Lewis On WTTW (Plus More)

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I'm always a little nervous when Karen Lewis appears on camera, but the truth is that she's usually pretty articulate, etc. (whether you agree with her or not. In addition to the segment last night, WTTW has an interview with social studies teacher Jessica Marshall which is just as interesting if not more so.

Curious tidbit: Lewis and I met each other long ago in the green room at WTTW.

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  • Karen speaks openly with honesty, passion, and most importantly she is armed with the truth. Nervous? Why should that make you nervous? Compare her to JC's canned McInterviews and it is clear who is thinking for themselves and who is regurgitating talking points.

  • I am gagging right now. Karen is a train wreck. She simply spews ctu jargon or maybe you like to call it McJargon. Yes, she does think for and of HERSELF and certainly NOT the children.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You must be choking on the truth. Maybe Emanuel will perform a heimlich on you. Probably not.

    "What about the children", huh? Whenever somebody trots out that tired old cannard, you can bet they really don't care about kids.

    Karen Lewis and the CTU teachers she represents work with children EVERYDAY, unlike Duncan, Emanuel, Brizard, Pritzker, et. al. Teachers do not benefit from the suffering of children- we work with them throughout the school day. What is good for them is good for us and vice versa.

    The agenda pushed by the Emanuel, the board, and so-called reformers are by and large detrimental to children, but reap great rewards for the wealthy and the powers that be.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Clown, you are gagging on the truth! CTU uses quality research to back their statement. That should make you nervous!

  • Personally I thought the interview was more important than the appearance
    of either party.

  • In my opinion this interview by President Lewis's with WTTW was really her most solid and dignified TV performance since she was elected. I thought she dealt with the questions relating to a strike authorization vote appropriately and explained the need for significant pre-planning in relation to that vote because of SB7.

    I thought her discussion of bargaining that took place around SB7 without a doubt represented her perspective on these issues, I believe based on discussions with lobbyists that were at these meetings that Senator Lightford who was at the table did not support a full scale strike ban for the CTU so it seems possible that a better deal could have been reached. But at any rate the situation now is what it is.

    President Lewis mentioned that the CPS threatened the CTU with having 55 students in a classroom. I do not know if this was done at the bargaining table, but I do know that Mayor Emanuel yesterday in his presentation to the before the House Personnel and Pension Committee stated this:
    "If [pension] reforms are not made, by 2013, the burden from higher payments to the Chicago teachers’ pension fund will require city taxpayers to pay $517 million for Chicago teacher pensions – a jump of $300 million by next year. It’s either that or make drastic changes in how we educate kids. Since the Chicago Board of Education is subject to tax caps, the only choice is to raise the $300 million through direct cuts in our classrooms. Those cuts mean the average class size will jump to approximately 55 students."

    I must admit my ears perked up when I heard this as they did when the Mayor stated the combined cost of the existing pension payments would require city residents to take a 150% property tax increase. Clearly the Mayor got the shock and awe affect he was looking for. But I also heard something that no news outlets reported to the public, that people who did not witness the Mayor's testimony first hand or on video did not hear. The Mayor and his staff were questioned about what were called the actuarial assumptions underlying these statements. One of his staff seated at the table admitted that actuarial analysis was an "art form" as opposed to pure accounting because it involved projective analysis. That should give us all pause for consideration relative to the horror the children and citizens face if the Mayor's pension plan is not enacted fast. But it also does not mean that there is not a big problem relating to Chicago's combined pension obligations.

    The Mayor informed the Committee that the City of Chicago intended to introduce legislation relating to pension reform proposals that have been covered today extensively by both the Tribune and Sun Times. The plan basically was according to the Sun Times:

    ◆ A five-year increase in the retirement age — raising it to 67 for most civilian workers and to 60 for police and fire department workers. The plan also doesn’t say whether the retirement age would be raised for current employees or just new hires, or some combination.
    ◆ A suspension of annual cost-of-living increases in pension benefits for current retirees “to stop the bleeding” — a “pause,” he called it, that would remain in place for 10 years.
    ◆ A 1-percent yearly increase in contributions from existing employees for five years.
    ◆ Offering newly hired city and maybe CPS employees a “choice” between a defined benefits plan and the 401(k) plans favored by private industry.

    How this plan has been presented to the CTU and CTPF I do not know. I suspect from President's Lewis' comment to the Tribune yesterday that the Mayor's proposal attempts to "take every crumb from people who have worked 30 to 40 years to achieve some stability," that she was not informed in advance of these new reforms.

