Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Candidate Meetings

IFT PAC Meeting Open to All?
By Jim Vail

The Illinois Federation of Teachers IFT sent out an email encouraging teachers to attend various Political Action Committee PAC meetings to determine which candidates should be supported.

I was surprised when I received this email because the Chicago Teachers Union CTU is a part of the IFT and they have never opened their PAC meetings to the public. 

CTU President Karen Lewis is paid a salary of roughly $75,000 as an IFT officer in addition to her CTU "full-time" salary that tops $100,000. 

Former CTU President Debbie Lynch told me she decided not to take another salary from the IFT because then she would have little influence with the state union and would be beholden to their wishes. The IFT like the American Federation of Teachers AFT are considered more conservative unions who back national political candidates tied to the Democrats, who support education reform that is destroying public education and unions.

The CTU PAC committee members are selected but really the officers decide which candidates they want to support. I was no longer welcome on the committee because I questioned the whole Democrat strategy.

While the CTU and Lewis encourage teachers to run for political office, politics trump the day. I had to fight at the House of Delegates HOD meeting to get an endorsement for Ed Hershey, a former alderman candidate and teacher and delegate at Lindblom High School. When CTU Political Dir. Stacy Gates read a list of former teacher political candidates to the HOD delegates earlier this year, she did not include Hershey's name (he ran a great campaign in Pilsen a few years ago). 

The CTU is aligned with the Democrats and the Machine, and it is more important if the candidate can win, than if the candidate is a teacher or a true fighter for public education and workers' rights.

The IFT upset a lot of progressive union activists when it decided to endorse JB Pritzker for Governor. Pritzker's family is extremely anti-union, and he hides his billions in hidden trusts to not pay taxes, while he speaks out of the other side of his mouth that he supports union rights and taxing the rich.

Trump said a lot of populist things as well on the campaign - no more foreign wars, protect Americans from high drug prices, bring back manufacturing jobs, etc. His administration has, of course, done the complete opposite with a pro-business/ anti-worker agenda.

Help determine which candidates deserve our support

Attend a Regional IFT PAC meeting this June

The future of our schools, communities, and workplace rights will be on the ballot this fall, and we need your help to endorse and elect candidates who will listen to us.

The IFT uses a democratic Political Action Committee (PAC) process to thoroughly vet candidates before making endorsement recommendations for the Illinois General Assembly and Congress. Your involvement in this process is critical!

IFT PAC meetings are held in 18 regions around the state and are open to all IFT members. The next meetings begin June 6 and continue through June 27. View the schedule here.

At the regional meetings, participants review incumbent voting records and candidate questionnaires and conduct interviews to determine where each candidate stands on the issues. Then, each Regional PAC makes endorsement recommendations to the union’s Statewide PAC committee. (Learn more about the full process here.)

Help determine which candidates deserve our union’s support! Call 217.544.8562 to RSVP for your Regional IFT PAC meeting today.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Million Dollar Question

CTU Million Dollar Loan Questions
By Therese Boyle

Clinician Therese Boyle will run for CTU president with Members First.

Dear CTU Officers, Trustees and Executive Board Members,
I am writing to ask for clarification about the $1 million loan and related financial matters that were discussed at the April 2018 and May 2018 House of Delegates (HOD) meetings. AFT President Randi Weingarten and IFT President Dan Montgomery were present at the May 2018 HOD and heard the delegate questions related to the loan and I have copied them on this email as a courtesy. I have also copied Stacy Davis Gates, CTU Political and Legislative Director as a courtesy, since our PAC was the recipient of a portion of the loan monies. In view of the fact that our union is facing a budget shortfall of approximately $3 million dollars in FY19 (if we do not make changes), I want to have a clear understanding of the $1 million loan.
At the April 2018 and May 2018 HOD meetings, CTU VP Jesse Sharkey explained that delegates had approved a $1 million loan at a winter 2015 HOD meeting.  I have attached a copy of the Resolution to Amend the CTU Budget to Fund a Political and Contract Fight that was approved by the HOD in winter 2015 to this email.  The Resolution approved that “CTU increase it 2015 budget by $1.4 million, to be paid for out of reserves and with the explicit understanding that all of the CTU budgetary safeguards and procedures remain in effect, and that monies not spent be returned to the CTU’s treasury.”  
Below are my questions for clarification:
1.    Is this Resolution serving as the HOD ‘approval’ for the loan?  The language in the Resolution does not use the term loan.  The Resolution also states the the CTU Constitution and By-Laws “gives the power to adopt urgent and unforseen spending to the Executive Board” and that such actions “be reported to the House of Delegates.”  I want to be clear on how the loan was approved.

