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Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

Teachers, charters rally at School Board meeting

Tuesday’s announcement that CPS and CTU had reached a partial teacher contract agreement set the stage for a quiet board meeting on Wednesday, where routine items were approved. Most of the action, subdued as it was, took place before the board meeting in two rallies and a press conference.

On Clark Street in front of the board office, a throng of teachers marched and stopped to listen to CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. Sharkey, who is one of the union’s chief negotiators, told the crowd that it was their participation in rallies and the strike authorization vote that resulted in the partial agreement. In the agreement, CPS promised to hire 477 new teachers and give preference to teachers displaced over the past two years.

“You got the board to climb out of their bulldozer,” Sharkey said. In exchange for having additional art, music and enrichment teachers hired, the CTU said it would accept the longer school day that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing—though the mayor and the board have the right to impose a longer day in any case.

Sharkey said that CTU has other issues that still must be resolved and warned the members: “You should be under no illusion that the tiger has changed his stripes.”

CPS officials said the extra teachers would cost the district between $40 and $50 million. Knowing that the district has a tight budget, a smaller rally across the street featured parents and staff from UNO Charter School Network. The group--and other charters earlier this week-- said they are worried that charter schools will not get the additional money reserved for them in the proposed CPS budget.

CPS’ proposed budget includes $76 million in additional funding for charters and was originally on the July board meeting agenda, but the vote was delayed as contract negotiations continue.

Inside the foyer of CPS headquarters, Stand for Children and Education Reform Now Advocacy, two national groups with local chapters, said they commended the union and the district for working out an agreement that secures the longer day. Both groups are enthusiasts of the longer school day, running ads and holding tele-townhalls to bolster support. They also had criticized the union for holding a strike authorization vote before school let out for summer break.

Stand for Children Political Director Juan Gonzalez said his group liked the idea that the longer school day will contain more enrichment classes, such as art and music. But he stopped short of admitting that the strike authorization vote provided the pressure that led to the agreement. “I think there were a lot of things and not any one thing,” he said.


Kat wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Recognize abuse! Recognize modern slavery!

Recognize abuse!
Recognize modern slavery!

I had enough of this toxic system.
Having tenure, two masters degrees, and 14 years within CPS caused me to be one of the teachers who was targeted.
And I too have experienced abuse as administration attempted to silence me because I would not quietly go along/ conform.
I was fed up so much that I left the system & teaching profession completely.

And yes, I do look back, with great hope for many teachers, staff and parents recognize abuse and somehow find a way to better repair the current state of toxic affairs.

It’s unfortunate that a “victory” has been announced and school is said to, “start on time” since only the issue of extended time has been addressed. Even if a pay raise was given (after taxes eat it up anyway), I must ask teachers:

1. How much is your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing worth to you?

2. Do you feel as if the proposed pay increase will compensate all that you do and go through?


3.Is there any amount of money that would compensate you should you not be able to perform your teaching duties as a result of not functioning effectively mentally, physically or emotionally?
I am also curious to know:

4. How many teachers feel a sense of burn out, depression, have lost the energy or joy of teaching, and often feel sick?
I look back at Chicago Public Schools with great hope that many teachers recognize the abuse and gain the strength to truly stand up to any administration or principal who questions a teacher’s competence, talent, and or abilities.

5.Who would even want to work within a system that has no stability and uses the revolving door method to constantly hire and fire people?

6. Who would want to work for a system that proposes an evaluation that is ultimately designed to set teachers up to fail, and not provide any real support? (i.e., limiting assistance with difficult children, overload the teacher with work and deadlines?

7. Who wants to go to work daily and take harassment/abuse from both students and administration?

8. What teacher went into the profession and said they wanted to live in fear for their job, be the blame for the lack of success within their classroom, Spend excess money on supplies and materials, write up anecdotal logs for every student and every aspect of the daily situations, to feel isolated and criticized, to instruct from scripted curriculum and become the best behaviorist who rewards and punishes good and bad behavior.

9. Who wants this level of toxic stuff in their life?

In my opinion, Chicago Public School’s work environment and new contract demands should be considered a crime and even inhumane. The disorganization of this system is unhealthy. In my opinion The Mayor and the CEO’s priorities are guided by monetary payments. The quality of an education within Chicago Public Schools seems to be determined by numbers (money) in a computer somewhere. And yet, poverty and test scores dictate the schools access to the numbers in the computer.

