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College and careers

An overhaul of the district’s career education programs seeks to make classes more challenging and put career-track students on the path to higher ed, but many schools have lost programs, and fewer students are participating overall.

‘Structured out’ of a job

Their goal was to improve poor schools, but some black educators are giving up on CPS
From the Fall 2013 issue of Catalyst-Chicago New school transitions

Fifth-grade teacher Leland Sanford and Spanish teacher Christine Brown sat at his desk in the school’s library, surrounded by brown boxes and barren walls. They were not happy. 

It was the Monday of the last week of school, and Sanford and Brown had just received letters saying that they wouldn’t find out for a few weeks whether they would have  jobs next school year. Their school, Morgan Elementary, was one of 49 to be shuttered in June. Both teachers had superior or excellent ratings and were tenured, making them eligible to follow their students, per a provision in the new teachers’ contract.

The caveat, however, was that enough students from the closing school would have to enroll in the welcoming school to make their jobs necessary. 

Sanford feared the worst. “I consider it a layoff notice,” he said.

While Sanford’s students were in gym class, he snuck off for a quick meeting with Aaron Rucker, the principal of Ryder, the welcoming school.  When Sanford returned, he was even more agitated.  

Rucker told him that only about 30 students from Morgan had registered at Ryder—so few that the school might not need even one additional teacher. “You look into the future and you see nothing,” said Sanford. “There are no guarantees.”

Sanford decided to go into teaching more than 30 years ago because he loved children and saw it as a stable way to earn a living. He has two grown daughters and, at 50 years old, never thought he would be in this position. Half-joking, he says he will be applying for a job at Walmart. 

Ironically, Sanford is exactly the type of educator in shortest supply in CPS: a black male. The latest sweeping round of school closings have made even more of a dent in the already-dwindling supply of African-American teachers. 

Of the 1,022 teachers at closing schools, about half (51 percent) of the 507 who were laid off because they had poor ratings or did not have tenure were black, according to a Catalyst Chicago analysis of CPS data provided to the Chicago Teachers Union this summer. The remaining 515 teachers were eligible to follow their students to the designated welcoming school because they had superior or excellent ratings. 

Among eligible white teachers, 75 percent received transfers, compared to only about 67 percent of black teachers. 

Some of those teachers who did not get transfers in July eventually were hired within the district, but CPS has not yet shared information about those hires with the CTU. 

Black teachers were hit harder for one main reason: They tend to be concentrated in schools that enroll the largest numbers of black students, and 40 of the 48 schools that closed had primarily African-American student bodies. 

In the 2001-2002 school year, about half of CPS students and 40 percent of CPS teachers were black. That is no longer the case. Now, 40 percent of CPS students are black, compared to roughly 25 percent of teachers, according to the 2012 Illinois State Board of Education teacher service records.

Black principals have also lost ground. In 2011-2012, 46 percent of CPS’ principals were black, down from 55 percent 10 years ago. Black males, like Sanford, are even more of a rarity today. Only four percent of teachers and 12 percent of principals are black men.

That black teachers and principals increasingly find their profession precarious could have long- range repercussions. 

Stanford University education professor Thomas Dee says studies have shown that students tend to do better with teachers of the same race, but there has been little research to determine why. Dee suspects that it has to do with a confluence of factors, such as the fact that these teachers provide positive role models for students and that they may have fewer stereotypes about the children. 

“Another idea is that minority students have more anxiety in classes taught by white teachers and this might prevent them from doing as well,” he says.

Dee notes that figuring out why students do better with same-race teachers is important, especially as schools become more diverse. 

What’s more, principals and teachers who have just lived through the experience of having their schools closed say it is traumatic, and they will think twice before taking another job at a potentially vulnerable school. In the end, just the threat of closings makes schools in the toughest neighborhoods an even tougher sell to good teachers.

Neighborhoods also are hurt as other school workers join the ranks of the unemployed. 

Custodians, clerks and lunchroom workers, many of them also African American, have also lost their jobs as the district’s “footprint” has shrunk.