2.    Marty Ritter, of the CTU Organizing Department, explained to me that the loan document is held upstairs at the CTU office. I am requesting that the loan document be shared with delegates so that we can see the signatories to the loan and the terms of the loan.

3.    The CTU PAC (the one established in 1974) did not document the loan on any of the D-2 Quarterly Reports Section A-3 Loans Received filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.  Why is the loan to the CTU PAC not documented with the Illinois State Board of Elections?

4.    Was the original loan made in the amount $1.4 million as stated in the Resolution?
a. Page 4 of the CTU FY19 Proposed Budget (see attached) shows the loan amount to be $1,003,007.00.  Did the CTU PAC originally take a loan $1.4 million and then return “monies not spent” of $396,993.00 to the CTU treasury?
b. Is there documentation of the original loan disbursement and the return of monies not spent?  I could not find the loan information on the CTU 2014 IRS 990 Form (see attached).  However, the CTU 2014 990 did show CTU PAC Revenue ($1,920,944) and CTU PAC Expenses ($2,946,085) indicating the PAC spent $1,025,141 more than it received.
c. Page 4 of the CTU FY 19 Proposed Budget indicates a repayment was made by the CTU PAC to CTU reserves in the amount of $75,052.00 in March 2018.  I looked at the three PACs operated by CTU (Chicago Teachers Union PAC Illinois Federation of Teachers 1974, Chicago Teachers Union Local 1 PAC 2018, and Chicagoans United for Economic Security PAC 2014) and was not able to see the amount of $75,052.00 in any of the D-2 Quarterly Reports (Reporting period: 1/1/2018 thru 3/31/2018) Section B Expenditures.  Why is the $75,052.00 payment from the PAC funds not documented with the Illinois State Board of Elections?
d. The CTU 03/31/18 Statement of Financial Position/Statement of Activities (see attached)​​, given to the delegates at the May 2018 HOD, did not show the PAC repayment of $75,052.00 that was reported on Page 4 of the CTU FY19 Proposed Budget as being made in March 2018.  Where can I see this payment?

5.    The Resolution the HOD approved for $1.4 million was “to be spent in roughly equal parts on political campaigns, our contract campaign, and communicating our issues on education, pensions, and schools to the public.”
a. Can you provide an accounting for how the $1.4 million or $1,003,007.00 was spent? At the spring 2018 HOD meetings, Jesse explained the PAC portion of the loan was spent to unseat Rahm Emanuel.  Can delegates get a reporting of how the PAC portion of the loan was spent?
b. Was the money spent in roughly equal thirds as stated n the Resolution: PAC, Contract Campaign, & Communications?  
c. Which PAC fund did the money go to; the Chicago Teachers Union PAC Illinois Federation of Teachers 1974 or the Chicagoans United for Economic Security PAC 2014?
c. Is the PAC responsible for paying back only the 1/3 given to PAC?  Or is PAC also responsible for paying back money spent on the Contract Campaign and Communications?
d. The 10 year repayment plan detailed on page 4 of the CTU FY19 Proposed Budget indicates the loan will be paid back at the rate of approximately $100,000 per year.  What percentage of the average annual PAC contributions does the $100,000 repayment represent?  Are PAC contributions predicted to fall with the projected member/fee payer fall-off we are expecting from both Janus and the Illinois Policy Institute campaigns?  If so, will this impact our PACs ability to repay the loan according to the schedule of payments shown on the CTY FY19 Proposed Budget?

