WBEZ | chicago teachers union http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-teachers-union Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Noble maps out massive charter school expansion, feds support it http://www.wbez.org/news/noble-maps-out-massive-charter-school-expansion-feds-support-it-113392 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/noble-poster-charter-expansion.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Despite a financial crisis in Chicago Public Schools and increasingly organized opposition to the prospect of more charter schools, Chicago&rsquo;s largest charter network has plans for a massive expansion in the city, according to <a href="http://www2.ed.gov/programs/charter-rehqcs/2015/noblenarr.pdf">a successful grant application</a> it submitted to the federal government.</p><p>The Noble Network of Charter Schools, which already runs 16 schools and educates 10 percent of all city high school students, plans to open eight more high schools in Chicago in the next five years. Noble forecasts educating 6,000 more students for a total &ldquo;market share&rdquo; of 15 percent of Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; high school population.</p><p>By 2020, the charter network projects its total revenues from CPS and the state will climb above $200 million annually for the education of 17,675 high school students.</p><p>&ldquo;We continue to experience demand for additional Noble seats from the families we already serve, and the families that want us to come into our communities,&rdquo; says Sara Kandler, development director at Noble. &ldquo;We hear from them about the impact that Noble has made on their children, their nieces and nephews, their neighbors&mdash;and we have new families coming to us regularly saying, &lsquo;I want a Noble option, or I want a Noble option closer to home.&rsquo; And so that&rsquo;s what drives our continued vision for expansion,&rdquo; says Kandler.</p><p>The U.S. Department of Education is supporting the expansion through an $8.4 million &ldquo;Replication and Expansion&rdquo; grant <a href="http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-contributes-improving-charter-schools-sector">awarded </a>at the end of last month. Noble was one of just 12 charter networks in the country selected to receive the grant.</p><p>Noble&rsquo;s application, submitted in mid-July, &nbsp;calls for the network to grow at the rate of two campuses per year &mdash; and includes specific locations for the first three campuses as well as &ldquo;naming donors&rdquo; &mdash; wealthy individuals who agree to bankroll the start-up of a campus until students arrive and sustained public funding kicks in. The budget section of the application outlines plans for the next nine campuses:</p><ul><li><strong>&ldquo;Campus 17 - Mansueto&rdquo;</strong> <a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/joe-mansueto/">Joe Mansueto</a> is CEO of Morningstar. This campus, the only one in the federal application currently being considered by CPS, could open at 47th and California in Fall 2016 if Chicago&rsquo;s Board of Education approves it later this month.</li><li><strong>&ldquo;Campus 18 - Lavin (Bernick) at St. Jerome&rdquo;</strong> The Carol Lavin Bernick Family Foundation has been a <a href="http://www.noblenetwork.org/sites/default/files/images/Noble_2010AR_FINAL.V2.pdf">donor </a>to Noble in the past. In June, Noble announced that the charter school network was <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20150608/rogers-park/noble-charter-schools-nix-rogers-park-expansion-after-public-backlash">nixing a plan to locate in Rogers Park</a>, possibly at St. Jerome.</li><li><strong>&ldquo;Campus 19 - Lutz at St. Turibius&rdquo;</strong> St. Turibius school, located &nbsp;at 57<sup>th</sup> and Karlov near Midway Airport, closed in June. The Michael And Karyn Lutz Family Foundation has <a href="http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2013/270/935/2013-270935543-0aa26de2-F.pdf">donated</a> to Noble in the past.</li><li><strong>Campus 20-25</strong> No specific locations are mentioned for these campuses. Noble&rsquo;s budget forecasts some being located in leased facilities and others in CPS facilities.</li></ul><p>Noble staff and representatives say locations listed in the grant are &ldquo;not up-to-date,&rdquo; but they would not say the locations are completely off the table through 2020. Noble would not confirm the identities of the &ldquo;naming donors&rdquo; associated with each campus, saying that talks with donors are ongoing. In the grant application, Noble credits &ldquo;deep networks of high-wealth individuals&rdquo; for its growth to this point. It says it already has names for four campuses.</p><p>Noble schools post high ACT scores (though WBEZ has shown<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/neighborhood-sort-w-intro-outro"> they also start with far more high-performing students</a> than neighborhood schools). Noble was recently named the <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/noble-network-named-top-public-charter-school-system-in-america-as-winner-of-2015-broad-prize-for-public-charter-schools-receives-250000-award-300102273.html">best charter network in America</a>.