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The Strike and Where Do We Go From Here

September 22, 2012 0 comments

Chicago Teachers Union teachers, paraprofessionals, and clinicians, through their courage and militancy, have shifted the ground on education reform and teacher unionism in Chicago and nationally. With the support of parents, students, and community members, they have shown not only that it is possible to stand up the neoliberal, corporate education agenda but that there is an alternative. This is a huge victory for all of us, one that goes beyond what was won in the contract. But there is a long battle in front of us. Rahm promises to close anywhere from 80-200 schools and privatize half the system.

Come to a special TSJ meeting to share reflections and discuss the implications of the strike and where we go from here.

Saturday, Sept 29
11:00 AM-1:00 PM
UIC College of Education 
1040 W. Harrison St.
Room 3233 (Commons)

 All are welcome.
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TSJ's Stephanie Hicks on the CTU Strike: Interview by Kevin Powell

September 20, 2012 0 comments

TSJ's own Stephanie Hicks was interviewed on writer and public speaker Kevin Powell's blog regarding the CTU strike. Here is an excerpt:
How do you respond to those who say teachers are asking for too much?
To those who say that teachers are asking for too much, I’d say that the conditions under which teachers teach, and students learn, make a world of difference in the educational process. If teachers aren’t compensated fairly, if they don’t have adequate affordable healthcare, and time to attend to their families, or the resources they need in the classroom to teach effectively, their students are going to suffer. Just as students should be able to go to school in healthy, safe, supportive environments, teachers should be able to work in them.
How do you respond to those who say teachers’ strike is affecting the children?
I’d say that the strike is affecting them in the best way possible: they’re learning the most valuable lessons out there on the picket lines! I’ve been at two of the big rallies in the past week, and student and parents are out there in solidarity with teachers. High school marching bands provided the background music to the chants. First graders were waving hand-made signs calling for lower class sizes and showing support for their teachers. Many parents understand that teachers aren’t striking to hurt kids. They’re not striking because they’re lazy. They’re striking because they’ve have had enough of the disinvestment and want better for their students.
Please read the entire post on Kevin Powell's site (Stephanie's answers are in the first part of the post):
http://www.kevinpowell.net/blog/2012/09/chicago-teachers-strike-2-educators-speak/ Read the Full Story

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September 16, 2012 0 comments

It's not over yet-democracy in is action in the CTU, as the House of Delegates decides how to proceed with the tentative agreement (see below for the CTU website release on the HoD meeting today). Let's get back on those picket lines at the schools Monday morning and do other strike support as well. Watch the CTU & TSJ website for updates, and don't necessarily believe what you hear in the news! Solidarity!!

From CTU Website:

House of Delegates Votes to Continue Strike


Some 800 delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union duly elected from each school and workplace convened Sunday afternoon to discuss the framework established during negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Board of Education. Officers presented a 23 page document outlining the most important points of the agreement whose outline has been worked out between the two parties. That tentative agreement is expected to number over 180 pages.
After a civil and frank discussion, the House of Delegates voted NOT to suspend the strike, but to allow two more days for delegates to take the information back to the picket lines and hold discussions with the union’s more than 26,000 members throughout Chicago. Teachers and school staff will return to the picket lines of the schools at which they teach at 7:30 a.m. Monday and, after picketing together, will meet to share and discuss the proposal. Citywide members will picket at the Chicago Public Schools Headquarters, 125 South Clark, at 7:30 a.m. and will meet thereafter at a downtown location.
“This union is a democratic institution, which values the opportunity for all members to make decisions together. The officers of this union follow the lead of our members,” President Lewis said. She continued, “the issues raised in this contract were too important, had consequences too profound for the future of our public education system and for educational fairness for our students, parents and members for us to simply take a quick vote based on a short discussion. Therefore, a clear majority voted to take this time and we are unified in this decision.”
The delegates voted to reconvene on Tuesday afternoon.


CHICAGO - The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU)'s ruling body will decide whether or not to call off its strike against the Chicago Public Schools during a 3 p.m. House of Delegates meeting tomorrow at Operating Engineers Hall, 2260 Grove Street.  The Bargaining Team is expected to share new details about proposed contract language which includes a number of victories for teachers, paraprofessionals, clinicians, and students. 

