Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Teachers Union’

CTU striking for better schools

Monday, September 10th, 2012

It seems very odd to be in Phoenix getting my mom settled back into her home after a summer with us, rather than in Chicago where all the action is.

But the whole world IS watching, and it’s not because the whole world really cares that much about a local city labor dispute. It’s because this is a fight about the very nature of public education and the needs of middle class families.

Read this letter by Teacher X’s (the amazing Xian Barrett) to JC Brizard for a powerful take on what’s at stake. Here’s a taste.

  • When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.
  • When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.
  • When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.
  • When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

Even though my marching shoes have gotten a little dusty, I’d be out there today.

My sons were in preschool and second grade during the last CTU strike. I didn’t know much about school politics then (ah… so young!), but I supported the teachers then, and became aware soon afterwards how much changed as a result of that strike – most notably, the creation of local school councils.

I hope and believe that we will look back on this strike with the same sense of pride in what we did here in Chicago. My dream is that this movement will bring about an elected school board for our city, the establishment of an independent training center for local school councils (let’s name it in honor of Don Moore), class size limits and parental testing opt-out rights enacted in state law, a moratorium on school closings, and, yes, air conditioning in every school!

I’m so proud of the CTU and of the parents, students and community members who have rallied around them. There’s a REAL “Won’t Back Down story, folks.

PSAT for 9-4-12: Be, see role models

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

For this “traditional” first day of school, some teachable moments courtesy of excellent role models:

Back in 1989, Chicago became a national model for school reform, thanks in part to the late Don Moore, PURE and many others who helped craft the Chicago School Reform law creating local school councils.

Then we became a model for what NOT to do in school reform when the mayor took control of the schools in 1995, hiring a non-educator as CEO of the schools.

Well, we’re back!

Public education supporters all over the world are watching Chicago’s courageous, unified teachers’ union and the strong parent, student and community support spearheaded by such groups as Parents 4 Teachers and KOCO.

They know that if we can do it, they can do it.

Here’s what Parents4Teachers has on tap for this week.

P4T Banner Day Friday Sept. 7

On the eve of a potential strike, we want to have a visible presence across the city showing the breadth of support for our teachers. We’ll be at key locations from 4 – 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, with banners and leaflets–talking to Chicagoans about what’s at stake in the contract battle and urging them to support the teachers. We’re targeting 10 different, high visibility locations and will need 50 people to make this action a success. Please join us!

Email info@parents4teachers.net to get involved.

Call CPS every Thursday until teachers win a fair contract!

We flooded central office with calls last week–several people reported the number was “our of order” when they called. Let’s do it again this Thursday and every Thursday until the board offers a contract that benefits teachers and students. Call CPS CEO J.C. Brizard at 773-553-1500. Tell him you support the teachers’ contract demands for:

Smaller classes
1. A better, not just longer, day
2. More social services, counselors and nurses for our schools
3. Job security and fair compensation for teachers

Teachers’ needs and our children’s needs go hand in hand. With parents and teachers united, we can win the schools our children deserve!

Call 773-553-1500 and make your voice heard!

Host a parent/teacher meeting at your home or school

Parents have a lot of questions about the contract dispute and, if you just listened to the media, you’d think it’s only about money. In fact, it’s about so much more. The teachers–and the CTU–are fighting for the things that matter most in our schools. Good working conditions for teachers are good learning conditions for our kids.

Host a meeting at your home or school to help your friends, family and neighbors understand what’s really at stake and brainstorm ways we can all make a difference at this critical time.

Contact info@parents4teachers.net and we’ll help facilitate the meeting and make a presentation.

Parent pressure on the board is the key to avoiding a strike and winning a fair contract for our teachers and quality schools for our kids. We all need to stay informed and involved.

Please share this email with your friends!

KOZOL EVENT

And here’s an event you should plan to attend: a forum with another great role model, Jonathan Kozol.

S A V E     T H E      D A T E !

Author Jonathan Kozol to speak in Chicago September 27th. The event is free and open to the public but we recommend that you reserve a seat here.

Urban public schools and teachers who serve children in poverty are under attack. So argues activist author Jonathan Kozol. There is a profound connection, he insists, between urban poverty, racism and educational neglect. Kozol, author of a series of notable books about the conditions of children in urban America, will speak in Chicago on September 27.  He will address the current, unprecedented assault on public education and on public school teachers.

Jonathan Kozol’s new book is Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America. In this volume, Kozol reconnects with some of the children his readers first met in  Rachel and Her Children (1988), Amazing Grace (1996), Savage Inequalities (1991) and Shame of the Nation (2006) and his other works documenting the social and educational conditions facing urban children. Kozol argues that as a society, we must judge ourselves by the way we treat our children–particularly our poorest children–and that public schools are a critical anchor in a democratic society. He describes vividly the resilient and curious spirits of children growing up in adversity; he asks that we examine the priorities of our society which has seized upon their public schools as a profit center, instead of a sheltering, supportive center of learning.