    But I do know that apparently part of the strategy to get this deal through the General Assembly involved also a shell bill that was gutted and replaced last week, HB 4246. This bill has been endorsed by the CTPF and I have been told also by the CTU although the union has not confirmed that with me. HB 4246 would require the state to fund the CTPF next year at $191,289,707 up from only $10 million in FY 12. There are additional complexities to this bill which are outside the scope of this post. I strongly suspect that HB 4246 was not initially seen by either the CTU or CTPF as the other shoe to be dropped in relation to the Mayor's bill on pension reform that has yet to have been filed in Springfield.

    HB 4246 is very unlikely to pass the General Assembly unless the CTU and the pension fund agree to the pension reform proposal put forward by the Mayor. Why in the world else would a suburban legislator agree to take an additional $181.3 million out of the state's already collapsing budget unless the state's constitutional burden to effectively guarantee these pensions were significantly alleviated? Or at least these legislators can delude themselves that the burden was significantly alleviated. Oh the complexities and traps President Lewis faces, but for one night she looked good and looked competent as a leader prepared to defend her members interests.

    Rod Estvan

  • Rod, great info. There were great praises for George W. Bush after his "mission accomplished" speech. Look how that turned out.

  • I think it was an overall good interview. To the comment of Karen NOT thinking of the children, I do not think that is true. She is doing what she is suppose to be doing, what EVERY union does, to protect it's members, in this case it is the teachers!! Unions are there to make sure it's members are being treated fairly and are being compensated fairly, as well as making sure they have comfortable working conditions, which they certainly do not at this point! No one wants a strike, but teachers have to stand up for themselves. The way teachers are being treated is disgraceful! They need to stand up for what it right. They deserve to be respected, not demeaned! In China and other countries, teachers are looked upon with respect and dignity. Here they are disrespected and degrated at every turn. It is time for the teachers to take a stand!

  • I sure wish i could write as well as Rod.Great story.
    Assuming the push by democrats to shift the pension debt to the
    local districts was a ruse ,what Emanual really wants is beginning
    to become clear.He wants the state to start paying Chicago:s
    pension obligations.
    I did not read anything about the state and federal government
    paying 57.1% of the CPS budget already .he also didn't mention
    in Dist.230 that amount is 14.6%so Chicago can afford to levy a tax for pensions because everybody else in the state pays over half the cost of
    the schools in Chicago.Finally I read nothing about the last 15 years of
    diverting that pension tax into god knows where.

  • Headache299
    Ms. Elizabeth Brackett – if your work hours are increased by 21% or 22% and you then ask to be paid for the extra mandatory on-site hours, it is not a 30% ‘raise’.

    Please get your interview information straight. This is a basic fifth grade lesson on percent of increase. Call the CPS Department of Mathematics & Science for your fifth grade ‘recovery’ lesson on percentages. If you were a CTU/CPS teacher and your instruction was this poorly planned, your evaluation rating would justifiably be lowered.

  • Is Karen Lewis being a good leader? I am not a supporter and never have been and the idea of a strike makes me nauseous so you know my prejudice upfront. But consider where she's leading us and whether it may be to our own self-destruction.

    Her unwillingness to discuss CTU's proposal on wages while disparaging CPS' seems a bit dishonest to me but maybe it's a good tactic for creating rage among teachers. But we all know that it's been widely reported that CTU made a 30% salary increase demand. Why not own up to it and defend it? Doesn't seem right to lie about it -- if it's a proposal you believe in, I mean.

    I got a report from my delegate that last night’s delegates' meeting was all about striking and taking a vote soon. I am apprehensive about this. Don't we need to know what we are asking for before that happens? Or is Lewis just hell bent on taking us out on strike regardless of what we want or will accept?

    I don't like how this is shaping up. It seems like Lewis was hired to organize a strike and she's got a plan to make that happen no matter what. But I don't see how a strike ends because I don't know specifically what we want and, even if I did, I am not sure Lewis can ever get us there. I mean, at some point, a labor leader has to speak the words "I agree" and those are words that do not appear to be in Lewis' vernacular.

    If Lewis has a vision of what an acceptable agreement looks like, what elements does it include? How long a strike will it take to get them and at what cost to me, my family, my school, and my relationship with parents? CTU literature says to plan for a 3-week strike. Is that optimistic if this is really about increases onthe magnitude of 30%?

    And how ugly will this strike be? Parents will be divided but my guess is that they will end up hating both sides the longer it goes on. And I think we've already lost the general public. Lewis appeals to teachers, no one else and a strike isn't likely to win us great favor from the community.

    If we go on strike, on what terms will Lewis settle a strike? Is it 30% or die? 20%? 10%? No longer day? Some compromise on the longer day? "Respect"?

