Archives for the month of: October, 2019

For Immediate Release
October 31, 2019
Ori Korin
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten Congratulates Chicago Teachers Union
WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to the news that the Chicago Teachers Union, AFT Local 1, reached a return-to-work agreement with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and will return to classes tomorrow:


“More than 20 years ago, in 1995, educators in Chicago were stripped of their right to bargain, and with that, they lost their voice to influence their students’ learning conditions and their own teaching conditions. As a result, Chicago’s students—particularly students of color and students with special needs—lost out on so many things they needed in schools, including losing many of the neighborhood public schools themselves. This contract is the culmination of a generational struggle to make up those losses. The members and leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union have taken on these inequities and fought for the conditions our kids need and the respect our educators deserve. With this agreement, if ratified, they’re one giant step closer.


“This historic fight for what students deserve—nurses and counselors in every school, librarians, class-size caps, and additional investments in special education—represents a paradigm shift: It wasn’t simply a fight to mitigate the damage of austerity, it was a fight to create the conditions that both students and educators need. This strike, like so many other fights to fund our future, is about building the political will to strengthen our public schools so all kids have their shot at success.


“We thank the Chicago community for standing with us and are glad Mayor Lightfoot heard us. We congratulate CTU’s leadership, its bargaining team and every member it represents for the work they did and continue to do. I saw their commitment to this fight and their students at every picket line and rally I joined. I want to thank CTU President Jesse Sharkey and Vice President Stacy Davis-Gates for their incredible leadership.


“Together with SEIU Local 73 and every parent, student and ally who stood with CTU Local 1—including our state affiliate, the Illinois Federation of Teachers—we know this: We have helped make Chicago’s public schools safe, welcoming sanctuaries of learning, and we have shown an entire nation that when we fight together, we win.”    



Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten:

The American Federation of Teachers is a union of 1.7 million professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.

Randi Weingarten                                                    Lorretta Johnson                                                                     Evelyn DeJesus
PRESIDENT                                                SECRETARY-TREASURER                                                        EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT

American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
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Troy Laraviere, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, writes in Crains Chicago Business that the Chicago Teachers Union is not demanding enough for the public schools.

He maintains that the Chicago schools are woefully understaffed as compared to other districts in Illinois.

He writes:

Chicago Public Schools is the most understaffed school district in Illinois. It is impossible to make a reasonable judgment about the current labor dispute between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union without considering that fact. Even though the key issue in this labor dispute is CPS’ refusal to meet the teachers’ demand for adequate staffing, it seems that no one has attempted to find out what school staffing actually looks like.

Consider the following:
•The Illinois State Board of Education tracks staffing numbers for 861 school districts in our state. Chicago is ranked 861st—dead last—in the ratio of students-to-staff.
•The 20 most adequately staffed school districts in Illinois have 100 staff members for every 500 students.
•The average Illinois school district has 50 staff for every 500 students. In Chicago, however, our district has just 29 staff for the same 500 students.

On average, each Chicago school has 71 fewer staff than the top Illinois schools, and 21 fewer staff than the average Illinois school. Think about that for a moment. We would need 21 more staff in every Chicago school just to reach average staffing levels.

Those 21 missing staff members are music and art teachers to nurture a fuller array of student talents; classroom assistants and tutors; librarians to teach students how to evaluate the legitimacy of an information source in this age of omnipresent false information; classroom teachers to reduce class size in kindergarten through third grade; counselors to help students plan for their future; social workers to help students learn skills to cope with adverse circumstances such as homelessness, mental trauma and abuse; bilingual teachers to support students who are learning English, and security personnel to keep students safe, just to name a few. Think about the curricular, behavioral and academic development that Chicago students are not getting because those 21 staff members are not there to serve them.

Well, you have to start somewhere. The facts in Chicago demonstrate that the previous mayors–Rahm Emanuel and Richard Daley (the mayors from 1989-2019)–woefully underfunded the public schools as they diverted huge sums of public funding to luxury developments. Thirty years of underfunding shortchanged the students.

The CTU has been the leading edge of the fight to restore adequate funding to the schools and the children. Troy LaRaviere demonstrates that the changes are a beginning and that much more must be done to provide funding that the children of Chicago and their public schools need and deserve.

