Chicago Teachers' Union Leadership Challenge

191 PercentChallengers to Karen Lewis and her leadership will run to head the Chicago Teachers' Union - arguing that Lewis didn't get enough in the most recent contract.  There aren't enough (certified) substitutes. Byrd-Bennett talks closings in the Sun Times.  There aren't nearly as many charter schools/kids in Chicago as in other big cities, even though enrollment has nearly doubled in the last six years. (See chart.)

Chicago Teachers' Union

Karen Lewis to face opposition in May CTU electionSun Times: Karen Lewis, thefeisty president of the Chicago Teachers Union whogained a rock star followingduring the 2012 teachers strike, will face opposition during the CTU elections in May.

Chicago Teachers Union members to run against CTU President Karen Lewis' leadership teamTribune: New slate set for May 17 vote, says Lewis wasn't tough enough during strike

Karen Lewis Faces Opposition in Union Election CPS Chatter: It’s great to see Democracy in action, but I wonder if they should be going after the contract in their campaign with their Vice President candidate Mark Ochoa was part of the contract team that negotiated the contract and voted to accept the Board’s offer.


Shortage of substitute teachers hits hard Catalyst:  The problems started in spring 2012, principals say, but got worse during this winter’s massive flu outbreak.  One issue could be a district rule that, starting in 2010, required substitute teachers to have teaching certificates “to alleviate concerns from principals regarding sub quality,” says CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler. But, she says, existing subs were grandfathered in.


Chicago Charter School Enrollment Climbs, Still Behind Many Other Major Cities Chicago Magazine: Chicago's charter-school population, as a percentage of all public school students, has climbed rapidly in the past few years—but it's still a lower percentage than most of its peers.


Southwest Side Braces for Round Two of CPS School Closings Forums DNAinfo: Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett on Monday said she's encouraging residents to get involved at the CPS-hosted meetings. “I need as much feedback as possible to inform my decisions and my ultimate recommendations to the Board of Education."

Don't throw dollars at underused schools Chicago Sun-Times (opinion): Reading through hundreds of pages of feedback from school communities over the last few weeks around our work to address the district's utilization crisis has...
Parents, Community Plead To Keep Schools In Ravenswood-Ridge Network Open (VIDEO) Progress IL: Close to 200 concerned parents, teachers and community members attended the meeting held at Truman College on the city’s North Side. It was the latest in a series of discussions CPS officials are conducting with residents from various communities that have schools on the chopping block.
Ray off of CPS closure list Hyde Park Herald: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released a list of 129 schools last week that are being considered for closure. Ray Elementary School was removed after showing up on an initial list, but the fate of three other Hyde Park schools is still hanging in the balance.
Parents Celebrate Gale Elementary Being Taken Off Closure List Progress IL: Despite the good news this week, parents and teachers are still unsure of what lies on the road ahead for Gale, which could be consolidated and have its campus shared with a charter school. A representative from Chicago Public Schools and Ald. Joe Moore (49th) were on hand to answer any remaining questions.
Checking In On Chicago Schools' 'Safe Passage' Program NPR: In Chicago on Friday, President Obama explored his home city's gun violence problem at an appearance at a South Side high school — the same school NPR's David Schaper visited two years ago to report on its "safe passage" program to help students get to and from school safely. Schaper returns to see how the program and other anti-violence initiatives are working.
Emanuel launches plan to raise $50 million to help at-risk kids Sun Times: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is challenging the business community to raise $50 million to save the lives of thousands of at-risk kids. The money will fund early intervention programs for younger kids and provide jobs, mentoring, recreation and conflict-resolution programs for troubled teens as an alternative to gang violence.
Chicago seeks private money for public projects Medill Reports: The first stage of the retrofit will cost approximately $100 million and will include improvements to facilities owned by Chicago Public Schools, the Department of Water Management and the Department of Fleet and Facility Management, which includes police.


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  • Ray's off the list? Surprise, surprise. ;)

  • Are you freakin kidding me about a new slate challenging Karen Lewis?

    This is an old slate-UPC-from Marilyn Stewart's days of running the CTU into the ground-this is the slate that allowed Marilyn's BFF scab(visually documented from 1987) from Kinzie School to become our legislative liaison for $175,000 dollars a year. Yeah! Real union people! Ask the staff at Kinzie......MarilynStewart's slate was voted in because people didn't think Debbie Lynch delivered either.