6.    The Resolution reported that CTU had $8.8 million in reserves as of winter 2015.  The March 31, 2018 Statement of Financial Position handed out at the May 2nd HOD shows we have Net Assets of $3,525,206.00.
a. Have our reserves have dropped by $5,274,794.00 over the past three years?
b. If we loaned the PAC $1,003.007.00, that leaves $4,271,787.00 not accounted for in terms of diminished reserves.  How and when did we spend the additional $4,271,787.00 in reserves?  Did CTU make other loans?
7. Are the acronyms COPE and PAC used interchangeably by CTU when discussing the loan? The Resolution talks about ‘giving money from CTU reserves to CTU PAC’ and the CTU budget references ‘repayment of the COPE loan’.

Thank you in advance for your response,

Therese Boyle, Citywide Clinician Delegate

Copy of Resolution:

WHEREAS, in April of 2014 the Director of Financial Operations of the Chicago Teachers Union presented to the Executive Board of the CTU, and in June of 2014, the House of Delegates adopted, a total budget of $29.1 million dollars; abs

WHEREAS, this budget was in keeping with the prudent budget practices the leadership has adopted since coming to office—in that time we have brought in $4.9 million more than we have spent resulting in an $8.8 million financial reserve; and

WHEREAS, in assessing the political and contractual challenges that our union faces the leadership believes that it will be necessary to set aside an additional fund of $1.4 million, to be spent in roughly equal parts on political campaigns, our contract campaign, and communicating our issues on education, pensions, and schools to the public; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution and By-Laws of the CTU gives the power to adopt a budget to the HOD—Article VI, Section 2(g):
The Executive Board shall submit the proposed budget, together with its recommendations, to the May meeting of the House of Delegates. No budget shall be in force until it has been passed by the House; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution and By-Laws of the CTU gives the power to adopt urgent and unforseen spending to the Executive Board—Article VI, Section (h)
The union budget shall provide a contingent fund for the Executive Board to meet emergency expenses in Union service; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution and By-Laws of the CTU specify that such actions of the Executive Board be reported to the House of Delegates, the officers and Executive Board nevertheless thought it important to seek approval from the House of Delegates for such a large expenditure; and

WHEREAS, the further reasons for additional political spending include our assessment that this moment includes more potential and peril alike than any time in recent memory because the current mayor and his backers in city council have carried out an aggressive policy of school cuts, staff reductions, charter expansion, and pension attacks despite widespread protest and opposition to their policies, which in turn has created record low poll numbers, and the entry of many CTU members and movement allies into the electoral arena; and

WHEREAS, the prospect of electing CTU champions heartens us, but the prospect of an emboldened mayor with a rubber-stamp city council and an anti-union governor demoralizes us just as we head into contract negotiations; and

WHEREAS, the further reasons the leadership proposes to spend additional monies on our upcoming contract fight flow from the need to create unity and excitement on the level of our last contract fight, despite political obstacles and internal stress in our buildings; and

WHEREAS, the further reasons to spend money on communications to our members, networks of supporters and the public reflect the fact that the CTU has emerged as a trusted voice for educational issues, and promoting our viewpoint will pay dividends with both public opinion and with confidence of our own membership; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the CTU increase it 2015 budget by $1.4 million, to be paid for out of reserves and with the explicit understanding that all of the CTU budgetary safeguards and procedures remain in effect, and that monies not spent be returned to the CTU’s treasury.

 Adopted  Adopted as amended  Defeated  Tabled  Other

Monday, May 21, 2018

Political Transparency?

Will the CTU Come Clean on its Politics
By Jim Vail

The delegates to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) will vote on a budget next month that has mandated major cuts to its operations.

Will the union have to cut services for its members? How many field reps will we have to protect teachers and enforce the contract? What's going on?

The CTU appears to have very little transparency when it comes to spending money politically. 

There are rumors that certain candidates favored by the CTU brass get a whole hell of a lot more money than others. Why? What is the process?  Those are questions delegates would like answered.

For example, who is the Chicagoans United for Economic Security PAC? How much did a failed candidate who worked with a South Side community organization called COCO receive (rumors say $300,000).

I asked when endorsements were made in the last primary why the CTU backed machine candidate Kwame Raoul for Illinois Attorney General. I said Aaron Goldstein, an exciting progressive public defender who beat the machine's Dick Mell to become the 33rd ward's new committeeman, was a much better candidate. He vowed to take on the banks, something our union made a big deal about when the city was/is paying the big banks heavily.

