WBEZ | chicago teachers union http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-teachers-union Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Emanuel likely to stay the course on education in second term http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-likely-stay-course-education-second-term-111843 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmvictoryspech.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Public education was one of the reasons Mayor Rahm Emanuel faced a runoff election Tuesday.</p><p>Despite a rocky relationship with some teachers and parents in his first term, he won a second.</p><p>Emanuel now will face challenges at Chicago Public Schools that look a lot like the challenges of four years ago: declining enrollment, ballooning pension costs, and an expiring contract with the Chicago Teachers Union.</p><p>But then again, first-term Emanuel looks different than second-term Emanuel, so far.</p><p>&ldquo;I understand the challenges we face will require me to approach them differently and work in a different fashion,&rdquo; he said in his victory speech at a union hall in the West Loop.</p><p>CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey says although union-backed candidate Jesus &lsquo;Chuy&rsquo; Garcia garnered 44 percent of the vote to the mayor&rsquo;s 56 percent, &nbsp;the new &ldquo;sweater-wearing Rahm&rdquo; is enough of a victory.</p><p>&ldquo;You saw the mayor <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjqQWB3WtCo">put on a soft shirt</a> and say he was going to do more listening, which is very different than what you saw in 2012,&rdquo; Sharkey said, referring to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-strike-after-talks-fail-102287">the year CTU teachers went on strike</a> for the first time in 25 years.</p><p>It&rsquo;s unclear how far that rhetoric will go. Sharkey admitted while there&rsquo;s still likely to be a lot of conflict. CTU will have to work with Emanuel.</p><p>&ldquo;The union can&rsquo;t go around saying this mayor is dead to us for the next four years,&rdquo; Sharkey said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to have to figure out how to actually solve some of the problems going on in the schools.&rdquo;</p><p>The current teachers&rsquo; contract expires in June, but could be extended for a fourth year if the board offers the union a three percent raise.</p><p>&ldquo;People would be willing to take less money in exchange for some basic protections about working conditions and some assurances that they&rsquo;re not just going to keep closing and privatizing schools,&rdquo; Sharkey said.</p><p>&ldquo;We are still under a moratorium, so no immediate plans to do anything on that front,&rdquo; said Jesse Ruiz, vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, referring to a five-year moratorium put into place after the Board <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-board-votes-close-50-schools-107294">closed 50 schools in 2013</a>.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a tough promise to keep in a city with a declining population and therefore, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/3000-fewer-students-enroll-chicago-public-schools-110869">declining school enrollment</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re hoping to change that (exodus) by some of the things we&rsquo;re doing to make it attractive for Chicagoans to want to continue to live here and grow their families here,&rdquo; Ruiz said. &nbsp;</p><p>Parent Wendy Katten says she hopes that to do so the district will focus on improving existing schools, rather than opening a bunch of new ones.</p><p>&ldquo;We see 7,000 fewer students in CPS than three years ago and there&rsquo;s a reason why,&rdquo; Katten said. &ldquo;People want strong neighborhood schools. I mean, <a href="http://cps.edu/NewSchools/Pages/Process2014.aspx">we&rsquo;ve got new RFPs for charters due today</a>. We don&rsquo;t need any more schools right now.&rdquo;</p><p>But Andrew Broy, executive director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, said it&rsquo;s not an either-or.</p><p>&ldquo;We can both expand high-quality charters, while we work on all the schools in the city to make them better,&rdquo; Broy said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll borrow a phrase from President Obama--I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time.&rdquo;</p><p>In his victory speech, Emanuel made it sound like he will walk and chew gum at the same time &mdash; by continuing to open new schools while trying to improve existing ones.</p><p>&ldquo;I hear you on the importance of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834">neighborhood high schools</a> and better choices,&rdquo; he shouted.</p><p>The question is: Will he still be wearing that sweater?</p></p> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 15:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-likely-stay-course-education-second-term-111843 Unions and Garcia push for $15-an-hour minimum wage http://www.wbez.org/news/unions-and-garcia-push-15-hour-minimum-wage-111768 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chuy15.PNG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Mayoral candidate Jesus &quot;Chuy&quot; Garcia and the Chicago Teachers Union are pushing for a $15 per hour minimum wage.</p><p dir="ltr">Garcia, members of the CTU, and activists with the national movement &ldquo;Fight for 15&rdquo; rallied outside the Chicago Board of Education Wednesday. They want all companies who do business with Chicago Public Schools to agree to a wage increase.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Parents who cannot get regular hours at their job, who cannot make a living wage, have a difficult time providing their children, who are our students, with the kind of environment necessary for real learning,&rdquo; said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.</p><p dir="ltr">All CTU-represented employees and most others at CPS are already above the minimum wage, but Sharkey said subcontracted employees, like Safe Passage workers and recess monitors, are not.