Lonnell Saffold, institutional division director for the Service Employees International Union, which represents CPS custodians and lunch room managers, says originally 75 to 100 of his members were laid off in the spring. Some were called back, and the union is waiting for a final count of those out of work.

But CPS cutbacks over time have taken a toll, Saffold says. “When you take good jobs, you devastate communities and you devastate families. These are the jobs that sustained our communities.”

The impacted communities are the neighborhoods that CPS students live in, a point that the CTU tried to make as they fought against closings. 

“Public sector workers make up a strong economic base for a community, so when reform like this occurs in many of the schools that have already been neglected for ages, they remove the adults that have been connected to these children, in some cases for generations,” Brandon Johnson, organizer for CTU and chair of the union’s black caucus, wrote in a January 2013 column in the Austin Weekly News. 

Thirty-three-year-old Demetrius Hobson says he never thought he would be disenchanted, especially so early in his career. 

On the last day at Henson Elementary on the West Side, where Hobson was principal, two little boys got into a fight at the awards assembly and one of their mothers was in the office, pissed off and waiting for Hobson.  Hobson told the mother he would investigate, which seemed a bit of a useless proposition considering it was the last day at a closing school.

Another girl in the office had been told to call a parent or guardian to come to the school to get her. She and another student got into an argument and the other girl threatened her. The tall, thin girl was crying so hard she could barely talk on the phone to tell her brother what happened.  

“No one knows where my mama is,” the girl told the clerk. “I’ll walk you home if I have to,” the clerk said. “I just don’t want any of this, not today.” 

Hobson and the office staff decide to send the girl back to class and then make sure she gets home safely. As he walked the girl up the stairs, Hobson tapped his watch. “Forty-five minutes,” he said.

Forty-five minutes before the last bell was to ring, and the school felt tense and emotional. As if to apologize, Hobson noted that some students don’t know how to deal with their sadness about the school being shut down. Some cry. Some fight. Some do both. “They are responding to the loss,” he said. 

Hobson became a principal just two years ago, after attending—at the expense of CPS—the Teach for America principal training program at Harvard University. When he was placed at Henson, a small school in the middle of impoverished North Lawndale, it was exactly where he wanted to be.

Hobson sees schools like Henson as beacons in a community that is struggling with poverty and the many problems that spring from it. Schools are one of the few places in such a community where children can see and interact with adults who have bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he points out.

Hobson, who grew up on the South Side and attended CPS schools, says providing a good education in communities like North Lawndale is a personal mission.

In the last weeks of the school year, when it became clear that Henson was going to close, Hobson went into overdrive. Among the tasks he set out to finish:  Get students enrolled in a new school, inventory everything in the school, and try to make sure learning wasn’t too disrupted by teachers running off to job interviews. 

Proudly, he said that even on the last day, he saw instruction taking place: A teacher was talking to her students about paraphrasing. 

Just before the bell rang for the last time, Hobson got on the loudspeaker and gave his farewell announcement. He ended it by telling the students “Education is liberation.”

But as he stood on the concrete steps in front of the school, hugging students as they came by, he looked tired. He said fatigue was starting to set in.  “This was my Plan A. I don’t have a plan B.” 

Hobson, like the other principals of closed schools, stayed on CPS’ payroll through October. Their job was to help close their schools and do other odd jobs. 

By summer’s end, Hobson was discouraged. He said he was not looking for another job in CPS. 

“Not,” Hobson repeated. “I have some serious concerns about the way the district is doing things and the lack of state funding.” 

A handful of other principals from closing schools are no longer seeking employment with CPS, he said, and added that he has heard about a few welcoming school principals who have “walked away.” According to CPS, eight welcoming school principals left their posts over the summer.

“I am in Chicago, but it is not clear to me what my next step is,” Hobson said. “I want to step back. I am trying to look at it as, who are the beneficiaries of this? We talk about equity. Who is this equitable to?”

Hobson said he is thinking about “engaging children in other ways” besides being a school principal, and perhaps running for office. 

