WBEZ | CTU http://www.wbez.org/tags/ctu Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en CTU, parents file lawsuit against school closures http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-parents-file-lawsuit-against-school-closures-107419 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/lewis_healy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union filed a third lawsuit to stop schools from being closed this year.</p><p>The most recent suit, filed Wednesday morning, seeks to permanently halt the planned closure of ten schools included in the 50 approved by the Board of Education last week. It&#39;s the largest round of school closings in American history.&nbsp;</p><p>For those ten grammar schools&mdash;Buckingham, Calhoun North, Delano, King, Mayo, Morgan, Overton, Stewart, Stockton, and Williams&mdash;former judges ruled that CPS was not complying with its own guidelines for shutting down schools.</p><p>But the school board approved the closings anyway, a move the lawsuit alleges violates <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&amp;SessionId=84&amp;GA=97&amp;DocTypeId=SB&amp;DocNum=630&amp;GAID=11&amp;LegID=&amp;SpecSess=&amp;Session=" target="_blank">state law</a>. That law requires CPS to create guidelines for school closings and then requires independent hearing officers to evaluate whether district officials followed them. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re the ones that wrote your own procedures and rules. You&rsquo;re the ones that wrote the guidelines,&rdquo; said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. &ldquo;And now you&rsquo;ve broken every single one of your own rules and the procedures that you agreed to and you&rsquo;re not even following the recommendations of those retired judges.&rdquo;</p><p>Sharkey said the district broke the law and should be held accountable.</p><p>Robert Bloch, CTU general counsel, said the judges&rsquo; rulings should be the final word. He pointed to where the law says if CPS did not follow the guidelines, &ldquo;the proposed school action shall not be approved by the Board during the school year in which the school action was proposed.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll issued a statement that said &ldquo;union leadership remains committed to a status quo that is failing too many children trapped in underutilized, under-resourced schools.&rdquo;</p><p>The lawsuit names 10 parents as well. LaKecha Green is one of them. She has three children, two who attend King Elementary and one who is still too young for school.</p><p>Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Green fought back tears describing how far her children will have to walk to receiving school Jensen.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to have a very cold heart to say they&rsquo;re doing this so they&rsquo;ll have a better education, but if you can&rsquo;t get to the education, what good is it?&rdquo; Green said.</p><p>CPS has said it will provide busing to Jensen for current King students, but Green is still concerned.</p><p>Retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge Bernetta Bush did rule that the transition plan for King students did not &ldquo;adequately address academic and safety concerns&rdquo; and did not comply with the districts closure guidelines. District officials revised King&rsquo;s transition plan after Bush&rsquo;s ruling and before the Board vote.</p><p>After the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/independent-hearing-officers-oppose-14-cps-proposals-close-shake-schools-107066" target="_blank">hearing officers&rsquo; reports came out</a>, CPS&rsquo;s law department immediately posted responses to the district website. At the time, Carroll said the former judges were overstepping their role &ldquo;by opining or creating or adding their own opinion.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not clear what role or significance the district&rsquo;s responses and revisions will play in court.</p><p>Just before the Board of Education&rsquo;s vote last week, the union&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/teachers-union-helps-parents-file-lawsuits-stop-school-closings-107195" target="_blank">filed a pair of lawsuits in federal court</a>&nbsp;alleging that the proposed closings violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Illinois Civil Rights Act.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p><p><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/144501009/CTU-complaint-to-halt-10-of-50-school-closings" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View CTU complaint to halt 10 of 50 school closings on Scribd">CTU complaint to halt 10 of 50 school closings</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_57303" scrolling="no" src="http://www.scribd.com/embeds/144501009/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 29 May 2013 14:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-parents-file-lawsuit-against-school-closures-107419 Morning Shift: The votes are in, schools are closing. So what's next? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-05-23/morning-shift-votes-are-schools-are-closing-so-whats <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cps_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union and others will weigh in on the CPS School Board&#39;s decision to close the vast majority of schools on their list. Plus musicians that have moved on, and more, on The Morning Shift.</p><p><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-morning-shift-the-votes-are-in-the-schools-are" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The votes are in, the schools are closing. So what's next?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 09:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-05-23/morning-shift-votes-are-schools-are-closing-so-whats Chicago Teachers Union vows to make school closings political http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-vows-make-school-closings-political-106661 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS6345_AP765841686009-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Angry over school <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202" target="_blank">a proposal</a> that would close down an unprecedented number of schools, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis Monday vowed to launch a &ldquo;comprehensive and aggressive political action campaign&rdquo; with the ultimate goal of defeating Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other local elected officials supportive of school closings.<br /><br />&ldquo;If the mayor and his hand-picked corporate school board will not listen to us, we must find those who will,&rdquo; Lewis said.<br /><br />Lewis said union members would continue to oppose the closings through hearings and protests &ldquo;until the board rubber stamps this plan on May 22, and on May 23 we&rsquo;re going right back in the streets.&rdquo;<br /><br />The union says it wants to put a minimum of 100,000 new voters on Chicago&rsquo;s rolls. Lewis says union organizers will go door to door in neighborhoods where schools are closing and where teachers are losing jobs &ldquo;due to this administration.