A book signing by the author will follow the talk. Mr. Kozol’s new book will be available for purchase at the event.

EVENT DETAILS:

Date:  Thursday, September 27, 2012, at 6 pm. (Doors open at 5 pm).

Location: Thorne Auditorium of Northwestern University Law School, 375 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL

Hosted by the Children and Family Justice Center of Northwestern University Law School.

Sponsored by the Chicago Teachers Union, CReATE, Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), Raise Your Hand Coalition

Free registration here.

Labor Day Chicago 2012

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

A show of support from Chicago business at the end of a day of protest and display of union power.

Earlier in the day, an estimated 18,000 union members, parents and  others marched in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers’ Union.

People are finally raising up against the oppression of mayoral control of schools and the big corporate money that backs it.

Parents have had enough, Students have had enough. Teachers have had enough.

And – guess what? We now have enough people to make our voices heard! Thanks, CTU, CORE and Karent Lewis! Happy Labor Day!

Great parent teacher discussion in Hyde Park

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

That's me in the middle

Last night’s forum at the United Church of Hyde Park seemed to help everyone feel better about whatever comes out of the ongoing teacher contract negotiations.

I shared the front table with several teachers from HP and other areas, and was impressed along with the rest of the listeners about the passion the teachers expressed as well as the amount of excellent information that was shared about such topics as the value of small class size, overuse of testing, and the national context of the corporate school reform movement.

Here’s the joke that went along with that:

A hedge funder, a Tea Party member and a teacher went into a pizzeria. They ordered a pizza. The hedge funder took all but one piece, then warned the Tea Party member, “Look out – the teacher wants your piece!”

The not-so-funny joke was the comment from another teacher that the problem with “education reform” is that that there are no educators involved.

The general consensus in the room was that parents are prepared to stand with teachers no matter what ends up happening. Parents understand that teachers are fighting for our children’s education as they fight for a fair union contract.

Join Chicago teachers and me in Hyde Park Wednesday

Monday, August 6th, 2012

This Wednesday, August 8, at 6:30 pm, Chicago Public School teachers from the Hyde Park area will meet with parents and the community to share information about the progress of the teachers union contract talks and the impact the decisions may have on students and schools. I will also be on hand for the discussion.

What: CPS teachers meeting with parents – all are invited!

When: Wednesday, August 8, 2012, from 6:30 to 8 pm

Where: United Church of Hyde Park, 1448 E. 53rd Street (at Blackstone)

Why: Parents have many questions about what’s happening with the teachers’ contract negotiations, and teachers want to help answer some of those questions face to face.

  • How will classrooms be affected?
  • What are some of the key issues being discussed?
  • What are the teachers hoping for from their new contract?
  • How can parents and communities help?

Join us for this important parent-teacher meeting!

(Note: UCHP is my husband’s church, and we are co-sponsoring this event to show our support for our public school teachers.)

Aug 8 – Teachers to meet with parents in Hyde Park

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Next Wednesday, August 8, at 6:30 pm, Chicago Public School teachers from the Hyde Park area will meet with parents to share information about the progress of the teachers union contract talks and the impact the decisions may have on students and schools. I will also be on hand for the discussion.

What: CPS teachers meeting with parents – all are invited!

When: Wednesday, August 8, 2012, from 6:30 to 8 pm

Where: United Church of Hyde Park, 1448 E. 53rd Street (at Blackstone)

Why: Parents have many questions about what’s happening with the teachers’ contract negotiations, and teachers want to help answer some of those questions face to face.

  • How will classrooms be affected?
  • What are some of the key issues being discussed?
  • What are the teachers hoping for from their new contract?
  • How can parents and communities help?

Join us for this important parent-teacher meeting!

(Note: UCHP is my husband’s church, and we are co-sponsoring this event to show our support for our public school teachers.)

PSAT for 7-17-12: Five signs the tide is turning – so, let’s turn up the heat!

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Are the winds shifting? The tides turning? Could the tables already have turned?

Here are some reasons I think this may be happening.

1) An op ed in yesterday’s Guardian of London newspaper suggests that the Chicago Teachers’ Union is sending shock waves far beyond our home town for its string of upsets against the offensive moves of the city’s Democratic establishment:

This is getting national attention in the US, and a strike could be an embarrassment to President Obama. Moreover, it could re-ignite the American labour movement at a time of global unrest.