    Respect is not something I see us winning via a strike and I am not sure how that gets spelled out in a contract any way. I don't see how the money gets resolved at the levels CTU is "reportedly" demanding. So I don't see how this ends well for anybody. My real fear is that it will do a lot of harm to everybody, Lewis included, and teachers will end up carrying the baggage for a lot of community unrest.

    Lewis should do some real explaining to the membership on how she envisions this all playing out before she asks people to blindly support a job action that could destroy them and starts forcing people not to report to work. It's too big a deal to be treated as casually as she appears to be treating this. It's going to hurt us and the calculus must be in whether the gain will outweigh the hurt.

    I am unconvinced right now.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Karen Lewis was not hired. She was ELECTED by the membership. She is our leader whether you like it or not. Personally, I think she and the Executive Board are doing a great job.

    Karen Lewis, like me and virtually every teacher I talk to, feels we have NO OTHER OPTION. What is the alternative? Have they given us a reasonable offer?

    Karen Lewis is being cagey at the moment. She's considering how things will look in the press. There are too many scenarios at play here. Will they actually inflict this long day on our students? Will they back down? Well, that immediately changes what we're looking for. Will they give us strong language in the contract that protects us? Well, I think most of us are willing to give up some $$$ for safety. This is not a normal trip to the bargaining table. They want to shred the contract and remove the single most powerful line in it. You know, the one dealing with our health and safety..... They want to take our sick days. They want to move to merit pay, which is no pay at all. They want to end public schools. This last one is NOT an exaggeration. Look at Detroit. Look at New Orleans. Look at the charter teachers here in Chicago busting their humps to unionize because of the abuses.

    The Board is not negotiating in good faith. Our demands are all good for teachers. Demands that help teachers, help students. The happier and more secure I am in my job, the more I give to my students. Just like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. If my students are scared, hungry, sick, or unloved, they can't learn. If I'm afraid of losing my job and constantly demonized, I can't teach as well as I'm capable of.

    It's actually just like the end of a horror movie. Pretty girl (us) runs upstairs to her bedroom closet to hide from the psycho killer (Rahm and his puppets). Killer is searching room by room. Pretty girl can either cower and be slaughtered, or she can take a hanger, bend it, and stab the killer in the eye and run out. If we had any other option, we'd take that. Sadly we're trapped in a closet and our only chance at survival right now is to STAND TALL in SOLIDARITY and stab Rahm Emmanuel in the eye (metaphorically of course) with a strike vote.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Thank you to the teacher posting about the delegate meeting. As a parent, I welcome the honest information. The angry posts from your peers to your information only reinforces that the union is not focused or clear on its strategy to force a strike. You are right to be concerned and unconviced because you will be the one without a paycheck and brooding angry parents who may smile, but do not support the strike.

    NO parents will NOT support a strike and they will get very angry very fast. Sure some will support it, but do not kid yourself. There is not any kind of groundswell of support. Parents do love their good teachers, but the strike will turn off many parents regardless of if they like their kids teacher or not.

    The teachers will bear the brunt of the negative feelings that will be a fallout of a strike. If you feel disrespected now, just wait until you strike.

    Teachers, you pay the ctu to represent you. You will be the ones that deal with the mess they push you into with a strike. Good teachers you are smarter than that. Bad teachers, strike away because that is the only way to keep your job. Good teachers realize, that what the ctu is doing is making all of you look like the worst teacher in the system. You can't expect parents to respect that even though they may respect you as an individual.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I don't believe this was posted by an actual teacher because she would have to be living under a rock not to know what the CTU wants.
    ...If you are a teacher, SHAME ON YOU for posting details of the Delegate's meeting! You are undermining all your comrades.

  • What does the CTU want? Really? You don't know?

    * A stop to the privatization and profitization of public education.
    * A stop to spending over $300 million each year to close schools and open non-union charters that are no more effective.
    * More work, more pay on a proportional basis. (25% more work? 25% more pay.)
    * Maintenance of health insurance coverage and costs.
    * Full staffing on day 1 for every child in every school in the district.
    * Smaller class sizes.
    * Full and rich curricula for every child - like the type of education the mayor's children receive - including music, sciences, art, world language, drama, physical education, etc.
    * Fulfillment of CPS pension obligations. (No more holidays. CPS has taken pension payment holidays for 13 out of the last 18 years.)
    * Equitable funding for neighborhood schools.
    * Facilities improvements so students and teachers are not in literally crumbling classrooms.
    * Reasonable work hours and work days.
    * Protections (in the form of due process) from rogue principals - and there are far more than most teachers even realize.
    * Reductions in high stakes testing (which currently cost $60 million per year).
    * A fair, responsible, and reliable evaluation system (unlike the new value added measurements).