&rdquo;<br /><br />The union also plans to increase donations to its political action committee and vet potential candidates.<br /><br />Lewis called the dozens of public hearings being held by the district&nbsp; &ldquo;most likely sham events&rdquo; and said they&rsquo;re &ldquo;designed to provide therapy to people impacted by their decisions.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;<br />The union released an analysis today &mdash; Lewis referred to it as an &ldquo;autopsy&rdquo; &mdash; of Guggenheim Elementary, which was closed last year.<br /><br />The union says Guggenheim was neglected, with overcrowded classrooms and just two working computers in the library. Advocates say once the proposal to shut down the school was announced, the principal improperly tried to push homeless children to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/parents-school-slated-closure-tried-move-students-out" target="_blank">transfer</a>. Once Guggenheim was closed, only 37 percent of students went to the designated CPS receiving school. Catalyst-Chicago has <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/2013/04/03/20943/losing-track" target="_blank">reported</a> that CPS has lost track of 23 Guggenheim kids, and cannot say where they ended up.</p><p>The union says other schools live in fear of being shut down. It says the district had trouble closing four schools last year, now it&rsquo;s trying to close 54.<br /><br />Chicago Public Schools spokesman Dave Miranda says the district is taking a new approach this year.</p><p>&ldquo;Unlike in the past, CPS will work aggressively and proactively to reach parents at all sending schools to encourage them to enroll their children in their dedicated higher-performing welcoming schools,&quot; he said. &quot;We want to ensure that students can benefit from the additional investments that will be made in welcoming schools for the fall.&rdquo;<br /><br />A spokeswoman for the mayor said this is &quot;simply not the time for politics.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Barbara Byrd-Bennett has proposed a plan for Chicago Public Schools, with Mayor Emanuel&#39;s support, that finally puts our children first,&quot; the spokeswoman said.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Linda Lutton is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-vows-make-school-closings-political-106661 Crowds descend on downtown Chicago to protest school closings, 127 ticketed http://www.wbez.org/news/crowds-descend-downtown-chicago-protest-school-closings-127-ticketed-106311 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/8596861162_a734e7f296_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><object height="338" width="601"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2F&amp;set_id=72157633103902875&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2F&amp;set_id=72157633103902875&amp;jump_to=" height="338" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="601"></embed></object></p><p>More than 100 people were cleared away by police at a Wednesday rally protesting Chicago Public Schools&#39;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202">proposal to close 54 schools</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/civil-disobedience-revs-against-school-closings-106353" target="_blank">A group including teacher union officials, parents, janitors, lunch ladies and ministers sat down in front of City Hall. </a>Police asked each individual to leave. When they refused, police led them away.</p><p>The Chicago Police Department says it ticketed 127 people. At the rally, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called the closings a &quot;land grab and a power grab,&quot; and said they were part of an attempt to privatize the school system. For more on the rally, see WBEZ coverage <a href="http://www.wbez.org/civil-disobedience-revs-against-school-closings-106353" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wednesday stood by the district&#39;s decision to close schools, saying <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-addresses-race-chicago-school-closure-plan-106325" target="_blank">the status quo is not working</a>.</p><p>Prior to the protest, the CTU had been training parents, teachers and community organizations in civil disobedience and had said it planned for 150 people to be arrested . &nbsp;A <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/441102002634744/">Facebook </a>announcement for the rally warned, &ldquo;They want to shut down our schools, we&rsquo;ll shut down the city.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago&rsquo;s pubic schools are out for spring break this week, leaving students and teachers free to join in the rush-hour rally, organized by the teachers union and a coalition of other unions and community groups.&nbsp; Chicago Public Schools erected barricades Monday outside its headquarters in preparation. &nbsp;A spokeswoman said that&rsquo;s common practice in situations where the district gets advance word of a protest.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools is also <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/leaked-memo-tells-principals-keep-eye-school-closings-protesters-106301">preparing principals for acts of civil disobedience</a> at their schools, though not necessarily today. A memo sent to principals at closing schools lists lockdowns, walk-outs, sit-ins and &ldquo;Occupy&rdquo; actions as possibilities. It outlines &ldquo;overall guidelines for the prevention of civil disobedience&rdquo; and suggests principals &ldquo;be approachable and supportive to feelings of unrest, anxiety, or dissatisfaction.&rdquo; It also instructs principals to &ldquo;observe and report all information regarding possible protestors, locations, dates and times,&rdquo; and to note which community organizations or news organizations are present.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202">In addition to closing 53 elementary schools</a> and one small high school, the district wants to completely re-staff six additional elementary schools. It is also proposing 23 schools share 11 buildings beginning next fall; some of those are new schools that will just be opening.</p><p dir="ltr">The district says closing the 54 schools will offer students a better education because it will allow scarce resources to be spread across fewer schools. Many of the schools slated for closure have fewer than 300 students. For the first time in more than a decade of school closings, CPS is saying it will put significant money into receiving schools, promising students air conditioning, libraries with new books, &ldquo;learning gardens&rdquo; and iPads, along with social workers and counselors to help students adjust.</p><p dir="ltr">The teachers union has said it wants no schools closed, and parents at the individual schools slated for consolidation have brought up their own concerns, from longer walks to school in winter weather to fear for their children crossing into rival gang territory.