Become a Catalyst member

Join the conversation

We encourage our readers to leave comments and engage in dialogue about our stories. But before you do, please check out our "rules of the road."

Subscribe to catalyst-chicago.org by e-mail

catalyst-chicago.org feeds

Current Issue

Teacher turnover

CPS has never had a strong, districtwide program of teacher induction and mentoring to stem an attrition rate that is higher than the national average. Instead, efforts to retain teachers depend on smaller-scale programs and individual principals who make it a goal to empower—and keep—their teachers.

Union: Teachers ratify contract

Teachers have voted to ratify their proposed contract with Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Teachers Union announced Wednesday.

The union said that of 20,765 votes it counted, 79.1 percent were in favor of the contract. The Chicago Board of Education must vote on the contract as well before it takes effect.

6 comments

George N. Schmidt wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

The contract vote... And public policy porn from the pundits

The question now for the USA will be when Chicago's experts on urban education are finally recognized. After 26,000 of us wore our read and filled the city, it's time to change the Rol A Dex for every reporter still paying attention. The public policy pornography that has poured from the official professorial (and other) pundits of the plutocracy officially ends now, even if most of the world's corporate media will still have a hard time "getting it."

There is only one reporter this morning that I'm mildly impressed with. As some of us were leaving the CTU offices last night (I'm a member of the union's Rules Elections Committee, as well as a retiree CTU delegate and a reporter, pundit, parent, poet and philosopher... etc.), Rosalind Rossi of the Sun-Times was lurking in the halls. She was trying to get THE STORY. It was late, and the hall on the fourth floor of the Merchandise Mart was dark, but it was good to see a reporter trying to get the biggest Chicago story of the day (or night)...

...even if all we could give her was a "Hello" and a smile.

For too long, Chicago's press corps has been as embarrassing as the bosses of the Baltimore Sun in the Fifth Season of "The Wire."

The official numbers have by now been announced, so we can begin the discussion of THE NEXT WAVE.

Since the CTU vote totals, school by school, will also be published later this month by, the one thing that is clear this morning is that the teachers and other union members accepted the contract as the best possible in October 2012, agains the odds of the national push to continue corporate "school reform." And this is a complete repudiation of the noisome policies of both the Bush and Obama administrations, both of which ("No Child Left Behind" and "Race to the Top") were pioneered and field tested by the Chicago Boys here in the Second City.

What has been broken now are all the official lies about "school reform." Many of those lies have been repeated for the past 20 years in the pages of Catalyst (which promoted Arne Duncan for CPS CEO back in 2001 when he was merely the darling of a handful of self-important reformers, you will recall).

Last night as we were doing the vote count (I am a member of the CTU Rules-Elections Committee), some of us were talking about what we had helped birth over the past 28 months (roughly since CORE and Karen were elected to lead the union by that overwhelming majority in the June 2010 runoff).

Basically, it was the freeing of the real experts, the teachers of Chicago's real public schools.

There is not a high school in Chicago's real public schools (and most elementary schools) where the CPS teachers do not include men and women with PhDs and EdDs in their fields. This includes the general high schools, where my wife teaches (Steinmetz, where I taught two tours) as well as the handful of elite high schools. The disgraceful 20 years of teacher bashing, phony statistics, and ruling class propaganda about the "failure" of the public schools of Chicago officially ends now.

The next time a Chicago reporter is tempted to quote some non-entity like Timothy Knowles of the University of Chicago, or Barbara Radner of DePaul (who have been quoted as "experts" hundreds of times over the past decades, always prattling the latest nonsense from the Plutocracy), we are going to call out the reporter who does it.

Instead of continuing the Big Lie that is now on its deathbed, it's time to go to the experts (us, from the union's leaders to the "rank and file" who filled the streets during the strike) and get not only the facts, but the truth.

If editors insist on starting at the "top", the reporters can call CTU. Someone will be available. President Karen Lewis (Dartmouth, if that's meanginful in all this), CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey (Brown, if that's meaningful), or the other two officers (Kristine Mayle and Michael Brunson) know more about the city's schools and children then the profs you've been favoring for nonsensical punditry. You see, any of the CTU officers knows more about the reality of public schools in the USA than the professors who have polluted the media versions of reality for the past 20 years with their apologetics for the plutocracy.

But the reality isn't the impressive (if you're impressed by those things; let's not forget that George W. Bush was one of the best educated Presidents in U.S. History: BA from Yale; MBA from Harvard...) credentials of the leaders of the CTU, but the more impressive practical experience of the "rank and file" teachers of Chicago, the working class women (mostly) and men who learned the trade at Chicago State and Northeastern and then were told to sit down and shut up by elite pontificators who couldn't survive a week in the classrooms of the real Chicago. (I came to Chicago's classrooms from the University of Chicago, and if I had not humbly accepted the practical training I got from my less elite educated peers, I would have failed as a teacher early. By the time I left DuSable Upper Grade Center I was on the way to knowing the craft, but not because my BA said "University of Chicago" on it...).