Other principals of closed schools desperately want to find jobs in CPS.  

Bontemps Principal Allen Mosley started as a substitute teacher at the Englewood school and worked there for 24 years. He says he has put in resumes everywhere, both in CPS and in the suburbs, and is willing to take a non-principal position.

But at 52 years old and coming from a low-performing school, Mosley says he hasn’t gotten any callbacks. 

Jobs prospects look a little brighter for Morgan Principal Vikki Stokes. Two years ago, Stokes was the principal at Guggenheim, which closed. At Morgan, she tried her best to create a positive culture, and boasts about the many celebrations she hosted. 

“When you give people kudos, it helps to keep them focused,” Stokes says. “I also try to redirect people. I will ask them:  How are you getting along on meeting your goal? It over- shadowed the sadness. The good outweighed the bad.”

Stokes says she dreamed of making Morgan the Disney Magnet of the South Side. Disney, a popular North Side school, and Morgan were built around the same time and are similar in design.

Because Guggenheim closed, many on the Morgan staff thought Stokes was brought to their school to close it. Some staff members say Stokes told them the school wouldn’t be shuttered, so they didn’t fight hard to keep it open. 

Stokes, who has only been a principal for three years, says she is in the same boat as the teachers. Principals have no job protections. “I just want to unpack my pictures and my plants. It would be great to call a place home,” Stokes says. 

One of several issues surrounding the teacher’s strike last year was the union’s insistence that displaced teachers have some job protections. The union scored a big win when CPS leaders agreed that teachers could follow their students. 

But, as is often the case with situations involving CPS, people are taking a wait-and-see approach. However, so far, teachers who were transferred seem relieved and the principals who received them seem happy to have them. 

Lavizzo Principal Tracey Stelly said she needed two teachers.  The kindergarten teacher from Kohn transferred in and is now teaching 1st grade, with some of her former Kohn students in her class. “She got to loop with them,” Stelly says.

For 5th grade, Stelly got Phillip Clay, a tall black man whose youthful appearance belies his 15 years in the classroom. The other 5th-grade teacher is Cathy Clark, who is also Lavizzo’s assistant principal. Stelly says the two make a great pair. 

Clay says that he was saddened by Kohn’s closure. “I had put my heart and soul into it,” he says. “I had the highest ISAT scores there.”

Clay says he wasn’t too worried about finding a new position. He prides himself on being a hard worker and he says he figured something would come through. Also, his friends assured him that as a black man, he would be a hot commodity.  

But things did not work out so well for Leland Sanford. 

In the spring, few Morgan students said they intended to go to Ryder. But Sanford predicted that would change. “The parents think they have options, but they really don’t,” he said.  

Sanford was right and, over the summer, Ryder got a slow trickle of students. By the last week of summer, Ryder was projected to get 134 students from Morgan, and several Morgan teachers were brought on, according to Sanford. (The CPS communications office failed to arrange a follow-up interview with Rucker, the principal at Ryder.) 

But Sanford never got a call.

Out on the open market, Sanford has had no luck. He is convinced that it is because he is a veteran teacher who would command a high salary. He has filed a grievance with the union. 

CPS officials have said in the past that 60 percent of teachers laid off due to closings find other jobs in the system. But many things changed that might make a difference this year. 

Drastic budget cuts forced principals to lay off teachers and led to fewer job openings overall. And with student-based budgeting, principals have to stretch limited dollars to pay for enough teachers, making veterans less attractive financially. 

“I have my letters of recommendation, I have my awards, I have my test scores, but still it is not enough,” Sanford says. “One principal even told me that they have no money to hire people like me.” 

Another principal sent a rejection letter before he got home from the interview.

Without a job, as a displaced teacher, Sanford had two choices: Take five months of salary and exit the system or work in the substitute teacher pool for a year. With a mortgage and a work ethic, he decided he would take the latter choice.

For the first two weeks of school, he was assigned to do odd jobs around Lavizzo. Being a vagabond, he said, was insulting. 