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this month in Philadelphia, 19 activists were arrested at a meeting where the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to close 23 schools; the head of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, was among those arrested. The Chicago Teachers Union says Weingarten, who appeared at rallies here during the teachers strike in September, is not expected to be in Chicago today.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Linda Lutton is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 11:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/crowds-descend-downtown-chicago-protest-school-closings-127-ticketed-106311 Emanuel: CPS school closures 'not taken lightly,' but must be done http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-cps-school-closures-not-taken-lightly-must-be-done-106253 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS5608_AP120518043860-scr_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Saturday the decision to launch the largest single round of school closures in American history was &ldquo;not taken lightly&rdquo; but had to be done, and he dismissed claims the closures are racially motivated as &ldquo;schoolyard taunts.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel made his first public comments about the city&rsquo;s school closure plan Saturday afternoon. Chicago Public Schools officially released a list of 54 schools slated for closure on Thursday, when the mayor was out of town on a family ski trip.</p><p>In his absence, news of CPS&rsquo; plan to shutter a record number of public schools by next year has drawn threats of civil unrest from the Chicago Teachers Union and outcry from many parents concerned about their kids having to cross busy streets or navigate new gang territories to get to class.</p><p>&ldquo;This is very difficult, a lot of anguish, and I understand that and I appreciate it,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;But the anguish and the pain that comes &hellip; from making the change is less, or minimal, in my view, or pales compared to the anguish that comes by trapping children in schools that are not succeeding.&rdquo;</p><p>All told, 128 Chicago Public Schools face complete closure or other actions, including consolidation and &ldquo;turnaround,&rdquo; when low-performing schools have their entire staffs fired and new ones brought in. That&rsquo;s four times the number of school shakeups Chicago has ever tried to undertake in a single school year, and the actions disproportionately affect black students.</p><p>According to a WBEZ analysis, 87 percent of schools that are being closed or having their buildings vacated are majority African-American. In total, 80 percent of kids affected by closures and other shakeups are black. About 42 percent of CPS students are African-American.</p><p>On Saturday Emanuel brushed off accusations from the head of the Chicago Teachers Union that the closure policy is racist.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not interested in throwing terms around, or schoolyard taunts,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m interested in making sure that the schools are achieving what they&rsquo;re set up to do: a high-quality education.&rdquo;</p><p>The district has said the shakeups will save about $43 million a year, plus another $560 million in capital costs over the next decade that it won&rsquo;t have to spend fixing dilapidated buildings. But in tandem with the projected savings, district officials are also planning to spend $233 million next year on new air conditioners, iPads, books and libraries for schools that will take in the tens of thousands of displaced students.</p><p>But the closure plan is primarily aimed at getting kids out of schools marked as low-performing or underutilized, not about saving money, Emanuel said.</p><p>&ldquo;[We] did not look at this decision as numbers on a spreadsheet,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We looked at it, and viewed it [as], &lsquo;What do we need to do to make sure that every child has a high-quality education in the city of Chicago?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>The mayor also defended his decision to be on vacation when the controversial school closings were first announced.</p><p>&ldquo;I had a family trip planned. Took it. You are not far, ever, from your office, and I was on the phone and emailing with my office regularly,&rdquo; he said, adding he talked frequently with CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and other staffers.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools is planning to hold more than 150 public community meetings before the school board takes a final vote on its shakeup plan, which could occur at its May 22 meeting.</p></p> Sat, 23 Mar 2013 16:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-cps-school-closures-not-taken-lightly-must-be-done-106253 Chicago proposes closing 53 elementary schools, firing staff at another 6 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/protest-big.jpg" title="Protesters hold a press conference outside Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale's house in Woodlawn. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F84314672&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Chicago Public Schools has announced the long-awaited list of schools it wants to close.&nbsp;</p><p>The district wants to shut down 53 elementary schools&mdash;11 percent of all district-run grammar schools. Officials also plan to close a tiny high school currently connected to a grammar school.&nbsp;</p><p>If approved, this would be the largest single round of school closings ever undertaken in the country, and quadruple the number of school shake-ups Chicago has tried before in a single year.&nbsp;</p><p>The vast majority of the 30,000 impacted students are African American and attend schools on the South or West Sides, or near former public housing developments.</p><p>Another six grammar schools will see their staffs completely dismissed, in an effort to address chronic low performance. They are Barton, Chalmers, Dewey, O&rsquo;Keefe, Carter, and Lewis. The management of those schools will be turned over to the nonprofit Academy for Urban School Leadership, an avowed favorite of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, boosting the group&#39;s total number of schools in Chicago to 31.&nbsp; <strong>See the complete list of closures and other school shake-ups below.</strong></p><p>Some of the proposed closings involve not only closures, but complicated relocations that will feel like closures even for receiving schools. For instance, the district wants to close May and Armstrong schools; their staffs would be laid off. Leland Elementary is named as the receiving school and would take in the May and Armstrong students. But the district is also proposing a relocation for Leland, to the May building. May would legally become &quot;Leland,&quot; and house students from all three schools, headed by the Leland principal and staff. The original Armstrong and Leland buildings would be taken off line.