers Union reportedly has proposed a nearly 30 percent ...

State Supreme Court: CPS Doesn't Have To Rehire Laid Off Teachers CBS Local - ‎Feb 17, 2012‎

The layoffs came after the Chicago School Board gave then-CPS chief executive officer Ron Huberman the power to lay off teachers without following union contracts. Huberman then introduced a resolution to lay off teachers with poor evaluations first, ...

Illinois Court: Tenured CPS Teachers Don't Have Rehire Rights Feb 17, 2012‎

CPS chief Ron Huberman also proposed laying off teachers with the lowest performance marks instead of basing layoffs on just seniority, reported Chicago Breaking News. * The union quickly criticized this layoff method, saying it violated the contract ...

State Supreme Court ruling backs Chicago Public Schools SouthtownStar - ‎Feb 19, 2012‎

However, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the opinion “amplifies Chicago's separate and unequal practices.'' The union disputes the high court's 5-2 decision and is “evaluating its options,'' Lewis said. A CTU attorney described the ...

Rough Numbers: $700 Million, 30 Percent ChicagoNow (blog) - ‎Feb 17, 2012‎

Chicago teachers asking for 30% raises over next 2 years Tribune: The Chicago Teachers Union is asking for raises amounting to 30 percent over the next two years, the opening salvo in heated contract negotiations with school officials who are ...

How about a 30-percent pay CUT for Chicago teachers? ChicagoNow (blog) - ‎Feb 17, 2012‎

By Dennis Byrne, today at 10:36 am Even for an opening demand/request/offer in labor negotiations, the 30-percent wage increase sought by the Chicago Teachers Union is a stunner. Undoubtedly, the union argues that the huge hike is needed to compensate ...

All CPS Schools May Be Shifted To One Calendar CBS Local - ‎Feb 16, 2012‎

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis says. Still, Lewis and other education advocates believe moving all kids to the same calendar makes sense. Parents won't have kids on different school schedules. But there are concerns, like keeping students ...

FOX Chicago Sunday: Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard Hails ... MyFox Chicago - ‎Feb 17, 2012‎

The court rejected a union claim that the 539 remaining could use seniority to into jobs now held by newer teachers. The Board of Education called it the biggest court victory in at least 20 years for Chicago's Public Schools.

Overhaul of Schools Shows a Board Blind to Larger Realities New York Times - ‎Feb 23, 2012‎

James Warren writes a column for The Chicago News Cooperative. Passions inevitably dissolve into languor at Chicago School Board meetings, as the bureaucratic lords encounter their citizen minions during hours of faux democracy.

Longer school day, shorter tempers Chicago Sun-Times - ‎Feb 22, 2012‎

By MARK BROWN February 23, 2012 12:00AM A new feature made its debut at Wednesday's meeting of the Chicago Board of Education: a time clock. The clock, displayed on video screens, counted down from two hours in an effort to limit ...

Snowy Friday After Board Meeting ChicagoNow (blog) - ‎Feb 24, 2012‎

By Alexander Russo, today at 8:11 am Today's news is mostly about more reaction coverage to Wednesday's Board meeting. Emanuel quotes MLK. Brizard says students won. Curtis Black notes that not even Bronzeville got consideration for its Dyett plans.

CPS board approves school closings, turnarounds - ‎Feb 23, 2012‎

The Chicago school board approved a controversial overhaul of the city's struggling schools, despite the opposition of hundreds of protestors. The plan calls for the closing of seven schools and restructuring 10 others. Hundreds of teachers could lose ...

Jean-Claude Brizard on School Turnarounds: The Students Won MyFox Chicago - ‎Feb 23, 2012‎

Chicago - The Chicago School Board voted Wednesday to close or turnaround more than a dozen schools. Parents and the Chicago Teachers Union have slammed the decision, saying the distribution of resources in CPS amounts to “aparthei

CPS Turnarounds, School Closings Approved Amid Public Criticism (VIDEO) Progress Illinois - ‎Feb 23, 2012‎

The Chicago Board Education unanimously approved Wednesday night to close, phase out, or turnaround 17 academically struggling Chicago public schools. A school slated for turnaround will see its entire staff – teachers, librarians, and principal ...

Board Backs School Closings, Turnarounds at Raucous Meeting Chicago News Cooperative - ‎Feb 22, 2012‎

by REBECCA VEVEA | Feb 23, 2012 Over the protests of parents, community members and teachers, the Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously approved the closure or overhaul of 17 schools. The move by a board whose members are selected by Mayor Rahm ...