</p><p dir="ltr">Mayor Rahm Emanuel has already <a href="http://www.wbez.org/mayor-emanuel-backs-chicago-minimum-wage-hike-13-110462">promised to increase the minimum wage</a> to $13 an hour by 2018. The wage hike applies to all companies who do business with the city and its sister agencies, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-chief-backs-mayors-13-hour-minimum-wage-111138">including CPS</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Garcia said he&rsquo;d find the money for a wage hike by closing tax loopholes for wealthy corporations and rerouting money given to &ldquo;cronies of the mayor.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If there&rsquo;s enough money to make them happy, there ought to be enough money to pay for frontline workers within Chicago Public Schools,&rdquo; Garcia said. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">School janitors also rallied outside the Board Wednesday to argue against the layoffs that took place after <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767">CPS outsourced custodial management</a> to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Since Aramark has taken over, I currently have to clean 72,000 square feet of hallway,&rdquo; said Ina Davis, a janitor at University of Chicago - Donoghue Charter School. &nbsp;&ldquo;I have 17 classrooms, 23 bathrooms and I&rsquo;m the only janitor that has to clean this at night. I&rsquo;m just asking for CPS to help us.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Last week, principals asked CPS to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/principals-cps-end-custodial-contract-now-111735">end the contracts</a> with Aramark and SodexoMAGIC, saying the schools were still dirty. District officials say after hiccups early in the year, a recent audit of school cleanliness showed most schools are cleaner.</p><p dir="ltr">Tom Balanoff, president of the Service Employees International United - Local 1, said even though Aramark <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/aramark-cps-change-plan-cut-school-janitors-110870">compromised by not following through</a> with about half of the planned layoffs, the company still made more than 200 janitors part-time, which is a problem.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s just not enough hours in the day for the janitors to do all the work,&rdquo; Balanoff said.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/unions-and-garcia-push-15-hour-minimum-wage-111768 From classroom to campaign trail: 5 teachers eye city council seats http://www.wbez.org/news/classroom-campaign-trail-5-teachers-eye-city-council-seats-111494 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_5457_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Susan Sadlowski Garza is the only counselor at Jane Addams Elementary, a school of about 850 students on the far South Side of Chicago.</p><p>But there, she says, she can only do so much. So she&rsquo;s moving beyond the walls of her school.</p><p>&ldquo;Hi! Good morning, how are you? My name is Sue Sadlowski Garza, I&rsquo;m running for alderman,&rdquo; Garza said to a potential voter, while door-knocking in the 10<sup>th</sup> Ward in early January.</p><p>Teachers are embedded in their communities and are often among the first people to see how policies made downtown play out on the ground.</p><p>&ldquo;Ward by ward and everywhere we go, people have had it,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Garza is one of five teachers running this time for Chicago&rsquo;s City Council, an unusually high number, propelled by Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.</p><p>Lewis spent much of last fall building political momentum to see if she could challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but then was sidelined by a cancerous brain tumor last October. Rank-and-file teachers had started to line up behind her, challenging aldermen loyal to the mayor. Those still running include: Ed Hershey (25<sup>th</sup>), Tim Meegan (33<sup>rd</sup>), Tara Stamps (37<sup>th</sup>), and Dianne Daleiden (40<sup>th</sup>).&nbsp;</p><p>As harp-tongued as ever, Lewis <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-president-karen-lewis-speaks-111489">gave her first public address</a> on Monday at a City Club of Chicago luncheon. Afterward, Garza and Stamps stood next to Lewis as she answered questions from reporters.</p><p>&ldquo;This is not about one race or one year, one electoral cycle,&rdquo; Lewis said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about building, changing the political landscape in Chicago because it&rsquo;s not going to change if we don&rsquo;t try.&rdquo;</p><p>All of the teachers running have gotten endorsements and cash from the CTU -- anywhere from $5,000 to $32,000.</p><p>But those campaign contributions pale in comparison to those of incumbents, who are all close allies of Emanuel: John Pope (10<sup>th</sup>), Danny Solis (25<sup>th</sup>), Emma Mitts (37<sup>th</sup>), Deb Mell (33<sup>rd</sup>), and Pat O&rsquo;Connor (40<sup>th</sup>).</p><p>The CTU also doesn&rsquo;t have a deep-pocketed Super-PAC helping get their message out. Emanuel ally and former CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll is head of Chicago Forward, a Washington-style political action committee with millions to spend on ads, mailers, and other campaign efforts that support aldermen who side with the mayor.</p><p>Aldermen like Garza&rsquo;s opponent, John Pope. City council <a href="http://pols.uic.edu/docs/default-source/chicago_politics/city_council_voting_records/city-council-report-dec2014.pdf?sfvrsn=0">records show</a> Pope has voted with Emanuel 100 percent of the time since 2011.</p><p>But Pope scoffed at the thought that he is &ldquo;a rubber stamp&rdquo;.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not a rubber stamp for anyone but the 10th warders, my neighbors, my friends, my family members,&rdquo; Pope told WBEZ.</p><p>He said he&rsquo;s proud of his record bringing jobs to the ward, improving schools, and more recently working to control pet coke pollution.</p><p>Garza said he could still do more to involve local residents; &nbsp;that sentiment of &#39;more needs to be done&#39; was echoed by the other CTU-backed candidates. They want wards to be run more from the bottom up.</p><p>&ldquo;It should be residents driving decisions,&rdquo; said Tim Meegan, a candidate for 33<sup>rd</sup> Ward alderman and a teacher at Roosevelt High School. &ldquo;It shouldn&rsquo;t be the alderman saying this is what you&rsquo;re going to get.