</p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel both wrote letters in support of the federal grant, on official letterhead.</p><p>Noble says it will use the grant to purchase things like new technology and furniture at two current and eight &nbsp;future campuses: lab tables, lockers, laptops. They will also purchase &ldquo;enrichment supplies&rdquo;&mdash;things like weight room equipment and musical instruments.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Teachers union: Noble grant is a &ldquo;mortal attack&rdquo; on struggling schools</span></p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union&rsquo;s assessment of the federal grant for Noble expansion: &ldquo;I think it amounts to [U.S. Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan putting out a hit on neighborhood high schools,&rdquo; says union vice-president Jesse Sharkey, who says the grant is a &ldquo;mortal attack on a number of public schools.&rdquo;</p><p>Sharkey says the traditional public school sector is &ldquo;starved for dollars. Our neighborhood schools have a hard time just delivering a basic education program. But at the same time there&rsquo;s federal dollars and private dollars mixing together to privatize schools.&rdquo;</p><p>Several Chicago high schools this year have freshmen classes of just 20, 25, or 30 kids &mdash; that&rsquo;s the entire freshman class. There are more than two dozen district-run high schools &mdash; including <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/charter-schools-looking-to-expand">neighborhood high schools Fenger, Harper, Hirsch, Manley, Richards, Robeson, and Tilden &mdash; with fewer than 400 students total</a>. A half dozen high schools have fewer than 200 students.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834">under-enrollment problems </a>have ballooned as the city has continued to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/100th-school-renaissance-2010-brings-out-hopes-criticism">open new high schools</a> &mdash; part of its school improvement efforts &mdash; even though high school enrollment has been essentially flat. Since 2004, the population of high school students has grown less than 2 percent, while the number of high schools has grown 58 percent &mdash; and that&rsquo;s not including dozens of alternative schools the city has added.</p><p>Sharkey predicts more school closures will be a &ldquo;natural consequence&rdquo; of the Noble grant.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like we&rsquo;re going on a privatization bender in our schools,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And we&rsquo;re gonna wake up in the gutter and discover that we have sold off the assets of our public education system, and our schools are being run by private operators that don&rsquo;t have our values.&rdquo;</p><p>The teachers union, which has been a consistent political foe to Mayor Emanuel, stands to lose thousands more members &mdash; and power &mdash; if Noble&rsquo;s schools do open, pulling kids away from schools with unionized teachers toward the non-union Nobles.</p><p>Patrick Brosnan, the executive director of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, wants to know why a private entity gets to decide it&rsquo;s opening more taxpayer-funded schools.</p><p>Who says we need more high schools? he asks. Brosnan&rsquo;s group has opposed the new Noble campus proposed for 47th and California for fear it will mean fewer students and thus less funding at nearby Kelly High School, which has seen its population cut by one-third and its budget slashed by $4 million in recent years, as five new schools have opened nearby.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s basically up for grabs. They get to make these decisions and make these plans, and there&rsquo;s really no public discussion about this,&rdquo; says Brosnan. &ldquo;I mean, there would be a tremendous impact on existing schools.&rdquo;</p><p>This is Noble&rsquo;s second federal charter school expansion grant. Sara Kandler at Noble says the last grant helped Noble open six campuses.</p><p>&ldquo;Ultimately it would be unwise for Noble to not take advantage of this grant opportunity and directly bring a significant amount of cash and investments to the Chicago Public School system to affect and hopefully improve the education for thousands of students,&rdquo; Kandler says.</p><p>Kandler says the network has had a growth mindset for at least a decade: &ldquo;This grant...can really help us start on that next phase.&rdquo; Noble&rsquo;s founder and superintendent Michael Milkie told WBEZ in 2011 that he could imagine Noble Street running &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/renaissance-2010-more-success-high-schools">20, 30, 40 high schools</a>&hellip;.I foresee a day where&mdash;I hope&mdash;where a majority of the students are educated in either Noble campuses or campuses like that at the high school level.