</p><p>Initially, CPS pitched massive school closings as a savings measure in light of a projected $1 billion deficit. Thursday, district officials used other arguments: &quot;Fundamentally this work is about improving the educational opportunities for our students,&quot; said Todd Babbitz, who&#39;s overseeing the closings for the district. &quot;We do as a district today have resources that are spread much, much too thin. We are spending way more on buildings that we believe are unnecessary in our footprint.&quot;</p><p>District officials said they estimate closing the 54 schools will bring a total annual savings of $43 million. That&#39;s in a district with an annual budget around $5 billion. They also estimate the district will save $560 million in &quot;avoided&quot; capital costs over the next decade.</p><p>But the district is following the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/commission-says-chicago-has-capacity-80-school-closings-105946" target="_blank">recommendation </a>of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/independence-independent-schools-commission-questioned-104460" target="_blank">independent </a>School Utilization Commission: &quot;spend the money to do it right.&quot;&nbsp; Chicago Public Schools is <a href="http://www.cps.edu/News/Announcements/Pages/3_20_2013_PR2.aspx" target="_blank">promising big amenities </a>at receiving schools, like air conditioning in every classroom, iPads for all third through eighth graders, libraries for schools that don&#39;t have one, and new books. They&rsquo;re also offering schools money for tutoring and mentors. The district is stepping up efforts to create safe passages to school for kids, and providing <a href="http://www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/3_14_2013_PR1.aspx" target="_blank">additional security </a>once they&rsquo;re there. Total one-year pricetag: $223 million.</p><p>CPS officials also said they plan to add 18 new programs to the receiving schools. They will add a fine and performing arts program to Haley school, four International Baccalaureate programs at Wells, Mollison, Jenner and De Diego, and 13 new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs at Altgeld, Leland, Nicholson, Wadsworth, Ellington, DePriest, Sumner, Hefferan, Earle, L. Hughes, Tilton, Gompers and Laura Ward.</p><p>School closings are being pushed across the country as a cost savings solution, despite studies that show they <a href="http://www.pewtrusts.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=85899433986" target="_blank">tend to save little money</a>.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union is threatening major protests and acts of civil disobedience to oppose the proposed closings, which won&#39;t be final until they&#39;re approved by the school board, expected to vote on May 22. The union says the underutilization crisis is &ldquo;manufactured&rdquo; and is meant to create chaos in the system, opening the door to privatization. Parents and teachers have <a href="http://cpsapples2apples.wordpress.com/author/jeanmari/" target="_blank">challenged the district&rsquo;s calculations </a>of what constitutes &ldquo;underutilization.&rdquo; School officials have not produced any demographic projections, either for the city or the neighborhoods.</p><p>In the affected neighborhoods Thursday, parents were reacting with anger about the uncertainty ahead.</p><p>Denise White walked her first grader to Overton Elementary in Bronzeville Thursday morning, and talked about her anxiety that her school could close.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m upset,&quot; White said. &quot;We live up the street, so if they close the school, I&rsquo;m going to have to send him to live with his dad.&nbsp; And if they close the school...With all the violence? Then what?&nbsp; What do the kids do then?&rdquo;</p><p>A little later in the day, parents and community residents associated with the group Action Now took their protest over school closings to the homes of three members of the CPS Board of Education: Andrea Zopp, School Board President David Vitale, and outgoing board member Penny Pritzker.&nbsp;</p><p>Michelle Young said she&rsquo;d just found out her children&rsquo;s school, May Elementary, on the city&rsquo;s West Side, is on the list to be closed.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to elect a school board so that we can stop the cycle of rich outcomers coming to exploit low-income people like us,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;This is a plan designed to fail, and when you design it to fail, our children will never get educated. They deserve that right!&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>District officials said they avoided assigning students to receiving schools that were more than a mile away from their closing school.&nbsp;</p><p>Despite that, many parents are worried about the distances their kids will have to travel next year.</p><p>In East Garfield Park, a West Side neighborhood, the parents who arrived at John Calhoun North Elementary&rsquo;s dismissal time to bring students home Thursday received a map showing where the district is sending their kids next year: Willa Cather Elementary.</p><p>Cather stands less than six blocks from Calhoun but far enough to raise fears about everything from winter temperatures to the neighborhood&rsquo;s gang boundaries.</p><p>&ldquo;How are they supposed to get back and forth?&rdquo; Ardell Lewis asked, holding the hands of his daughter and grandson, both Calhoun students. &ldquo;You got a lot of things going on around in the street: People snatching kids. So what do I have to do? Buy a car now?&rdquo;</p><p>Kelly Wormley has five kids at Calhoun. They can walk together without her now, but not next year, she said. &ldquo;Especially with me working at 5 o&rsquo;clock in the morning, I&rsquo;ll probably have to get somebody to take them school.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s unless Wormley gets them into a charter school that opened in 2009 &mdash; right across the street from Calhoun.</p><p>Some of the district&rsquo;s fiercest critics, including the Chicago Teachers Union, have charged that Chicago is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ctunet.com/quest-center/research/position-papers/privatization-the-black-white-of-education-in-chicagos-public-schools" target="_blank">creating its own crisis</a>, aggressively opening charter schools at a time when <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/truth-squad-enrollment-down-cps-not-much-104297">enrollment has declined by 30,000</a>.</p><p>CPS has said for months it faces a &ldquo;utilization crisis&rdquo; and has room for more than 100,000 additional students in its current buildings. In December it deemed half of all its schools&mdash;330 total&mdash;under-enrolled, with 140 of them only half full. School officials say closings are a move to &ldquo;right size&rdquo; a shrinking school district and spread resources across fewer schools.