The earliest teachers and other school personnel could return to their schools could be Monday; however, no decision has been made to do so. Delegates, the elected leaders of their schools, have the authority to suspend or lengthen the strike. They could also ask for at least 24-hours to talk to individual members in their schools before making a decision on what to do next. The 29,000-member CTU has been on strike since Sept. 10.
"We are a democratic body and therefore we want to ensure all of our members have had the chance to weigh-in on what we were able to win," said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. "We believe this is a good contract, however, no contract will solve all of the inequities in our District. Our fair contract fight has always been about returning dignity and respect to our members and ensuring resources and a quality school day for our students and their families."
The new proposed CTU/CPS contract will:
  • Secure Raises & Ensure Fair Compensation:  The CTU wants a three-year contract.  It will secure a 3% raise  in the first year, 2% raise in the second and 2% raise in the third, with the option to extend to a 4th year by mutual agreement at another 3% raise.
  • Defeat Merit Pay: The CTU successfully fought the star of national misguided school reform policies. The Board agreed to move away from "Differentiated Compensation," which would have allowed them to pay one set of teachers (based on unknown criteria) one set of pay versus another set of pay for others.
  • Preserve Steps & Lanes:  The new contract will preserve the full value of teachers and paraprofessionals career ladder (steps); and, it will increased the value of the highest steps (14, 15 and 16)
  • Provide A Better School Day: The Board will hire over 600 additional 'special' teachers in art, music, physical education, world languages and other classes to ensure students receive a better school day, a demand thousands of parents have called for since last year
  • Ensures Job Security: Creates a "CPS Hiring Pool," which demands that one-half of all of CPS hires must be displaced (laid-off) members.
  • Adds An Anti-Bullying Provision: No more bullying by principals and managerial personnel.  The new language will curtail some of the abusive practices that have run rampant in many neighborhood schools.
  • Paraprofessional & Clinicians Prep Time: The new contract will guarantee preps for clinicians.
  • Racial Diversity: The CTU continues to fight the District on its lay-off policies that has led to a record number of African American educators being laid off and eventually terminated by the District.  The new contract will ensure that CPS recruits a racially diverse teaching force.
  • New Recall Rights & Tackling  School Closings:  Acknowledging, the CTU will continue its ongoing legal and legislative fight for a moratorium on all school closings, turnarounds and phase-outs, the new contract requires teachers to "follow their students" in all school actions. This will reduce instability among students and educators.  The contract will also have 10 months of "true recall" to the same school if a position opens.
  • Fairer Evaluation Procedures:  The new contract will limit CPS to 70% "teacher practice," 30% "student growth" (or test scores)-which is the minimum by state law.  It also secures in the first year of implementation of the new evaluation procedures there will be "no harmful consequences" for tenured teachers. It also secures a new right-the right to appeal a rating.
  • Reimbursement for School Supplies: The contract will require the District to reimburse educators for the purchase of school supplies up to $250.
  • Additional Wrap-Around Services:  The Board agrees to commit to hire nurses, social workers and school counselors if it gets new revenue. Over the past several months, the CTU has identified several sources of new revenue, including the Tax Increment Financing program.
  • Books on Day One: For the first time, the new contract will guarantee all CPS students and educators have textbooks on day one and will not have to wait up to six weeks for learning materials.
  • Unified School Calendar:  The new contract will improve language on a unified calendar. The District will have one calendar for the entire school district and get rid of Track E and Track R schools.  All students and teaching personnel will begin on the same schedule.
  • Reduced Paperwork: The new contract ensures the new paperwork requirements are balanced against reduction of previous requirements.
"This Union has proven the Chicago labor movement is neither dormant nor dead," Lewis continued. "Our members are on the line because we all believe there is an assault on our profession and public education in general.  We will always do what is in the best interest of our students and our own children, many of whom attend these schools. We showed our solidarity and our strength, and with this new contract we have solidified our political power and captured the imagination of the nation. No one will ever look upon a teacher and think of him or her as a passive, person to be bullied and walked on ever again."
The union is not on strike over matters governed exclusively by IELRA Section 4.5 and 12(b).
The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve.  The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois.  For more information please visit CTU's website at www.ctunet.com.
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Mass Rally to Support CTU - Sat, Sept 15th

September 14, 2012 0 comments

There will be tens of thousands of people in Union Park tomorrow. TSJ will meet at the left of the speakers platform (when facing it). Look for both TSJ banners on sticks (see photo below) and join us there. Meet at 11:00 AM, things will be crowded!

