House Of Delegates Meeting
By Jim Vail
The January, 2018 Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates met Wednesday to discuss two resolutions and endorse six candidates for office.
VP Jesse Sharkey chaired the meeting because President Karen Lewis is still home recovering from a stroke. He said she is feeling better and they had spoken for two hours.
Sharkey said good riddance to former Chicago Public Schools chief Forrest Claypool who was brought in to destroy the union. He made his name in civic office as a union buster, having helped gut the unions in the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Transit Authority.
Did Claypool fulfill his duty in the schools? He was forced to resign like his predecessor, but not go to prison this time, but he did fire union activists like former Saucedo teacher Sarah Chamber, further the privatization of school services and threaten to layoff thousands of teachers and implement furlough days. Claypool believes in vouchers, Sharkey said, (so does CTU endorsed House Speaker Mike Madigan) and hung a picture of free market wacko Ayn Rand in his office.
What about new schools chief Janice Jackson?
"There are a number of ways she'll be better than Forrest Claypool," Sharkey told the delegates last week. "You don't go up by being the enemy of the system."
The first resolution passed was to support Black Lives Matter School Week of Feb. 5th. The first two or three teachers from CORE who spoke in favor were white, to show solidarity between white and black teachers for this resolution.
The resolves (what the union pledges to do if you hold its feet to the fire) include the CTU will participate in Black Lives Matter School Week to kick off Black History Month the week of Feb. 5, 2018, CTU will host events aligned to national demands for ending the pushout of Black teachers in our schools, restorative practices in schools and ending zero tolerance discipline, teaching Black and other histories and ethnic studies curriculum (important since this country has swung so hard right to eradicate the curriculum of minorities forged in the radical 60s), and encourage teachers to wear Black Lives Matter at School shirts to school that week and teach lessons about important Black topics.
The next important resolution passed was to Reclaim the Paraprofessional and School Related Personnel (PSRP) in CTU. The discussion about this centered on how CTU lost a lot of teacher aid positions when the jobs were reclassified to SECAs, and then moved to be under the SEIU union. Some teachers demanded the CTU leadership do more to ensure the many aids who have lost their jobs because of this. Sharkey said contract enforcement is the surest way to do this.
The CTU noted that after CPS created the new category of SECA (Special Education Classroom Assistant) outside of CTU membership (just like charter teachers), the number of SECAs, like charter schools, has been growing "astronomically" while CTU PSRPs have fallen greatly - a switch of 3,200 members from CTU to SEIU, and CPS is also reclassifying PSRP positions like early childhood coordinators into jobs not performed by CTU. The resolution resolves to explore ways to regain these lost positions and "CTU will aggressively accrete the thousands more CPS employees that are eligible for union membership in the Central Office, Network Offices, and School units of CPS into the CTU as part of re-carding in preparation for the 2018 Janus court decision."
The upcoming Janus Supreme Court decision is expected to whack the unions again hard (how else to further the divide between the very rich and rest of us?) by not automatically collecting union dues, you can refuse to pay your union dues.
The last item for action was endorsing the following names for office - Kwame Raoul for attorney general, Ram Villivalam for state senator, Theresa Mah for state senator, Kelly Cassidy for state rep, Mary Flowers for state rep and Bridget Degnen for Cook County Commissioner.
Yours truly as delegate of Hammond Elementary asked why wasn't Aaron Goldstein considered as a candidate for attorney general. Goldstein is a progressive who upset Ald. Dick Mell for 33rd Ward committeeman and has pledged to take on the banks, something the union has fought hard for when it was discovered Bank of America made millions off toxic loans to the city while closing many schools. The CTU said it was unanimous to endorse Raoul, part of the machine, who has received $100,000 from big tobacco, tens of thousands of dollars from big utilities (watch our rates continue to rise for electricity, water and gas!), voted for the pension bill to whack our pensions hard - everything CTU preaches against!
Exciting mayoral candidate and principal activist Troy LaRavier has endorsed Goldstein.