“I helped the students, but I didn’t help myself. I am just out,” he said. “I am very disappointed. I am being structured out of a job.”

Tell us what you think. Leave a comment below, or email karp@catalyst-chicago.org.

25 comments

David Wolfe wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

'Structured out' of a job

CPS gets rid of black teachers with tenure, experience and who have long served their impoverished communities. Then disillusions the young black teachers/principals with their policies. Just another plot line in their goal further destroy black children and the communities in which they live. Shame on you, Rahm.

Retired Educator wrote 28 weeks 1 day ago

The city that works?

Unfortunately, with Chicago's ultra segregation and lack of parental involvement in some neighborhoods, this is the city that works for some and not all. In my observation, our uneven and racist school system stems from Richard J. Daley and Benjamin Willis, now with Rahm Emanuel and Barbara Byrd Bennett.
We could begin to solve some of our school issues with all locally elected and selected governmental officials who have school aged children be required to attend Chicago Public Schools. This especially applies to the mayor, aldermen, and school board members who should be elected.
School closings only happened in certain neighborhoods and certain teachers. I wonder how and why?

Rosita Chatonda wrote 28 weeks 6 hours ago

Thank God this issue is

Thank God this issue is coming to the forefront. I have been working diligently using my voice for over 12 years to educate people about this impending crisis. The Chicago Public Schools through it's past policies has undermined the integrity of the Black Teacher population here in Chicago. This has been going on since Daley took over the school board in 1995 with the passing of the Amendatory Act in 1995.From that point on there has been a total attack and smear campaign by the City of Chicago leadership. African American teachers, from the information we at CAUSE have accumulated, (We did a FOIA but never received the information from CPS). make up over 70% of teachers terminated in the E-3 process. A similar number applies in the cases of teachers brought up on unsubstantiated charges that were not investigated by DCFS of Chicago Police Department . In fact many that were investigated were unfounded. That number is also over 70% African American teachers. With over 95% of the school closings concurring in Black communities, African American school communities have been decimated by CPS.

In addition, the lack transparency and advocacy in regards to the Chicago Teachers Union should be added to this equation. For years they have looked the other way while this catastrophe was unveiling. The CORE Caucus filed an EEOC charge on behalf of Black teachers in 2010, THE DAY BEFORE THE CTU ELECTION. Only to drop interest in the issue after they won. They were silent on this issue until shortly before the 2013 Election. Another media strategy used to attract Black voters. Once again, very little is being done to protect the handful of Black teachers left after thousands were fired under Lewis.

Marc Sims wrote 28 weeks 3 hours ago

Americans Americans

Integration, assimilation, consumerism, deindustrialization, ignorance, selfishness, and self-hatred has rendered the African American community to Humpty Dumpty status.

In Chicago African Americans will be around, but as a people African Americans we will be irrelevant.

Rosita Chatonda wrote 28 weeks 2 hours ago

@ Marc

I know the prospect is dim. However, don't give up on us. We are making many gains on the South-Side. You just interviewed some of our upcoming parent organizers and leaders last week. We will not retreat until we bring our community together. Keep the faith Marc.

Democracy Now wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

This is sad and sickening to

This is sad and sickening to read: entire communities once integral and vital threads in the fabric of Chicago are now being (systematically) dismantled on multiple fronts. What messages do we send to the children everyone claims to care about when we close their schools and destroy the careers of adults who have done the right things and made the right choices? The messages are you, child, are less important than an ideologue's drive to undermine a union; you, child, come second to tax breaks for rich and powerful companies; finally, you, child, shouldn't value education or public schools because no one else does. That is just a small part of what we tell our children when we allow public schools to become casualties in a privatization war.

The disgrace and destruction of education reform in Chicago did not begin with Rahm Emanuel; it merely accelerated under his watch. It is long past time for communities in the city to re-assert their power, influence, and votes. The solution is simple, really: identify, support, and vote for elected officials that represent our interests, and fire the ones that don't. People of conscience and reason should be outraged and appalled by what is happening in and to our traditional public schools. If our aldermen, pastors, or dog catchers aren't speaking out, then we should fire them too. Enough is enough.

