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Facing an unprecedented round of new cuts and mass layoffs, the CTU will rally in protest on Monday.

November 20, 2015 312/329-6250 (office)

CTU’s Karen Lewis to lead thousands of members in Monday’s labor rally as members gear up to take strike authorization vote

CHICAGO –The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) will hold a spirited winter labor solidarity rally at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, November 23rd in Grant Park at Butler Field. Thousands of teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians will be joined by students, parents, elected officials, activists, clergy and others in a spirited event designed to showcase the union’s solidarity and prepare its members for an upcoming strike authorization vote. The rally, which will feature a keynote address by CTU President Karen Lewis and a special performance by Hip Hop group Rebel Diaz, is free and open to the general public and will include free food and hot beverages for participants.

Teachers will also pay special tribute to victims of Chicago’s gun violence, including Dr. Betty Howard, a special education teacher at Brooks Academy, who was killed by gunfire in May 2014, and the scores of CPS students impacted by the city’s homicides and out-of-control gun violence. The following is for media planning purposes. A press riser and “mult-box” will be made available for broadcast media; and other reporters.


Chicago Teachers Union officials: President Karen Lewis, Vice President Jesse Sharkey, Recording Secretary Michael Brunson, Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle; CTU’s Big Bargaining Team; CTU Rank and File members; Loretta Johnson, secretary/treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers, Washington, D.C.; Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery; Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., president Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Ald. Sue Garza (10th Ward); Rep. Mary E. Flowers (31st); Rep. Robert Martwick (19th District); Ken Franklin, president Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308; Tommy Sams, president Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241; Keith Kelleher, president Service Employees International Union/HCII; Audrey Sauglin, president Illinois Education Association; Aislin Pulley, Black Lives Matter; Destiny Evans, student leader, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep; Matthew Mata, student leader, Walter Payton Prep High School; family of the late Dr. Betty Howard, CPS teacher killed by gun violence; Joanne Murray, AFSCME rank and file leader; Elder Kevin Ford, St. Paul Church of God in Christ; Mike Siviwe Elliot, Chicago Alliance Against Political Repression; Atty. Rene Heyback, Chicago Coaltion for the Homeless; Asia Harris, spoken word artist; Katelyn Johnson, executive director of Action NOW; Anna Jones, Dyett Hunger Striker/Kenwood Oakwood Community Organization; Stephanie De Leon, student leader, Brighten Park Neighborhood Council; Rev. Paul Jakes, pastor New Tabernacle of Faith, MB Church; Rebel Diaz; and, others.


CTU Winter Labor Solidarity Rally & Community Tailgate


Monday, November 23, 2015
5:30 PM to 7:30 PM*

(A pre-rally speak out begins at 4:30 p.m. in preparation for the main event)


Butler Field, Grant Park

100 S. Lake Shore Drive


The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 27,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTU’s website at

The Chicago public schools have absorbed cuts and layoffs and now faces a new crisis point. With a $500 budget deficit, the city is looking to the state to avoid the loss of thousands of teachers’ jobs.

John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat and president of the State Senate, has proposed a compromise that the mayor supports, the governor supports, virtually everyone supports….but the Chicago Teachers Union.

He says it will avoid a strike and layoffs.

Why does the union oppose it? The bill eliminates the current funding system without proposing a new one to teplace it.

““Three-eighteen is not about stopping a strike. Three-eighteen is about destroying our school system,” said Stacy Davis Gates, the legislative coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union.

“Davis Gates is referring there to something Cullerton himself wants the bill to accomplish. Along with peppering Senate Bill 318 with things like a property tax freeze to get Gov. Bruce Rauner in, and teacher pension payments for Emanuel, Cullerton added a remake of the state’s school funding formula–one of his own major goals. He says under the way state government currently gives money to schools, poor districts like Chicago don’t get the money they should and wealthier districts are getting more than they should.

“So Cullerton’s bill puts an expiration date on the current way Illinois funds schools. In effect, he says he wants to end a bad system to make way for a better one. But Davis Gates with the Teachers Union says the union has a big problem with that. You can’t end school funding first coming up with a way to replace it, she argues.

“This bill, again, is irresponsible,” she said. “You cannot say that we are providing a solution to a problem when you eliminate the entire revenue stream to the school district.”

“The teachers union also wants big things that aren’t in Cullerton’s bill, like a new income tax system and an elected Chicago school board. In the meantime, the clock is ticking on Chicago Public Schools. District leaders say they have only a few months before cuts will be necessary – right in the middle of the school year.”

Troy LaRaviere won the Mayor’s merit award for principals in Chicago, for the third year in a row. This is funny, because LaRaviere has been Rahm Emanuel’s most outspoken critic. Troy spoke out against the privatization of janitorial services; he compiled the data to show that public schools outperform charter schools; he endorsed Chuy Garcia, Rahm’s opponent. He urged the parents at his school, Blaine Elementary, to opt out of the state tests. He is fearless and outspoken. But he is also the best principal in the city.