&rdquo;</p><p>Meegan noted that idea&mdash;getting more people on the ground involved&mdash;is the same one CTU leadership came to power with in 2010.</p><p>&ldquo;In 2010, when CORE took over the Chicago Teachers Union, we switched from a top-down, service-oriented union to a bottom-up, social justice like, grassroots movement.&rdquo;</p><p>When Lewis, and a group called CORE, took over the union in 2010, they vowed to include the voices of rank-and-file teachers. They saw previous CTU leaders as too narrowly focused on wages and benefits, and not fighting back on the broader policies of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, like the expansion of charter schools.</p><p>Meegan is running for 33<sup>rd</sup> Ward alderman on the North Side against incumbent Deb Mell. &nbsp;She was appointed by Emanuel after her father, Dick Mell, stepped down. The older Mell was one of the longest serving aldermen in City Council history. &nbsp;</p><p>Deb Mell said she&rsquo;s running the office differently than her dad did, including bringing the community into decision making.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s great that people get involved in the political process,&rdquo; she said of Meegan&rsquo;s candidacy. &ldquo;The voters now have a chance to comment on the job I&rsquo;ve done in the last year and a half.&rdquo;</p><p>Mell has raised more than $75,000 to Meegan&#39;s roughly $32,000. But, Mell pointed out,&nbsp;the largest single donation made in the 33rd race so far has been $15,000 given to Meegan by the CTU.&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a different story for Garza. Pope has raised almost triple what she holds in her campaign coffers.</p><p>Garza&rsquo;s headquarters are in an old taco shop that closed a few years ago. The soda machine still sits next to the counter with a sign that reads: No Refills. &nbsp;Above a booth in the corner hangs a faded old campaign sign.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not her&#39;s. It&rsquo;s her dad&rsquo;s.</p><p>Garza grew up just down the road, in the shadow of the old steel mills, where her dad, Ed Sadlowski, served as president of the local chapter of the United Steelworkers of America. The 10th Ward looked a lot different then.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody was working,&rdquo; Garza said. &ldquo;It was a very prosperous neighborhood. There was a restaurant and bar on every corner. And when the mills went away, things really started to change.&rdquo;</p><p>Garza said her father&#39;s fight to keep the mills open wasn&rsquo;t just about saving jobs. It was also about the health of the communities surrounding the mills. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not all that different, Garza argues, from what the CTU is trying to do now.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 05:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/classroom-campaign-trail-5-teachers-eye-city-council-seats-111494 CTU president Karen Lewis speaks up http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-president-karen-lewis-speaks-111489 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_5569.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">If 35 minutes behind a microphone after months of silence proves anything about Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, it&rsquo;s this: She hasn&rsquo;t changed much.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">Lewis spoke to a crowd of people for the first time since being diagnosed with a brain tumor last fall. At that time, she was considering a run against Mayor Rahm Emanuel. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">&ldquo;I was planning on running for mayor and in doing so I intended to lift up the voices of marginalized people in the city of Chicago,&rdquo; Lewis said at a City Club of Chicago luncheon Monday.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">&ldquo;That also meant that if my mayoral motorcade was blowing through red lights, I was planning on digging deep into my purse to pay those fines,&rdquo; she said, referring to </span><a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuel-says-he-pays-his-motorcades-red-light-tickets/">a recent CBS investigation</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">Lewis also took aim at newly seated Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">&ldquo;He&rsquo;s wasted no time attacking the wages of working class people, attacking their labor unions and threatening massive cuts to social services programs, which help the most vulnerable people in our state,&rdquo; Lewis said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not some easy-going, blue-jean-wearing, $20-dollar-watch-having good guy who&rsquo;s coming to save the day. He is Scott Walker on steroids.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">But unlike Wisconsin&rsquo;s Republican governor, Rauner will have to work with a Democratic state legislature to pass any laws that would limit the rights of public-sector unions.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">When asked for a response to Lewis&rsquo; comparison, Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said, &ldquo;Governor Rauner is happy to see Ms. Lewis back in action. He continues to admire her tenacity and spirit.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">Despite her fiery remarks about politicians, Lewis said she remains focused on the next teachers contract and has no intentions of running for office.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">&ldquo;If you want well-resourced schools, educators with tenure and job security, it&rsquo;s going to cost money,&rdquo; Lewis said. &ldquo;We shouldn&rsquo;t shy away from this.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">Similar to what it did in 2012, the teachers union </span><a href="http://www.ctunet.com/quest-center/research/position-papers/text/A_Just_Chicago.pdf">released a blueprint to outline the issues</a>&nbsp;it plans to push during negotiations. The latest white paper, titled &ldquo;A Just Chicago: Fighting for the City Our Students Deserve,&rdquo; lists a host of things, a number of which are outside of what the union can bargain for under law.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">Those include: stable jobs for all Chicagoans, decriminalizing marijuana possession, expanding public housing, and reforming the state&rsquo;s formula for funding education.