Marc Sims wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

I know the prospect is dim. However,

Thanks.

Marc
http://www.youtube.com/user/VPChicago

“Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

Rosita Chatonda wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

@ Marc

Marc, I don't believe in exchanging words and engaging in public displays with my allies. If I considered you to be someone working against our neighborhood agenda I would engage you. You have my information , inbox me and we can talk.

This statement is true;
“Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.”

I am a proud advocate of this idea.

Karma wrote 27 weeks 6 days ago

Finally!

'Structured out' of a job shows the devastation of the layoffs on Black principals, teachers, the middle class, communities, veteran educators,etc.
The comments are so true and troubling but so very necessary especially with regards to the response of the Chicago Teacher's Union.

Rosita Chatonda wrote 27 weeks 5 days ago

Dear Karma

The truth will eventually be revealed about all of the entities who have worked together to accomplish the goal of destroying the population of African American teachers. Each one bears a great amount of the responsibility. Although they are pointing fingers at each other, their name is plastered on the legislation that allowed these catastrophes to take place> Senate Bill 7 was a gift from the CTU to Rham Emmanuel.

norhside wrote 27 weeks 5 days ago

Flawed Review System

This whole idea of job ratings is a subjective JOKE ...I guarantee many principals protected their "buddies" with excellent ratings to shield them from layoffs and vice versa with their "enemies". If the old ratings system was "flawed" why is it that those who were rated incorrectly on the downside (satisfactory and unsatisfactory) are given the shaft...but those rated incorrectly on the upside (excellent and superior) are PROTECTED.

Obviously many deserve their ratings for good or bad ...but this idea you are given privileges or castigated from a admittedly "Flawed" old review process is something that should be challenged in COURT!!

And from what I can see...the NEW REACH is about the same!!! It is based on evidence collected from the prosecution! not good!

I don't want to start a fight...but skin color doesn't matter when they take your families house because you lost your job!

Karma wrote 27 weeks 5 days ago

Flawed evaluation and skin color

I am glad that someone else questions the use of an evaluation system (that is considered to be obsolete and flawed by its own creators )to make determinations about which professionals could continue within the system. Problem is, REACH is for the birds too.

What this thought-provoking article shows is that there are people behind the statistics of the layoffs. It does not take too much insight to see the trend - Black educators will be almost non-existent in CPS if these standard bearers for racism have their way.

When professional people are discarded like garbage, have their professional careers and aspirations trampled on and lose their earned and essential material goods (home,etc)the unjust loss of income is what matters - not color.

Unfortunately, the only color that matters to the saboteurs (so-called reformers) of education is the color of money - GREEN

Karma wrote 27 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you Rosita

Thanks for making sure that this topic is not discarded or ignored. You keep me believing that the truth will be revealed and those responsible will be held accountable.

Guess Who wrote 27 weeks 4 days ago

@ Northside

@ Northside, This statement is so true. don't want to start a fight...but skin color doesn't matter when they take your families house because you lost your job!

However, many veteran teachers have lost everything because we allowed a group of uneducated, inexperienced , spoiled brats in corporate America to seize our profession using it as a Cash Cow . Everyone who has been in the system knows that in Chicago, Children are dollar signs to them. Most are not educators that have the most say. Most wouldn't do the hard job of teaching to save their lives. The little group of cowards and bullies are playing musical chairs, running from state to state taking over leadership positions ruining everything and like the the cowards they are, leaving and jumping ship like frightened little rabbits when they realize that all of their initiatives have failed. Then they get another B-whole to step up to the plate.
Unfortunately many teachers whether White or Black have lost everything.
The truth of the matter is thta Black teachers were hit especially hard. They are alnost non-existent in the communities where they live.

Karma wrote 27 weeks 4 days ago

Kudos to Ms. Karp

Thank you for writing this article. Very few writers have had the courage to address the issues of this article.

shari wrote 27 weeks 3 days ago

so true!

so true!

urbanteach wrote 27 weeks 2 days ago

Hiring New Recruits...