10. For the sake of earning money, who I ask, who would slavishly work and tolerate this extent of abuse?

As a result, I propose that everyone go on strike, until CPS completely caves to the will of the teacher’s demands. Put the board of education in complete fear of not being able to hire anyone. The tables need to be reversed. Once upon a time, the benefits attracted many into the profession and schools needed teachers. Now, people are so desperate for a job that they would settle for the fanatical demands that CPS dictates. Since CPS want to fire everyone and set teachers up to essentially fail, I say walk away from the game. Walk away from this insane dictatorship and let the administrators teach them, since they have the power to determine how well of a job teachers are doing. Don’t give CPS the satisfaction of even entertaining their mind/ employment games.

I did.

And I have a normal and healthy balance of peace in my life since leaving that toxic mess alone.

But, I am only one person.

It would take many people, if not all, to make a major impact and reverse the tables.

Recognize abuse and decide if you want to live with this level of toxic stuff in your life.

Anita Herron wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Teachers Were Not Done Right

They are not doing tenured teachers any favor. Recalling some of them back for a year. No. that is not how it should be done. They should Recall those teachers BACK! Let the ones they JUST hired; go home. That is what a recall is.The CTU is still being tricked. Then they say recall them if they are satisfactory. Well, there are a lot of teachers who lost their jobs because unsatisfactory was framed on them. It was nothing they did wrong. They were set up. They were labeled. Then the Principal walks around and hires buddies and friends; just because they have this weapon in their hands. But some Principals are not fair. Some are not being just. Kat, you really summed it up. Your comments is really what the Contract should be about. And you are right. It is going to be some rough stuff down the road. Really rough. Being a teacher was also your job. Now there is no job. But don't worry. After all this mess you don't have to deal with every day; you will be able to sit back and watch those revolving door failures. They REALLY think this is going to work. It is going to be a mess. The only thing that will be working; is some Principals are going to be pretending that it is working. And SHOULD include test scores into it now; now that that have all these new teachers. Hold those new ones accountable for how well they do on test. Remember. They are the pros. Sorry to say. The tenured experienced teachers will ALWAYS be the pros.Think about it.

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Re: Kat's comment

There is no question that many of the things you write are true. I too opted out of CPS after working at Calumet H.S. before its conversion to charter status. The level of burn out among the staff at Calumet in the years prior to its closure was simply astounding. At one point we lost our Dear of Discipline to a heart attack while he was pointlessly lecturing a student about his behavior and writing out a suspension. We suspended so many kids on a daily basis that it was amazing. We would in some of our classes start in September with 35 students and end the year with 12, some of whom were failing. We also ate up principals, one of the ones who tried to save the school left for St. Louis and recommended to some of her favorite teachers that we pack it in too.

Maybe the most famous CPS opt out recently was Leslie Baldacci who was a journalist for the Chicago Sun-Times and served on their editorial board. Among other things, she wrote about the shortcomings of the Chicago Public School system. Then she decided to put her money where her mouth was (quite literally, she took a two-thirds pay cut), signed on for TFA, and began teaching in a real inner-city grade school. She wrote a reasonably good book about teaching poor kids titled “Inside Mrs. B.'s Classroom : Courage, Hope, and Learning on Chicago's South Side.” Ms. Baldacci did her time wrote her book and got out.

She did a number of interviews once she announced she was leaving teaching and she admitted that given the hours of labor involved in teaching these very poor children, the toll it took on her own family, and the fact she had other options she got out.

Teachers leave CPS all the time; it has no impact on the system. A high rate of turn over is now accepted as part of the reality of urban education, whether it is in traditional schools or charter schools. But not all CPS teachers have it so bad, there are in fact CPS teachers who are still for the most part educating students who come from functional families in communities where people are not being shot every day. For these teachers this is not really all that bad of a job for the money they get paid, even if grading and other after school labor is significant.

But the time will never come in my lifetime where CPS will not be able to find young teachers to fill the slots of those who have been burned out.