</p><p><em>Prior to announcement CPS CEO Barbara Byrd was interviewed on WBEZ&#39;s Afternoon Shift</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F84167002&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;For too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed in the classroom because they are in underutilized, under resourced schools,&rdquo; CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement e-mailed to reporters Wednesday night, after names of schools on the list began to leak out ahead of the planned release.</p><p>Even as it closes schools, the district has a commitment to open&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-05-16/news/ct-met-cps-charter-growth-20120517_1_charter-schools-charter-movement-cps-plans" target="_blank">60 new charter schools in the next five years</a>. On Thursday, CPS also announced 11 &quot;co-locations&quot;--an arrangement where two or more schools share the same building. Five of the schools do not even exist yet.</p><p>Closures have also been pushed as <a href="http://www.crpe.org/portfolio" target="_blank">a reform strategy </a>in urban districts. The idea is to weed out low-performing or under-enrolled schools and seed new ones, often charters. The strategy has netted mixed results in Chicago, where it&rsquo;s been tried for the past dozen years.</p><p><object height="465" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633052894271%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633052894271%2F&amp;set_id=72157633052894271&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633052894271%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633052894271%2F&amp;set_id=72157633052894271&amp;jump_to=" height="465" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></p><p>That&rsquo;s meant a wrenching annual process of closing schools, which parents and the Chicago Teachers Union have fought bitterly.</p><p>Today&rsquo;s list will come<a href="http://wbez-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/WBEZ-Graphics/SchoolChart.html" target="_blank"> on top of more than 100 prior school shakeups and closings&nbsp;</a> since Chicago <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/history-school-closings-chicago-2002-12-104383" target="_blank">began the practice in 2001-02</a>, under then CEO Arne Duncan.</p><p>It also brings a first: Chicago is closing down some of its original &quot;renaissance&quot; new schools. Williams Elementary and Williams Middle emerged from the ashes of one of Chicago&#39;s first &quot;renaissance&quot; school closures (Williams, Terrell and Dodge were the first to be shuttered, amidst mass protests, in 2002). The Dodge Elementary building will also be shuttered; that&#39;s where President Obama announced he&#39;d invited Arne Duncan to be his Secretary of Education.&nbsp; Dodge&#39;s principal, staff, and presumably students will move further west and share a building with Morton.</p><p>The district is also recommending closing a turnaround school. Bethune Elementary, in North Lawndale, saw its entire staff fired in 2009. The school was given an infusion of cash, taken over by the private nonprofit Academy for Urban School Leadership, and re-staffed. Now Bethune is slated to close.</p><p><em>&mdash;Natalie Moore, Chip Mitchell and Judith Ruiz-Branch contributed reporting.<br />Elliott Ramos produced graphics, maps and illustrations.</em></p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">For more updates on school closings, follow education reporters Becky Vevea and Linda Lutton&nbsp;on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><font color="#006896" face="inherit"><span style="font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Twitter</span></font>.</a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F84333172&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SUB.jpg" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:10px;"><i>Update: The above graphic&nbsp;erroneously displayed a neighboring library for Delano, it&#39;s been updated with the correct image.</i></span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a name="schools"></a></div><p><strong>Affected schools: Closures, turnarounds and receiving schools</strong></p><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 940px;"><tbody><tr><td><div id="map-canvas"><a name="map"></a></div></td></tr><tr><td><form action=""><a name="chart"></a>Number of rows to show: <select onchange="setOption('pageSize', parseInt(this.value, 10))"><option value="5">5</option><option value="10">10</option><option value="15">15</option><option value="20">20</option><option value="30">30</option><option value="40">40</option><option selected="selected" value="0">50</option><option value="80">80</option><option value="127">ALL</option></select></form><br /><div id="table">&nbsp;</div></td></tr></tbody></table><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 21 Mar 2013 00:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202 Chicago teachers sue district, claim racial bias http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-sue-district-claim-racial-bias-104578 <p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union and three teachers filed a lawsuit against the city&rsquo;s school board Wednesday, claiming it&rsquo;s practice of firing school staff to improve performance discriminates against black teachers.</p><p>The three African-American teachers allege that the district&rsquo;s practice of &ldquo;turning around&rdquo; failing schools disproportionately affects minority teachers. They&rsquo;ve filed for class-action status.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen an overwhelming, disproportionate harm visited upon black teachers, who through no fault of their own, are being singled out in these schools as responsible for low test scores essentially,&rdquo; said Jackson Potter, staff coordinator for the teachers union.</p><p>The teachers &mdash; Donald Garrett Jr., Robert Green and Vivonell Brown Jr. &mdash; all lost their jobs at the end of last school year when the school district approved turnarounds at their schools. The three schools &mdash; Chicago Vocational, Tilden and Woodson South &mdash; were among a record total of 10 school turnarounds.</p><p>The practice, the lawsuit alleges, has contributed to the steady decline in African American teachers in Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>It&rsquo;s true that most of the &ldquo;turnaround schools&rdquo; are in predominantly African-American and Hispanic communities on the south and west sides of the city. Layoffs are largely determined by enrollment, and those areas have had larger population declines since the city tore down many of the public housing projects. &nbsp;</p><p>Still, the lawsuit argues that comparable enrollment drops in a number of largely white, North Side schools haven&rsquo;t seen significant layoffs.</p><p>Chicago schools spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus says that district officials can&#39;t comment on the lawsuit. But she says the district remains committed to doing turnarounds and &quot;has an obligation to expand high-quality school options ... in every neighborhood.