    I know CPS would love to have another UPC slate in the CTU office-you want to be sold down the river again-hello Reform Law of 1995-so let's listen to this slate (how many classroom teachers-so far a gym teacher and a counselor) and blame Karen Lewis for the sub shortage-look for the agenda..."so we won't be fooled again"


  • In reply to district299reader:

    This slate is not just the UPC. There are a number of people from PACT, independents and former CORE members who are not happy living the realities of the current contract, which is the worst in my 18 year memory teaching with CPS. The individuals you have referred to are not on this slate. The reform law of 1995 is nowhere near as bad as what we are currently dealing with. A CTU president agreeing to SB7 - really?? How about REACH? This has limited job security for everyone, as principals can rate teachers basic using a very subjective framework. Rahm got everything he wanted in this contract. What did we get?! We make less money per hour that last year. Since 2003, we have received 4% raises every year, until now. This administration even allowed a raise to be cancelled and not negotiated back into the new contract.

    Has anyone taken a look at the Misconduct/Discipline matric on HR4U? Teachers are being written up for nonsense system wide. No wonder why no negotiation took place in public. It is just that bad!! I am happy that this group will challenge CORE. We need some people with negotiation experience who will serve the members. While I honored the strike and respected the Lewis administration for taking us out, we came back with less than we had. For those who have not been around for the past few contracts, check out this link which compares the last 3:

  • In reply to Concerned Teacher:

    It was UPC that negotiated the last contract which allowed language to be inserted concerning the raise in the fifth year-ask the UPCers on your slate. Ask them what their officers' salaries were compared to the Core and Pact officers. I don't know where you have taught for 18 years but principals have always been able to rate teachers subjectively and write them up for frivolous things. That is why we need the CTU. We need it united not divided. Your slate will cause division which is what Rahm and CPS want. Karen Lewis did the best she could in these non-union times. Go back and look at the media coverage in September-it was world wide-I doubt you would have done any better....


  • In reply to district299reader:

    Are you that blind? Do you not understand what a bad deal you teachers ended up with? I walked the picket line in 1970's and 1980's to give the teachers the benefits that they had and just recently lost. You cannot any longer accumulate sick days, something that I walked for. You lost pay in this contract the first rule in a labor action is that you don't go back with less than you walked out with. That woman basically spit in all of the retirees face and took the members for granted. She found it more important to be the darling of the media and national comedian disgracing the Chicago Teacher's Union making fun of Arnie Duncan's lisp. As I follow most legislation that relates to education, Senate Bill 7 which was passed into law in 2011 was her first mistake which by the way your current union president Karen Lewis agreed to. She claimed to the media that she was lied to and language was changed. Be an informed union member and an educated teacher. I actually spoke with Kim Lightford and other members of the Black Caucus who said they tried to help Lewis by advising her not to support it, at one point they thought that CTU was going to start rallying in Springfield just like they did in Madison, WI. 6 weeks prior and in Downtown Chicago 4 days prior. As one state rep who was a former teacher said "Karen's arrogant know it all attitude is why teachers will face uncertainty with their careers because she supported this bill which now is law." Annie, you are obviously a newer teacher and don't know what we all walked and sacrificed for. I Knew Jackie Vaughn, and Karen Lewis is no Jackie Vaughn. Remember, she has created more hardships with her bad decisions than any CTU President. For gods sake she closed the Loop down and all she could get was a longer school day, minimal raises, and school closings. Dear, if you don't recognize this to be a bad deal please make sure you are never at a negotiating table without an expert.
    Finally, stop with the communist undemocratic brain washing rant about another opponent dividing the union. I clearly remember watching the news in early September listening to the chant "This is what democracy looks like" of so many hopeful teachers. So, I guess this is what democracy looks like. I hope that this new team is victorious because Karen is a total disappointment to so many

  • In reply to #1teacher:

    This new team would have folded under Emanuel's pressure. They are a joke. Lewis will win with over 75%.

  • In reply to #1teacher:

    CORE and Karen need an overwhelming win--it will keep the momentum going and keep the forward pace secure. CPS hopes, prays, and wishes for new and less likely to succeed leadership.
    Deer in the headlights was a quip from a high placed CPS administrator when Debbie won--:
    I too walked the line in 80's and was a delegate under Vaughn. Lewis has that same spark.