Ben Joravsky writes:


Despite LaRaviere’s record of opposition to the mayor’s school policies, this principal has won three $10,000 merit pay awards (totaling $30,000) for school years 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14. He may have won one for last year—CPS hasn’t announced them yet.


That’s means he’s received more money in merit pay than any other principal in the city—including those from the mayor’s much-adored charter schools.


When I saw Rahm had given Troy so much love, I thought I owed the mayor an apology.


I’d always viewed him as one of those vengeful, cutthroat types. And here it turns out he’s a turn-the-other-cheek kind of guy. Next think you know he’s going to give me the keys to the city.


Then I called LaRaviere. And it turns out Mayor Emanuel had nothing to do with giving out that merit pay.


Well, OK, yes, it’s true that the idea of giving merit pay to principals is something that Mayor Emanuel came up with back in 2011.


And yes it was Mayor Emanuel who raised the $5 million for the awards by passing the hat among some of his closest political allies, including Penny Pritzker, who donated $1 million, and Bruce Rauner, who donated $2 million.



Joravsky concludes that other principals who have kept quiet should step up and speak their minds. If Troy LaRaviere could win a merit award of $10,000, three years in a row, there is no excuse for anyone to bite their tongue.

Julie Vassilatos explains why school choice is harmful: to students, families, and communities.

She writes:

I don’t care what anyone tells me about competition among schools making them all better, or how being able to pursue individual preference is paramount to all Americans. I don’t care. The real impact of choice is entirely, 100% negative on our neighborhoods, on our communities, our cities. All of them.

Because “choice” of this kind quietly diminishes the real power of our democratic voice while it upholds the promise of individual consumer preferences above all else.

Even though Chicago is famously a city of neighborhoods, CPS does not pursue a neighborhood-based model for its schools but rather, choice–the constant proliferation of charter school options, even when neighborhoods don’t want this and even when CPS cannot afford this.

In this model the local community is not important, and the voice of the local residents is not important. The neighborhood school is not the social epicenter for kids in one community and it is not the locus of parent effort and investment of time. In some neighborhoods few resident kids attend the local school and in still others the neighborhood school is shuttered and abandoned.

What is important in this model? Marketing. Test scores. Options.

Schools must now “build a brand” in order to attract students. Schools must maintain high test scores at all costs, regardless of what corners have to be cut in the process. And a multiplicity of schools offers us all a dizzying, and therefore–according to this logic–superior, array of options.

But in a choice district, parents and kids rarely have the one option they most want–a strong, well resourced, nearby, neighborhood school. I think there’s a reason for this.

We’re veterans of choice in our family. I can tell you what I see in my neighborhood.

This is what school choice looks like: no schoolmates in your neighborhood for your whole life.

It looks like children traveling several hours a day to get to and from their schools….

With the choice model, what CPS is doing is investing in severing community. CPS has chosen a school model that fractures and breaks down local bonds among families and within neighborhoods.

But consider: severing community bonds intentionally is not something democracies do. Democracies require stable communities with strong institutions that are of, by, and for the community. Democracies are built on strong stable localities.

Severing community bonds intentionally is something totalitarian regimes do. Because it weakens communities, it weakens individuals, it weakens their democratic voice and power.

It looks like very little political and residential investment into the heart of neighborhood communities.

Mike Klonsky reviews the 20-year history of mayoral control in Chicago and concludes it has been a disaster. His account should serve as a warning to other cities.

Under mayoral control, democracy was lost. The schools became a patronage mill. Chicago launched Paul Vallas and Arne Duncan, both of whom claimed miraculous results that were non-existent.

“Duncan’s funneling of federal dollars to promote this so-called “reform” agenda, required big-city mayors to serve as enforcers, leading Obama’s appointed secretary of education to declare in 2009: “At the end of my tenure, if only seven mayors are in control, I think I will have failed.” Today there are basically three left: Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. In a dozen other cities, mayoral control has been junked or thrown out by the courts.” (Cleveland, D.C., and Boston also have mayoral control.)

Klonsky says it is time to have an elected school board after 20 years of failure.

  1. UNO was once Chicago’s most powerful Hispanic organization. It launched numerous charter schools and won a grant of $98 million from the state legislature to add more. Its leader, Juan Rangel, was the co-chair of Rahm Emanuel’s election campaign. Everything went well until it was discovered that UNO was giving contracts for the new building to family members, friends, and lobbyists. Then its leader stepped down. Now its financial straits are such that it may have to declare bankruptcy. Six of its charters serving 4,000 students may be affected. Others were gathered into a new chain called UNO Charter School Network.


Meanwhile the Chicago Board of Education is set to close four charter schools with low performance.


Whoever thinks that turmoil is good for children does not know much about children.

The Chicago Teachers Union has shown that it is not afraid to strike. In 2012, its decision to strike was approved by a near unanimous vote. Now, teachers are bracing for more budget cuts, even as the Rahm Emanuel-picked Board of Education shifts resources and students to nonunion charter schools.