The CTU made a huge campaign against Bank of America getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars off penalties from toxic loans the city took out, at the expense of closing public schools and not properly funding them.

Goldstein told me that the machine and Raoul would never take on the banks. 

The Political Action Committee (PAC) is a closely-run group in which you have to apply and be accepted, not democratic at all. After initially serving on the committee when we helped get CORE elected in 2010, I was then rejected by CTU President Karen Lewis. They don't like questions and dissent from the party line.

And now we hear all kinds of rumors about extravagant money being spent on the campaigns of these candidates, and we don't know who they are or how much they are getting.

I certainly hope the CTU comes clean at the last House of Delegates (HOD) meeting in June before the summer break and presents delegates with a transparent picture of who's getting what in terms of CTU dollars, especially after we realize the CTU "loaned" a million bucks to get Chuy Garcia elected mayor, and now we're paying dearly for it. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018


By Stephen Wilson

German Philosopher Karl Marx

MOSCOW -- "O No . Don't speak about Marx. We have heard it all before. We
are sick and tired of hearing about him. We had to listen to
lectures about him for years. Let us change the subject."plead
one of the students as the other students groaned. Phil, an
English teacher from England based in Kishinev, wisely changed
the topic. An attitude of either apathy, antipathy as well as
boredom , appears to be the general response to the 200th
anniversary of the birth of German philosopher Karl Marx. In
contrast to the Day of Victory on May the 9th , where an
unprecedented 1 million Russians converged on the city of
Moscow, the ghost of Karl Marx seemed invisible and only
the name of a Moscow metro, a statue and streets remind you
of him. The only conspicuous presence of Marx
surfaced in the names of a few historical journals as if he
has been relegated to a historical curiosity rather than a
guide to action. 

Those articles don't flatter Marx. In one Journal 'Historian' a leading editorial writes : 'All his life Marx struggled for the happiness of the workers but cared little
about his family ' and how Marx is supposed to have hated
Russians . You read a lot about the personal life of Marx
but seek in vain, for an objective analysis of his ideas.
One of the claims is that the Soviet Union was supposedly
based on Marx's ideas. But can anyone seriously blame
Marx for the mass terror of the repression ? Marx, did not
welcome Russian support and application of his ideas to
Russia because he estimated that Russia was not ready
for such an experiment. In fact, he was embarrassed and
almost tongue tied when Russians wrote to him for advice
of how to Introduce his ideas to Russia. He hoped for an
outbreak of Revolution in Germany and Britain which he
wished would assume a peaceful character.

Some current philosophers such as Alasdair MacIntyre
claim in his 'After Virtue' that Marxism as a political
philosophy has exhausted itself. A key problem facing
Marxists is "What are the moral values of Marxism ? What
do Marxists define as the good ? How do they make a
distinction between good and evil ? " There is no explicit
answer offered by Marxists and they tend to fall back
to either Kant or Christianity. It comes as no surprise to
learn that Liberation Theology attracted many supporters
in Latin America during the 1980's and 90's . This odd
theology tried to combine Marx and Christ!

Yet do people really grasp Marx? His ideas are too often
misconstrued. George Ritzer , an American sociolgist
states there is a place for Marx in a study of sociology and
that he deserves wider attention on university courses.
He states that the Soviet experiment was a disastrous
distortion of socialism. Ritzer declares : "Despite his
overwhelming importance to sociology in both a positive and
a negative sense, Karl Marx's work rarely has received its
due in historical analyses of the development of sociological
theory ".{George Ritzer, Classical sociological theory ,1996,

Marx was not a monster! His work represents a sharp
critique of the inhumanity of capitalism and how it overworked
people to such an extent that they were reduced to 'crippled
monstrosities ' and not allowed to fully develop their wider
skills and talents. He was a humanist inspired by a rich
vision of a more humane and flexible division of labor where
people had much more free time to dance, sing and take up
all kinds of hobbies.