2) A few days ago, blogger Jim Warren compared a vacationing CPS CEO JC Brizard to Nero, “kayaking while Rome burns”:

I stumbled into Brizard’s absence during a chance conversation with (a) Chicago educator Thursday. The person mentioned that Brizard was out of town. He mentioned that Brizard had asked colleagues not to bother him with calls. He indicated that Brizard had posted on his Facebook page a photo of his wife with a kayak in Vermont. He rolled his eyes…..(Brizard)’s given ammunition already to anybody who looks to bypass or intentionally undermine him.

3) The Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman’s piecesuggesting Rahm’s honeymoon is over was prominently placed in Sunday’s paper. The media is beginning to be more skeptical about Rahm, his CPS schools team, and, to some extent, to corporate reform itself. The teachers’ contract arbitrator, whom Rahm’s team had set up as the voice of reason, actually made a very reasonable case for treating teachers fairly. In fact, his report comes across as a breath of fresh air amidst the hot air politicians and their corporate sponsors have beenblowing.

And media reports about the CPS ISAT scores were quite critical, especially of the lackluster charter school and longer day “pioneer” schools’ results.

4) Surprising “new” suggestion from Public Agenda and the Joyce Foundation – support LSCs.

I just read all the way through a May 2012 Public Agenda report called “Community Responses to School Reform in Chicago” and was surprised by at least one of the report’s recommendations for more effectively collaborating with the community in school reform: that CPS “consider re-engaging and strengthening the capacity of Local School Council (LSC) members” by “improving the way new members are educated and prepared for their role and responsibilities and by using this structure as a means to reach residents in local neighborhoods.” Wow. What a concept.

I found this surprising because this report follows up on a particularly yucchy “analysis” by Public Agenda (look at point four here) showing how corporate reformers can better manipulate parents to support their agenda. It was so creepy that the National Education Policy Center titled their review of the report, “Giving Parents the Run-Around on School Turnarounds.”

Both reports were funded by the Joyce Foundation, which dropped all support of LSCs several years ago as it embraced full-out corporate reform. Time for one of those foundation retreats to re-evaluate your “philanthropic goals”?

5) And….Huffington Post published one of my articles! They’ve censored me for several months and, frankly, I wasn’t expecting them to let this one on charter schools and violence get past Arianna’s protective shield.

So, what can you do to encourage the momentum?

Turn up the heat! (I ask this even though our 20+year-old air conditioner died today of all days. This is how much I love public education!).

Chicago is on the forefront of corporate education-busting because of the true grass roots collaboration between the Chicago Teachers’ Union and Chicago’s old and new parent and community groups. Let’s keep it going!

  • Learn HOW to turn up the heat from the best of the best, CTU’s Karen Lewis and KOCO’s Jitu Brown, in an SOS webinar tonight: “Build a United Fighting Teachers Union with Parent and Community Support,” moderated by Michael Klonsky. Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 9 PM Eastern Daylight Time [EDT]

“On every issue, they offered counters to his “reform” agenda of privatization, charter schools, longer school day,and test-based teacher evaluation….After more than 4,000 CTU members poured out of the Congress Theater, they were joined by rallying supporters across the street in Grant Park, with the groups merging into a sea of red-shirted marchers. As they proceeded up Michigan Ave. and then west on Adams, they were greeted with signs of support from onlookers — a group of custodians, some medical techs, hard-hatted construction workers and retail clerks.
~ Mike Klonsky’s Blog

From Mike: “For those of you who don’t know what a webinar is, think of it as an online, interactive radio show, where you can participate by asking my guests question or making comments as time allows. Otherwise just listen and take it all in. All you need is a computer with internet access and a working mic (if you want to speak).”

REGISTER HERE.

2) Help Parents4Teachers and CODE: Our Elected School Board Campaign is heading in to the home stretch. We need your help for two more weeks to finish strong!
Help us this week and next to circulate petitions to get a referendum for an elected school board on the November ballot.

  • Tuesday, July 17: West Rogers Park, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meet at 6635  N. Mozart.
  • Wednesday, July 18: Logan Square, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meet at the Starbucks on California and Logan Blvd.
  • Thursday, July 19: West Town, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meet at 2002 W. Superior.

Please email info@parents4teachers.net if you can help out on any of these nights! YOU are the key to this campaign’s success!

3) (Also from Parents4Teachers): Stand Strong for Our Teachers July 25
The Chicago Teachers Union ( CTU) is asking parents and everyone concerned about quality education to take a stand at the July 25 CPS Board meeting. Meet at 9 a.am., at 125 S. Clark St. (7 a.m., if you want to testify)

The Board will be voting on the unfair CPS proposed budget that day and  CTU has called for a big demonstration before the meeting.

We need to STAND STRONG for our teachers. They are in the fight of their lives, standing up for our kids. Help them win the schools our children need and deserve.

4) Finally, like, share, and tweet my Huffington Post story – thanks!

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.