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s Board of Education will still have to approve the eight new schools Noble wants to open. And the hurdles to that have never been higher. The district is in a financial crisis. Forty-two aldermen have called for a freeze on charter schools. North side communities <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20150608/rogers-park/noble-charter-schools-nix-rogers-park-expansion-after-public-backlash">shut down plans</a> for new Noble campuses this summer.</p><p>But the network has the mayor and the governor on its side, along with tens of millions of dollars in projected philanthropic donations. Plus, Noble says, thousands of kids who want the sort of education the charter school offers.</p><p><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a>.</p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 08:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/noble-maps-out-massive-charter-school-expansion-feds-support-it-113392 Ex-Chicago Public Schools leader charged with corruption http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-chicago-public-schools-leader-charged-corruption-113246 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Barbara%20Byrd-Bennett%20003%20By%20Bill%20Healy.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 610px;" title="Barbara Byrd-Bennet. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p><em>Updated Oct. 9, 8:12 a.m.</em></p><p>The former head of Chicago Public Schools is facing federal corruption charges for her alleged role in a kickback scheme involving millions of taxpayer dollars.</p><p>The Department of Justice <a href="http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndil/file/782216/download">alleges</a> Barbara Byrd-Bennett, 66, steered $23 million worth of no-bid contracts to her former employer, the SUPES Academy, and a subsidiary company, called Synesi Associates.</p><p>The indictment outlines a secret scheme in which the co-owners of SUPES and Synesi &mdash; Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas &mdash; promised to funnel money into accounts set up under the names of two of Byrd-Bennett&rsquo;s relatives.</p><p>&ldquo;They entered a scheme to secretly profit from the schools,&rdquo; said U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon.</p><blockquote><p><a href="#document"><strong>DOCUMENT: Read the full indictment&nbsp;</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>The alleged scheme also included an agreement that Byrd-Bennett would get part of the money from the CPS contracts in the form of a &lsquo;signing bonus&rsquo; when she left the district&rsquo;s top job and returned to SUPES.</p><p>&ldquo;If you only join for the day, you will be the highest paid person on the planet for that day,&rdquo; Solomon wrote to Byrd-Bennett. &ldquo;Regardless, it will be paid out on day one.&rdquo;</p><p>Solomon, 47, and Vranas, 34 are also charged with multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, as well as bribery and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Byrd-Bennett is charged with multiple counts of mail and wire fraud.</p><p>The alleged scheme dates back to before Byrd-Bennett took over the helm of the nation&rsquo;s third largest school district in late 2012. Records obtained by the U.S. Department of Justice detail how Solomon and Byrd-Bennett conspired to get SUPES business with the district.</p><p>&ldquo;When this stint at CPS is done and you are ready to &hellip; retire, we have your spot waiting for you,&rdquo; Solomon wrote to Byrd-Bennett in 2012. &ldquo;In the meantime, if we can figure a way to do deep principals (professional development) at CPS, I can find a good home for [friends of Byrd-Bennett&rsquo;s] and others, and make sure principals in CPS get kick ass training with kick ass teachers and kick ass coaching.&rdquo;</p><p>The first two contracts between SUPES and CPS were awarded in 2011 and 2012 under a leadership training initiative, called the Chicago Executive Leadership Academy.</p><p>That initiative was initially funded by the Chicago Public Education Fund, a politically connected venture fund started by top civic and corporate leaders. The Fund&rsquo;s board has included many top political leaders, including Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who also served on the Chicago Board of Education before her appointment to the president&rsquo;s cabinet. The Fund decided not to renew funding for that initiative in 2012.</p><p>In June 2013, amid millions in school budget cuts and one month after the district decided to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-board-votes-close-50-schools-107294">close 50 public schools</a>, the Chicago Board of Education voted to approve a $20.5 million no-bid contract to SUPES for principal training. There were no questions and no discussion before the unanimous vote. One board member, Carlos Azcoitia, was absent.</p><p>Shortly after, <em>Catalyst Chicago</em> raised <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2013/07/20-million-no-bid-contract-raises-questions-about-supes-academy/">questions</a> about the no-bid nature of the contract and reported on the principal training provided by SUPES. Principals interviewed by <em>Catalyst</em> said the sessions were too basic and led by people who knew little about Chicago. Six months later, the CPS Inspector General <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2013/12/supes-academy-contract-under-scrutiny-inspector-general/">opened an investigation</a>.