Organize for this. Reach out personally, and call/text friends and family (etc), to be there too. We need massive numbers to demonstrate our support for the teachers and to show our collective power. We need to give Rahm and the CEOs, bankers, and real estate magnates who run our schools something to think about as they prepare to sabotage public education, close 100-150 schools, and privatize half the system.

Picture educational apartheid: a school district with some good public schools (mostly in affluent and more white neighborhoods, and selective schools), charter schools like mushrooms in the South and West sides run by big charter/contractor chains, and a few minimalist public schools as safety valves for students pushed out of charters. This will mean the loss of hundreds of Black teachers as well. Looks like New Orleans and Detroit.

The collective power and unity built through this strike is a precondition for the fight ahead of us.

Download flyers, English and Spanish versions. Also check out the CTU Strike Update page for updates from today's rally, the picket line, and lots of pictures and other info. Check out picture of TSJ banners:

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Statement of Solidarity from the Graduate Employees Organization at UIC: CTU’s fight is our fight!

I am writing to you as a Co-president of GEO and a family member of a Chicago Public School teacher. My spouse, John, is a member of CTU and an elementary music teacher at Dominguez Elementary in Little Village. John has been a teacher in the public schools for 12 years. He has worked inmany different classrooms with kindergartners who never went to preschool, cannot read (much less tie their own shoe), and cannot speak English. When Mayor Rahm Emanuel was pushing for a longer school day and advocates for school “reform” were decrying Chicago’s short school day, John was working from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm and only had a 20 minute break to eat his lunch. Often he was not scheduled time to prepare his lessons during the day, so most of the preparation for his lessons happened outside of the school day—the work he does cannot be measured only by the time he spends in front of his students.

Since I’m a full-time graduate student earning low wages as a teaching assistant and paying high fees at UIC, John’s salary covers our living expenses. The day the CTU went on strike, John ceased to earn any income. Every day he goes to the picket lines at 6:30 am and marches with his fellow teachers every afternoon downtown. This strike is not about increasing teachers’ salaries. John and all CTU teachers are committed to fighting for better working conditions and for a better education for all CPS students—that means up-to-date text books, social workers and nurses in every school, smaller class sizes, and music and art for all CPS students, not just the wealthiest.

As a teaching assistant at UIC, I see the same fight ahead of us. We are up against a University system that takes our labor for granted. A University that is slow to give us the proper training and supplies that we need to do our job and that continually uses the current economic crisis to force us to work for low wages. Like John and the CTU, I am standing up for workers and demanding that we not bear the weight of austerity alone. Support CTU at a rally this Saturday, September 15, at noon in Union Park (Ashland and Lake), and join the GEO at the bargaining table as we negotiate our contract with the University on Wednesday, September 12, at 1:00 pm in University Hall, room 650. Stand with the CTU and the GEO to fight for workers and the future of public education!

Marissa Baker
Co-President, GEO
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TSJ Appearances on Democracy Now!

September 13, 2012 0 comments

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Why We're Striking in Chicago

September 11, 2012 0 comments

Teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians in Chicago have been without a labor agreement since June of this year.
Following the inability of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to reach an agreement over benefits, the role of standardized tests in teacher evaluations, and physical improvements to schools that teachers say are harming both teacher and student performance, the CTU has announced that a city-wide stirke will begin today - the first teachers strike in 25 years.
Pickets are expected at 675 schools and the Board of Education.
The following are remarks from CTU President Karen Lewis.
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TSJ Strike Support Actions Week of 9/9

September 9, 2012 0 comments

Every day of the strike, TSJ will be handing out flyers and talking to parents at many of the holding schools Rahm has set up. Join us! Be there at 8am when parents arrive or at 12:30pm when they pick up their children. When you arrive at the school, find the CTU picket captain and tell them you are there with TSJ. You can download flyers to print here.

