"It’s unconscionable for a mayor who has found creative ways to create new bike lanes, a bike share program, lure white collar jobs and massive investment to the loop and gold coast — but blames Springfield and teachers for CPS’s budget crisis— to layoff over 3,000 educators in the nation’s third largest school district. This is the same politician who spent a year of his life calling for a longer school day who is allowing draconian budget cuts to undermine a better day for our students. That’s a lack of leadership, a lack of creativity and a lack of political willingness to call upon his deep ties to the financial community to address the needs of children. The CEO and the mayor are making excuses not improvements."
CHICAGO – Today, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released the following statement regarding Friday’s intended layoffs of nearly 2,100 more Chicago Public School (CPS) employees, most of whom are veteran teachers, teacher assistants, clerks, technology coordinators, instructional aides, lunchroom workers and security guards. Since May, the district has removed over 3,500 educators from their jobs:
“Once again, CPS has lied to parents, employees and the public about keeping the new school-based budget cuts away from the classroom,” Lewis said. “On Friday, CPS will reportedly lay off 1,074 teachers, 451 paraprofessionals and 550 other employees, on top of the nearly 850 professionals who lost their positions in June and the 550 probationary appointed teachers (PATs) and 22 Title I teachers who were laid off in May. The loss of these workers will have a direct impact on the quality of instruction offered in our schools under the imposed ‘longer school day.’ These cuts are unnecessary and shameful for a system that prides itself on providing a high-quality education for our students.
“It is equally shameful that as CPS slashes school budgets, they have not offered one sound recommendation to resolve their “budget crisis” other than attacking teachers, closing schools, disrupting communities and vilifying parents. CPS can generate new revenue by closing corporate loopholes, engaging the banks about toxic swaps, re-examining the city’s TIF program, and supporting a financial transaction tax which could put billions of dollars back into our schools. Once, again the most vulnerable children are going to receive the least. This will impact every single student in our district.
“This also says much about the district’s much-touted, but poorly executed, “Longer School Day,” program which they have recently branded as a “fuller day.” How can a “full day” function without the appropriate staffing and funding levels and when schools that lack books, toilet paper and other necessities? These cuts will surely increase class sizes. What we have now is the ‘empty day.’
“While the mayor is busy making multi-million dollar stadium deals and the Illinois General Assembly is playing volleyball with workers’ lives, our students are the ones suffering.
“Finally, the CTU has obtained a CPS PowerPoint presentation that instructs principals on the school-based budgeting process. Ironically, in this document our segments our schools as “winners and losers,” as principals are instructed to trim a minimum of 4 percent from their budgets. Why is this school district describing any of our schools in these terms? What game are they playing with the education of our students and the careers of its employees? Who does CPS define as a “winner,” and who does it define as the “loser,” and why?
“As the CTU continues to lobby the Board of Education to restore these jobs, remarkably CPS refuses to agree to a hiring freeze. It makes no sense to hire new people as the district lays off veteran teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians, many of whom have excellent and superior ratings.
“We were told employees can expect calls from their principals early Friday. In the meantime, our members can check our website for updates as we continue to advocate for the schools our students deserve,” Lewis said.
The Nation’s Rick Perlstein however is optimistic about the Chicago Teachers Union’s pushback.The Windy City is is undergoing a tumultuous historical moment, with the uprising of the Chicago Teachers Union occurring alongside the ongoing restructuring and privatization of the Chicago Public Schools system.
Most recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel oversaw the closing of 50 public schools, many of which will be replaced by charter schools. A bulk of the 550 laid-off teachers will be replaced by Teach for America contractors, many of whom teach in charter schools.
“Statewide enrollment in charter schools has surged from 6,152 students in 2000 to 54,054 this school year — with most of them in Chicago — according to the Illinois State Board of Education,” an April Chicago Tribune editorial explained. “The first charter school in Illinois opened in 1996. Now there are 132 campuses operating under 58 charters.”
A thus-far underreported story of the retooling of CPS concerns a foundation close the epicenter of it all: the Joyce Foundation.
Joyce is a major liberal foundation. President Barack Obama sat on its board of directors from 1994 to 2002, as did Valerie Jarrett, his former senior advisor and assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement .
A look at major organizations dedicated to restructuring U.S. education turns up a slew of current and former upper-level Joyce staff and board members.
Between 1995 and 2012, the Joyce Foundation spent $135.58 million on education reform.
“They’re really in bed now with conservative elements nationwide,” said Mike Klonsky, a Chicago public schools activist and professor at DePaul University, in an interview with Mint Press News. “Anything that has to do with corporate-style school reform, you’ll probably see Joyce’s name in it.”
The progressive tribes have been gathering in Chicago with force, efficiency, creativity, trust and solidarity, building a bona fide, citywide protest culture. And it’s working. Days before these marches, Mayor Emanuel, who has been talked up in some circles as possibly the first Jewish president, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I am not running for higher office—ever.” This purring protest infrastructure is one of the major reasons why.