</p><p>Multiple CPS Board members repeatedly defended their votes on the contract until this year, when the U.S. Department of Justice subpoenaed the district, seeking interviews with people who worked with the ex-CEO and records related to SUPES and Synesi Associates.</p><p>After taking a two-month leave of absence amid the scrutiny, Byrd-Bennett <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-schools-chief-resigns-amid-federal-probe-112114">resigned from the top job</a> at CPS in June.</p><p>The corruption scandal comes as the district continues to face a $500 million budget hole that could force more layoffs by Thanksgiving. Current CPS CEO Forrest Claypool <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-board-education-passes-budget-banks-imaginary-money-112740">wants state lawmakers to come through with a bailout</a>.</p><p>Claypool tried to distance himself from the scandal at a conference of suburban and downstate school districts this afternoon.</p><p>&ldquo;This is in the past,&rdquo; Claypool said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not reflective of our administration. It&rsquo;s not reflective of the current leadership.&rdquo;</p><p>Claypool, who has been on the job since mid-July, said the district has fully cooperated with federal investigators, and has instituted &ldquo;controls.&rdquo;</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel also distanced himself &mdash; both physically and figuratively &mdash; from the controversy by having his office issue an emailed statement while he talked about public-private partnerships at a conference in Washington D.C.</p><p>&ldquo;I am saddened and disappointed to learn about the criminal activity that led to today&#39;s indictment of Barbara Byrd-Bennett,&rdquo; the statement read. &ldquo;Our students, parents, teachers and principals deserve better.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her </em><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p><h3><strong><a name="document"></a>Read the indictment</strong></h3><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.7729220222793488" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="800" id="doc_39642" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/284088055/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-C9KRlEQTJ9HQWAEtPcxU&amp;show_recommendations=false" width="600"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 12:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-chicago-public-schools-leader-charged-corruption-113246 Teachers head into school year without a contract http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/teachers-head-school-year-without-contract-112857 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/linda lutton.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tuesday morning, many Chicago teachers were assigning cubby holes and passing out textbooks, going over syllabi and leading kids in the pledge of allegiance. WBEZ education reporter Linda Lutton visited to three Chicago schools Friday and talked to teachers to get a sense of their ambitions, concerns, and hopes. Then, for more on what teachers are facing this school year, we turned to Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union.</p></p> Tue, 08 Sep 2015 12:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/teachers-head-school-year-without-contract-112857 Chicago Teachers Union president responds to pension shortfall http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-12/chicago-teachers-union-president-responds-pension-shortfall-112632 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/karen lewis becky vevea.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, responds to the comments made by Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool.</p></p> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 11:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-12/chicago-teachers-union-president-responds-pension-shortfall-112632 CTU president Karen Lewis calls potential pension payment increase 'strike-worthy' http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-president-karen-lewis-calls-potential-pension-payment-increase-strike-worthy-112598 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/IMG_5569_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-9eb84d3e-0a32-ff51-29b2-baa4734a89e3">Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is sounding the alarm: Ongoing contract negotiations with Chicago Public Schools, and says the notion that teachers should pay more into Chicago&rsquo;s severely underfunded teachers pension fund is &ldquo;strike-worthy.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Union representatives told reporters Friday that public school teachers would likely start the school year without a contract. Their latest contract expired on June 30th, and CTU and the school district began negotiating a new one last November.</p><p dir="ltr">But now, Lewis says CPS is withdrawing its proposal for a one-year collective bargaining agreement, which in her words &ldquo;resets the clock&rdquo; on those discussions.