HOD Meeting Defends Political Strategy
By Jim Vail
The Chicago Teachers Union continued to promote its political strategy of signing up more members to contribute to the PAC or political action committee at the CTU house of delegates meeting last Wednesday.
CTU officers asked teacher delegates to stand up to show they are committed to paying higher dues to support the PAC which is the lobbying arm for the teachers union.
A clear majority, at least 3 out of every 4 delegates, chose to stand up as the CTU president and vice president pushed the delegates to give more to politicians despite the fact that union power is practically non-existent in the political arena.
"Why waste time on politicians," CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey said at the delegates meeting. "It's a dirty game. (But) no political power will only close more schools and increase privatization. We need to win."
However, giving money to machine democrats is suicidal when democrats are helping lead the attack on teacher pensions, increasing the number of charter schools and furthering the education reform agenda of President Obama, which is destroying public education.
For example, the CTU will most likely endorse current Illinois Governor Pat Quinn for re-election against republican Bruce Rauner. Quinn has been at the forefront of attacking the teachers pensions by claiming he would go so far as to shut down Springfield in order to pass pension reform which means cutting public workers' pensions.
Quinn has also chosen former schools chief Paul Vallas as his running mate in the race. Vallas was named by mayor Richard Daley to head the schools despite the fact that he had no credible education background, started the massive privatization of the schools, and fired many union employees.
In fact, Vallas is considered by many to be a republican, and Rauner supposedly wanted Vallas to be his running mate.
Sharkey seemed to be playing both sides of the game. On the one hand, he has defended the CTU's support for democrat candidates, despite their ties to the corrupt machine, because of the republican threat. On the other hand, he said the CTU can team up with 'progressive' democrats and will start an independent political organization.
The details were not released Wednesday night.
CTU president Karen Lewis noted that there are issues where different parties can come together to support a candidate.
She noted that Bill de Blasio, the newly elected democrat mayor of New York who supports taxing the rich and slowing down the privatization of public education, got support from the Working Families Party.
"Sometimes parties on opposite sides can join together to win," Lewis told the delegates.
Meanwhile the morale in schools across the city continues to go down.
Sharkey noted that after Title 1 funding was cut, the Board fired 100 teachers, claiming there was a loophole in the 20th day rule which prohibits that. He added that lots of schools are not getting special education services, noting there are 130 vacancies in Special Education.
There are not enough substitutes hired. The Board should have hired 900 cadres (substitute teachers assigned to a school), but has only hired 200 cadres, Lewis said.