Rod Estvan

Try Reality wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Read the Above, Miguel del Valle

I hope Miguel del Valle reads Rod Estvan's comments, but unless it is politically expedient for him to make another statement about CPS, I'm guessing he's not checking in to Catalyst. Every teacher in Chicago could write a similar letter to Miguel to clue him in on reality (that's Miguel of the “Let’s restore common sense to school discipline.”) Sounds good, but he has no idea what goes on in some schools.

northside wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

I agree Kat and Rod

The thing that scares me know is all the "new" young principals speak and dress like they are Professional Pedagogues. They use the key words like "powerful", "our babies", "rigor", "common core", "data driven"...but underneath they create aliances and enemies unlike any ruthless businessman i have ever know. Often our principal walks around like she is a queen and refueses to aknowledge the teacher when she enters the room. It makes me ill too! I have had nightmares all summer thinking about my job. It isnt good! I need to get out. I am 35 years old and I am ready to quit ASAP too! CPS used to accept its limitations...but now it wants to be some feeder to the Ivy League schools with a budget that gives 100 bucks in extra money for teachers. Yes we are well paid, but none of us live in the lap of luxury. Who is going to take a 50k loan to get an extra masters, when a sneakly principal will write you as unsatisfactory when you question their curriculum (which by the way does NOT exist at CPS). In my 10 years at CPS we have NEVER been given a solid plan! Now they want to say the COMMON CORE is their new curriculum? HAHAHAH Try teaching a year of Math with 5 paragraphs of standards hahhaah

The Retired Principal (RP) wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

The Way Teachers Feel

To everyone who wrote before me, WOW!

Kat wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Slavery in modern day

In regards to modern slavery, I am speaking on behalf of the dictatorship and authoritarian environmental work climate within CPS. Teacher’s opinions and suggestions are of no value, if keeping a job is the priority for that teacher, from my perspective.

The work conditions & work relationships related to CPS teachers, in my opinion, negatively impact the day-to-day operations of classrooms and do not function in a healthy way.

When you are micromanaged, you are basically a slave to the management. Any time a teacher is faced with more demands than one person could realistically handle and compounded with stressful situations, then ask yourself, how could the teacher feel comfortable enough to relax within a position and genuinely teach? The enjoyment of teaching has become checklist of tasks to simply get done! The natural way of allowing teachers to put themselves into the lesson and genuinely express a concept has been replaced with scripted information that anyone off the street could follow. Thus, the teacher is a slave to the system and the way in which the system functions.

When you have to defend your teaching certification and walk on eggshells to avoid the E3 process, then you are in prison and a slave.

Who could focus on getting through a lesson, when the thought of loosing their job at any given moment is a constant reminder by administration? The focus for teachers has shifted to survival mode from genuinely teaching mode. From my perspective, many teachers are simply trying to survive one day at a time and try really hard to detach themselves from their work, the students, and of course the constant reminders of political injustice that plagues CPS.

For this longer school day, teachers will continue to teach (babysit) these students, who are often unmotivated and have the attention span of less then a minute, which metaphorically resembles the relationship the slaves had when caring for their masters’ children as oppose to spending that time with their own children. Teachers will now spend more time with these kids (not their own kids) then the kids own parents will, especially if the kids go to after school programs and or play sports. By the time the kid gets home, it’s time for bed (hopefully for some). What happened to family time? Is the message CPS is sending, highlighting the subliminal notion that academics and money are of more importance than family and individual time?

In my opinion, the grass IS greener elsewhere when compared with Chicago Public Schools.

Who wants to play mind games with a broken system, that functions as a business?

I am not going to tell CPS how to run their business. They do a good job at running the business and making sure that they appoint the right people politically. CPS could care less about what teachers or the union thinks simply because in numerous ways they have proved that they are not a system that has teachers or students best interest in mind when making decisions.

So the grass is greener for me.

I have become a licensed Professional Counselor and am 2 years away from having private practice. Thus, I am all about advocating for change and developing healthy relationships and living experiences.

Wake up and see the invisible chains and handcuffs. The invisible handcuffs are laced with such “important” lingo as “rigor”, and “common core”, to keep teachers focused on confusion and not see how they are enslaved.

This is similar to indentured servitude, metaphorically and realistically.

Truthfully, I bet people are working in a CPS school for their livelihood and trying to hold on to what they have during this depression/recession, NOT for the enjoyment of educating! If better were out there and available, would people really settle for the chaos CPS dispenses/offers?

The big picture that indicates teaching for CPS is slavery is the fact that the mayor wouldn’t even put his child/children in a CPS school. His children are too good/too privileged for the education that he oversees.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

The bottom is

The bottom is not "Human Resources", it is "Human Capital".