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They could have been the heroes in this. But instead, Sheriff Claypool has decided just blow things up and show us just how tough he can be,&rdquo; Lewis said, referring to the newly-appointed CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.</p><p dir="ltr">Both Claypool and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have said teachers should pay more into the severely underfunded Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. As part of the mayor&rsquo;s so-called &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-emanuel-warn-deep-cuts-layoffs-school-district-112301">grand bargain</a>&rdquo; regarding the pension crisis, Emanuel wants teachers to pay the full 9 percent cost of pensions, rather than the 2 percent they currently contribute. On Friday, Lewis said she considers that proposal &ldquo;strike worthy.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Whether or not a flip-flop or breach of trust will lead to a work stoppage this school year will be decided by our members at the appropriate time,&rdquo; she said. Technically, there are a few legal and bureaucratic hoops the union would have to jump through in order to officially walk out of the classroom; so if they did vote to strike, union members suggested that likely wouldn&rsquo;t happen until winter.</p><p dir="ltr">In a statement, a CPS spokesperson said that the district &ldquo;remains dedicated to reaching a multi-year agreement with our teachers&rdquo; and, &ldquo;will continue to negotiate in good faith at the bargaining table to reach an agreement on a broader and longer contract that is beneficial for our children, their teachers, the taxpayers and the entire system.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The two sides are expected to meet again next week.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ politics reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 07 Aug 2015 16:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-president-karen-lewis-calls-potential-pension-payment-increase-strike-worthy-112598 Chicago Teachers Union unhappy with Claypool's appointment to head of CPS http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-17/chicago-teachers-union-unhappy-claypools-appointment-head-cps <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/classroom Bryan McDonald.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/215157800&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Chicago Public Schools has a new top dog. Forrest Claypool is a longtime city official. He ran the Parks District in the 1990s, oversaw the CTA during Mayor Emanuel&#39;s first term, and in April, became the mayor&#39;s latest chief of staff. Now Claypool will take on what he calls the biggest challenge of his career &mdash; running the schools during a time of serious financial hardship. The district faces a $1.1 billion budget gap. So, what do teachers think about the changes at the top? We speak with Jesse Sharkey, Vice President of the Chicago Teachers Union.</span></p></p> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 12:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-17/chicago-teachers-union-unhappy-claypools-appointment-head-cps Contract talks break down between Chicago teachers and city http://www.wbez.org/news/contract-talks-break-down-between-chicago-teachers-and-city-112257 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/IMG_2459.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Contract talks between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Board of Education ended Thursday with no agreement in sight, union officials say.</p><p>CTU President Karen Lewis said the union&rsquo;s latest proposal was cost neutral&mdash;no annual raises, no cost-of-living increases&mdash;but did ask the Board to continue picking up 7 percent of the 9 percent employee pension contribution.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re very clear that they have a serious fiscal issue,&rdquo; Lewis told reporters. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re willing to work within that.&rdquo;</p><p>Lewis said the proposal would&rsquo;ve been a one-year deal that would have eliminated some paperwork and excessive standardized tests.</p><p>But the Board apparently didn&rsquo;t bite.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement that he&rsquo;s encouraged &ldquo;both sides finally acknowledge that CPS is in a fiscal crisis and lacks the resources to provide additional compensation.&rdquo;</p><p>He urged CTU leadership to come back to the bargaining table.</p><p>According to the union&rsquo;s lawyer, Robert Bloch, there are no bargaining meetings scheduled.</p><p>CPS officials could not be immediately reached to comment on the latest proposals, but the district has so far not commented on the most recent round of negotiations.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The current teachers&rsquo; contract is set to expire next Tuesday.</p></p> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 17:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/contract-talks-break-down-between-chicago-teachers-and-city-112257 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