Friday, June 12, 2009

Educators File Discrimination Charges Against Chicago Board of Education

ICE and GEM will be opening links to CORE next weekend in Chicago.

core header

Contacts: Carol Caref, Teacher
June 10, 2009 (773) 791-5500

Jennifer Purcell, Attorney
Robin Potter & Associates
(312) 861-1800

Educators File Discrimination Charges Against Board of Education

Chicago Public Schools "Turnaround" Policy Unfair to African American Teachers

On Wednesday, June 10th, the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that school "turnarounds," a "Renaissance 2010" policy, have a disparate impact on African American teachers. Teachers who filed the charges contend that African American teachers suffer a disproportionately adverse impact as a result of the school turnarounds.

LINK to Charges

The charges filed fall under Title VII which prohibits not only overt, obvious, and intentional discrimination, but also practices that are fair in form but discriminatory in operation. Essentially, a "turnaround" constitutes a layoff policy that almost exclusively impacts African American teachers.

Wanda Evans, a teacher who worked at Orr High School for 11 years before it was turned-around, claims that the plan is designed to get rid of senior teachers and replace them with lower-salaried new teachers to save money; "I'm completely offended by the way veteran teachers have been treated, it's like a fast food special, let's get a 2 for 1." Ms. Evans has been nominated for Golden Apple and DRIVE teaching awards and now feels "swept right out of the door."

Lois Ashford, a member of CORE's steering committee, taught at Copernicus Elementary for sixteen years before losing her job to the "turnaround" process. "In my professional opinion, Ren2010 has been a disaster for everyone concerned: parents who have been left out of decision-making, students who are forced out of stable educational environments in their neighborhoods, and minority teachers who are being disenfranchised at an alarming rate for no other reason than they've taught for over 10 years."

For Karen Lewis, a teacher and co-chair of CORE, the turnarounds have undermined an entire sector of black teachers in the Chicago Public Schools. "Since the beginning of the year, I've met black teachers who are working as substitutes. They are in tears, not just about the loss of their jobs but also about the loss of their status in the community. These school and position closings are insidious and Draconian. They are based on only one measurement -- test scores -- which say more about socio-economic status than they do about teaching and learning."

"Turnaround" is a program where everyone at a school is fired, including teachers, cafeteria staff, administration, and every other employee on site. This program is a part of "Renaissance 2010" which is Mayor Daley's program to overhaul the Chicago Public Schools through privatization and destabilization of the city's schools.

CORE researchers, looking at statistics compiled by the Illinois State Board of Education, concluded that since 2002, when the term "Renaissance Schools" was first used in relation to the closing of Dodge, Terrell and Williams elementary schools, the percentage of African American teachers in CPS has dropped from 39.4 to 31.6. Currently, there are 2,000 fewer Black teachers working in CPS than there were in 2002.

CORE is the reform caucus of the Chicago Teachers Union that represents rank-and-file members. The group is composed of teachers, retired teachers, educational staff and other champions of public education who hope to democratize the Chicago Teachers Union and turn it into an organization that fights on behalf of its members and the students they teach.


Anonymous said...

Good Luck with your your lawsuit. I do not know anymore what is going on with RW. that doesn't defend the teachers.
In New York we had the same problem. My school was phased out. A couple of teachers filed a grievanace because 50 percent of the senior teachers were kicked out. The day of the hearing or meeting the principal and the Union Rep. of my district did not show up. The Dist. Rep. sent another woman who did not know about the problem and we lost. I think that the grievance was a BIG FARCE! Then Mr. Mendel called us stating that the UFT was filing a lawsuit on our behalf. Many of us agreed with this lawsuit. We went to talk to the NYS lawyers with all the documentation and after a year RW. told us that the lawsuit was dismissed because of the ATR Agreement they reached.
The ATR Agreement is supposed to benefit ATR teachers. RW. explained to us that they are going to have a HIRING FREEZE so the ATR teachers can get jobs. So far none of the ATRs got jobs.
I applied to many jobs on the Open Market and went to drop my resume to numerous schools to no avail. A month had past since the agreement and I did not get an answer. Is this another FARCE AGREEMENT?
In my district there are some rumors that RW. is negotiating a buy out for the ATR teachers. I think we should buy out this Union that does not do anything for the teachers.

Anonymous said...

Good luck I can tell you that discrimination is hard to prove in a school system. In chesapeake Va school system minorities are mostly overlooked for promotions this year with all of the promotions not one African American was promoted. We have departments that do not have one African American Supervisor.