WBEZ | CTU http://www.wbez.org/tags/ctu Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Teachers unions say McDonald’s exploits teachers with fundraiser http://www.wbez.org/news/teachers-unions-say-mcdonald%E2%80%99s-exploits-teachers-fundraiser-113346 <p><div>About a year ago, Mark Noltner&rsquo;s daughter came home from kindergarten carrying a flyer with a picture of Ronald McDonald on it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;She told me that some of the teachers were wearing &lsquo;McTeacher&rsquo;s&rsquo; shirts to school,&rdquo; he recalled, &ldquo;And trying to entice the students to go to McDonald&rsquo;s that evening where the teachers would be working behind the counter and serving unhealthy food to them.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Noltner, a northwest suburban parent and teacher was appalled. And the experience led him to join a <a href="http://commercialfreechildhood.org/3-million-teachers-mcdonalds-were-not-lovin-it#.Vh5FVvtwO7U.twitter" target="_blank">campaign </a>this week involving more than 50 teachers unions that are urging McDonald&rsquo;s, CEO Steve Easterbrook, to end the fundraisers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><object data="http://commercialfreechildhood.org/sites/default/files/openlettertomcdonalds.pdf#toolbar=0&amp;messages=0" height="400" type="application/pdf" width="620"><p>It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. No worries, just <a href="http://commercialfreechildhood.org/sites/default/files/openlettertomcdonalds.pdf">click here to download the PDF file.</a></p></object></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When McDonald&rsquo;s corporate representatives were presented with similar criticism at a shareholder&rsquo;s meeting earlier this year, the company responded, with this statement to WBEZ: &ldquo;McTeacher&rsquo;s Nights are fundraisers initiated by schools to raise money for their schools. It&#39;s a local community initiative, not something managed at the national nor global level.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Kara Kaufman of activist group Corporate Accountability International, which is organizing the anti-McTeacher&rsquo;s night campaign, said she doesn&rsquo;t believe it. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We know that this a tactic that is driven by McDonald&rsquo;s corporate,&rdquo; Kaufman said Wednesday. &ldquo;Just from public listings, we&rsquo;ve been able to document 360 McTeacher&rsquo;s events in 30 states. So it&rsquo;s simply not possible that this is driven by only a handful of franchisees.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><p>Indeed, late on Wednesday (five months after McDonald&#39;s said it doesn&#39;t centrally manage the fundraisers) the company issued a statement suggesting that it does manage the fundraisers at its company owned restaurants and they&#39;ve generated more than $2.5 million in McTeachers donations in less than two years.</p><p>&ldquo;McTeacher&rsquo;s Nights are all about community, fun and fundraising. As parents and members of their communities, McDonald&rsquo;s franchisees and our corporate restaurants have long supported what matters most to them. McTeacher&rsquo;s Nights are one example....some of our company-owned restaurants conduct McTeacher Night fundraisers and since they are owned by the company, we know how much has been given to schools and organizations through these events. From January 2013 through September 2015, the company-owned restaurants have paid over $2,525,000 to organizations for donations from McTeacher Nights.&quot;</p></div><div>Fundraising potential aside, critics of the program believe they place a stamp of approval on a food category that hurts children.&nbsp; A 2004 <a href="http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/113/1/112.abstract" target="_blank">study in the journal <em>Pediatrics</em>&nbsp;</a>linked fast food consumption among young people with diminished dietary quality that could &ldquo;plausibly lead to obesity.&rdquo; &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Among the unions protesting the practice is the Chicago Teachers Union, whose vice president Jesse Sharkey issued this statement:&nbsp;</div><blockquote><div><em>&ldquo;It is wholly inappropriate for McDonald&rsquo;s to exploit cash-strapped schools to market its junk food brand, while </em><em>miring</em><em> its workers in poverty, effectively hollowing out the tax base for our schools. In Chicago we face potentially devastating cuts to our schools, yet one of the world&rsquo;s richest corporations operating in our backyard is exploiting this situation by eroding the school food environment and our students&#39; health in the long-run.&rdquo;</em></div></blockquote><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/McDonalds%20corporate.jpg" style="height: 169px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="More than 50 teachers unions called on McDonald’s Wednesday to stop its McTeacher’s Nights. McDonald’s corporate office in Oak Brook said it does not manage the controversial McTeacher’s Nights fundraisers, but activists believe there is national coordination. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></p><div>CAI and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said they conducted an economic survey of McTeacher&rsquo;s Night events&nbsp;and concluded that the fundraisers end up earning about $1 to $2 per child, and rarely more than $1,000 for the entire night.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Noltner doesn&rsquo;t see this as a great trade off for anyone.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Teachers work really hard to build a sense of trust between them and their students,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And hearing that McDonald&rsquo;s is kind of exploiting this relationship to sell a product really frustrated me...I guess I have to ask: Is that $1 or $2 per student really worth the health of a child later in life?&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ food and health reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org?subject=McTeachers">meng@wbez.org</a></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 14 Oct 2015 15:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/teachers-unions-say-mcdonald%E2%80%99s-exploits-teachers-fundraiser-113346 Teachers head into school year without a contract http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/teachers-head-school-year-without-contract-112857 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/linda lutton.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tuesday morning, many Chicago teachers were assigning cubby holes and passing out textbooks, going over syllabi and leading kids in the pledge of allegiance. WBEZ education reporter Linda Lutton visited to three Chicago schools Friday and talked to teachers to get a sense of their ambitions, concerns, and hopes. Then, for more on what teachers are facing this school year, we turned to Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union.</p></p> Tue, 08 Sep 2015 12:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/teachers-head-school-year-without-contract-112857 Chicago Teachers Union president responds to pension shortfall http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-12/chicago-teachers-union-president-responds-pension-shortfall-112632 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/karen lewis becky vevea.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, responds to the comments made by Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool.</p></p> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 11:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-12/chicago-teachers-union-president-responds-pension-shortfall-112632 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 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 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