  • In reply to #1teacher:

    I started teaching in 1974, walked the line and was a delegate under Jacqueline Vaughn, Tom Reese, Marilyn Stewart and Debbie Lynch.
    The UPC caucus deteriorated after Jackie's untimely death. The hiring of a scab for a high level position was supported by the UPC-if you follow legislation as you say, then you know how very embarrassing this was in Springfield but then again, if the former teacher now legislator that you quote, is the one who owes hundreds of thousands in back rent according to the Sun-times then I guess ethics/morals is not your strong suit. I am retired (PEP from PACT-thank you) and I think that Karen Lewis did her best-has she made mistakes-yes but none as bad as hiring a scab. So, no, I am not blind and unfortunately I witnessed the antics at the HOD meetings by the UPC-you remember those days-shutting off the microphones, miscounts, counting non-delegates to get the vote, and ridiculing delegates who dared to question the high salaries/ spending of the UPCers.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I am a teacher and have been for the last 16 years. I am not really that active as far as being a delegate but I have voted in every CTU election and referendum. I walked the Picket Line with my colleagues in September and returned to work thinking that we won something for being out on strike. This year by far has been the worst that I can ever remember. Teachers are being completely overworked, with the increase in nonsense demands from principals, the longer or should I say the never ending school day. We are also living this new Danielson Evaluation system which most teachers are coming up basic or unsatisfactory in my building after the Network Calibrators came through. I wonder if President Lewis knows how this Danielson method works? The demands are unrealistic unless you are teaching students who have been conditioned to this type of so called "learning". Since Mid January many teachers and my building including myself have been subjected to the new employee discipline policy. This discipline policy pretty much give principals power to terminate employees for what they may interpret as "patterned infractions" without any sort of arbitration. I have received two letters from my principal one for being tardy twice and one for taking a Friday and a Monday off after I was down with the flu. I was also advised that if I have two more infractions in the next 3 years I would be terminated. My principal directed me to article 3a in the contract and HR4U my discipline. This is some scary stuff that President Lewis agreed to. I will most likely be terminated if 2 more mishaps occur. How did we go out on strike and comeback with less than we had prior to the strike. I really thought Lewis was different but she is truly corrupt and in my opinion in bed with Emanuel. There is no way that she would agree to SB7 which: 1)gives up seniority as the only factor in economic layoffs for Illinois teachers and allows factors like student performance and other subjective criteria like principal evaluations, leaving seniority only the tie-breaker among several factors including test scores and principal evaluations. 2) Permits CPS to unilaterally lengthen the school day with no guarantees of hourly compensation. I am truly making less this year than I did last year. I have to say that if I were to vote for Karen Lewis again I would have to be insane. I could accept SB7 as a beginners mistake but the contract being poorly negotiated? Something about this makes me question President Lewis's honesty. I have spoken to many in my own school and they are glad we have another choice. I will take my chances and vote for the challengers they all looked so professional and eager. Tanya Saunders-Wolffe who was on the radio last week seemed quite informed and capable. I think our best choice will be this Coalition to Save Our Union. They have my schools 142 votes.

  • In reply to ChgoTcher:

    I do believe SB7 only affects Chicago teachers. Every other district in Illinois still does economic lay offs according to seniority. There are many "Chicago only" exceptions.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Yes there are! So, I wonder why did President Lewis agree to it. She had CTU members rallying in Madison, WI just 6 weeks before. I smell a rat here. Our colleagues are looking at these current union leaders down at the CTU with blind faith. I hate to have such a negative outlook but another 3 years with Karen Lewis and company we will be supporting ourselves out of a job! I hope everyone can see what is happening around us. I think Karen made a deal with Rahm and Madigan.

  • In reply to ChgoTcher:

    Chgo Teacher- Please, this is clearly a lame attempt to smear CORE. If your principal is really threatening such clear violations of the contract you need to file a grievance. Claiming that you can be fired for calling in on a Monday or Friday over the next three years is total BS.

