Archive for the ‘CTU’ category

Is This Really Fair CPS?

August 29, 2011

The Chicago Public Schools want to give teachers a 2% raise for 29% more hours.  For a beginning teacher this is $3.08 an hour.  That’s considerably less than many of her students would make babysitting.

Rahm vs. The Chicago Teachers

August 26, 2011

It’s been nearly a year since I posted to this blog.  I frankly considered it done.  I continued to leave it up for those who found previous postings useful while I used satire to comment on education elsewhere.   Satire is something I’m good at, but it doesn’t do a great job of encapsulating all my feelings at this particular moment.

What I really want to do is teach.  I got into education after working nearly 10 years in the private sector.  I got a bachelor’s degree in history and made the rather unusual jump to broadcasting.   I got into teaching  just before programs like Teach for America hit, so I moved back home for 2 years and took classes in education while taking a huge pay cut to work at a comic book store because the hours worked around my schedule.   It also gave me the opportunity to look after my dad as he suffered through the Alzheimer’s Disease that finally took his life.  I point this out because for some reason I feel the need to justify that I know what hard work is.

The Chicago Public Schools were supposed to give their teachers a 4% raise this year.  This was an agreement that was negotiated 5 years ago.  We got a decent pay raise, but we made other concessions that made me vote against the contract at the time.  When the raises were not granted, the city didn’t even pretend that it was because of a budget shortfall.  Instead, they actually said teachers really didn’t deserve the raise that we had negotiated with in good faith.  At the very same meeting that we were denied a raise, the top brass were granted large pay raises.

Chicago now wants to expand the school day 90 minutes and the school year 2 weeks.  They want us to take their word that this time will be well spent and in exchange for working 29% more hours, we will be paid 2% more salary.  I really don’t care about the money.  Frankly, the $3.50 an hour or so I’d make comes to less than I spend in my classroom on a yearly basis.  What I care about is that I believe the city’s big idea is to use its teachers as wardens.

As I read press releases from city hall, the big push seems to be keeping these students off the street where they cause crime.  That is so wrong headed, maybe I shouldn’t be the most insulted by this plan.  My students have a right to be far angrier than I do.  Is it so much to ask that this time be used for quality and that teachers be fairly compensated.  Our day is short, but that is because in the 70s teachers agreed to not take their 45 minute lunch and instead get out 45 minutes early.  We actually have more instructional time than New York or Los Angeles, but we have no planning time.  I would be happy to stay an extra 45 minutes if it gave me more planning time.   I am less enthused about the extra two weeks when classrooms are over 90 degrees in summer and most are not air conditioned.

I urge the city to show us a plan that is for quality time.  I currently use my time after school for tutoring, planning, and two days a week I do an after school improvisational comedy class.  If this is being replaced by more drill and kill, there is no point.  I just want to teach.  I am not unreasonable, but quantity isn’t the same as quality.

CORE Wins!

June 13, 2010

After an election on may 21st that saw CORE and UPC each take about 1/3 of the Chicago Teachers Union votes, it all came down to a runoff between CTU and CORE on this past Friday, June 11th. The result was a resounding CORE victory 60% to 40%. For me personally, it means I will be a delegate to the AFT convention and one of 17 elementary school advisers to the union. To the teachers, parents, and students of Chicago I believe it means hope.

The Chicago Public Schools waited until after all the teachers had voted Friday to announce an emergency board meeting for this coming Tuesday. The purpose of that meeting is to clear the way to be able to fire 3,000 teachers in a cost cutting move. The 3,000 teachers won’t find out until the middle of July for the most part, after virtually all teaching jobs are filled. They will then have until September to find a job or lose all seniority, cutting their pay drastically and taking away their tenure. Meanwhile, the children of Chicago can look forward to classes of 35 next year. CORE is taking over in the middle of a crisis and that kind of sucks, but there is nobody I’d rather have lead us through a crisis.

Teachers are going to need to mobilize and that’s difficult. Nobody signed up to teach to be a labor agitator, but unfortunately, we can’t do the job we love unless we do.

CTU Election 5/21

May 19, 2010

We’re down to the final two days before the Chicago teachers get to choose between business as usual union politics where we throw money at politicians and hope they save us and movement style union politics where we save ourselves.   If you have been following my sporadic postings since October you know that I took Howard Zinn’s advice and joined up with a social movement.   As a teacher, the thing that was most important to me was education and naturally that’s where I went.  I can’t tell you how CORE has impressed me in this time.   While the other caucuses seem exactly one person deep–maybe two—CORE has 20 or 30.

I talk about CORE a bit differently than most.   You see, since I didn’t join until October I was able to pick a caucus that felt like they would take the union where it needed to go.   Since, I joined I’ve seen CORE’s partnerships with Teachers for Social Justice, Chicago Youth Initiating Change, and a host of community organizations.   We have something developing here and I’d ordinarily be quite content if we lost the election to sit back and continue to let the movement germinate, but who knows what will be left of the union or the city’s schools if another caucus wins—especially UPC.

The CORE Slate

Karen Lewis – She’s a firebrand.   She reminds me a bit of my sister.   Most of the time she’s pretty laid back and easygoing, but let her talk about education and she lights up.   She makes such an eloquent spokesperson for the teachers and students of the Chicago Public Schools.   It’s about time we had a CTU President that we can watch on Chicago Tonight without cringing.

Jesse Sharkey – He’s the perfect counterpoint to Karen.  I see him at CORE meetings with his young son and I see not only a great feather, but also a guy who really knows how to organize his time.   He’s a very effective speaker as well who was quite effective during the city council hearing on school turnarounds.

Kristine Mayle – I blogged about Kristine on the last day before going into work this year.   I was shocked to find out the next day that she would be working with me.  She reminds me of a turn of the 20th century labor leader.  She is so polished and well-spoken.  She also seems to be a font of endless stamina.  She made it to every school closing hearing 2 years ago and most of them this year.

Michael Brunson – Michael is fun.  He’s a former boxer and a second career teacher who is extremely gentle and charming, but like you might expect there’s a fighter there.   He’ll be smiling and you never see the jab coming.

I could go on and on.   This is an organization that is passionate about public education.   Check us out at http://www.coreteachers.com.   If you are a Chicago Public Schools teacher I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but I am going to tell you educate yourself and make up your own mind.   I’m looking forward to Friday when the votes are cast, but I’m also nervous as all get out.