What would be the response of our fire/police unions (fraternal orders) if they were able to hire new recruits at houses or districts before placing veterans? There would be an outrage!

northside wrote 27 weeks 1 day ago

Urnanteach

It would never HAPPEN...but once they break the teachers (since we are the weakest part) they will go after them too. Once day you will see a city run by workers with the morale of a Wal-Mart worker on a Sunday! We will all be non union "at will" employees being tossed around by every political whim!

It will be a sad day! And it will be written in the History Books the biggest union buster was not a Republican but Obama the "hope and change" president!

Guess Who wrote 27 weeks 1 day ago

True Northside

What you are saying is true. Have you thought about why the unions, the AFT, IFT and CTU have watched this nightmare occurring ad did virtually nothing to stop it? Teachers are angry with everyone except the people who are paid to defend them. They too are co-conspirators in this game.

northside wrote 27 weeks 1 day ago

Guess Who

Many of us did not sign the current contract with CPS and were against SB7!
I AM angry with my union. I am one man...many of the current teachers who have been rated Excellent of Superior have separated themselves from the "unsatisfactory/satisfactory" . Many of these high rated teachers and don't even bother attending union meetings either out of complacency or fear of upsetting the powers that be. However, once CPS gets rid of the "rabble rousers" they will come after the high paid teachers next. I think teachers NEED TO UNITE...and the union needs to take a moratorium on political and social issues until they can help stem the tide of their membership drop. I have to say Im less upset with CTU than Rahm...but still the same...I am hurt to think people like me, who have been given a satisfactory rating, have been left to defend for ourselves!

Guess Who wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

Northside

Many veterans were left out in the cold. The young inexperienced teachers that work at the CTU looked out for young teachers when they negotiated the contract with CPS. CPS administrators are shocked at how much was lost,. Since the favorite ones at CTU and CPS are young , they have taken the system from veterans.

Karma wrote 26 weeks 6 days ago

You are not alone northside

Many teachers feel just like you with regards to the Union. Those who have lost their jobs are not particularly interested in social activism as much as trying to survive and not lose everything they have. A lot of teachers thought the contract still needed refining to minimize the loopholes. If they dared vocalize their skepticism, some teacher's on the line got angry.

The teacher's who received unjust ratings,whether still employed or not,are mad as hell at the flagrant unfairness of it all.

I also wonder when someone will write an article about how many Black administrators were instrumental in getting rid of Black veteran teachers. This might be a good article for a psychological journal that addresses the issue of self hatred. Those Black educators who have experienced or witnessed this phenomena know I write the truth. When those who are guilty lose their "power" they will recognize they were nothing but straw bosses playing into one of the oldest and tired games of all - plantation politics.

Some of the teachers with high ratings think they are in an exclusive little clique. Wait till they are told by the fools in charge they are not so "distinguished" or "proficient " after all. It will hit the fan. Many teachers won't see they have fallen victim to the divide and conquer tactics of CPS until they are streetwise looking for a job too.

Which brings me to the incredibly bogus Teacher Quality Pool. The CPS seems to want highly credentialed and experienced teachers to beg for a job. The TQP is not even exclusive to Chicago! There are profiles online from across the country. Principals can look at the profiles at their leisure..

The school system was running out of substitutes last year and tried to use other teacher's to fill in the gaps on their prep periods. Teachers, in general, are very accommodating, but they are not going to stand still and be used like fools.

The Union needs to remember that those who paid dues, that have lost jobs and have a pension (maybe) should not be forgotten. They should also not forget their leadership position is tenuous at best.

Rosita Chatonda wrote 26 weeks 5 days ago

@ Karma

Dear Karma,

You have written so eloquently and truthfully regarding the situation concerning the plight of veteran teachers and the CTU. Right now the CTU cares nothing for those members who paid dues for years and our now terminated. . The leaders there are those who have little investment in terms of dues or actual work experience at CPS or actual union experience. The contract does favor young teachers at the expense of veterans. It is obvious based on the signing of Senate Bill 7, the contract negotiations and millions spent on frivolous lawsuits (for publicity purposes) that the CTU has careful crafted these initiatives and that this has been done with little regard for veteran teachers.