    Yes, the contract isn't great, but it is much better than what would have been negotiated by gaggle of Stewart/Lynch automatons. Stewart was clearly a corrupt comrade of the Daley Administration. Claiming Karen Lewis is a pawn of Emanuel is silly and counterproductive. Keep up silly nonsense like this and I predict your slate will garner less than 10% of the vote.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I spoke to someone by the name of Hubbert with the grievance department. He told me that there wasn't much he could do since I was tardy and absent on a Monday and Friday. He suggested taking days off mid week because too many were taking days off on Mondays and Fridays. He said it was not grievable since it was part of the agreement. This gentleman did not seem aware of the matrix on HR4U. I can understand why you might be so defensive because you believe in President Lewis but I guarantee if you were going through what I am you wouldn't be so quick to defend President Lewis. This is not to smear, I thought I was venting to the sympathetic ears of my colleagues. We shut down the loop for god's sake and you think its OK to have a bad contract.

  • In reply to ChgoTcher:

    First--apologies for what you are going through. The REACH process is a system-wide problem; word on the street=principals are not pleased either. This process is becomming a gotcha for both teachers and principals. Just as principals use it against teachers, areas officers are using it against principals.
    Be aware of the parent and student CCSR surveys coming down the road. Student survey THIS YEAR are evaluative of teachers.
    The teacher survey, just sent to teachers by CCSR seem set-up for school failure--so be careful. The letter to teachers says the school information can be used for TURNAROUND-look at what happend to Marquette school and how many teachers lost their jobs. This survey is something CTU needs to look into now.
    As for your sick days, though it is difficult to believe that you were written-up for just two days; if you really were, your principal is wasting everyone's time-making himself look bad. Call CTU again and ask to speak to John Kugler. Get the name of who you spoke to and the time and date you called and left a message with at CTU.
    Save all documentation from the principal and keep a written record of what you have been told.
    Are other teachers experincing this? Those 142 need to create a list of issues, sign it and get it to CTU now. It will support the case.
    In this response, you have sympathetic eyes from one of your colleagues. Try one more time-share here if you and your school did or did not get a postive response from CTU, if you followed through with what is suggested here.
    Whether CORE or not, you would still be required to do your homework here--so do it.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Well hard to believe it may be but its true. I am documenting and have hired my own attorney. Although this is a practice year for tenured excellent and superior rated teachers many teachers who were rated in those two top tier ratings are coming up basic and unsatisfactory. If this continues next year many of us will be victims of economic layoff. As for calling CTU it took me almost 3 weeks to speak to a human. Finally I spoke with Mr. Hubbert. All along as I called I was told to talk to my delegate and my PPC. They are all under the gun too. This has to be the most awful contract I have worked under. Tenure means nothing anymore, we are all at will employees. I gave President Lewis a chance after SB7 hoping she would deliver a contract filled with protection. We have less protection than we have ever had. That is NOT alright. People who think it is and say "oh well" are being foolish. I hope she comes to our school to campaign because she will leave our building in tears. Our teachers are very unhappy and I have a sense that most teachers system-wide are just as angry. I think Karen Lewis should bow out gracefully. What are the solutions? We obviously can't lobby out of this one since she doesn't have much strength in Springfield. Well the mayoral connection is questionable and her ability is doubtful. I read a post earlier who said running against her is divisive. That is such a dictatorial statement. If I had the resources I would run against her and know that I could do a better job. I thank you for your sympathetic eye. We truly need critical members who will hold her accountable. These people who say that the last 4 contracts were worse than this are in denial and should just be quiet. I am living this nightmare not them. As for principals hating this that is entirely possible but its not going anywhere anytime soon. By the way I don't know if you are aware but our system has 200 new principals who are quite eager to use this evaluation "tool" that Karen Lewis did nothing to stop. I will not support her in May's election and as for the service I have received from CTU thus far I am not impressed at all. When I talked to this Hubbert person he did not have the slightest idea about the new employee discipline article and its accompanying matrix. My attorney has looked over the current agreement article 3a and has aligned it with the matrix. I was advised that we have a tough fight ahead based on the contract and how poorly it was negotiated. He pointed out to me that the matrix was developed in Mid November almost a month and a half after it was ratified. Maybe we can all file a class action suit agains Karen Lewis for some sort of malpractice. I am going to have to prove harassment or something along those lines. Good luck to all of us, most of us will probably be without a career in a couple short years while Karen Lewis is enjoying stardom for arguing with Rahm Emanuel. I am so stressed and have NEVER been so stressed. We need new leadership

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to ChgoTcher:

    Dear Friends/CAUSE Members,

    After careful consideration, CAUSE has decided to support THe COALITION TO SAVE OUR SCHOOLS in the next CTU Election rather than run our own slate. We decided to join forces in unity with the other caucuses of the Chicago Teachers Union to unite our members and secure a win in the May 17, 2013 CTU election.
    CAUSE represents not only union members but teachers who lost their jobs as a result of the unions inability to protect them. These teachers, primarily veteran and African American meet every Tuesday @ Operation PUSH Headquarters @ 6:00 p.m.. Currently we are getting petitions signed for our candidates.