Nancy Bailey writes here about a zombie policy launched by Jeb Bush called third grade retention. Students who can’t pass a third grade reading test are flunked and held back. Nineteen states have adopted this practice despite a large body of research showing that it hurts kids and leads to future failure, even dropping out.

Children who are held back feel humiliated.

There is one big benefit to this policy, however. Holding back the kids who have not yet mastered reading does wonders for the state’s fourth grade reading scores on national tests like NAEP.

Bailey offers specific ways to help third graders instead of humiliating them.


Remember Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, who denounced public schools as a “monopoly, and expressed his contempt for public school teachers as a “special interest group”?

He will have a Democratic challenger in the next election. Emily Skopov is the daughter of a public school teacher and an activist. Read her biography and learn about her project called “No Crayon Left Behind.”

Emily Skopov will challenge Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai again in 2020


After losing by almost 9 percentage points in 2018, Marshall Democrat Emily Skopov said today that she will again challenge Pennsylvania State House Speaker Mike Turzai for the 28th Legislative District seat. Mr. Turzai, a Republican, has held the seat since 2001 and been the House speaker since 2015. Democrats have challenged him six times, but Ms. Skopov, riding a wave of Democratic energy following President Donald Trump’s election in 2016, was the first to get within 10 points. The 28th District is located entirely within Allegheny County, and includes Pine, Bradford Woods, McCandless, Franklin Park and Marshall. In a press release announcing her run, Ms. Skopov argued she could win because of “demographic and ideological shifts” in the district. “This district is one of the few in Pennsylvania to be currently experiencing unprecedented growth. Mr. Turzai has demonstrated an inability to recognize, let alone understand, these changes and the changing needs and priorities of the residents that he purports to represent,” she said.

Everyone who loves their public schools and respects teachers as dedicated professionals should support Emily Skopov. Every parent of public school children in the 28th District should support her. Turzai will be funded by Betsy DeVos. Emily Skopov needs our help.

District 28 needs a leader, not a DeVos puppet.



Tentative Agreement

Tonight’s Vote to Conditionally Suspend the Strike

CTU’s House of Delegates met tonight to consider a new tentative agreement. The terms of the tentative agreement can be downloaded from the MemberLink Portal. Delegates voted 364 to 242, with four abstentions, to accept the revised tentative agreement on the condition that Mayor Lightfoot agree to make up the days lost in the strike. The text of the resolution reads:

Be it resolved, that the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates will suspend the strike against the Chcago Public Schools immediately upon a CPS agreement with the CTU to restore with pay student instructional days lost during the strike. Per the CTU Constitution and By-laws, a referendum by the CTU’s entire CPS membership on contract ratification will be held within ten (10) days of suspending the strike.

So far, the mayor still insists that she will not schedule makeup days for students to regain class time and for us to recoup our lost workdays. Her hypocrisy, though, is clear to see. She and her bargaining team fanatically insisted that elementary teachers couldn’t have a 30-minute morning prep because it would “reduce instructional time.” Yet, now they have the opportunity to make up days of instruction. What reason, other than sheer vindictiveness, would they have for passing up this opportunity? That’s why we’ll still be on strike Thursday and until the mayor and CPS come to their senses and close this deal.

Tentative Agreement Highlights

Some major elements of the Tentative Agreement include:

  • A nurse in every school community every day.
  • A social worker in every school community every day.
  • Staffing Pipeline: $2.5 million in recruitment and training programs for clinicians, $2 million in tuition and licensure for nurses, increased investments in “grow your own” teacher pipeline programs and 50 percent tuition reimbursement for English Language and bilingual endorsement programs.
  • $35 million annually to reduce oversized K-12 classrooms across the district, prioritizing schools serving the most vulnerable students.
  • Unprecedented enforcement mechanisms for class size relief.
  • Sports Committee with an annual budget of $5 million (33 percent increase in annual funding) for increases to coaching stipends and new equipment/resources.
  • January 2019 0.8 percent increase in health care contribution rate rescinded as of 7/1/19; no plan changes to health insurance benefits and reductions in co-pays for mental health services and physical therapy.
  • Bank of sick days earned after July 1, 2012, increased from 40 to 244 days.
  • Development of special education Individual Education Plans (IEP) made solely by the IEP team; principals required to use substitutes or release time to provide adequate time for special education duties to the extent possible; common preparation periods with general education teachers where possible; special ed teachers last to be called to cover classes; $2.5 million annual fund to reduce workload.