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">Lewis also said although negotiations have just begun, the union would be ready to strike again if talks fail.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">The Chicago arm of Democrats for Education Reform, which supports Emanuel, issued a statement late Monday chiding Lewis and the union for bringing up the possibility of a strike.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">&ldquo;If the CTU hopes to use another strike as revenge if Mayor Emanuel wins re-election it would be even worse,&rdquo; the statement read. &ldquo;There are teachers in every Chicago neighborhood doing amazing work who do not wish to be dragged into the CTU&rsquo;s single-minded political mission.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-0b1e0242-4cb2-31b5-92f2-63e7dd3faf91">Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </span></em><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 17:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-president-karen-lewis-speaks-111489 Karen Lewis not running for mayor http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-not-running-mayor-110932 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/620-lewis_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, seen as Mayor Rahm Emanuel&#39;s most high-profile re-election challenger, won&#39;t run in 2015, a spokeswoman announced Monday.</p><p>Lewis, who often tussled with the mayor during the 2012 Chicago Public Schools teachers&#39; strike, didn&#39;t specify her reasons and a statement released on behalf of her exploratory committee made no mention of a recent illness she disclosed publicly.</p><p>&quot;Karen Lewis has decided to not pursue a mayoral bid,&quot; said a statement from committee spokeswoman Jhatayn Travis. &quot;Yet she charges us to continue fighting for strong neighborhood schools, safe communities and good jobs for everyone.&quot;</p><p>Lewis had been seen as the best shot so far to unseat Emanuel, who won his first term in 2011. For months, she had been circulating petitions and raising her profile at parades and political events, often harshly criticizing Emanuel and his policies. She even dubbed him the &quot;murder mayor&quot; because of the city&#39;s violence problem.</p><p>Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-hands-over-leadership-chicago-teachers-union-110919" target="_blank">last week</a> said that Lewis has a &quot;serious illness&quot; and underwent successful surgery. Sharkey also said he had taken over Lewis&#39; tasks as president, but did not provide additional details on her illness.</p><p>Emanuel issued a statement after Lewis&#39; announcement Monday wishing her a quick recovery.</p><p>&quot;I have always respected and admired Karen&#39;s willingness to step up and be part of the conversation about our city&#39;s future,&quot; said Emanuel, a former congressman and White House chief of staff.</p><p>Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti, who announced his bid to run last month, said he was praying for Lewis&#39; health.</p><p>&quot;For Chicago&#39;s sake, I hope this is not the last we see of Karen Lewis,&quot; he said in a statement. &quot;I can understand the battle with illness, and how it can change the best thought out plans. But I also know that Karen is resilient and strong and will be back advocating for educators, students and Chicagoans in no time.&quot;</p><p>Political experts said only a handful of credible candidates would be able to mount a serious challenge at this point ahead of the Feb. 24 contest. Names floated in Chicago political circles included Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who has already said she planned to keep her current job and faces re-election, and Cook County Clerk David Orr.</p><p>Any candidate would have to be able to raise big funds and already have name recognition. Emanuel has banked more than $8 million, while campaign finance filings show Fioretti had about $325,000 as of June. Also, Emanuel&#39;s implied support from President Barack Obama as a former aide would be hard to counter in Obama&#39;s hometown.</p><p>However, political watchers said Emanuel&#39;s approval ratings have been low.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s a mixed bag,&quot; said Chicago political consultant Don Rose. &quot;Many people feel he&#39;s ripe for the picking.&quot;</p><p>The February election is nonpartisan. If no candidate receives more than half of the ballots cast, a runoff between the top two candidates will be held in April.</p></p> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 17:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-not-running-mayor-110932 Karen Lewis hands over leadership of Chicago Teachers Union http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-hands-over-leadership-chicago-teachers-union-110919 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/620-lewis_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is suffering from an undisclosed &ldquo;serious illness&rdquo; and will step aside as head of the organization, the union&rsquo;s vice president announced Thursday.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s still no word on how that might affect a possible mayoral run against Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>At a press conference late Thursday afternoon, Vice President Jesse Sharkey announced that Lewis underwent a successful surgery on Wednesday, but declined to name Lewis&rsquo; condition, citing her family&rsquo;s privacy.</p><p>Lewis, 61, has been seriously considering a run for mayor. Sharkey said he will take over Lewis&rsquo; duties at the CTU, but wouldn&rsquo;t get into the possible political impact of Lewis&rsquo; health.</p><p>&ldquo;I understand that many people in this room and many people in the city want to know about Karen Lewis&rsquo;s health status because they care about the mayoral election in this city,&rdquo; Sharkey told reporters. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a question that I can&rsquo;t answer.&rdquo;</p><p>Lewis was hospitalized Sunday night after experiencing discomfort, but the union and representatives with her exploratory campaign refused to say why or give any details on the status of her condition.