His major work Das Capital is hardly an inspiring read. In fact,
it was allowed to be published in Russia , by the censors ,
because the work was deemed too dull to attract any readers.
Perhaps more accessible works worth reading are : 'The
Communist Manifesto ' and the early works which include 'The
Economic and Philosophical works. '

Marx began his career as a radical journalist who was fighting
for basic rights such as freedom of the press, freedom of
speech and basic civil rights. That is why claims that Marx was
an enemy of free speech are just ludicrous.

Marx , during his youth , dreamed of becoming a poet . He set
out to write verse, adored Goethe and William Shakespeare,
and was a product of the romantic era. After being exiled to
England following the failed revolutions of 1848, Marx never
quite settled down to taking a regular job. He lived in great poverty
which was only relieved by income he obtained from Engels ,
or an inheritance and journalism. When Marx tried to get a job
as a clerk in a railway station his application was rejected due
to his bad handwriting . When he tried to sell off his wife's
expensive silverware to the pawnbroker, he was arrested and
detained by the police on suspicion of robbery.

An unexpected thing is that the dull work of Das Kapital which
the Russian censor thought would never be read by Russians
has recently become a bestseller in certain places because
many of the claims of how capitalism has developed appear
to be vindicated by recent developments. Those people who
purchase this work are not always die hard Marxists but non
Marxists who are simply looking for insights into how capitalism
works in such an unstable way.This is no consolation to two
ex teachers of courses in Marxist Leninism who lost their jobs
following the collapse of the Soviet Union. I recall drinking with
one such teacher in Kishinev who was drinking his sorrows
down and saying " I am struggling to get a new job . I am almost
unemployable" . The other ex-teacher I met ,Nadia , found a
job in a Tourist agency and is doing well.

One of the problems with Marxism was that Marx did not draw
up any blueprints of the new society. He was against such Utopian
thinking because he understood that such social engineering could
end in disaster. Marx , or no Marx, the abuse and inhumanity of
one person against another in the name of profit, power or prestige
is not going to go away. We need a much wider critique and prudent
careful action. But there is a place for Marx in this critique. Marx
is still a ghost who speaks with an on going resonance and

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Spec Ed Problems

New survey shows CPS special ed problems continue despite ISBE probe
Parents, teachers say CPS hasn’t fixed problems, independent monitoring team needed to oversee program and protect students

CHICAGO—Despite claims that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has fixed the special ed problems at issue in a state probe, the vast majority of parents and teachers responding to a new survey say they continue to experience the same delays, denials and roadblocks in obtaining services for students that prompted the state investigation in the first place.

Legal advocates and parent groups will present the survey findings to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Wednesday to bolster their call for an independent monitor to oversee the CPS special ed program and for at minimum a $10 million dedicated fund to compensate students whose legally-required services were denied or delayed.

"Actions speak louder than words and survey data from thousands of parents and teachers confirm the problems that prompted our request for the ISBE investigation are continuing,” Matt Cohen, one of the lawyers representing the advocate groups that brought the state complaint, said. “We are talking about our most vulnerable students here and the only way to assure they are protected is with a robust and fully-staffed independent monitor who has the authority to compel CPS to follow the law.”

More than 2,200 parents, teachers and administrators responded to the survey, issued by the legal advocates and parent groups who sought the ISBE probe in the wake of massive complaints by special ed parents and teachers last year.

In one of the most shocking findings, 71 percent of all respondents said that legally-required student services were denied because the school couldn’t afford to hire the necessary staff, in clear violation of federal special ed law.

And 45 percent of all respondents reported students being denied their required aide because the school had insufficient student data or a district representative failed to attend the meeting to finalize the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), also a violation of federal law. IEPs are the federally-mandated roadmap for the education of students with disabilities. 

The survey also found that CPS’s much-heralded revised procedure manual isn’t making the grade. CPS says it revised the manual to address the concerns of teachers and legal advocates who challenged the procedures put in place by ousted CEO Forrest Claypool last year.

Yet the survey found:

·         95 percent of teachers and 91 percent of administrators said they have yet to receive a training on the revised manual. Without proper training, teachers and administrators continue to have problems approving services for special ed students in the complicated, online system CPS uses to establish IEPs.  

·         46 percent of parents said that their child was not consistently receiving the services indicated on their IEP this school year and another 22 percent were unsure of whether services were being provided.

