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PHOTO: Striking CTU member holds a sign while picketing a ward office: Today we strike. Tomorrow we vote!YES! for an Elected Representative School Board

Chicagoans in 327 precincts stood up and voted an overwhelming YES to an Elected, Representative School Board. Nearly 90% of the voters in the precincts agree that we need elected representation on our school board. 89% of voters from African-American wards from Chicago's West Side voted in favor of an Elected School Board. Valerie Leonard, a west side activist and ERSB advocate reports, “A preliminary review indicates that voters overwhelmingly want an elected school board. This is significant, as Lawndale and East and West Garfield is Ground Zero for school closings and other school actions that are disruptive to student learning and cause community de-stabilization.” So, while newly minted CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett talks around community engagement and involvement, she has NOT publicly supported parent and community members’ right to an elected, representative school board.

Here are some quick facts from CODE—the authentically-formed community and parent coalition fighting for their children:

  • The advisory referendum calling for an Elected Representative School Board was on the ballot in hundreds of precincts around the city. Support was overwhelming—about 90% of voters said YES!
  • We need you to contact your alderman, state representative, and state senator. Demand their support for an Elected Representative School Board. If it was not on the ballot in your precinct, call your alderman and let them know you support an Elected Representative School Board.
  • Since the law must be changed in the Illinois Legislature, contact your IL state representative and state senator to let them know you want an Elected Representative School Board in Chicago.
  • Visit this site regularly or get on their mailing list through the "contact" page so you can learn about opportunities to volunteer.
  • To find out if it was on the ballot in your precinct go to our map ESB Referendum - Precinct Map. You can see a list of all 327 Precincts and how they voted on the referendum here.
  • Follow CODE @CODE4Democracy on Twitter for updates.

NO to Pseudo Pension Reform!

HJRCA49 failed to get the 60 percent threshold necessary to succeed as a constitutional amendment in Illinois. A proposed amendment needs to get at least 60 percent of the votes or support from 50 percent of all the people who vote. If the measure had been approved it would have required a three-fifths vote of the legislature to improve pension and retirement benefits for teachers, higher education professionals and all public employees in state agencies. The results are below.

Yes 2,213,269 votes 55.9%
No 1,748,601 votes 44.1%
92% of precincts reporting

Results of the non-binding city-wide referenda:
Pension, Electricity, and Political Donations

Shall the City of Chicago have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program?

YES: 56%
NO: 23%

Should the State of Illinois provide funding for the normal cost of pensions for Chicago teachers in the same manner as the State pays for the normal cost of teacher pensions in every other school district in the state which will free up local funding that can be invested in the classroom?

YES: 76%
NO: 23%

Shall the US Congress pass a bill, to be duly ratified by three-fourths of the states, adopting an amendment to the US Constitution, empowering the federal government and the states to regulate and limit political contributions from corporations?

YES: 74%
NO: 24%

Education on the Ballot Around the Country

The Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet” section provides a great round-up of the education policy decisions made at the ballot box nationally. See them here.

Other Post-Election Thoughts…

  • The Democratic Party doesn’t win the White House without labor. Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan were huge in the President’s quest for re-election. Labor is strong, we matter, and we must push our elected officials to support working families. Reciprocity is necessary in every relationship.
  • Michael Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House, and John Cullerton, President of the Illinois Senate, have a lot of power to wield. Both houses now have veto-proof majorities. Senate President John Cullerton is the leader of 40 state senators. He has 4 more seats than he actually needs to be veto proof. Even Republican leaning DuPage county will now be represented by democrats Tom Cullerton (State Senate) and Kate Cloonen (State House of Representatives).
  • Our nation’s shifting demographics show that our country is growing less White. The White electorate has dropped to 72%. African-Americans account for 13% of the electorate while Latinos account for 10% of the electorate. And, finally, Asians account for 3%. And, for die-hard democrats these shifting demographics provides leverage for those who want immigration reform and a more practical and robust emphasis on education funding and common sense education policy that will help and not harm public education in urban America. Republicans have to become more inclusive and engage in a more diverse platform or, perhaps, risk extinction.
  • Folks, there was 73 percent voter-turnout in Chicago. Imagine if the Chicago electorate turned out the way CTU members turn out… remember 90 percent?
  • POTUS Obama and VP Biden received 84 percent of the vote in Chicago.
  • To review election results click here.

We have Work to do…

Technically, America’s been a country since 1790 and our current POTUS has only been in charge since January 2009. Our challenges have roots. It will take more than 3 years to deal with these challenges and certainly more than one man. Civic participation does not begin or end after casting a vote.

We must remain active.

Race to the Top (Obama and Duncan at their worst) is destroying public education. Imagine if every member of the CTU sent the White House a letter describing the awful impact of this policy. It is our job to invite our parents and students to do the same thing. We must communicate our analysis of policy that harms students, educators, and communities.

Imagine if we were on a first-name basis with the aldermen, state representatives, and state senators in our home and school wards and districts. We have power. We are educators. We must educate them on our issues and, after we do so, demand solutions and work with them to make those solutions reality.

We still have 160 schools without libraries. If you work in one of these schools, does the elected official who serves the area know? Have you informed him or her? Have you demanded a solution? Have you given them ideas and suggestions of how they might be helpful in resolving the issue?

Chicago needs an elected representative school board. Do the elected officials who serve your ward and district know how you feel about this? Have you shared with them that Chicago is the only city in Illinois without one? Have you relayed to them that over 96% of the school boards in America are elected? Have you challenged them to understand that NOT having the right to elect individuals to the school board is voter suppression? Have you challenged them to support parents in their right to direct and create sound and practical school policy?

The time is now to be on a first-name basis with the folks who ask for your vote. Now is the time to share your stories and demand reciprocity. We deserve nothing less. Call them today and set up an appointment to speak with them about your issues. Take a group of 5 people with you. Invite them to your classrooms to speak with your students. Invite them to your home for coffee or tea with a group of your educator friends. Establish lines of communication and form the relationship that is necessary to initiate forward movement. Now is the time. Do not delay.

Chicago Teachers Union