Clarification on class size language

Many members have read the new language in Article 28 on Class Size and found the table and language confusing. We want to clarify how the new language improves on the class size language in our recently expired 2015-19 contract.

In that last contract, there were advisory class size limits for different grade levels. However, to relieve oversized classes only $6 million per year was allotted for the entire district. When a class was over the limit, the teacher would have to file for relief, a weak joint committee came and investigated. If there was money, and if there was will, the class might get a remedy.

In the tentative agreement, that protection still remains, but is strengthened. The same class size guidelines are maintained andthe pool of money to remedy oversized classes is increased more than five times, from $6 million to $35 million. The committee also has more power to award remedies.

The truly new part, however, is the automatically triggered hard cap on class sizes. Those classes that are over the limit by a set amount (differing based on grade level) will be immediately and automatically referred to the committee and relief for the those classes is mandated in the contract. There will be no need for a teacher to report their class and ask for help, the committee will automatically come out to relieve the problem.

Some have mistakenly read the higher numbers as eliminating the previous class size guidelines and raising them to allow even larger classes. That isn’t so. This language keeps the previous numbers and improves the enforcement mechanism quite a bit. Once the automatically triggered classes have been relieved, there is still a larger pool of money to relieve classes that may be over the existing guideline, but under the automatic trigger mark. Those classes will need to request relief, but will still have the stronger committee come to their aid and there will be more money available to solve their problems.

Day 11, Thursday

10:00am at City Hall

At 10:00 a.m. all members should meet at City Hall to demand Mayor Lightfoot agree to make up the strike days. Costumes are encouraged, especially if they’re red (no costume weaponry, though, please). We will not have pickets at school, but schools are encouraged to arrange breakfast or lunch meetings or conference calls to discuss the tentative agreement and our next steps as a union.

Day 10 Recap

Wednesday’s Actions

Our members maintained picket lines at every school today. At noon, in the cold and pouring rain, hundreds of CTU members met to protest “The 78” luxury real estate development. Like Lincoln Yards, The 78 got a huge TIF giveaway to develop already valuable land. The $700 million that Rahm and Lori gave them would have made a huge difference for our schools. We won’t stop reminding the public and the politicians that Chicago isn’t broke, the City’s priorities are.

New support from Springfield

As the bargaining team finalized the deal, new information emerged from Springfield.

Tweet by Amanda Vinicky about Madigan and Cullerton pledging support to repeal IELRA Sec. 4.5

Looking ahead and building power

As you talk about the tentative agreement, it’s worth thinking about the conditions at your school. Whether or not this TA is ratified, we will eventually have a contract. It’s important that everyone build on the solidarity and momentum you’ve developed together on the picket line to enforce it. If the fight for good working and learning conditions were a war, the strike would be the “air war.” It can win a lot, but what ultimately determines day-to-day conditions is the “ground war”—the back-and-forth between administrators and staff in each school and workplace.

Read the TA (and the existing contract, for that matter) with an eye to the changes you want in your school. Try to come up with one change—big or small—that CTU members, together, want to see in your work environment. Then you can use our Campaign Planning Worksheet to brainstorm your campaign for when we return to work. When members at your school have agreed on a rough plan, check in with your organizer and/or field rep to talk through the details of putting it into action.

Union staff will continue to work hard in support of your rights. In your campaigns, they’ll help you refine your strategy and back you up. And they’ll always stand up for your rights in grievances and arbitration. If you organize well, you can make change without the long process of a grievance and help build your school’s solidarity and power.

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In recent years, I have posted several times about the issues raised by the efforts of for-profit Bridge International Academies to supply low-cost schools in Africa. These schools are staffed by teachers equipped with iPads reading a script written in Boston or someplace similar. Most African families can’t afford the cost. BIA aims to disrupt and replace African nations’ underfunded, ill-equipped public schools. African nations should be building a universal, free public school system with qualified teachers. The entry of BIA, despite good intentions, disrupts thoughtful long-term planning. BIA is supported by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, the World Bank, and other wealthy donors.

The World Bank’s ombudsman recently expressed concern about BIA.