<br /><br />On Monday, CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said in a statement that she was &ldquo;in good spirits--and still thinking of creative ways to secure the future and city our students and their families deserve.&rdquo;<br /><br />On Wednesday night, a spokeswoman for Lewis&rsquo; mayoral exploratory committee declined to comment on the details of Lewis&rsquo;condition, but said the &ldquo;exploratory process is moving forward.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite contentious relations in the past, Emanuel praised Lewis late Thursday afternoon in an emailed statement, though he steered clear of mentioning politics.</p><p>&ldquo;Karen Lewis is a passionate advocate for her beliefs and has always been willing to speak up for her view of what&#39;s best -- not only for the teachers that she represents, but also for issues critical to the future of our city,&quot; Emanuel was quoted as saying. &quot;Along with all Chicagoans, we will keep Karen and her family in our thoughts and prayers, and we hope to see her on her feet very soon.&rdquo;</p><p>Lewis has not officially announced whether she plans to challenge Emanuel in February&rsquo;s city election. But there has been widespread speculation and encouragement from some progressives for her to run.</p><p>In recent weeks, the once-fiery critic of Emanuel who led Chicago teachers on their first strike in 25 years has sought to rebrand herself as a consensus-builder, holding several community events around the city dubbed &ldquo;Conversations with Karen.&rdquo; Lewis has also started fundraising for a possible campaign, though she has conceded it will be difficult to top Emanuel&rsquo;s political machine, which has already netted him at least $8.3 million for his re-election bid.</p><p>Mayoral candidates have until Nov. 24 to file their nominating papers in order to get on the ballot for the Feb. 24 election. Emanuel already faces several declared challengers, including his vocal critic in the City Council, Ald. Bob Fioretti; Dr. Amara Enyia, an urban development consultant; former Chicago Ald. Robert Shaw; Chicago police officer Frederick Collins; and conservative activist William J. Kelly.</p><p>&quot;She is a fighter and I know that she will bounce back, stronger than ever,&quot; Fioretti said of Lewis in an emailed statement. &quot;Her voice adds to the debate in Chicago and we all get better results when there is a full and spirited dialogue.&nbsp; But right now, we should all respect Karen&rsquo;s privacy and give her the space she needs to get better.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><em>WBEZ political reporter Alex Keefe contributed to this story.</em></p><p><o:p></o:p></p></p> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-hands-over-leadership-chicago-teachers-union-110919 Chicago Teachers Union head Karen Lewis hospitalized http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-head-karen-lewis-hospitalized-110902 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/620-lewis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis has been hospitalized after experiencing discomfort over the weekend.</p><p>CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin on Monday denied rumors Lewis suffered a stroke. Lewis recently underwent surgery designed to reduce her absorption of food calories.</p><p>In a statement, Gadlin wrote that Lewis&#39; privacy is being respected and she will determine &quot;whether or not another public statement is warranted.&quot;</p><p>Gadlin added Lewis is resting well, in good spirits and is &quot;thinking of creative ways to secure the future and city our students and their families deserve.&quot;</p><p>Lewis, who tangled with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel during a 2012 teacher strike, is circulating petitions and raising money for a challenge of the mayor next year. Lewis hasn&#39;t yet announced whether she&#39;ll run.</p></p> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-head-karen-lewis-hospitalized-110902 More than a thousand teachers and other staff laid off in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/more-thousand-teachers-and-other-staff-laid-chicago-110423 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/board of ed_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools officials told 550 teachers and 600 more school staff Thursday that they&rsquo;re out of a job.</p><p dir="ltr">The number of dreaded phone calls being made by principals is based on how many kids CPS officials project will show up on the first day next fall.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The staffing changes are driven most directly by declining student enrollment,&rdquo; CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a conference call with reporters.</p><p dir="ltr">The number is significantly smaller than last year&rsquo;s nearly 3,000 layoffs, which were due mostly to the Board of Education&rsquo;s decision to close 50 schools.</p><p dir="ltr">More than <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-issues-pink-slips-over-800-employees-107713">800 teachers were laid off last June</a>, another <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109">2,100 were let go in July</a> and nearly 100 were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/cps-issues-nearly-100-pink-slips-109078">released after the 20th day of school enrollment count</a> was taken in the fall.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS&rsquo;s Chief Talent Officer Alicia Winckler said, typically, about 60 percent of the staff let go over the summer find new jobs at other schools in the system.</p><p dir="ltr">Jackson Potter, staff coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union, said it&rsquo;s still too many layoffs in a system already starved for resources.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It sort of like, hey, we cut the most we&rsquo;ve ever cut in the last two years and we cut a little less than that this year, so therefore, it&rsquo;s not so bad, doesn&rsquo;t seem reasonable, or accurate, or considerate to the families that are going to suffer a further reduction of the essentials that their children need and deserve,&rdquo; Potter said.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS officials say they have made adjustments at schools where enrollment dropped and core programs are in jeopardy.