&quot;</p><p>The percentage of minority teachers has declined significantly over the last decade. Dan Kleinman, the policy director for the left-leaning Action Now Institute, said preliminary research they&rsquo;ve done shows that the number of minorities graduating from colleges of education in Illinois has remained steady and even increased in recent years, while minority hiring in CPS has gone the opposite direction.</p><p>The lawsuit filed Thursday is not the first time union leaders have tried to take action on the issue. In 2009, when the current union leadership was an activist caucus within the union, <a href="http://coreteachers.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/eeoc-chargesfiledredacted.pdf">they filed &ldquo;administrative charges&rdquo;</a> on behalf of six minority teachers who were displaced during turnarounds that year.&nbsp;Those charges were never filed in a formal lawsuit or brought to trial.</p></p> Thu, 27 Dec 2012 09:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-sue-district-claim-racial-bias-104578 The incredibly grating and annoying bias of Hawk Harrelson http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-09/incredibly-grating-and-annoying-bias-hawk-harrelson-102672 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120601129998.jpg" title="Hawk Harrelson, a better cheerleader than baseball announcer. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image "><p><strong>Lead story</strong>: <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444180004578016652376246198.html">A recent study of Major League Baseball announcers</a> revealed something absolutely <em>shocking</em>: the White Sox crew is almost five times as biased as all other announcing crews. Of course, most of those comments can be attributed to Hawk Harrelson (while Steve Stone continues to be a consummate professional in the color commentary seat). Admittedly, there are issues with the study by the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>, not the least of which is that the sample size is simply one game. And yet it still perfectly nailed why Harrelson is, far and away, worse than all the other announcers. It doesn&#39;t take a full season of viewing to understand Hawk&#39;s bias and how that gets in the way of his ability to actually call a good, clean ball game. Admittedly, Len &amp; Bob aren&#39;t exactly the most dynamic pair on television (mainly because the team rarely gives them reason to be excited) and they have moments of hometown bias, but they&#39;re at least consistent in their abilities to be objective and call a good, clean ball game. It&rsquo;s <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2012/05/31/dont_ever_change_hawk_harrelson_not.php">no surprise</a> to see Hawk top the list nor that he absolutely <a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/whitesox/2012/09/hawk-loves-being-homer-king-of.html">loves it</a>, too. I admit my own bias as a Cubs fan may be interfering here, but this goes beyond team allegiance. I know plenty of Sox fans who roll their eyes at Hawk. He lacks the humor of Uecker and the knowledge of Scully. Heck, Stone is a fantastic commentator in his own right who sometimes sounds like he barely restrain the urge to tell Hawk to shut it. As far as any correlating properties between bias and quality go, well, I&rsquo;m just going to leave <a href="http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/broadcaster-rankings-tv-intro-and-31/">this</a> and <a href="http://www.yardbarker.com/mlb/articles/white_sox_ken_hawk_harrelson_worst_announcer_in_all_of_sports_video/10736546">this</a> and <a href="http://www.gq.com/sports/lists/201007/five-best-worst-mlb-broadcast-booths#slide=10">this</a> right here.</p><p><strong>Also:</strong> With the teachers strike fading in the rearview, it seems both sides want to move on to other things, now. At a monthly meeting yesterday, both members of the CTU and the Board of Education <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-district-union-want-call-truce-102662">expressed their desire to move on</a> and enter into the redundant sounding &ldquo;truce of peace.&rdquo; Still, there are still tensions present as the union has <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-cps-board-meeting-0926-20120926,0,6539719.story">asked for a list of schools</a> the Board plans to close, but the board denies the existence of such a list. And so as the struggle begins anew, the conversation continues as to who &ldquo;won&rdquo; the recent strike. <em><a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20120925/BLOGS02/120929873/who-really-came-out-on-top-in-the-chicago-teachers-strike">Crain&rsquo;s Greg Hinz</a></em> points to <a href="http://www.nctq.org/p/tqb/viewStory.jsp?id=32759">a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality</a> that gives a slight edge to the Board over the CTU. As for the PR battle, even former mayor Richard M. Daley <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&amp;id=8824904">couldn&rsquo;t resist a few subtle digs</a> back at Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel had laid some of the blame for the tense situation between the Board and CTU at Daley&rsquo;s feet. Daley initially refused to comment on the situation but still snuck in a few shots at Rahm, saying, &ldquo;When I took over that, I didn&#39;t blame teachers. I said it&#39;s our responsibility to make a difference. It&#39;s not going to be done overnight. We had to make a difference.&rdquo; And, thus, Daley was the one who made the most sense which shows you how messed up the situation has been.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>And then: </strong>Things keep getting weirder in the Drew Peterson case which is strange in itself since the trial has been over for weeks. In the wake of his guilty verdict, Peterson has already <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-09/learning-remember-911-102361">fired the one defense attorney</a> who actually knew what he was doing. Now, the rest of his defense team has asked for a delay in sentencing because <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-drew-peterson-lawyer-fight-delays-appeal-20120926,0,1468036.story">they&rsquo;re still squabbling amongst themselves</a>. The infighting is so bad, apparently, it&rsquo;s keeping the team from working sufficiently to complete a motion for a new trial. And, of course, the previously fired attorney was the one who did most of the work on those kind of motions. No matter how weak the state&rsquo;s case against Peterson may have been, his own team has done a pretty good job of digging his hole pretty deep without any outside help.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p><strong>RIP: </strong><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/health/jerome-p-horwitz-creator-of-azt-dies-at-93.html?ref=obituaries&amp;_moc.semityn.www">James Horwitz</a>, creator of the drug AZT, at the age of 93. Created in 1964, Horwitz originally intended to use the drug to treat cancer. After that didn&rsquo;t work, Horwitz set the drug aside until, in 1986, he earned federal approval to start treating AIDS patients with it (the drug is also used to treat hepatitis and herpes). Horwitz passed away on September 6 but word of his death didn&rsquo;t spread until last week.