    That's the short list, anyway.

    Karen Lewis was not 'hired'. She was elected. So were the 700+ leaders in the House of Delegates, elected from schools all over the city; they are unanimously in favor of standing up and fighting for a fair and just contract.

    And you're wrong about parents and communities. Many parents and parent organizations, students and student organizations, and community groups and coalitions around the city support the CTU's fight for public education.

    Finally, a strike authorization vote does not require a strike. But it does put pressure on the Board to negotiate in good faith and provides incentive to work out a fair deal.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    As I have stated repeatedly and now the CPS has posted on its website it is not legal for the CTU to go on strike over work rules, due to SB7. These include work hours, days of work, and many other things on the list above. Union members can only strike over wages and benefits and hope to use that demand to cause CPS to come to the table on these non-strikeable issues.

    I do not agree with this law, but it is the law and it will be enforced by the courts. I think the vision above of "what does the CTU want," is well beyond the scope of what the union is likely to get via a strike given the restrictions of existing law. SB7 and preexisting law also by the way prohibits the CTU from striking over privatization and states so directly. I say this with no joy in doing so because Illinois has created effectively a right to work type law in a supposed bastion of the Democratic party.

    Lets be clear here, if the message above in any way represents the strike goals of the union the CPS will be able to get a court to declare the strike illegal and order every union member back to work come September if a strike was called. Union members especially delegates, and I get the impression that the author of the above was a delegate, need to get far more sophisticated real fast or any strike will be blocked as soon as it is called. While even delegates have free speech rights, those rights can also be used against the union.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    It is true that the CTU can only strike over wages. But they still can negotiate. Obviously pay is one of the reasons for a strike. They are asking teachers to take on a much larger work load and have only offered to compensate a mere 2% for the full lenth of the new contract! That is an absolute disrace! That alone in my opinion is enough to make teachers want to strike! From what I am hearing, CPS will not even negoiate or listen to what the CTU has to say regarding what the CTU wants for it's members.

    They cannot block a strike. The SB7 law that was passed stated that teachers have to have a 75% vote from it's members in order to even have a strike. If they get the 75% vote, then they will strike if they have to, it cannot be blocked. As for the reason for a strike, well there are so many reasons, but wages is obviously one of them which is why this strike will be legal. Also, even if the CTU does get the 75% vote, it does not mean they will strike. Hopefully it will get CPS to finally listen and know that the CTU and it's members mean business.

  • In reply to fedup:

    The law is clear CPS does not have to bargain over work rules if it choses not to. So the the CTU can not negotiate over 4.5 issues unless CPS agrees to do so, and from what I understand it has not agreed to do so. If the wage and benefit demands can bring them to the table on these issues to cut a deal that is well within the law. So right now not only can the union not legally strike over these excluded issues it cannot bargain over them until CPS agrees to. The union can say it wants to bargain over these things, but CPS can just say no, and up to now I believe that is what it has said.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    But the union can negotiate over the effects on members
    of prohibited subjects. the effect on teachers of the board invoking it's unilateral right to set the school day can surely
    be proven. Thus the right can not be questioned but
    the effect on members can.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    But the impact or effect bargaining can only relate to money paid to compensate for work rule changes. Unless The district agrees to bargain over the rule changes themselves.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    you are correct.The district is not obliged to bargain
    over work rule changes at all.But the effect those
    changes have on the workforce is not prohibited..
    As I understand the 95 law and SB7 the board can
    add time to the day.However the effect of that time on the members is subject to bargaining while the added time is not.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Our schedule for next year was passed out last week and our special education teachers are on duty for 45 minutes a day for lunch/recess. Is this really cost effective? So now they will be in the general education rooms for inclusion time even less than before and I really can't blame the principal as we have no aides and only one security guard. The longer day is insane. So all of the students will get 45 minutes at the expense of the students with disabilities who will get 45 minutes less of services. Tell me again that "this is for the children" Yeah right!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I wrote the post above. The list includes things for which the Union is fighting in support of public education. It is not a list of strike issues. I certainly have no power or authority to come up with strike demands. I'm just a teacher.

    While I understand everyone is feeling uneasy about a strike, we should all keep in mind that the fight for public education includes far more than just strike talk.