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve made every single effort, whereever there was a decline, to make sure that the core academic program, as well as the enrichment programs could continue for next year,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said. &ldquo;But it is difficult for schools that have sustained substantial enrollment decreases to avoid staff impact. I mean, you can&rsquo;t get around that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, schools that lost enrollment were held harmless--meaning they could keep money budgeted to them even if the number of students who enrolled came in under what was projected. That will not continue this year.</p><p dir="ltr">District officials have said the complete fiscal year 2015 budget is set to be released in early July.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 18:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-thousand-teachers-and-other-staff-laid-chicago-110423 Chicago Teachers Union votes to oppose Common Core http://www.wbez.org/news/education/chicago-teachers-union-votes-oppose-common-core-110152 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr bill selak.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated with additional information at 5:30pm, 5/8/14</em></p><p>In a vote that seemed to take <a href="http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2014/05/chicago_union_passes_resolutio.html" target="_blank">education observers</a>, school district officials, and even many teachers by surprise, delegates to the Chicago Teachers Union passed <a href="http://www.ctunet.com/media/press-releases/chicago-teachers-union-joins-opposition-to-common-core" target="_blank">a resolution </a>Wednesday evening saying the union formally opposes the <a href="http://www.corestandards.org/" target="_blank">Common Core State Standards</a>, which are being implemented in schools across Chicago, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/new-math-and-reading-standards-trickle-chicago-area-classrooms-102014" target="_blank">Illinois </a>and some 44 other states.&nbsp;</p><p>In a statement released to the media, the union said the resolution &ldquo;enjoins the city&rsquo;s educators to growing national opposition to the Common Core State Standards, saying the assessments disrupt student learning and consume tremendous amounts of time and resources for test preparation and administration.&rdquo;</p><p>Teacher Michelle Gunderson, who heads the union&#39;s education committee, says the CTU has &quot;philosophical&quot; issues with the Common Core.</p><p>&quot;Those who wrote the Common Core standards believe the purpose of education is to prepare children to be college and career ready. Now that in and of itself is not a bad thing. We want people to have jobs, we want people to be productive in their lives. But we don&#39;t believe that&#39;s the sole purpose of education. We want our students to become critical thinkers and people who can lead good and purpose-filled lives,&quot; Gunderson said. &quot;We believe our students are more than just cogs in the wheel of the machinery of our workforce.&quot;</p><p>Gunderson also said the standards involve &quot;a misuse and over-abuse of testing.&quot;</p><p>The resolution says the union will lobby the Illinois State Board of Education to abandon the Common Core, and &ldquo;will organize other (union) members and affiliates to increase opposition to the Common Core State Standards.&rdquo;</p><p>The union&rsquo;s House of Delegates is made up of teacher representatives from every district school in the city.</p><p>The CTU resolution also declares that:<br /><br />&bull; &ldquo;instructional and curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom professionals who understand the context and interests of their students&rdquo; and &ldquo;the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice.&rdquo;<br /><br />&bull; Common Core standards were developed by &ldquo;non-practitioners&rdquo; including &ldquo;test and curriculum publishers&rdquo; and &ldquo;education reform foundations, such as the Gates and Broad Foundations.&rdquo; It says that &ldquo;as a result the [standards] better reflect the interests and priorities of corporate education reformers than the best interests and priorities of teachers and students.&rdquo;<br /><br />&bull; &ldquo;the assessment practices that accompany Common Core State Standards &ndash; including the political manipulation of test scores &ndash; are used as justification to label and close schools, fail students, and evaluate educators.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois quietly adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, with little opposition. But the standards have become a political football in the last year, and have faced opposition from both the left and the right. Indiana <a href="http://http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/us/indiana-common-core-replaced-with-state-standards.html" target="_blank">dumped </a>the Common Core standards last month.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union vote represents a blow to the standards, which are just getting off the ground in many schools, and raises questions about their viability.</p><p>President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan have argued that the new standards raise the bar on what American students need to know, and create uniform standards across states. Duncan has called the standards &ldquo;a sea-change in education. Not only do they set the bar high, they give teachers the space and opportunity to go deep, emphasizing problem-solving, analysis, and critical thinking, as well as creativity and teamwork. They give teachers room to innovate.&rdquo;</p><p>The standards themselves are simply <a href="http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/" target="_blank">a list of what students should know and be able to do in reading and math, grade by grade</a>. They replace the <a href="http://www.isbe.state.il.us/ILS/" target="_blank">Illinois Learning Standards</a>, which guided teaching and curriculum in the state from 1997 to 2010. The new standards are being billed as more rigorous. They push students to read more complex texts and expand their academic vocabulary. In math, the goal is to move away from a &ldquo;mile-wide, inch-deep&rdquo; approach&mdash;in which students cover many topics in little depth&mdash;in favor of deeper understanding of key math concepts.