A major development in the World Bank Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) complaint against the International Finance Corporation’s investment in Bridge International Academies was just announced.
The East African Centre for Human Rights announced the World Bank’s accountability body report, which raised ‘substantial concerns’ regarding the investment in Bridge International Academies.
In a report published Friday, the CAO found ‘substantial concerns’ regarding the issues brought against the company. An investigation into the International Financial Corporation’s (IFC) investment in Bridge International Academies will now be launched.

The investigation will look at whether the IFC took reasonable steps to ensure Bridge complied with national law and standards, labour rights, and IFC policy requirements for transparency, community participation, and health and safety standards.

The East African Centre for Human Rights (EACHRights) on behalf of the complainants, welcomed the report on Friday, urging the World Bank and IFC to commit to the provision of free, quality public education for all.

In solidarity with EACHRights, and the learners, parents, teachers and community members affected, we support this significant development and call for the World Bank and other major investors to ensure the right to education is fulfilled in line with the Abidjan Principles.

The full press release is available below.

Kind regards,

Campaigner, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
+1 613-203-8093 |

NAIROBI, 25TH OCTOBER 2019. The World Bank’s independent recourse and accountability mechanism, Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), published a report yesterday raising “substantial concerns” regarding Bridge International Academies (BIA) and announcing their intention to conduct a compliance investigation into the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) investment in the company.

This decision comes after a comprehensive appraisal of a complaint filed in April 2018 by ten Kenyan citizens, with support from The East African Centre for Human Rights (EACHRights,) which outlined alleged contravention of IFC performance standards and abuses of human rights law as committed by the IFC client, BIA. The complaint was filed following a long list of concerns raised by various independent sourcesacademics, rights holderscivil society organisations and journalists since 2016.

In order to decide whether a compliance investigation is required, the CAO first conducts a compliance appraisal. Through this appraisal, the CAO determined that BIA’s operations raise “substantial concerns” regarding: “(a) the specific allegations of adverse impacts to teachers, parents and students raised in the complaints; (b) the Environmental and Social risk profile of the schools in light of their number, locations and concerns regarding their construction methods; and (c) the registration status of the schools and adherence to relevant health and safety requirements.”

The CAO raised concerns regarding the adequacy of the IFCs supervision and due diligence regarding its investment in BIA. The investigation by the CAO will also look into the IFC’s supervision of BIA’s compliance with national laws, and its capacity and commitment to implement IFC performance standards including those relating to labour practices and the environment, health and safety aspects of its schools. In the course of the investigation, IFC may also consider whether IFC’s policy framework provides an appropriate level of protection for workers, the environment and affected communities in a context of providing low-cost services in informal settlements.

Dr Judith Oloo the Chief Executive Officer at the East African Centre for Human Rights commented: ‘It has been a long wait for the complainants involved in this case. In making this decision, the CAO has taken into account the scale of BIA’s operations in Kenya, the number of communities potentially impacted and also considered the vulnerable status of children and families that are the target market for Bridge schools. We look forward to a rigorous and thorough investigation, and call on all investors to start taking action to avoid further harm.’

Sylvain Aubry, from the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, stated: “The CAO report confirms the concerns and many issues that parents, teachers, and civil society organisations have been raising for years about the harmful practices of Bridge International Academies. It’s now time for the World Bank and other major investors such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, the Omidyar Network, and the UK Government to take immediate action to remedy the situation and comply with the right to education.

Tony Baker from RESULTS Educational Fund added “This investigation comes at a critical time when donors like the Global Partnership for Education and others are exploring their own private sector engagement strategies. Such investment decisions must be evidence-based, and a thorough and honest look at the concerns around for-profit private schools like Bridge is needed to ensure that such approaches truly support national efforts to achieve free, quality education for all.”

It is anticipated that the compliance investigation will be completed by September 2020. More information on the investigation can be found here.

The complainants trust that the investigation will confirm what existing evidence already shows and that actions will be taken by the World Bank and IFC to ensure that the findings are adequately addressed in fairness to the thousands of children, parents and teachers who are daily affected by these violations.

Bridge International Academies is a for-profit, multinational commercial chain of low cost private schools running over 500 institutions in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia and India. The company’s operations have raised concerns over the threat they pose to the right to education. The IFCs total equity investment in Bridge International Academies as of June 2019 is US $13.5 million.

The East African Centre for Human Rights (EACHRights): Linda Oduor-Noah,, +254 7 01 67 00 90



Alexandria Millet writes in The Progressive about the consequences of the harsh discipline at “no excuses” charter schools.