    I should have made that more clear, especially in response to a comment largely about strike issues.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Wow, the fact that you say you "have no power or authority to come up with strike demands.....I'm just a teacher." Is shocking and incredibly concerning to me as a parent. As a teacher, YOU pay the dues, YOU should understand the implications of a strike, YOU should demand the ctu represent YOU as a teacher. YOU are the one who will vote yes or no for a strike. How can you portray it as if you have no part in the situation, like you are a third party. This clearly illustrates the disconnect with ctu and its membership. Teachers if you feel like victims, this is the reason, not the pubilc or the mayor, it is that you don't see yourselves as having any say with your union. No wonder nothing has been improved over the years, you don't even see yourselves as on the same team.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Nice misread to support your own ideas. Pathetic much. If you do not think the current mayor is attacking the Chicago Teacher's Union you are the one here is "clearly" disconnected and "incredibly" the victim of your own ignorance.

    Nothing has been "improved" because teachers are constantly shooting at moving targets brought on by benignly (& to often actively) corrupt district leadership. Couple this with generations of families that have little respect for the value of education and endemic poverty in most of the neighborhoods where classless individuals like you are too willing to find "teachers" the failures, not our political, cultural, and business leadership.

    A parent (frankly I suspect a much better parent.)

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I am on the same team as my fellow teachers and my students. I understand the implications of a strike. I support our elected union leaders. I support my profession. I do not support the Mayor's vision of education and employee relations.

    I am not a victim. I am glad to stand up for what is right.

    I have no power or authority to come up with strike demands because I am not a union leader.

  • a Union member posting internal Union meeting information is a rat and traitor. Not counting the fact that during war time they are talking against the elected president of our Union. In these times rats need to watch what happens when they decide to be traitors.

    Boss's spy ordered to leave CTU House of Delegates meeting
    the CTU executive board had voted to expel Wigler for life from the union following the discovery that he had been reporting from the House of Delegates meetings by email to executives of the Chicago Public Schools administration. Wigler, a former union staff member, had been serving as a delegate representing "citywide" teachers prior to his expulsion.
    http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=3246&section=Article

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Marc Wigler = SCAB

  • Under the Constitution and By-Laws of the Chicago Teachers Union, the union has the power to police its own ranks. Union members who violate union ethics can be brought before the executive board and tried. Historically, such trials have rarely taken place. The main times in history when they have taken place have been following strikes, when the union has put on trial all union members who crossed the picket lines. Those people, known as "Scabs" or strikebreakers during the strike, are allowed to explain their behavior and if they wish, to pay a significant fine and reinstate themselves into union membership. Most scabs refuse to repent and remain designated as "SB" on union membership lists forever ("SB" is the computer designation for strikebreaker).

  • The Scab

    After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab.

    A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue.

    Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

    When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.

    No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with.

    Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

    Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.

    Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver.

    Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commision in the british army.

    The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled promise from his employer.

    Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country.

    A scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and his class.

    Author --- Jack London (1876-1916)

  • CTU Mass Meeting Members Only, Wednesday, May 23, Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. Doors open 3 pm/ Program 4:30 pm. The Chicago Board of Education is trying to roll back the clock with unprecedented "take back" demands. They would take away everthing that Chicago Teachers Union members have won since the union was founded 75 years ago. The CTU will defend the teaching profession and work to help save public education. Yes to unity. Yes to dignity. Yes to a fair union contract. Yes to funding smaller class sizes. Yes to professionalism for our children. The CTU says yes to the future of our schools. P.S.- Please bring your CTU membership card or paycheck stub to the rally! Check www.ctunet.com for more information.

  • Today's comments have made me even more wary of what Lewis is leading us into and I fear my colleagues are being led down a path into a maze full of potential horrors. Whether a strike is legal or not, the expectations of some posters here seems incredibly high and their willingness to follow blindly is disconcerting.

    I would love all the things that posters say is what we're fighting for, but I'd also love to see the second-coming. I ain't waiting up nights for either. The expectation that we will be able to achieve those things is pure fantasy --- and Lewis should be straight with us about that. So if not all these fanciful things, the what should we reasonably expect? Nobody's saying and making a committment not to work without knowing what that that is seems pretty stupid to me.

    Here's my fear, we strike, we rabble rouse, and then Lewis comes to us with something substantially less than princely treasure for schools and teachers that she's got people expecting. . . what then? How does she explain it? Are the goofs at 125 South Clark whom she's maligned for the last two years suddenly trustworthy enough to make a deal with substantially less? And what do we demoralized and poorer and perhaps benefit-less folks tell her, then?

    I am all for cheering, supporting the cause, drowning out the morons at Board office . . . but that seems to be the easy part . . . at some point we will be called upon to work or to strike and I need to know what's at the core of that decision. I won't support it without knowing that and it's irresponsible to ask me to.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    It is okay if you are personally opposed to a strike, we have WAY more than 75%. You're not needed. There will always be a handful of snitches, traitors, ninnies, and doubters who nay say labor action and solidarity. Maybe you'll actually thank your fellow CTU teachers when we win gains for students AND teachers.