    This coalition will be comprised of 75% of the union caucuses. It will include PACT, UPC, CAUSE, CSDU. We are united in our attempt to Save Our Union because of the inability of the current CORE/CTU team headed by Karen Lewis to do so. Although the CTU had a successful strike demonstration that grabbed national attention. Teachers were USED to promote the CORE agenda while receiving nothing in return. African American veteran teachers can no longer be the scapegoats and sacrificial lambs of the uniin movement. We must do more than protest and demonstrate. Legal action has to become visionary and not just a publicity stunt to grab media attention before an election. The CORE/CTU team had three years to protect the rights of African American teachers. They failed to do so. Now after 3 years of denying the crisis that existed with the termination of AA teachers. They finally began some initiatives that are literally. TOO MUCH TOO LITTLE TOO LATE.

    One of the primary reasons CAUSE has opted out of running a slate is that our focus has to be on creating SAFE education environments , programs and initiatives for our children . We are currently seeking funding and the creation of community schools that respect and honor the culture of the children and families in our communities. OUR focus now will be on creating SAFE , culturally enriched Learning Zones for our children as we support the CTU team that will get back to the business of protecting their members jobs as WE organize our communities to fight for THEMSELVES!

  • In reply to #1teacher:

    "Dear"? My, who's arrogant?

  • In reply to Concerned Teacher:

    These duds are wasting their time. Yeah, the contract has many flaws, but there is no way this slate would have done better.

    The problem now isn't so much the contract, it is CPS and administrators pretending it doesn't exist.

  • The Sub Crisis is completely out of control. Hopefully, the coverage will finally expose the failure of Alicia Winckler to manage the "Talent" at CPS. She should go back to corporate america and BBB should bring in someone that actually understands for education to occur, you need an adult in every classroom.

  • In reply to westofwestern:

    "The Sub Crisis" - I like it! Will mainstream media pick up on the sub crisis???

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The sub shortage is not incompetence, it is a plan—Winkler stated at a meeting that cadres cost too much.
    I have been an assistant principal/principal while there have been 4 CTU presidents. The CORE team has been the toughest yet. Sorry, if you are a teacher and you disagree; now that I retired, I can say it.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    When a student is injured due to being placed in a classroom without a sub the principal AND Winckler will both have to answer.

    Remember, 125, Winckler, and Emanuel DON'T CARE about our children.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    BS--already happens--nothing done.
    Right--Winck and rahm don’t care and do not have to.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I agree....the sub shortage is pre-meditated and Karen Lewis is just as tough as Jackie.....

  • News Tip

    Chicago Public Schools scheduled a hearing on school closing tonight at 7pm at the Skyway Network on 71st and Jeffery. However, CPS has also called a leadership meeting of its Community Action Committees (CAC) in the South Shore area at 400 W. 76th Street at 7pm tonight. In addition, CPS has also called for a meeting with South Shore parents at Powell School at 7pm tonight as well. What is going on? The community can't be in three places at once.


    Rodney Finley
    CAUSE Member (Chicago Alliance of Urban School Educators)

  • OT-why do the Catholic churches-schools get city garbage services, but the CPS elementary school my child attends has to pay for all garbage pick-up? Does Rahm know this?

  • One year and 5 days after I applied I was hired as a sub last Friday.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    Good luck, Bob. Subbing is a totally different animal than teaching in your own room with students you build relationships with, and in many ways it is much more difficult. I'm sure you know that already so I will just add...don't let it ruin your health.

    A long-time admirer of your blog contributions.

  • I am sure this will be a real bitch and am under no illusions about the
    future.But 41 years in the system has taught me some tricks and
    for once in my life I hope lesson plans are waiting for me.
    I also should run into people i know in almost every South Side high School where I will Sub. Wish me luck.

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