CTU Protest Kind of Muddled
By Jim Vail
The Chicago Teachers Union appeared to kind of play catch up after the Chicago Public Schools announced two weeks ago that would furlough four days of professional development so that the teachers would not get to work or be paid.
This amounted to a 2% pay cut, to wipe out any raise in the recently agreed upon contract, and it violated the teachers contract which mandated a certain number of days of professional development.
The question was what is the union gonna do about this recent attack on the teachers which clearly appears to be revenge for not giving up the pension pickup which CPS must continue to pay.
Then it was announced that there would be a "grade-in" in which on the furloughed day of no work, the teachers would gather in front of the mayor's office and grade papers.
Surely, agit prop, theatrical protest to say this is what we are supposed to be doing.
It wasn't an action I wanted to promote to my teachers at Hammond School. It sounded too silly.
And a high school delegate at the last HOD meeting this past Wednesday said the whole idea is that we are not working on this day, so the grade in is wrong.
CTU President Karen Lewis quickly agreed and changed the name of the motion to a protest, not a grade in.
The TV news still reported the Friday, Feb. 3rd protest as a "grade in" and the CTU made it a professonal development day by having speakers discuss immigration rights of students and student trauma.
A teacher even asked if they could get CPDUs, or credits that go toward renewing your teachers license every 4 or 5 years.
The protest had maybe 200 teachers in red show up with chants against the furloughs. I agreed with furlough the mayor, fire the mayor, etc. I noted ironically that the protests to make Chicago a sanctuary city to protect our immigrant students the mayor himself could have joined in chanting with us.
But the professional development part started, I left.
I'm not sure what the CTU's plan is with this latest troubling assault on our agreed-upon contract that bypassed a strike.
When the furlough days were announced, the CTU should have a plan in place to rigorously defend our contract and say no. Protest - file a grievance, etc.
Why wait, and instead appear more interested in Trump protests - I agree they're important - but put our own union attacks on the back burner.
It also was confusing about another motion passed at the HOD to advocate turning in grades late, and slowing down paper work. It was confusing, and the union leaders said the individual schools should decide how to protest.
That's not real leadership. One school can get in a heat of trouble like Saucedo when they were one of only a few schools to protest the Parcc exam.
Either we are united and fight together strong, or we don't.