    If we don't strike we get nothing- a 2% raise for one year? CPS is offering nothing. NOTHING. If we "lost" a strike we'd still get nothing. Having said that I am confident that the threat of a strike in the form of an authorization vote will push Emanuel to ease up on his anti-student/anti-teacher proposals. He has future ambitions/delusions of grandeur and he'd be a fool to let CTU leave a mark on his resume. Besides, he has NO support outside of his mega-wealthy supporters. He already caved on the so-called "full school day" due to pressure from parents. Expect more backtracking from him.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I think accusing any apparent CTU member who is not willing to agree with the idea that members must vote to authorize either the House of Delegates or the CTU Executive Committee to call a strike at their determination, at a future date yet to be determined, with less than clearly stated strike goals to be part of a “handful of snitches, traitors, ninnies, and doubters who nay say labor action and solidarity” is truly disgusting. I personally don’t like the fact that the CTU is apparently, to use a football metaphor, quick punting the strike vote before both of the best final offers of CPS and CTU are made public. But I understand why.

    The why is a bad law, SB7, which instead of having a normal strike referendum, where those who want to vote have those votes counted and those who want to stand aside can do so. But the new law counts all non-voters as no votes do to the language of the law. Hence, in order to increase the possibility of reaching the 75% threshold the vote has to be called before the end of the school year. But the CTU agreed to this bad law and this bad voting process because at the time it looked better than an outright strike ban. So it is what it is.

    I have expressed this opinion on how bad this law was drafted to members of the General Assembly during the spring session and I have also in a meeting with members of the CPS leadership team in the last two months said the same thing. In my opinion diatribes like the one just unleashed on members of the same union over a difference of opinion relating to this quick vote is basically infantile.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Actually, the current CPS offer is a 2% raise for 5 years. 2% in year one, and nothing in years 2 through 5.

    And that is in exchange for about 25% more mandatory, on-site work hours.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I have no illusions that the CTU will win all the things listed above, in large part because most of them are not strikeable issues. But I still believe we should fight for those things.

    Maintaining the status quo, in fact, would be a fine outcome in my book. No merit pay, no elimination of steps and lanes, minimal to no increases in health insurance costs, reasonable work rules and hours, and, a big one for me, proportional pay for proportional work.

    I'd also like to see a stop to the privatization of our public schools, but I don't think that is likely at this juncture.

    Our mayor is seeking to dramatically alter, for the worse, what it means to be a teacher in CPS. Those types of immediate and wholesale changes are not only unproven (and in many cases proven NOT to work), they are irresponsible.

    The reason we see a

  • from JCB:

    "I wanted to bring to your attention that we’ve updated our collective bargaining website. There has been several misleading and inaccurate claims recently made about contract proposals put forth by CPS as part of negotiations with the CTU. That’s why we’ve updated our collective bargaining website with factual information that helps set the record straight.

    You can visit our website at www.cps.edu/collectivebargaining, or click on this link to take you directly to the webpage that sets the record straight on CPS proposals and CTU claims.

    Thank you for all that you do on behalf of our students."

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    JCB is "talking facts"??? bwahahahahahahahaha!!!! Since when have facts or research meant anything to him? Now he wants to soften his approach?!?! Too late, we know he is a mere puppet for that snake Emanuel. We don't trust him and furthermore do not believe anything he says.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    There are numerous issues in the new post on the CPS site relating to the CPS offers to the CTU. I can to a degree verify that one is apparently true. But that appearance may be just that, imagery more than reality. CPS states:

    "CTU Claim: Remove all references to class size, paving the way to further over-crowding our classrooms.

    Facts: This is untrue. CPS has proposed to continue to incorporate the Board's class size policy into the agreement. The Board has also proposed to describe accurately the structures of the Class Size Monitoring Panel and Class Size Supervisory Committee, which are not correctly represented in the current agreement.

    For the second year in a row, CPS is protecting class size rather than increasing it to help address two years of $600-700 million deficits."

    However, the Mayor this week indicted that unless the General Assembly agreed to the pension reforms he presented that CPS class sizes could rise to 55. How does CPS reconcile these two apparently contradictory positions? Easy, I suspect that everything in its proposed contract is subject to appropriation by the Board during any school year and also subject to revision based on funds or fiscal shortfalls. The truth is that the Illinois School Code requires effectively that all agreements are subject to annual appropriations of each school district's Board.

    This stuff gets tricky doesn't it? I suspect each of the claims made by CPS are apparently true as the one I just posted but also just as complex. I look forward to reading the last best offers of both parties when they become fully public.