Also, in collaboration with Parents United For Safe Passage, TSJ is volunteering time and resources for K-8th grade students to receive educational instruction from 9am-3pm every weekday. To volunteer or donate supplies and/or food, please contact Aisha at aishaelamin2[at]gmail.com.

For up-to-date information from CTU, please go to CTU's Strike Central Page.

Monday, 9/10
  • Picketing at CPS holding schools 8-9am (when parents drop off kids) or 12:15-1:00pm (when parents pick up kids)
  • Feeder march from Pilsen to downtown rally. Meet at 1:45pm at 18th and Loomis. March will start at 2:15pm. We will march through the Loop and meet up with the rally at CPS Headquarters. Contact # 312-375-8898 for more info.
Tuesday, 9/11
  • Picketing at CPS holding schools
  • 9:30am - March & Rally in Albany Park. TSJ is joining with Albany Park Neighborhood Council on a march from Hibbert Elementary School (3244 W. Ainslie at Sawyer) through Albany Park to Haugan Elementary (4540 N. Hamlin) and ending at Roosevelt High School (3436 W. Wilson) where there will be a rally. All three schools are CPS holding schools (or what we're calling "Children Last" schools).
  • 2:30pm - CPS HQ - Fair Contract Rally
  • 4:30pm - City Hall, 5th Floor - Labor supporters press conference
Wednesday, 9/12
  • 9am - Student press conference w/ VOYCE at Wells HS 936 N Ashland
  • 11am - Rallies at 3 High Schools:
    • Marshall HS 3250 W. Adams (meet at Jackson and Kedzie)
    • Kelly HS 4136 S. California (meet at Archer and California)
    • Dyett HS 555 E. 51st Street (meet at 51st and King Dr)
Thursday, 9/13
  • 8:30am - March in Albany Park from Haugan Elementary School 4540 N. Hamlin to Hibbard School, 3244 W. Ainslie, ending at Roosevelt High school at Kimball and Wilson.
  • 3:30pm - DAILY CTU RALLY: Communities Support the CTU Strike Rally at the Hyatt, 151 E. Wacker. 3:30pm picket @ Hyatt and 4:45 rally and press conference at Congress and Michigan. FB Event here.
  • 6:30pm - Albany Park CTU Strike Community Forum: The Teachers Strike and the Schools Chicago Children Deserve, Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3253 W. Wilson. Co-sponsered by TSJ, Albany Park Neighborhood Council and Albany Park Teachers Solidarity Campaign. CTU Spokesperson will share bargaining update. Child care and Spanish-English interpretation provided. FB Event here.
  • 6:30pm - Rogers Park Community Forum: Parents and Teachers United For Our Children, St. James Presbyterian Church, 6554 N. Rockwell. Cosponsored by West Rogers Park 99% and Parents 4 Teachers.
Friday, 9/14
  • 8-9am - Teachers will be picketing at schools
  • 9-noon - Canvassing the neighborhoods with teachers after picketing. Use this flyer in English and Spanish for canvassing.
  • 9:45am - March and Rally @ Logan Square Monument: Join parents and students from 12 Logan Square schools on Friday morning at 9:45am at the Logan Square Monument (Kedzie/Milwaukee/Logan Blvd) to show some love for our teachers! March, rally and children's songs. Ask your kids to bring hearts/valentines/love notes to teachers.
Saturday, 9/15
  • Noon - CTU Strike Solidarity Rally, Union Park, Ashland & Lake. This Saturday, the CTU and all of labor will hold an historic rally to support the CTU and stand up for what is best for students, schools and union members.  
Neighborhood actions