</p><p>The union&#39;s vote came the same day that the &quot;nation&#39;s report card,&quot; or the National Association of Educational Progress, released new results showing <a href="http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/05/no_change_in_12th_grade_perfor.html" target="_blank">test scores for American 12th graders have stagnated in math and reading</a> over the past four years. On that test, just 26 percent of high school seniors are considered proficient in math; 37 percent scored &quot;proficient&quot; in reading.</p><p>The resolution was not on the House of Delegates&rsquo; monthly <a href="http://www.ctunet.com/delegates/text/House-of-Delegates-Agenda-4-2-2014.pdf." target="_blank">agenda. </a>Reporters are typically not allowed inside House of Delegates meetings.</p><p>The union&rsquo;s vote may prove unpopular with rank-and-file teachers. Polls have shown that teachers generally <a href="http://www.edutopia.org/blog/recent-polls-common-core-teachers-in-favor-anne-obrien" target="_blank">like </a>the Common Core standards. Chicago Public Schools officials gave WBEZ the results of a survey it conducted in February (attached below). It emailed 18,000 teachers; just over 40 percent responded. Of those, 82 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the Common Core standards are more rigorous that previous standards; 69 percent said they believed the new standards would lead to improved learning for the majority of their students.</p><p>Even the Chicago Teachers Union&rsquo;s parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, has been supportive of the Common Core standards.</p><p>&quot;Absolutely our parent union pushed the Common Core. I don&#39;t believe when that push happened we realized the harm that it was going to do. I also don&#39;t think we realized how difficult and unfair the testing was going to be,&quot; Gunderson said.</p><p>In other states, teachers and their unions have complained about the implementation of the standards, and their timing. Many states are adopting the new standards just as test scores are being used to evaluate teachers. Scores have dropped precipitously in states, including Illinois, where some or all of the state standardized test questions are aligned to the Common Core standards.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools has spent millions shifting to the new standards; last year the district issued bonds to buy $40 million in textbooks it said were aligned to the Common Core. The state piloted new tests this spring, and will roll out entirely new Common Core exam next spring, replacing the ISAT.</p><p>The Chicago teachers&rsquo; vote puts the union, controlled by political progressives, in strange company. Take conservative radio host Glenn Beck for instance.&nbsp; &ldquo;Besides being dumber, our kids are going to be indoctrinated with extreme leftist ideology,&rdquo; Beck has <a href="http://www.glennbeck.com/2013/03/14/exposing-common-core-kids-are-being-indoctrinated-with-extreme-leftist-ideology/" target="_blank">warned</a>. He has called the Common Core an &ldquo;<a href="http://www.glennbeck.com/2013/04/08/the-whole-story-on-common-core/" target="_blank">insidious menace</a> to our children and to our families.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;This is top-down education from the federal government, dictating to local schools what they must teach and how they must teach it,&rdquo; Beck says. &ldquo;Local control is out the window with Common Core.&rdquo;</p><p>In a statement oddly out of sync with the union&rsquo;s typical political thinking, CTU president Karen Lewis said she agrees with &ldquo;educators and parents from across the country, the Common Core mandate represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy.&rdquo;</p><p>Gunderson agreed it was an unusual argument for the union to make.</p><p>&quot;It is odd that we have a convergent interest with libertarians right now. We do not align with them but we know that there should be local and professional, independent control of what happens inside our classrooms.&quot;</p><p>Mary Fergus, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education, <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/27301978-418/chicago-teachers-union-votes-to-oppose-common-core-standards.html#.U2skwFfN6M4" target="_blank">told the <em>Sun-Times</em></a>, &ldquo;these are really standards that not only ensure that students understand the concepts but can apply them to everyday life and to their careers and in the workforce.&quot; Fergus also told the newspaper, &ldquo;Anyone who reads the standards knows they really raise the bar for student learning.&rdquo;</p><p>Freeda Pirillis, a first-grade teacher at Agassiz Elementary, said she was shocked to hear that union delegates had voted to oppose the Common Core. She&#39;s been part of a union effort to develop exemplary Common Core lessons. Most of those lessons are being field tested this year, including one she came up with to teach primary-grade students to read informational texts.</p><p>&quot;As a whole class we read lots and lots of books about frogs. I was modeling for my students how to pick apart a text, how to do research.&quot;&nbsp; At the same time, her students investigated an animal of their choice and made their own books.</p><p>&quot;They loved it,&quot; says Pirillis. &quot;I think for the first time they called themselves &#39;researchers&#39; and said, &#39;I love doing research!&#39;&quot; Pirillis says with the proper support, even six- and seven-year-olds can make progress toward standards, which she calls &quot;end goals.&quot; She says expecting mastery of the standards is where they may fall short.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith contributed to this story.</em></p><p><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 08 May 2014 05:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/chicago-teachers-union-votes-oppose-common-core-110152 Chicago Teachers Union: New taxes to fix pensions--but not higher property taxes http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-new-taxes-fix-pensions-not-higher-property-taxes-110120 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/karen lewis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union is rolling out a plan they say will help solve the teachers pension crisis. CTU leaders say their proposals would raise much-needed money for the cash-strapped retirement fund that covers the city&#39;s educators. The fund is just under 50 percent funded.