    Rod Estvan

  • union avoidance activities but which his detractors have labeled as support operations for these activities. Among these were the administration of opinion surveys, supervisor training, employee roundtables, incentive pay procedures, wage surveys, employee complaint procedures, personnel records, application procedures, job evaluations, and legal services. As part of his union busting strategies, all of these activities were performed with the goal of maintaining complete control of the work force by top management. Shefferman's book not only provided the concepts that animated all future union busting techniques, he also provided language that pro-labor supporters believe mask the intent of the policies. Nathan Shefferman published The Man in the Middle, a 292-page account of his union busting activities, in 1961. Shefferman described a long list of practices

  • Protect our Union. Do not forget other scabs still hiding and working around us. Scab hired for $100,000 per year legislative lobbying job http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=135

  • As a substitute teacher, looking for a full time position, how can I/we help? If there is a strike, I assume we will be called to fill in. First off, in no way would I accept that assignment, but do we as subs have any voice in the union?

  • The Chicago Board of Education is on a rampage and trampling CTU members rights. Beyond the wholesale privatization of the system and the rapid expansion of charters and turnarounds, CPS also wants to make CTU members work 20% longer without a raise, take CTU members accumulated sick time., diminish CTU members defined pension plan, reduce CTU members preparation and professional development time, eliminate CTU members class size restrictions, increase CTU members health-care costs by 50%, and determine CTU members value as a teacher through an evaluation system overly reliant on high stakes testing.This year SB7 requires 75% of CTU membership to vote for a strike authorization. A strike authorization does not guarantee that CTU members will walk the picket line. In fact, a strike authorization may lessen the possibility of a strike because simply demonstrating CTU members level of unity may cause the Board to see reason. Striking is CTU members option of last resort. Yet, in the past, when all teachers and paraprofessionals have banded together in solidarity, this has led to increased power, protections, and safeguards that are essential to the well-being of teachers and students in the Chicago Public Schools.

  • So I started a thread here about what we are really fighting for and posed the apparently heretical proposition that Ms. Lewis is not really being strategic in her thinking about how one gets from point A to point B because she hasn't really defined point B and that maybe, just maybe her membership (and maybe the community as well) deserves a little more than the empty platitudes that she is spewing.

    Respect? Look I don't seek respect from Jean Claude Brizzard, Penny Pritizker and Dave Vitale. I assume that as a former teacher, Jean Claude appreciates what I do. Pritzker and Vitale appear to be human and, even if their bank accounts outweigh mine by megatons, I am guessing they are not horrible personalties and may even be salt of the earth -- I've never met them so I don't know. But none of them really affect me on a daily basis so it really doesn't matter.

    I seek respect from my colleagues, my principal, my students and my parents. And you know what? I've got that because I worked for it and earned it. Striking is not likely to improve that situation, on the contrary. . ..

    Money? Do I want to be paid more? Damn straight! Who doesn't? I am an unsung hero. I am exceptional. I am one in a million. I spend countless hours of planning and preparing and put immeasurable = also uncompensated - amounts of emotion into what I do . . . just to do right by the kids I see every day. I pay for supplies that my school does not because I think they will help me to get through to these kids who, unaccountably, steal my heart year after year. I am invested in them. I want them to succeed. I want us both to succeed.

    But am I any more or less a teacher or any professional because of this committment? Don't get me wrong. I know I am doing God's work, that this is vocation etc. But am I really any different than many doctors, lawyers, social workers, community workers who go into communities and provide service well in excess of the compensation they receive just because they love to do it and feel enriched by the impact they make? I don't think so.

    And I fear that the constant refrain by Lewis that teachers are somehow "exceptional" and therefore immune to economic reality is the talk of a fool - worse a tiresome fool or harridan - with whom many will soon lose patience.

    I am not asking for much here. Just a clear vision. I don't want to be bullied into silence with "scab" talk etc. by her puppets. I just want the truth about where Lewis sees this all ending. My fear is that she doesn't know and worse that she is comfortable in not ever knowing. That inane contract poll makes it clear that she's got only one goal -- chaos within CPS. If there's an end to be achieved by a little short-term chaos, I can get on board with it. But don't hide the truth about the end from me.