We are not concerned about the CTU's attempts to run for or involne themselves in high profile media campaigns while thousands are losing their jobs. I warned everyone before the CTU election that this would happen. The money invested to create media spin for the CTU, , (teachers hard earned dues) was used for everything under the sun except protecting teachers. I personally don't believe that the CTU organizers have the ability to empathize with veteran teachers.I think They view them as "bad teachers" and teachers who probably need to go anyway,. To them, we are disposal items .

I said that to say, dry your eyes and began to help right some wrongs. Join CAUSE, my organizations as we have decided that although we have been kicked out of the CTU, we are still educators, so let's EDUCATE!

I have created a petition that is getting a lot of traction to address the Illinois General Assembly regarding pension reform. This will help many teachers who have had to draw their pensions down because of financial hardships. Please sign and share with others.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/iliionis-pension-reform.fb40?source=c.f...

Rosita Chatonda wrote 26 weeks 5 days ago

Here is the petition in print

Senator 13th District
111 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706

Chicago Alliance of Urban School Educators
Dear Senator Raoul ,

My name is Rosita Chatonda and I am the Founding President of an upstart organization called C.A.U.S.E.., Chicago Alliance of Urban School Educators. CAUSE organizers teachers that are non-union and union members as well as parents and community. Since you are Senator of the 13th District and Pension Reform Sub-Committee Chair, I am contacting you with a pressing and urgent problem due to pension reform.
Please find enclosed information regarding the crisis facing many veteran teachers. In the last year there have been over 3,000 veteran teachers terminated. Many of these teachers pay into the pension system. Of the over 50 schools closed and 6 turn-arounds, 90% of the schools closed last year and 99% of the schools closed in previous years have been in the African American communities on the South and West Sides. In the last 4 years at least 6,000 African American teachers have lost employment. In addition, since these firings were spontaneous many teachers were left with the only option of survival, pulling their pensions down. Most of these teachers were near retirement will never be able to accumulate substantial years of service again. Hardest hit by this crisis are single parent educators.
The option for paying back into the pension fund and buying back years of services is that teachers will work in reciprocal systems in the State of Illinois for two years to buy their pensions back. Many teachers have reported trying to get jobs but cannot be rehired by CPS or any other reciprocal system. Many have the money to pay back but cannot find work for two years to fill the requirement under the pension contract.
We at CAUSE have been asked to bring this matter to the attention of the Illinois General Assembly and the Chicago Teachers Fund. We would like the two year restriction for buy-back of service to be lifted. We are asking that if teachers have the monies and are able to pay back, that they would be allowed to do so without working in a reciprocal system for two years. We would like teachers to have that option of buying back their pension since jobs in these reciprocal systems are virtually non-existent for thousands of veteran teachers.
As I have stated above, the African American Community has lost many teachers, since the late nineties, when Jackie Vaughn was CTU President, we have lost over 12,000 teaching slots. Our community has suffered a tremendous economic loss and well as the cost of human dignity. Please consider amending the pension reform laws to include a buy back for teachers needing to recover their pensions.
Please call Senator Kwame Raoul

Springfield Office:
Senator 13th District
111 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5338

District Office:
1509 E. 53rd Street
2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 363-1996
(773) 681-7166 FAX
Raoul staff@gmail.com

Sincerely,
Rosita Chatonda
Founding President of C.A.U.S.E. rcchatonda@yahoo.com

Anonymous wrote 26 weeks 5 days ago

Northside

Karma and Rosita,

We have butted heads before, but I APPRECIATE your empathy for displaced, and soon to be displaced, teachers! Every day I walk in the building I live in fear of a "gootcha" surprise Informal" observation. And believe you me, it is happening! I know!

I wish that the male teachers of CPS would create a caucus and demand some answers too!

Thanks
Northside

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