She begins by telling the recent story of two six-year-old girls who were arrested in school for having a temper tantrum. They were taken to the police station, where their mug shots were taken. Eventually, in response to public outrage, the charges were dropped, and the school resource officer was fired. This happened at a no-excuses charter school where compliance is the highest value.

Are higher test scores worth the harsh discipline?

The CTU reached a tentative agreement with Chicago Public Schools. The CTU House of Delegates voted 364-242 to suspend the strike pending resolution of final issues. The settlement, which meets most of the CTU demands, will be voted on by the full membership within 10 days.

But the strike is not yet over. The sides are very close but the union wants an assurance that there will be no loss of instructional time for the students. They want to make up the instructional time, possibly by extending the school year. Thus far, Mayor Lightfoot says no.

The union made no concessions. For the first time ever, they have won enforceable guarantees about class sizes, though the agreed-upon limits are still too large: no more than 32 students in K-3. No more than 35 in upper grades. $35 million has been pledged for class size reductions, which will be lowered as funding permits. The agreement commits the city not to authorize any new charters, nor add to the current enrollment of students in charter schools.

No school tomorrow while the bargaining continues.

The settlement contains not only caps on class sizes, but guarantees about school nurses, and other important staffing issues. It also offers significant salary increases, which was not a contentious issue. The union really did fight for better conditions for their students. .

The Big Three—Governor Pritzker, the Democrats in the Legislature and House Speaker Madigan— have agreed to restore a democratically elected board to replace mayoral control and to restore full collective bargaining rights so Chicago is on the same footing as other districts in Illinois.

Now we wait to see how long it will take to assure that the students do not lose instructional time.





Peter Greene skewers Betsy DeVos’ unsubstantiated claims about the meaning of the disappointing NAEP scores.

Don’t believe her when she says that 2/3 of students are “below grade level” in reading. NAEP proficiency is not “grade level.” NAEP even posts that statement on its graphs. This is what NAEP says as a note attached to its graphs:

“The NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade-level proficiency, but rather competency over challenging subject matter. NAEP Achievement levels are to be used on a trial basis and should be interpreted and used with caution.” The fact that Secretary DeVos and her staff ignored this warning raises the question of whether any of them actually read the NAEP report, or whether they simply skimmed it looking for numbers to make American schools look bad.

DeVos uses every opportunity to bash public schools, even with falsehoods. Especially with falsehoods.

Betsy knows plenty about falling NAEP scores. Under her powerful influence in Michigan, that state’s NAEP scores plummeted.

Rosa DeLauro is one of the most significant members of Congress. She oversees Congressional appropriations for education. She is a strong supporter of public education and a critic of privatization of public funding.



October 30, 2019


Will Serio: 202-225-3661


DeLauro Statement on 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress Results


WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, released the following statement after the Department of Education released the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results.


“The 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress results for our nation’s fourth- and eighth-grade students are disappointing and show that we must work urgently to strengthen public education in America. That is why I am so outraged to see Education Secretary Betsy DeVos using these results to promote the Trump administration’s cruel, reckless plans for public education.”


“Secretary DeVos proposed cutting K-12 education programs by $4.8 billion in fiscal year 2020 while propping up a $5 billion annual tax scheme to fund private school vouchers. DeVos also wants to eliminate federal funding for afterschool programs, teacher professional development, and student support and enrichment programs. That is unconscionable. Our nation’s public schools are in dire need of robust investments—not Secretary DeVos’ cuts and privatization plans. Research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that 29 states spent less per student in 2015 than they had before the Great Recession. That is why House Democrats passed a Labor-HHS-Education funding bill that increases investments in public education by $3.5 billion to help reverse this decade of disinvestment and austerity for our schools and communities.”


“Secretary DeVos also claims that additional funding for our public schools does not improve outcomes. That claim has no basis in reality. A 2018 review of research on education spending and student outcomes by a Northwestern University economist found statistically significant positive results for students in 12 out of 13 studies. Since then, similar studies in Texas, Wisconsin, California, and other states have also found that increases in school funding improve student outcomes.”


“Instead of exploiting these disappointing 2019 NAEP results to spread lies and promote her privatization agenda, Secretary DeVos should join House Democrats and families across our nation by supporting increased investments in our public education system.”