Jan Worth wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

New Schools

With all the teachers labeled unsatisfactory; it has become an epidemic at CPS. Never seen anything like it. Rehiring teachers for a semester is a shame. Something is going to come from all of this. Teachers have been done wrong. Some not for any ill reasons. Just labeled as bad; to get them out the way. It is obvious. Get a new Principal in; they bring in their friends. So they sabotage older teachers; and get rid of them. Remember; what goes around; comes around. That is the way reality goes. People of tenured had a lo9t of wisdom to instill in to the children of today. And believe you me; that is a much needed thing. Younger teachers will have a very difficult time with discipline. Without control; it is going to be a struggle. Firemen, doctors, and people on other jobs and those who work outside of CPS; be thankful that you don't to endure the big mess that has been placed upon CPS workers. Anywhere but Chicago. Job security should be an awarding gift to teachers who have dedicated themselves to educate the children of today. They DO receive their rewards. They can never be replaced. Time will tell. Now All the test score shall excel; and All the schools should come off probation. This this the winning mode.

Rosita Chtaonda wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

So Glad I am Gone

God really does work min mysterious ways. As a single parent with two children in college, I would have NEVER left my job. I used to go to work praying that another door would open for me. I was lied on maligned, mistreated and abused and physically injured by a principal during my last two years at CPS. Once I complained and started to file appropriate documentation to protect my rights, CPS and it's corrupt lawyers and investigators decided that they would come after me after I filed an EEOC charge against them. I experienced nothing but harassment for two years.. However, leaving CPS was the best thing that ever happened to me. I probably would be dead now if I kept working in the sick and corrupt system. My children finished school and now I don't have to be abused by adocavates for "Children First" for a paycheck. Such a joke! Kat I really feel you. I was told that I was targeted because of my education and experience. CPS want nothing to do with veteran teachers. They want new teachers that are inexperienced and have no idea what the system is about.
Rod, you are right, I moved on and started my own organization called CAUSE. We are fighting for the rights of veteran teachers. Since the CTU is primarily run by young novice inexperienced teachers , many from selective enrollment schools. They DON"T understand the kind or horrific work conditions many veterans have endure. If you were at a selective enrollment school for years , you don't have a clue about the realities that teachers working in inner - city schools face. Personally from what I have experienced, these people actually believe CPS, that veterans are NO GOOD. The unions will not stand by you when you are charged and E-3rd. They don't want it to be said that they are protecting "bad teachers". Because of this CPS has been able to get away with one of the most horrific cases of age and race discrimination since Brown VS the Board of Education. The question is why aren't the unions doing more to protect veteran teachers? Since Senate Bill 7 passed and seniority is out the window. (Thanks to all of our union leaders at the IFT, IEA and CTU) that thought this was a good idea) veteran teachers need to be looking for an out. Remember young teachers, this is no longer a profession. Don't count on retiring from this job. Unless change REALLY comes to the unions on a national, state and local level, veteran teachers can kiss teaching good-bye.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago


I agree rosita. There are so many cases of teachers in organized, safe, schools in the city and suburbs who say stuff like "some teachers dont deserve thier jobs". It makes me sick . Just like how our fellow "brother" unions allowed rahm and obama to ramrod us with SB7 that gave CTU extra hurdles. Makes me sick. Then the AFT goes and endorses Obama aka the teacher union killer. I have seen these people so many times thinking their Shidizzle doesnt stink. But their day will come .........

The other day I saw Cheetem and her sidekick at a Curriculum meeting....they acted like all the teachers were a bunch of "simple" children. They were actually quite rude. One of them actually said she was "not an expert" with teacher evaluations. They both admitted to it. they said it was a learning process...yet teachers are going to be judged by this "unlcear" system??? sick sick sick

Rosita Chatonda wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Thanks for your comment

I am so glad teachers are waking up to the injustice that is going on in regards to experienced seasoned veteran teachers of all colors who CHOSE to work in the most dangerous and undeserved communities in Chicago. We risk our lives to do this. I remember religiously dismissing children in the mist of gun fire and shielding them so they would not be harmed. I also remember my students that did not escape the violence that claimed their lives., I thank God for the opportunity to serve and work on behalf of these children whom no one else would be bothered with. Teachers who wanted to work with more advantaged children are now being hailed as "better". Those who wanted to make a difference in the lives of our most disadvantaged children in Chicago have now been penalized, lied on scapegoated because of the choice they made. The attack is designed to make everyone afraid of working with disadvantaged inner city youth. Wake up your eyes teachers, the AFT and all the unions have decided rather than defend veteran teachers, they rather organize and unionize charters. They could care the least bit about you, your family or your life. As long as they can keep the membership of the unions up, they don't care if a 2 year old pays the dues. They was a time when a win for the union WAS a win for workers. Now a win for the unions is a win for the unions. (ASK the 2010 Dis-placed teachers)

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