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SOJO Teachers Win Back Jobs! Students March Through Community

August 31, 2012 0 comments

Angela Sangha and Katie Hogan, founding teachers of the Social Justice High School (SOJO) who were fired on 8/24 as part of CPS’s move to dismantle the school, won back their jobs on 8/30. This is a huge victory – thanks to the strength of the parents, students, teachers and the CTU.

The struggle for SOJO is not over
Today, SOJO students, chanting “Where’s the Justice in Social justice” and wearing T- shirts saying “CPS We Want Answers,” led a disciplined march and rally of 200 in the community and another rally at the school. Parents marched with them in support.

The SOJO community demands CPS:
1. Rewind to August 6 (Reinstate principal, rehire all fired staff, reinstate all scheduled programs and classes)
2. Approve and sign contracts for Kathy Farr, fired principal of SOJO, and also World Language principal (another high school in the Lawndale/Little Village High School Campus)
3. Change Advisory Local School Council to fully-empowered LSC
4. No retaliation against any students, staff, or parents
5. Issue an apology to the community

This is another move by CPS to destabilize and disinvest in neighborhood schools, disenfranchise the community, and turn public schools over to private operators. CPS is talking about taking half of the public schools in Chicago and turning them over to private operators in the next few years. The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board states, “CPS will likely close or consolidate scores of schools next year” (8/31). We have to draw a line in the sand.


Call CPS CEO Jean-Claud Brizard (773) 553-1500
Call Theresa Plascencia, CPS West Side Network Chief (773) 534-9770
Call Alderman Rick Munoz, if you live in his ward (773) 762-1781

Tell them you want all the demands met!

Stay tuned for next steps.

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Labor Day Rally for Jobs, Dignity and a Fair Contract w/ CTU

August 29, 2012 0 comments

Chicago teachers are approaching a showdown with the mayor and the Chicago Board of Education. The fight for a fair CTU contract reflects the current climate of scapegoating union workers in an attempt to force us all to accept contract givebacks. Public servants and the services we provide are under attack! Join the fight for better schools, libraries, parks, decent wages and public services. Sisters and brothers and comrades from Chicago’s unions will rally together. Members of all unions will dress to represent their locals. CTU members will wear our red. Let’s send a message, together, that “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.”
Monday, September 3
10:30am – 12:30pm
Daley Plaza
50 W. Washington

Contact AlixGuevara@ctuLocal1.com or
312-329-6247 for more information.
Click here to download the flyer.
Co-Sponsors include:
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 • American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 • National Nurses United (NNU) • United Electrical Workers (UE) Western Region • National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 11 • SEIU Local 1 • UNITE-HERE Local 1 • SEIU Health Care Illinois-Indiana • Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Chicago Lodge 7 • Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 241 • Teamsters Joint Council No. 25 • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Locals 134 and 9 • Ironworkers District Council of Chicago • United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1546 • International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 126 • International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 150 • Sheet Metal Workers (SMW) • Chicago Laborers District Council • Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters • Painters District Council 15 • Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 •
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Parents/Students Take Over Sojo Mtg-2 Teachers Fired

A SoJo HS Parent speaks during the public comment portion of the community forum.

In a show of community unity, on Thurs. night Aug 23, 200 parents, teachers, students, and community members at Chicago's Social Justice High School (Sojo) denounced CPS-appointed interim principal and CPS Network staff for cutting AP classes and critical student programs, displacing core veteran teachers, disrespecting parents and community, destabilizing the school, and violating the values of the Hunger Strike that founded the school. Charging that CPS is trying to cut out the heart of Sojo's social justice mission, students led the parents and community members in chanting "where's the justice in social justice?"

At the end of the day on Friday, Aug. 24, the interim principal fired Angela Sangha and Katie Hogan, two veteran English teachers who have been with Sojo since the day it opened in Fall 2005.

Parents, community members, students and teachers, backed by the CTU, are fighting back. Students are organizing to leaflet the community, starting Saturday (Aug 25). They need copying donated to distribute 1500 two-sided flyers. IF YOU CAN MAKE COPIES EMAIL TSJ ASAP. Stay tuned for next steps.

Call CEO Brizard at 312-553-1500 and demand the following:
1. Respect the LSC process and reinstate the recently fired principal Kathy Farr
2. Rehire all fired teachers and other personnel and return teachers and staff to their regular assignments
3. No reprisals/retaliation against students and teachers and staff

Born out of struggle and the struggle continues!

Check out article in Substance magazine on the meeting last night here. For more information, please download this flyer.

Here are videos from the community forum:

And here is a video of Katie Hogan, one of the teachers fired the day after the community forum, speaking at Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign's town hall meeting on education on Wed, Aug 30th:

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Defend Chicago’s Social Justice High School (Sojo)

August 23, 2012 3 comments

Sojo was “born out of struggle” in 2001 when 14 Little Village residents endured a 19- day hunger strike to fight for a new school in their neighborhood. In Fall 2005, Sojo and three other small schools opened in a new building on 31st and Kostner, serving Little Village and North Lawndale. Sojo is a neighborhood school built on the principles of the Hunger Strike: “truth and transparency, struggle and sacrifice, ownership and agency, and collective and community power”. It is a national model of social justice education. But now, Sojo is under attack by the CPS Administration. CPS is trying to dismantle Sojo by downgrading the curriculum, displacing teachers, and lying to the community. Sojo’s very existence as a neighborhood public school serving low-income African American and Latin@ students with the vision of community self-determination is a threat to CPS’s top-down corporate model of schooling.