Albany Park
Contact Erin (emomoore[at]gmail.com)
  • Sunday, leafleting @ Lindo Michoacan w APNC, 1-3pm
  • Sunday, leafleting in Lincoln Sq (area w shops on Lincoln just South of Lawrence), 3:30-5pm
  • Monday, Solidarity w CTU @ Hibbard School (3244 W. Ainslie) and Haugan School (4540 N. Hamlin), 8am
  • Tuesday,  9:30am - March & Rally in Albany Park. TSJ is joining with Albany Park Neighborhood Council on a march from Hibbert Elementary School (3244 W. Ainslie at Sawyer) through Albany Park to Haugan Elementary (4540 N. Hamlin) and ending at Roosevelt High School (3436 W. Wilson) where there will be a rally. All three schools are CPS holding schools (or what we're calling "Children Last" schools).
  • Thursday, 8:30am - March from Haugan Elementary School 4540 N. Hamlin to Hibbard School, 3244 W. Ainslie, ending at Roosevelt High school at Kimball and Wilson.
  • Thursday, Albany Park CTU Strike Community Forum, 9/13, 6:30 p.m.,Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church 3253 W. Wilson
  • Strike school in collaboration with Parents United For Safe Passage, M-F 9am-3pm. Volunteers to work with K-8th grades needed, as well as supplies/food. Contact Aisha for more information: aishaelamin2[at]gmail.com
Logan Square
Contact Missy (missy48[at]gmail.com)
  • Sunday, Logan Square Farmers Market (corner Milwaukee, Logan Blvd) 10 AM – 3PM
  • Sunday, Jimenez Mercado, 3840 W. Fullerton 8:30-9:30am
  • Sunday, Tonys Grocery 3607 W. Fullerton 9-10am & 12-2pm
  • Friday,  9:45am - March and Rally @ Logan Square Monument: Join parents and students from 12 Logan Square schools on Friday morning at 9:45am at the Logan Square Monument (Kedzie/Milwaukee/Logan Blvd) to show some love for our teachers! March, rally and children's songs. Ask your kids to bring hearts/valentines/love notes to teachers.
  • Flyering on the weekend (Contact Missy at missy45[at]gmail.com)
Rogers Park
Contact Lew (rosetree[at]mindspring.com)
  • Sunday, flyering at Lunt and the lake, 3-5PM
  • Monday, flyering at Gale Elementary 1631 W. Jonquil Terr 8am
  • Monday, flyering at Armstrong Elementary 2100 W. Greenleaf 8am
South Side Neighborhoods
Contact Tonya: tonyat80[at]yahoo.com
  • Sunday, flyering Far South, at 87th & State, 2-4PM
  • Tuesday, flyering Hyde Park 55th & Lake Park, 4-6 PM
  • Wednesday flyering 47th & Kedzie, 4-6 PM
Contact Byron bsigcho[at]gmail.com
  • Monday, flyering at Cooper Branch School 1624 W. 19th St, 8-9am
  • Monday, flyering at Perez School 1231 W. 19th St, 8-9am
  • Monday, flyering at Smyth School 1059 W. 13th (ABLA Homes, Roosevelt Rd) 8-9am

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CTU Strike Support: What You Can Do

September 5, 2012 0 comments

The Chicago Teachers Union is in a fight for a fair contract, job security, and the resources to give students a better school day. This is a strategic fight for public education in Chicago and nationally. Rahm is counting on pitting parents and community members against teachers, and the corporate media is pumping out the anti-union message. We have to counter it with grassroots power.

  1. Join teachers, support staff, and paraprofessionals on the picket lines. They need us to show we are on their side and to talk with parents at the schools Rahm is keeping open for students. Click here for list sorted by school or by zip code.
  2. Put a CTU support sign in your window/yard. Distribute signs to coffee shops, work places, other public spots.
  3. Hand out leaflets and talk to parents and community members at el stops, shopping areas, etc. Coordinate passing out leaflets with others.
  4. Make your home/office a pick up location for signs and leaflets.
  5. Banner drops over busy highways, key public intersections.
  6. Help out at the Uptown Families United Strike School, grades K-8th, and welcoming HS students as tutors. Daily, from 9:00-3:00, in Uptown.
  7. Tell Chicago's mayor and school board to make our students a priority. Demand smaller classes, a better school day, and a fair contract! Let your voice be heard. Call now:

Come to TSJ meeting Sat., Sept. 8, 11am-1pm at UIC, 1040 W. Harrison, Rm 3233 AGENDA:

  • 11:00 Intros and Welcome
  • 11:15 Begin planning/organizing for the CF 
  • 12:00 CTU Strike Support

  • Email teachersforjustice[at]hotmail.com with what you are able to do.

    Watch TSJ website/Facebook for updates on what we are doing and how you can plug in.


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