    Com'on guys. There's more of you like me out there. Don't let the bullies shout you down. Let's demand some honest talk here and force Ms. Lewis to give us some straight answers . . . before she drives the bus over the cliff and we are all consumed in a fiery crash.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The fact that you suggest Penny Pritzker is somehow "salt of the earth" pretty much discredits the rest of your post. Salt of the earth means humble and unpretentious. Have you seen her mansion which ignores Chicago zoning traditions? Are you aware of the Pritzker family feud? Are you aware of her involvement in the subprime crisis? Do you know that she contributes boatloads of money to political candidates on both sides of the aisle- often times to two competing candidates? Have you listened to her speak? Look, you may be her cheerleader, but claiming she is humble and unpretentious is just dumb.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Penny is most definitely salt of the earth. As a matter of fact I just ran into earlier this evening as she was hauling out a couple of Hefty bags of garbage to the alley. We chatted for a while about baseball (she's a Sox fan), gardening (Penny is taking her old S-10 to Menard's tomorrow to pick up a couple of flats of marigolds), and DIY manison repair.

    Unfortunately "Peeps", as her friends call her, had to cut the conversation short - it was almost 7 and it was time to prepare for her weekly ritual of Friday Night Smackdown and a bottle of Boone's Farm... which she drinks from a goblet fashioned out of an infant's skull.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You are not being heretical by asking what the union is seeking, rather you simply have not been paying attention. There was a major press conference just a few months ago to announce CTU research and an education plan entitled "The Education Chicago's Students Need". You can find a link on the home page of the CTU website. It includes what the union wants and should answer your questions. Frankly, I am surprised that a "one in a million" teacher like yourself could have missed it.
    P.S. If you insist on pretending to be a teacher allow me to give you a word of advise..your blew your cover when you said "her membership" (referring to Lewis). Wrong pronoun...a real teacher would have said "our membership".

  • I don't believe you are a CPS teacher. Sorry. I've NEVER met a CPS teacher who feels they have to kiss up to the likes of Pritzker and Vitale. If you are somehow an actual CPS teacher, you won't be bullied into silence, but you will forever be labelled a "scab". That is by definition what you are if you cross picket lines.

    For the first time in years we have strong union leadership. The bad mouthing of Karen Lewis by the powers and their "puppets" just reaffirms my belief that her strategy is working.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Whether or not the poster is a teacher is immaterial. Saying that, I kind of get the impression from discussions with colleagues at my own school and other schools, most of us would be happy with a pay raise consistent with the extra time tacked on to the school day, not losing our sick days (many teachers have saved the maximum counting on the payout when they retire to help bridge the gap between pension and their regular pay), and a better teacher evaluation system than what is currently being proposed. We have also talked about the prospect of paying a larger percentage into our pension - most of us agree that as long as there is some guarantee that the city and state will actually make their required contributions, we would probably go along with that. As I said, this is just a handful of teachers, but I think most of us are being realistic in terms of the economic realities and the general feelings about public service unions at this particular time. I guess the general consensus in these conversations was we don't expect much, but we would like to hang on to what we have fought for and won over the years.

  • So Lewis has unleashed the goons on this blog to silence any voice that dares to demand real transparency and the basic knowledge that is necessary to making an informed decision about striking. The knives are out . . . the true believers and the hired thugs are organizing to intimidate the professionals into not asking smart questions and not voicing real concerns. WTF? So who's disrespecting us now?

    And folks on this blog and elsewhere are asking the question about whether the strike that Lewis has made a foregone conclusion even legal. Will Lewis address that? Will she answer the question of what protections teachers and staff will have if they follow her like lambs into an illegal strike? Will we be the next Air Traffic Controllers begging to be rehired?

    The Lewis and Potter gangs are likely looking to root out folks like me. But I don't care. People need to start asking and getting answers to serious questions like these. Solidarity does not require silence in the face of stupidity. That's all I am seeing right now.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Rahm the Bully! You must be part of the new CPS PR CREW! Bullocks, the goons are Rahm and principals who are putting fear on union members from organizing in their schools. Schools where union delegates, elected by peers, are bullied by principals and assistant principals with lower evaluation ratings and other BS. That is the real deal on bullying. Rahm has a long history of being a bully! Can't hide that! CPS inane policies, mandates, messed up priorities, and red lining poor neighborhood schools by taking away resources is the institutional bullying that has teachers tired of the Rahm and CPS madness!

  • Where were your questions under Stewart? drowning in the pancake make-up, again?

  • I'd like to know why the SECA's, security guards, and lunchroom attendants are not honoring CTU picket lines? I'm especially bothered by the SECA's, who are sitting in these Children First centers babysitting. When this is all said and done, they are going to go back to the classrooms and work side by side the teachers, who have fought for a better school day for our students. In many cases these will be the same teachers, who fight to get these positions in the first place because if we don't do the paperwork to get these positions....guess what?........We don't get SECA's. AND at the end of the year, when they are making up these strike days and getting double pay, what will all you SB's say then? Why is their union not backing the CTU?

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