</p><p>Speaking to WBEZ Thursday, CTU head Karen Lewis said cutting benefits for retired schoolteachers is &quot;unconscionable,&quot; and that cannot be the answer to pension woes. Instead, she said, the union is suggesting ways to raise more revenue. A Chicago Public Schools spokesman called those ideas &quot;not a responsible solution.&quot; &nbsp;</p><p>CTU wants the city and state to adopt three proposals that it says could bring in billions of dollars that could be devoted toward retirement accounts:</p><ul><li>A so-called<strong> &ldquo;LaSalle Street Tax&rdquo;</strong> would impose new taxes on financial transactions at the CME Group and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. The Chicago Teachers Union wants a dollar tax on the trading of agriculture futures and two dollars on other derivatives. In addition to raising money, CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said the tax could help curb high-frequency trading, which has come under fire lately. &ldquo;Derivative trading is a problem at its current level,&rdquo; Sharkey said. &ldquo;These are trades that don&rsquo;t produce value. These are not long-term investments of the kind your grandmother might have in her stock portfolio.&rdquo; Sharkey estimates the new tax could bring in $10-$12 billion a year.</li><li>A <strong>commuter tax</strong> on those who work in Chicago but live outside the city. Sharkey suggested the tax could be administered through the payrolls of companies in Chicago with employees who live outside the city. Sharkey said an alternative way to implement the tax would be as a regional income tax surcharge affecting cities surrounding Chicago. He said the cash generated from this plan could be shared between Chicago and the communities affected. Sharkey did not have an estimate for how much money this tax could generate.</li><li>A delay on the expiration of some <strong>tax increment financing (TIF) districts</strong>. TIF districts are special zones of the city that divert tax money into economic development projects. Critics, including those in the Chicago Teachers Union, have ridiculed the mayor&rsquo;s use of TIF districts, saying they amount to personal slush funds. &ldquo;You could take a lot of bad debt off the books by making a bond that would put the school system in better shape financially by using TIF money that would actually help serve the intended purposes of the taxation authority the schools have,&rdquo; Sharkey said. The teachers union estimates more than a billion dollars in bonds could be generated from this idea</li></ul><p>The Chicago Teachers Union said Chicago should inject $5 billion into the pension fund immediately by floating municipal or pension obligation bonds. The new &quot;LaSalle Street&quot; tax, commuter tax, and TIF revenues would then go to pay off those bonds. The refinancing scheme would save $3 billion by 2059, said a consultant for the union. Sharkey says the money from the TIF districts could be used to pay off bonds, which would be used to pay down the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund&rsquo;s $9 billion in unfunded liabilities.The union also opposed any more property tax increases to help fund the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.</p><p>Last year, Illinois lawmakers approved legislation that would cut teacher pension benefits as a way to help reduce the state&rsquo;s $100 billion pension obligation. The legislation is the subject of a lawsuit filed by unions representing state workers.</p><p>Now, lawmakers have turned their attention toward Chicago city workers. Last month, they passed a bill changing the pension benefits of city municipal and laborers. That legislation still needs the approval of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who hasn&rsquo;t said whether he&rsquo;ll sign the bill or not.</p><p>Lewis said she&rsquo;d oppose a similar pension plan that would affect teachers, if one were to be proposed.</p><p>&ldquo;If we&rsquo;re talking about benefit changes without some sort of revenue, then we are just basically cutting our own throats and we will not do that at this moment,&rdquo; Lewis said.</p><p>Gov. Quinn&rsquo;s hesitance to sign the legislation affecting the retirements of city laborers and municipal workers comes in part from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has said he&rsquo;d pay for those pension bills by increasing property taxes in the city.</p><p>Lewis made a point to say the teachers pension fund&rsquo;s financial problems stem from the Chicago Board of Education&rsquo;s refusal to put money into the system for years, not from exorbitant benefits for teachers. She said she&rsquo;s not convinced raising retirement ages, increasing employee contributions to the retirement fund or reducing cost of living adjustments would fix the hole in the pension fund.</p><p>&ldquo;We are concerned that they&rsquo;re not done,&rdquo; Lewis said. &ldquo;If we continue to give, give, give and make huge concessions, when does it all end? Til when we have no pensions?&rdquo;</p><p>Meantime, a Chicago Public Schools spokesman dismissed the union&#39;s proposals.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re glad that CTU is putting forth ideas on how to solve our pension crisis, but borrowing $5 billion and raising taxes by a record amount to prop up the pension fund is not a responsible solution,&quot; said CPS spokesman Joel Hood. &quot;Any conversation about pension reform must start with legislative action in Springfield, moving toward reforms similar to those which now apply to 80 percent of teachers in Illinois.&quot; &nbsp;</p><p><em>WBEZ&#39;s Linda Lutton and Alex Keefe contributed to this story.</em></p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-4a3f3ef8-b99a-c33a-1cd4-5c280d4472d9"><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Linda Lutton covers education for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezeducation">@wbezeducation</a>.</em></p><p><em>Alex Keefe covers politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/akeefe">@akeefe</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 01 May 2014 16:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-new-taxes-fix-pensions-not-higher-property-taxes-110120