Board votes unanimously to close, restaff schools WBEZ - ‎Feb 22, 2012‎

Rev. Jesse Jackson (left) attended Wednesday's board meeting with teachers union head Karen Lewis (right) Chicago's school board voted unanimously late Wednesday to close seven schools and completely re-staff 10 others. The vote comes after months of ...

Board Approves Closures, Turnarounds ChicagoNow (blog) - ‎Feb 22, 2012‎

By Alexander Russo, today at 6:24 pm #cpsboard Here's the press release from CPS about the Board meeting today, which may include exaggerations or inaccuracies but gives you the gist of the proceedings that just completed, during which the Board ...

President of Chicago Teachers Union and Pilsen Environmental ...

Gapers Block - Mar 1, 2012


Chicago Occupation Challenges Corporate School Agenda Labor Notes - ‎Feb 22, 2012‎

Parents raised the stakes in the battle over the corporate takeover of education when they occupied a Chicago elementary school Friday. They didn't reverse the school board's "turnaround," but they did crack a wall of silence from city leaders.

Protests At Piccolo, Lakeview, Wendell Smith ChicagoNow (blog) - ‎Feb 21, 2012‎

By Alexander Russo, today at 6:27 am Today's education news: Protests at Piccolo, at Lakeview, and Wendell Smith. RIP, longtime Kelly HS and UofC educator Sara Spurlark. School protestors take complaints to Mayor Emanuel's neighborhood Sun Times: A ...

Parents and Protesters Occupy Elementary School To Fight Turnaround Chicagoist - ‎Feb 20, 2012‎

On Friday, a group of parents, students and activists staged an indoor sit in and built an accompanying outdoor camp outside Brian Piccolo Elementary School in Humboldt Park to protest the school's scheduled “turnaround.

Group Protests Turnaround at Wendell Smith Elementary School MyFox Chicago - ‎Feb 20, 2012‎

By Joanie Lum, FOX Chicago News Chicago - Parents and community activists protested big changes coming to the Chicago Public School system at Wendell Smith Elementary on the South Side, and in the Lakeview neighborhood where Mayor Rahm Emanuel lives on ...

Arts programs help students improve in all areas, group says Chicago Tribune - Feb 28, 2012

With the district moving to a longer school day next year, the Chicago Teachers Union and parent groups like Raise Your Hand have called for more time ...

The real discrimination Chicago Tribune - Feb 12, 2012

The Chicago Teachers Union and some local school council members have joined in a lawsuit to try to block Chicago Public Schools from closing and ...

Activists end sit-in at Piccolo school Chicago Tribune - ‎Feb 19, 2012‎

Community activists and parents at Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School in West Humboldt Park ended an overnight campus sit-in Saturday staged to protest a proposed shake-up of faculty and administrators. The group, aided by representatives of ...

Program to Bridge the Gap With Parents Draws Fire New York Times - ‎Feb 18, 2012‎

Chicago Public School officials are making big changes during their first year in office, but there's a group of people feeling shut out once again — parents. Despite a well-publicized commitment to involve parents in the city's public education system ...

Parents end 'occupation' of school after promised meeting with CPS leaders Chicago Sun-Times - ‎Feb 18, 2012‎

Angry parents and protestors have called off their occupation of an underperforming elementary school on Chicago's Northwest Side after they were promised a meeting with education officials before a vote on the future of the school next week.

Opponents of Chicago school takeover stage sit-in Chicago Tribune - ‎Feb 18, 2012‎

CHICAGO— About 100 students, teachers and community activists staged a sit-in Saturday at a struggling Chicago school to try to block a takeover by the city meant to turn around the school's poor performance. The protesters -- most of whom pitched ...

CPS: 15 people sit-in at Humboldt Park school slated for staff shakeup Chicago Tribune - ‎Feb 18, 2012‎

A group of 15 people remained inside Brian Piccolo Specialty School in Humboldt Park, according to police, a Chicago Board of Education spokeswoman said this morning. The protesters were among an estimated 60 and 100 people who staged a sit-in ...

Chicago Parents, Students Occupy Piccolo Elementary, School Targeted For ... Huffington Post - ‎Feb 18, 2012‎

A group of Chicago parents, students and activists have staged a sit-in inside, as well as an encampment outside, a West Side elementary school that Chicago Public Schools has targeted for "turnaround." "They have a new principal," Shronda Wilson, ...