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Elsewhere</strong></p><ul><li>China <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/26/world/asia/china-shows-off-an-aircraft-carrier-but-experts-are-skeptical.html?_r=1">now has an aircraft carrier</a> but no planes capable of landing on said carrier.</li><li>The nation&rsquo;s SAT scores <a href="http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/09/sat-reading-scores-are-lowest-theyve-been-40-years/57208/">are at their lowest level in 40 years</a> which is probably not at all related to the rise of things like <a href="http://www.planking.me/">planking</a>.</li><li>A proposed law in New Jersey <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/new-jersey-considering-adopting-snooki-law-to-avoi,85397/">dubbed the &ldquo;Snookiville Law&rdquo;</a> aims to regulate reality shows filmed in the state after the commotion caused by the <em>Jersey Shore</em> crew.</li><li>Want to look inside Einstein&rsquo;s brain? Thanks to an area medical museum, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/close-and-personal-albert-einsteins-brain-102652">there&rsquo;s an app for that</a>.</li><li>Gawker sets out to name <a href="http://gawker.com/5945855/the-search-for-the-most-racist-city-in-america-begins-today?tag=racist-city-census">America&rsquo;s most racist city</a>.</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Looking Ahead: &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</strong></p><ul><li>A state prosecutor is on leave <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-prosecutor-on-leave-after-accused-of-biting-adult-store-worker-20120925,0,7705102.story?track=rss">after a weekend incident</a> at an adult toy store when she showed up allegedly drunk and, when asked to leave the store, bit a worker on the leg.</li><li>First ward alderman Joe Moreno <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2012/09/25/alderman_moreno_responds_to_chick-f.php">is still not sure what he&rsquo;s going to do</a> about Chick-Fil-A&rsquo;s proposed restaurant in his ward which is a good enough reason for me to keep frequenting Popeye&rsquo;s.</li><li><em>Gapers Block</em> takes <a href="http://gapersblock.com/transmission/2012/09/25/wzrd_radio_in_exile/">a look at the ongoing kerfuffle at WZRD</a>, Northeastern Illinois University&rsquo;s radio station that was taken from the students this summer.</li><li>That&rsquo;s not the only issue at NEIU as the <em>Reader</em> <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/northeastern-illinois-university-culture-clash-heats-up/Content?oid=7507479">examines the controversy</a> surrounding the school&rsquo;s search for a new provost.</li><li>Yet another organization <a href="http://www.wlsam.com/Article.asp?id=2540182&amp;spid=">is calling for more police officers</a> on the streets of Chicago.</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Sports</strong></p><ul><li>The NFL <a href="http://espn.go.com/chicago/nfl/story/_/id/8423928/nfl-statement-says-refs-made-right-call-end-game-green-bay-packers-seattle-seahawks">stands by the erroneous call</a> made by replacement refs during Monday night&rsquo;s game between the Seahawks and Packers that cost the Packers the game.</li><li>Sox Watch: A <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_09_25_clemlb_chamlb_1&amp;mode=gameday&amp;c_id=cws">bumbling 4-3 loss</a> to the Indians coupled with a Detroit win has dropped the Sox into a tie with the Tigers for first place.</li><li>A new Cubs-themed bar <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/19636204/chicago-cubs-bar-and-grill-opens-at-ohare-airport">has opened up at O&rsquo;Hare</a> because spending hours stranded at the airport after a delay made you miss your connecting flight isn&rsquo;t enough suffering.</li><li>Notre Dame is <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/football/ncaa/09/25/notre-dame-michigan-series.ap/index.html">exercising an option</a> to get out of its ongoing rivalry series with Michigan; the last game between the two schools in their current deal will be 2014.</li><li>Yet another Canadian NHL team is apparently contemplating relocation to the U.S., <a href="http://www.seattlepi.com/sports/article/Bettman-mayor-try-to-calm-Oiler-relocation-fears-3893212.php">this time Edmonton to Seattle</a>.<br />&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</li></ul><p><strong>Finally &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</strong><br />Because road rage PSA are both cuter and more effective when using British children.&nbsp;</p></div><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2i8NUfl7tW4" width="560"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 26 Sep 2012 08:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-09/incredibly-grating-and-annoying-bias-hawk-harrelson-102672 Sister union’s vote could affect leverage of teachers http://www.wbez.org/news/sister-union%E2%80%99s-vote-could-affect-leverage-teachers-99962 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Local73.JPG" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 276px; height: 480px; " title="SEIU members march with the Chicago Teachers Union in a 2011 downtown protest to support public education. (Photo courtesy of Local 73)" /></div><p>As the Chicago Teachers Union tallies <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/ctu-president-karen-lewis-talks-strike-authorization-vote-99844">a vote</a> that could lead to a strike, some balloting Saturday by the school district&rsquo;s second-largest union could affect the teachers&rsquo; bargaining strength.</p><p>Service Employees International Union Local 73 is holding a ratification vote on a tentative contract covering 5,500 Chicago Public Schools employees ranging from bus aides and special-education assistants to custodians and child-welfare attendants.</p><p>Local 73 Vice President Taalib-Din Ziyad and other union leaders are urging members to approve the deal because the district has privatized a lot of the work once done by the union&rsquo;s members.</p><p>&ldquo;We were able to save those jobs that were threatened as well as get language that there would be no further contracting out of any of our jobs,&rdquo; Ziyad said.</p><p>Local 73 and CPS said they would not release a copy of the agreement until after the ratification vote. Union leaders say the deal covers three years and sets up 2 percent annual raises.</p><p>The tentative pact follows a CPS contract settlement with Unite Here Local 1 announced last month. That agreement, a five-year deal, covers about 3,200 lunchroom workers and limits the district&rsquo;s switch to &ldquo;warming kitchens&rdquo; in which private venders provide preprepared food.