It it is a strange world we live in when a mayor of a major city calls himself a Democrat as he doubles down on his war against public schools and unions.

What do you call Mayor Emanuel? A Republicrat?

Here is the latest from the Chicago Teachers Union:

November 2, 2015 312-329-6250

Chicago Teachers Union prepares the rank-and-file for possible labor strike as threats of mass layoffs continue

CHICAGO – Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked public schools chief announced a change in his proposed timeline to lay off 5,000 or more educators who are demanding a fair labor contract. CEO Forest Claypool claims teachers could start losing their jobs as early as January, shortly after the end of the holiday season. This is why the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is encouraging members to start saving a portion of their paychecks in order to weather a possible labor strike.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) continues with its plan to remove protections for experienced and qualified educators who lose their positions through no fault of their own. Massive layoffs only exacerbate the current 50 percent teacher turnover rate every five years — something that interferes with continuity and quality instruction.
“We are asking teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians in our bargaining unit to save at least 25 percent of their pay in preparation for a possible strike,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “With the uncertainty in Springfield, the continued chaos at the Board of Education, and the constant threats to our classrooms, we have to be prepared. Our families will depend on us being able to weather what could be a protracted strike.”

Lewis also said more than 200 schools have taken unofficial, independent straw polls testing the members’ strike-ready temperatures but the union will run its own mock strike vote this week. “Teachers are feeling the strain placed on them by principals who have to work with reduced budgets and cuts to special education and other necessary programs. Class sizes are ballooning and the district is crying broke when it comes to our demands for more teaching resources while at the same time cheering themselves on while opening multi-million dollar charter operations. This makes no sense. We have to take a stand for our profession and for our students and their families.”

On Thursday, November 5th, the CTU will run an official ‘practice’ strike vote and contract poll in all CPS school buildings. The exercise helps prepare members should they decide to take an official strike vote in the coming days. State law requires 75 percent affirmative vote from CTU’s entire membership. However, a strike authorization vote is an internal union affair of which the Board has absolutely no legal right to interfere in any way.

In three weeks, thousands of CTU members are expected to present a unified front on November 23rd when they rally in Grant Park at Butler Field, 100 S. Lake Shore Drive. In addition to hearing speeches from Union leaders, people will listen to testimonies from parents, community leaders, students and other labor leaders. The 5:30 p.m. event will include a tailgate, with free food and beverages, and include a special commemoration for CPS students who have been killed or impacted by gun violence.

Labor talks between the CTU and the Board remains in mediation and negotiations are ongoing. Should CTU members decide to strike it will the second teachers strike in the last three years, both of which will have occurred during the Emanuel administration.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 27,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTU’s website at

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former CEO in Chicago, recently pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme that would have netted her $2.3 million for delivering a no-bid contract to a former employer. Now, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, the FBI is investigating a textbook contract for nearly $40 million that to another former employer while Byrd-Bennett worked in Detroit.

Mike Klonsky notes that Arne Duncan is paving the way for his return to Chicago by ladling out millions to charter schools. 
Remember when Rahm Emanuel closed 50 schools in one day because they were under enrolled?  It turns out that charter schools are also under enrolled, but that’s no reason to stop opening more of them!

“Just as Arne Duncan was announcing his retirement and his plans to return to Chicago to “spend more time with his family,” he dropped another $8M in fed dollars on pal Mike Milkie’s Noble charter school chain. This on top of another $42.2M coming to IL with the lion’s share going to Noble and Lawndale Educational and Regional Network.
“Milkie says Noble (which I lovingly call the Billionaires; Charter Network) needs the money in order to open 8 new schools to meet the growing demand and shorten its “waitlist.” But the Raise Your Hand parents group just made a few phone calls and found out that at least 5 Noble schools can’t fill the seats they have. They wonder, “Where’s the waitlist?”
“RYH asks some great questions:
‘Why is the charter community rallying for more schools when there are plenty of openings in existing charter schools across Chicago, including Noble, and CPS’ enrollment has been declining for years, down roughly 14,000 students just since 2012? RYH found last year that there are over 12,000 open seats in charters across Chicago. How and why are taxpayers expected to fund eight new schools when there are plenty of open seats in Noble schools right now?'”

Chicago has some serious problems. Homicides have increased. The indictment of the Mayor’s hand-picked CEO by his hand-picked school board is bad news.

But crime and corruption have taken a back seat to the Chicago Cubs. The city is crazy for its baseball team. And Rahm is front and center at Cub games, keeping his distance from the scandals.

“Is Rahm Emanuel just about the luckiest big-city mayor in the world, or what? It’s all Cubs all the time, and the perfect look-over-there moment for a mayor with some serious issues….

“It was a blatant conflict-of-interest contract approved by Rahm’s hand-picked board of education. He’s fighting not to release all the documents — including his emails — but if Rahm didn’t OK this deal, I’ll eat my White Sox cap with sport peppers and yellow mustard.”


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