WBEZ | chicago teachers union http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-teachers-union Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 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