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not clear whether the two settlements leave the CTU&rsquo;s 25,000 members out on a limb or increase their leverage. The teachers are finishing a vote on whether to authorize union leaders to call a strike. That vote, which began Wednesday, comes amid tough contract talks involving everything from pay to the school-day length.</p><p>Orlando Sepúlveda, a Local 73 member campaigning against ratification, calls the tentative agreement &ldquo;a hollow victory&rdquo; and says his union could have done better by waiting for the teachers to get a deal.</p><p>&ldquo;The defense of public education &mdash; meaning not only halting privatization, but also the improvement of all its constituent elements &mdash; will require the unity of all the community that it serves and all the workers involved in it,&rdquo; Sepúlveda wrote in a Web commentary.</p><p>The settlements could affect the CTU&rsquo;s negotiations, according to leaders of that union.</p><p>&ldquo;The members of both Unite Here and SEIU are hourly workers so they&rsquo;re not a good precedent for salaried teachers,&rdquo; CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. &ldquo;But one thing that could set a precedent for us is the job-security language that those unions won.&rdquo;</p><p>The CTU has lost thousands of members in recent years, partly as a result of the district&rsquo;s approval of nonunion charter schools.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jun 2012 19:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sister-union%E2%80%99s-vote-could-affect-leverage-teachers-99962 Thousands of Chicago teachers rally downtown http://www.wbez.org/news/education/thousands-chicago-teachers-rally-downtown-99505 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/teacher%20rally%20flickr%202.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago Teachers Union organizers say at least 5,500 teachers attended Wednesday's rally. (Flickr/Bartosz Brzezinski) " /></div><p>Thousands of Chicago Public Schools teachers jammed the streets of downtown Chicago Wednesday afternoon, where their union held a rousing rally.</p><p>The show of force comes as the Chicago Teachers Union and school district are locked in contract negotiations, and as a vote authorizing a strike seems increasingly likely.</p><p style="text-align: center;">***</p><p>The teachers arrived downtown after school in dozens of school buses.</p><p>Dressed in Chicago Teachers Union T-shirts, they formed a sea of red in the Auditorium Theatre.</p><p>Union official Kristine Mayle told the 4,000 school workers gatherd, she knew being a teacher would be tough.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>MAYLE: But what I didn&rsquo;t anticipate were the challenges foisted upon all of us by the CPS bureaucracy and others. (Applause) Others&ndash;like the millionaires appointed to our school board by mayors who don&rsquo;t send their children to public schools.</p><p>Mayle said teachers understand what schools need.</p><p>MAYLE: We need time to teach as opposed to administering standardized test after standardized test.</p><p>There were big cheers for smaller class sizes, art teachers and air conditioning. And loud boos for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and charter schools.</p><p>MAYLE: I&rsquo;m prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure that our members get a fair contract&mdash;are you?</p><p>In recent days, union officials seem to be gearing up for a strike vote&mdash;and have said they&rsquo;d want it to happen before summer vacation, and before about 1,400 teachers retire.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img a="" alt="" bartosz="" before="" call="" check="" class="image-original_image" could="" end="" flickr="" has="" hinted="" it="" large="" mark.="" of="" school="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/teacher%20rally%20flickr%201.jpg" strike="" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" the="" title="Teachers carried signs that said ‘YES,’ with a large white check mark. The union has hinted it could call a strike vote before the end of the school year. (Flickr/Bartosz Brzezinski)" union="" vote="" white="" with="" year.="" /></div><p>Chicago Teachers union president Karen Lewis spoke last at the rally, after state and national union leaders, Jesse Jackson, and a parent.</p><p>Teachers&rsquo; feet thundered against the floor.</p><p>LEWIS: So why are we here?</p><p>Someone in the crowd yelled, &quot;Strike!&rdquo;&nbsp; The crowd began to chant. Lewis at the microphone joined in, but said &ldquo;fight,&quot; not &ldquo;strike.&quot;</p><p>After the rally, the teachers poured outside and marched up Michigan Avenue, filling the wide street for blocks and chanting &quot;CTU! CTU! CTU!&quot;. Spanish teacher Amanda Lord was among them.</p><p>LORD: (I&#39;m) just trying to get dignity back for the profession, and get the public to see us en masse.</p><p>Other teachers said they were attending the rally because the district rescinded raises last June. Teachers also mentioned school closings, the privatization of public education, a longer school day with no extra pay.</p><p>In the Loop, onlookers waved and applauded as the&nbsp; teachers walked by. Police guarding the route gave teachers thumbs up and put stickers on their bullet-proof vests that said, &ldquo;YES to small class sizes.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/teachers%20rally%20lutton.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Dressed in Chicago Teachers Union T-shirts, they formed a sea of red in the Auditorium Theatre. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /></div><p>Inside a restaurant, two customers stood up at their table and applauded the teachers through the window. Just outside, Dominque Walker, who&rsquo;s studying to be a teacher, called out to the throngs passing by.</p><p>DOMINIQUE: You all need to be honored, honored, honored!&nbsp; Thank you! Thank you!!</p><p>Further down Adams Street, security guard Raymond Martinez said teachers need to be paid fairly, or kids will suffer.</p><p>LUTTON: Hey, how much do you think a teacher makes, average?<br />RAYMOND: I have no idea. Maybe about $40,000 a year, something like that?<br />LUTTON: Average--$71,000<br />RAYMOND: That&rsquo;s pretty good!! Then what are they striking for?</p><p>Two longtime CPS teachers&mdash;who didn&rsquo;t want to give me their names&mdash;said they haven&rsquo;t been to a rally this big in their 30 years as teachers.&nbsp;</p><p>TEACHERS: Never a rally like this one. Never&mdash;I don&rsquo;t remember one like this. Not in my lifetime. I mean, I&rsquo;ve been in several strikes but I never recall a unified thing like this downtown.</p><p>The school district posted a response to the rally on Facebook and Twitter. CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said the district respects teachers, and they deserve a raise&hellip;.</p><p>But CPS believes teachers should not take a strike vote until after a fact-finder&rsquo;s report is issued mid-July. Any steps toward a strike before then &ldquo;would only hurt our kids,&rdquo; Brizard says.</p></p> Thu, 24 May 2012 03:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/thousands-chicago-teachers-rally-downtown-99505