But of course it doesn't end there, which is why the CTU Communications Department had such fun dispatching various CTU people to go on the media and correct in part at least some of the nonsense that had been circulating. Even though WTTW continues to blacklist me, we have fun. That blacklist began, by the way, long before I published the CASE tests. It was back when I pointed out that Martin Koldyke's "free market" nonsense meant that Chicago's inner city schools would never get teachers like myself (BA University of Chicago, English and Humanities; I studied poetry under Robert Pinsky, for example, and U.S. history with the help of men like John Hope Franklin). If I were following the "market," I should immediately have taken my credentials to Winnetka or Glen Ellyn, where the pay was better, the pensions would be better still, and I wouldn't wind up, after 20 years of teaching, with a list of more than two dozen former students who had died violently, mostly in gang gunfire. But that reality wasn't on the "Chicago Tonight" agenda, for obvious reasons.

Most of us don't expect Chicago's craven pundits of the plutocracy to reform themselves and their reporting. The city has degenerated a lot since the days when Kurt Vonnegut could learn reporting at City New Bureau after witnessing Dresden (and finally writing that the only way it was possible, as semi-fiction in Slaugherhouse Five)...

But maybe some of us will post, every week or some, a list of the teachers at one school, their degrees, and how we are more "expert" than the apologists for the new aristocracy.

That's enough for one morning.

Tonight two of the city's experts on testing, Julie Woestehoff and Sharon Schmidt, are speaking at Hass Park in Logan Square about resisting so-called "standardized" testing. Every day and every night, the city's testing experts, Chicago's "rank and file" teachers, are available.

The next time we read a quote from one of the professorial putas of the plutocracy, delivered by another of them, maybe we should organize a "Justin Beaber Heave-In" in front of the outfit that peddles that insidious public policy porn.

Rosita Chatonda wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I'd like to see How it lines up School BY School!

I'm pretty sure that the contract was rejected in most Level 3 schools. This emphasizes how little voice is left in the African American schools that are going to be decimated as a result of this agreement between CPS and the CTU. In addition, George please don't respond. You don't intimidate me and I will not stop posting so that you can continue with your assault upon our school communities!

Anonymous wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

good point chandra

I agree with you the schools that are closing probably didnt sign it. This is where i feel there is no Union Soldarity. Also, vicitms of racists principals didnt sign either. BUT REMEMBER there are little white guys like me who are victims of latina and black principals too!! but i agree african americans are getting the worst of this contract ......I voted no not just for me but for you tooo...BUT PLEASE racism is not just a black problem...this is coming from a guy who was called "Gringo (guero) " by his LAtin principal!!

Rosita Chatonda wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Guess What?

First of all, thanks for sharing you own experience . I ofetn get criticized for not including all forms of discrimination in the system. I know there are many. I can talk from a perspective of what I know about and what I have seen. I hope others will share their stories. This is what I have observed, most of the racism perpetuated in the system is Black on Black. That's our problem! African American principals are ones who are destroying the lives of AA teachers 75% of the time. If you are White and Latino and work under them you will probably receive similar treatment. However, what I have seen is that if you are not Black you stand a better chance of equal treatment.

Mary Thorson Phoenix wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Too Many CPS Principals Are Bullies

Many teachers voted against the contract because they felt there were not enough protections against administrators who bully staff members. The contract ignores the subtle ways administrators bully teachers. One of the bully principals' favorite tactics is "harassing supervision" http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/12/01/kappan_stoelinga.html . There are too many allegations of CPS principals bullying teachers: Rigo Hernandez, Millicent Clyburn Robersone, Erin Roche, Florence Gonzalez, Sarah Abedelal, Leonard Harris, Cheryl Watkins, and Rene Blahuta are a few examples. Too bad this problem is all too common in our area. One teacher in Ford Heights felt so powerless against her bully administrators that she committed suicide http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-01/news/ct-met-teacher-suicid...

Anonymous wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Sarah Abedelal needs to be immediately FIRED!

Lawsuits coming.... Class action on the lips of many if Sarah Abedelal is not bridled and put back in her stall. She is in her position to ensure the protection of her teachers and students alike... Instead, she thinks she is queen of her puny empire and throws her weight around like a motley fool with no apparent concern for disciplinary action. I have heard recorded harassments from her as well as video. CPS is going to have a big issue on their hands with this next lawsuit. I hope it comes soon!! This woman needs to be made an example of. Most people don't really seem to believe it when they hear such things and neither did I. To those teachers who's stories I dismissed as over-hype I extend my apologies and support. Bring that woman to justice!

Add your comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
go here for more