·         Some 69 percent of parents said they had never even seen the procedure manual, which is critical to obtaining needed services, like one-on-one aides or transportation, for their children.

·         71 percent of parents have never heard of the new CPS Special Ed Parent Advisory Committee, which CPS CEO Janice Jackson claims will enable parents to have a greater say in developing and administering special ed policy in the district.  

"After years of having issues getting proper services for my son, he was wrongfully denied transportation services last year,” CPS parent Nancy Curran, who submitted a sworn affidavit in the ISBE probe, said. “I participated in this inquiry with the goal of sharing our experience so that systems and structures are put in place to improve special ed service delivery for all students. I believe the only way to achieve this is through an independent monitor with staff who can hold CPS accountable.”

“This survey conducted over only two weeks time magnifies the depth of the violations of children’s rights and the extent to which CPS fails to engage stakeholders,” Legal Council for Health Justice managing attorney Amy Zimmerman added. “Over 1,400 anonymous comments bolster the need for whistleblower protections along with accountability.”

The legal advocates are delivering the full survey results along with a detailed proposal for remedies to ISBE board members Wednesday. The state board is scheduled to rule on the group’s request at its May 16 meeting in Springfield.


The special education advocates’ coalition includes: Access Living; Chicago Principals and Administrators Association; the Chicago Teachers Union; Equip For Equality; LAF (Legal Assistance Foundation); Legal Council for Health Justice; Matt Cohen and Associates; Ounce of Prevention Fund; Parents 4 Teachers; Potter and Bolanos, LLC; Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education; Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; 19th Ward Parents for Special Education, and Sharon Weitzman Soltman.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Teaching is Dangerous?

By Stephen Wilson

Russian teachers like here consider their job dangerous, thankless and grossly underpaid.
MOSCOW  -- Is taking up teaching in Russia a high risk option? Is it on par with other professions deemed dangerous such as firemen, ambulance drivers or
policemen? The answer is 'yes' if we accept at face value the findings of
a recent survey of teachers by sociologists at the Higher School of
Economic in Moscow and their colleagues . The on-line survey, which
interviewed 2800 teachers from 72 regions of Russia, found that 70% of
teachers admitted that they were the victims of bullying on a daily basis.
A staggering number of teachers,15 %, claim they have been physically
assaulted some time in their careers, 30% reported receiving anonymous
insults, which sometimes include threats via letters posted to social net

According to Darya Saprikina, "Amongst the most widespread answers
we received from respondents , were that students teased, provoked,
ignored them, violated discipline, refused to carry out the demands of
teachers and harshly judged their personal lives." Darya also found that
as many as 17% of teachers can't afford clothes and shoes, and some
lack money even for food!

Despite a so-called rise in pay, respect for teachers has not increased
but continues to fall encouraging some observers to speak of 'A Crisis
of Authority'. Why might the respect for teachers have fallen ? In a
society where the main emphasis is on highly materialistic values where
people often judge you by how much income you derive , what clothes
you wear and what kind of car you drive, then you can see how some
children who inherit social prejudices might tease a teacher for wearing
worn-out clothes or shoes. A mother told Darya that it was unpleasant
for her daughter to see a teacher drinking tea alone in a particular

A survey carried out in October 2017 by the All Russian Study of
Social Attitudes found that 42% of Russians thought that teachers
had less respect than in Soviet times.

The dilemma is that teachers feel they have nobody to share their
problems. If they inform the head of the school about their predicament
then they will be accused of not doing their job well! If they complain to
the parents , they might encounter further threats from the parents who
go into 'a denial mode ' saying : "My Dima would never behave like
that". Teachers feel extremely vulnerable because they have little
job protection and can be fired for petty reasons.

The Russian trade union Teacher stated that the administration of
schools can use aggressive parents as a weapon to contain and
control teachers who are fighting for improved pay and better conditions.