To many national observers, this rebirth of the city’s militant protest culture seemingly came out of nowhere. But it didn’t. It’s the product of years of organizing from sources both expected and surprising. And while the radicalized CTU under the leadership of Karen Lewis has deservedly received much of the credit, the teachers union is just the current tip of the spear in a long and potentially transformative movement.
It’s not hard to see that the so-called education “reformers” are doing little to actually advance schools and are using education as another venue for their boardroom antics.
New Schools for Chicago formerly known as the Renaissance Schools Fund is a non-profit corporation that seeks to advance “school choice” in Chicago, which is a nice way of saying “selling schools to private contractors.” The Board of Directors of New Schools for Chicago is largely comprised of captains of industry, with a few exceptions, namely Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale, and newly appointed member of the School Board Deborah Quazzo. Clare Munana, a past member of the Board of Education also sits on the New Schools Board as well as two people who have privatized charter schools named after them, John Rowe, Chairman and CEO of Exelon and Bruce Rauner, gubernatorial hopeful whose sole agenda is busting Unions, specifically teachers unions.
And who is the major obstacle to this trickery? According to historian Rick Perlstein at The Nation:
The CTU beat Rahm in a historic strike this past September and hasn’t stopped fighting austerity and privatization since.
CTU President Karen Lewis and CTU Quest Center’s Lynn Cherkasky-Davis discuss recruiting a diverse teaching force with Chicago Public Schools’ Joe Moriarty, Elizabeth Hassel, and Alicia Winckler.
Chicago Public Schools’ Alicia Winckler and CTU Quest Center’s Lynn Cherkasky-Davis listen as President Karen Lewis talks about recruiting a diverse workforce in CPS.
CTU President Karen Lewis discusses recruiting a diverse teaching force with Chicago Public Schools’ Joe Moriarty, and Elizabeth Hassel.
The URI-EICHEN Art Gallery is putting up a one-year-anniversary exhibit on last year’s historic strike and they’re asking for contributions of strike memorabilia.
Please send photos, artwork, and written testimonials of 100-400 words for consideration. Submissions will be collected through at CTU headquarters (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 400). Contact Kathy Steichen at email@example.com.
For more information about the gallery, visit www.uri-eichen.com.
If you have any questions, please contact Kathy Steichen at 312-852-7717.
Honoring the 1963 Chicago School Boycott
Hyde Park Union Church
Join us as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Chicago School Boycott, the largest civil rights protest in Chicago history.
In 1963 an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 students stayed out of school to protest segregation and inequality. As momentum builds in the contemporary struggle against inequality in education, we are wise to pause and reflect on the lessons from this critical historical moment.
On Thursday, July 11 we honor this history and consider its implications for the present with a fun and inspiring evening that includes:
- A screening of clips from an upcoming documentary, ‘63 Boycott (take a look at some original footage of the marchhttp://youtu.be/FYiofrghC4c).
- A performance of Shades of Mississippi, an interactive theater experience of freedom songs, speeches and testimonies based on the July 20, 1963 mass meeting where the direct action campaign to desegregate Chicago’s public schools was launched (for a sneak peak of the performance, check out this video http://youtu.be/5gaZRERaM5w).
- A question and answer session with a teacher, community activist, parent and student from the 1963 boycott as well as a contemporary education justice activist.
Honoring the 1963 Chicago School Boycott is the opening event for Free Minds, Free People, a national conference on education for liberation. Register today (www.fmfp.org)!
Date: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Hyde Park Union Church
5600 South Woodlawn
This event is presented by Free Minds, Free People, Civil Rights Opera Project, Freedom Lifted Civil Rights Tours, and Kartemquin Films.With thanks to Hyde Park Union Church.
CHICAGO—Members of Chicago’s religious communities are expected to join faith leaders of all denominations for Prayer Vigil for Our Schools, a day-long prayer vigil Wednesday, May 15, at Chicago Public Schools, 125 S. Clark Street. The vigil will unite congregations from across the city in prayer in advance of the May 22 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education on the proposed closing of 53 elementary schools and one high school program by the mayor’s office and CPS. The proposal—the largest school action in U.S. history—would impact the lives of nearly 50,000 students and their families, and further disrupt communities long destabilized by crime, foreclosure and unemployment.
Prayer Vigil for Our Schools comes days before the “Our City, Our Schools, Our Voice,” three-day march May 18-20 on the South and West sides to protest school closings. Thousands of parents, students, teachers, clergy, citizens and community leaders will walk each day past many of the 54 school communities slated for closure, ending in a mass demonstration in Daley Plaza.
“We must be strong in our fight and vigilant in our faith as the Board vote approaches—a decision that will affect thousands of students and families, as well as thousands of city and school employees,” said CTU President Karen Lewis.
WHO: Reportedly, more than 20 members of the clergy and members of their congregations and Chicago’s religious communities
WHAT: Prayer vigil or “pray in” for Chicago’s public schools and against school closings
WHEN: Wednesday, May 15
WHERE: Chicago Public Schools
WHY: To pray for all of Chicago’s students and families; for those who make the decision to close our schools; for alderman and legislative leaders to stand with our students in support of a moratorium on school closings and legislation to elect a representative school board; for student safety; and for the strength and salvation of the citizens of Chicago and for our communities.