Parents occupy school, demand to talk with Rahm Chicago Sun-Times - ‎Feb 17, 2012‎

BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporter/ February 17, 2012 10:44PM Just days before the Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote whether to replace the staff at 10 under-performing schools, angry parents occupied one of those ...

Parents, community occupy Chicago school, demand to be heard People's World - ‎Feb 21, 2012‎

CHICAGO -- "It shouldn't even have to get to this point," said Latrice Watkins, one of 15 parents and community activists who occupied Brian Piccolo Specialty School in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood overnight Feb. 17.

Parents Occupy School to Prevent its Closure (blog) - ‎Feb 20, 2012‎

by Aaron Krager On Friday afternoon, parents of students from the Brian Piccolo Specialty School on Chicago's West Side tried to meet with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. After they were rebuffed at City Hall, they went to the school and nearly 30 of them staged a ...

Clock Ticking On Controversial CPS Proposals Progress Illinois - ‎Feb 20, 2012‎

A group of neighborhood organizations are holding a candlelight vigil this afternoon to protest proposed Chicago Public Schools closings and turnarounds. Meanwhile, the Humboldt Park community group Blocks Together will talk this evening with two Board .

Chicago Public Schools goes ahead with plans despite protests Austin Weekly News - Feb 29, 2012
... last week when the Chicago Board of Education approved recommendations to close, phase-out or turnaround about a dozen schools throughout the city

Occupying Parents Win an Audience, but Chicago Schools Still Privatize Labor Notes (blog) - Feb 25, 2012
In addition, community groups and the Chicago Teachers Union have been working with state legislators to push a bill that would impose a one-year moratorium ...

Chicago Schools Protest Chicago Tonight | WTTW - Feb 20, 2012
Then, Carol Marin talks with leaders from CPS and the Teachers Union on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm. The protests come a little more than a week after a ...

School protesters take complaints to Mayor Emanuel's neighborhood Chicago Sun-Times - Feb 21, 2012

BY ROSALIND ROSSI Staff Reporter February 20, 2012 5:18PM Anti-school closing silent march past Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home Monday, ...

School Protest Heads to Mayor's Block | NBC Chicago
Feb 20, 2012 – Days after waging a sit-in Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School on the city's west side, a group of community activists, teachers and ..

Tribune: CTU president criticizes Brizard over funding remarks

by Joel Hood, Chicago Tribune  |  March 08, 2012

The original article can be found here

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis on Tuesday criticized Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard for remarks made a day earlier that he supported public dollars being invested in scholarships for students at private schools.

"We have something here that I just don't understand, a CEO of a publicly funded public education system openly advocating turning over the education, and the tax dollars, to parochial schools," Lewis said. "If you send those children to Catholic schools, they can (kick) those children out any time they are good and ready, but then they keep our dollars. They don't ever give the money back."

Lewis, a chief critic of the district over the recent approval to close or turnaround around 17 struggling schools next year, said CPS' policies have amounted to "educational terrorism."

"This is terrorism, this is straight up terrorism," Lewis said. "If you can't educate the children who come through the door, then why do you have the job? Why would you try to hand it off to someone else?"

Speaking on a panel at a gathering for the Economic Club of Chicago, Brizard said he supported public dollars being invested in scholarships for students at private and parochial schools. Brizard spoke on the panel with Michael Milkie, CEO of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, and Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools.

"It doesn't make sense (that) our parents pay taxes and then pay tuition (for their children) to go to (private) school as well," Brizard said.

When moderator Tim Knowles, director of the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute, expressed surprise that an urban educator would be willing to give up public dollars, Brizard affirmed his support of the idea.

"It's a matter of making sure the dollars follow children," he said. "If 500 traditional CPS (students) would go to the parochial schools ... the proportional share (of dollars) should go to the school actually educating those children."

When CPS was asked for clarification on his remarks Monday, Marielle Sainvilus, a CPS spokeswoman, said Brizard was giving his personal opinion on education funding and was not recommending that the state adopt school vouchers. Under that controversial program, the government issues a voucher that parents can apply toward tuition at a private school rather than giving it to the public school where their child is assigned. She said Brizard does not believe vouchers do enough to address education funding gaps.

On Tuesday, CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler reiterated that Brizard was not advocating for such a policy at CPS, nor will the district be pursuing it.

During the discussion, Brizard also called for developing charter schools in partnership with the archdiocese.


Chicago Teachers Union