CPS never gave a contract to the new Sojo principal, Kathy Farr, who was selected by the Advisory LSC and started in March 2012. On Tuesday, August 7th, just six days before school began, CPS fired and replaced her with an interim principal, without consulting anyone in the Sojo community. When school opened Monday, the interim principal cut three AP classes and replaced them with remedial classes, fired two attendance clerks, and reassigned teachers to classes and subjects with no preparation. On Day #3 of school, students organized a peaceful, disciplined sit-in to demand the reinstatement of AP classes and staff to their original positions. Now student leaders are threatened with explusion.

Sojo is striving for the critical and culturally relevant education our youth need. From Tucson to Sojo, this is the same attack! CPS is dismantling this national model. Given what we have learned from the past 8 years of school privatization in Chicago, CPS may be planning to “redefine” sojo and turn the school’s state-of-the-art building and its students over to politically connected charter operators.

This is all of our fight! Come out to a community forum on Thurs., Aug. 23, 6 PM (31st St. & Kostner) in solidarity with Sojo.
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Chicago Teachers Stand UP!

After 17 years of the tyranny of high stakes tests, business-managers running the schools, school closings, disinvestment in neighborhood public schools and turning them over to private operators, teachers have had enough. The 30,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union are standing up to the bankers and corporate interests who are dismantling public education and destroying teaching and learning. The city that has been the birthplace of corporate “reform” is now the epicenter of the fight against it. Rahm and the CPS negotiators are not budging on key issues: smaller class size, adequate school support staff (nurses, social workers, paraprofessionals), rehiring experienced laid off teachers, and fair compensation. And, in many schools, CPS is not implementing the agreement for a better school day, not just a longer day, as promised. Rahm and the Board of Ed are pushing the teachers toward a strike. Teachers do not want a strike, but they are preparing to do what it takes to win a fair and equitable contract that will help children get the education they deserve and stop CPS from trampling on the rights of teachers. This is a strategic battle for public education. The eyes of the country are on Chicago.

The national education privatizers (Stand For Children, Education Reform Now, etc.) are pouring resources into Chicago to defeat the CTU. We have to mobilize all our grassroots resources against them.

Solidarity with the CTU

What we can do:
  • JOIN THE CHICAGO TEACHERS SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN. The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign is a diverse coalition of local community organizations, labor activists, parents and students who support the CTU in their fight for quality education. They meet every week and have numerous opportunities for joining with others in supporting the teachers.
  • GET INFORMED. Read: The Schools Chicago Students Deserve 
  • ORGANIZE A MEETING in your home/community/place of worship to discuss the issues and what is at stake. TSJ can help with this. Email at teachersforjustice@hotmail.com
  • DONATE TO THE SOLIDARITY FUND Contribute to the CTU Solidarity Fund 
  • IF THERE IS A STRIKE: TSJ will mobilize to support the picket lines, get out information to the public, and support community organizations offering programs for children. Email us to get involved: teachersforjustice@hotmail.com

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Teacher Activist Groups Network Stands with CTU

A Message From Teacher Activist Groups (TAG)
A National Network (including TSJ)

Dear Educators and Allies,
Chicago has been the focus of corporate school “reform,” but Chicago is now the epicenter of the push back against it.  The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), along with parent and community allies is leading the fight, with the possibility of going on strike.  In support, Teacher Activist Groups (TAG) invites you to join our campaign, Solidarity with Chicago Teachers, a web page where you can find up-to-date information on what’s happening as well as an opportunity to pledge your solidarity by posting a testimonial, teaching a related lesson, organizing a discussion and solidarity from your union, school, or education program, and/or contributing to the CTU solidarity fund.
Last year, the Illinois legislature, with support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, passed an anti-union bill mandating that in order to authorize a strike, 75% of all CTU members would have to vote in favor, with votes not cast being counted as ‘no’s.  The teachers and their allies responded by rallying 6000 strong in downtown Chicago in May 2012 and in June, the teachers voted with an overwhelming majority of 90% to authorize a strike. When counting only the ballots cast, that majority goes up to 98%.
This is an historic moment for public education.  The outcome of the struggle for just and equitable public schools in Chicago will help define this struggle nationwide. If the teachers do go on strike it will not be an easy fight, which makes your support and pledge of solidarity vital.  Please join today!
Their Fight is Our Fight!
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Campaign for an Elected Representative School Board in Chicago

TSJ is part of a city-wide coalition – Communities Organized for Democracy in Education (CODE) to win an elected representative school board in Chicago. This is a necessary first step to bring democracy back to public education and to hold those run the schools accountable to the communities they serve.

The CODE Mission - Democracy in Education

Our mission is to bring a wide range of voices together who care deeply about improving
the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by making them run more democratically. Our first
goal is to change the way the CPS Board of Education is selected. Rather than the mayor
appointing members at his sole discretion, CODE members believe that the school board
should be elected and representative of the diverse communities of our city. An elected
representative school board would lead to CPS policies that are more in line with what
parents, students, teachers and other community members know is best for our public

Throughout July and the beginning of August, members of CODE organizations, from Altgeld Gardens, to Rogers Park, to Little Village, to Logan Square, to Bronzeville went door to door gathering peititions for an advisory referendum on the November ballot for an elected representative school board. On August 6 we turned in over 10,000 petitions, in 204 precincts, in 26 wards! This is a powerful beginning for a grassroots diverse citywide coalition fighting for equitable quality education for all our children.

For more information

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