According to Vsevolod Lukhovitsky, the chairman of Teacher, "Now
any complaint from parents gets attention very quickly . It would be very
good if those complaints were examined by an independent commission
consisting of teachers' representatives and parents. But parents don't
trust teachers and the system of education, and the administration uses
those complaints as a hook to catch teachers. Very often a situation arises
when the head calls a teacher who refused to give a student the mark
five or is simply too actively observing his rights, and tells the teacher that
he has a thick folder of complaints from the parents of teachers, where they
write you are not good and if you don't behave well, I can use this. Now it
has become very popular to fire teachers for 'amoral behavior'. There is
nothing concrete about this term 'amoral act'. It can include anything a
head wants, such as when a teacher uses a careless expression in class,
or when a teacher raises his voice, or a note or photo on a social site."

For example, there have been cases where a teacher was fired because
she displayed a photo of herself, in a bikini, on the beach or for writing a
poem expressing particular political views at odds with some zealous parents
or head.

It is small wonder that more than 70% of graduates of teacher training
institutes and universities in Russia don't even begin their teaching career
never mind finish after a few years. The findings of such a survey won't
exactly inspire them.

Saturday, May 5, 2018


HOD Meeting Debates Budget
By Jim Vail

CTU President Karen Lewis made her first HOD appearance in a while.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is facing a budget crisis that they say they will weather as the war on unions continues full speed under the Trump administration.

In the budget presentation made by CTU trustees to the delegates at the CTU House of Delegates (HOD) meeting on Wednesday, the biggest cuts will come by cutting staff in order to trim $1.5 million.

That will be done by forcing early retirements, asking employees to take pay cuts, and one known union official - chief of staff and Core founder Jackson Potter heading back into the classroom, perhaps saving close to $200,000 in terms of total compensation (includes pension, salary, health benefits and other perks). 

The trustees said there are about 60 CTU employees today, the same number 15 years ago. However, this is not sustainable because the number of members 15 years ago was 34,000 while there are only 23,000 members today. The fall in members has seriously hurt the union finances.

The union only expects a few layoffs. The field reps who help enforce the members' contract rights are under a Teamsters contract, while the union organizers are under an Operating Engineers & Electrical Workers union contract.

"The union has to tighten its belt," one trustee told the delegates. "The cuts will not affect members' services."

CTU President Karen Lewis made her first appearance in quit some time. She looked frail sitting in her wheel chair and was wheeled out of the meeting before it ended. However, she spoke with some of the passion she's known for by reiterating how important it is to pass the budget so the union can concentrate on the next contract fight. She also said to remember the PPC (Professional Problems Committee) is more important that the ILT - which the board set up in schools to circumvent democracy. PPCs are elected, while ILTs are appointed by the principal.

Members from the newly formed caucus Members First questioned the union about finances, in particular how much reserves there are and why the union is paying double rent, $1.5 million for Merchandise Mart plus rent to the CTU Foundation.

VP Jesse Sharkey, who runs the meetings these days, said the CTU did well when it sold the Fewkes Tower for $48.5 million and bought the building today because it is now worth $10 million more (however, not good when it comes to paying higher taxes). He said the problem is the CTU continues to pay rent for a 15-year lease it signed at the Mart because of a glut of new office space built in downtown Chicago, and commercial tenants do not want to sign a short lease where the CTU only has three years left til 2021. While it is costing the union $200,000 in rent per month now, it will save $1.5 million per year after 2021 because they bought their own building, Sharkey said.

AFT President Randi Weingarten told the delegates that a poll showed 78% of the American public think teachers should be paid more, and an NPR poll showed two-thirds of the people support unions for teachers.

Weingarten hugged and kissed the three officers when she left the podium, while she gave Lewis a hand tap on her shoulder.

The CTU said there are 69 new delegates, however only a handful stood up at the meeting in acknowledgement. 

The CTU said 79 percent of the members have re-carded with the union so that their dues will be paid after an expected upcoming Janus Supreme Court ruling in which members can opt out of paying the union its dues.

One delegate who ran for executive board elementary stated that he would advocate all future contracts end before a mayoral election to ensure full bargaining power.

The CTU said that $10 million will be paid to 20 pilot neighborhood schools as part of the community schools agreement in the contract. These school that will be selected from a list of over 100 will get full wrap-around services, including possibly additional staff.

The proposed budget cuts also included a 40 percent reduction in publications, printing far less CUT magazines and switching to online.

The teachers, teacher aids and clinicians delegates will vote on the budget at the next HOD June meeting.