Susan Ohanian Notes on CORE Victory:Hardworking, idealistic teachers have shown that even within the AFT, change is possible. They may show us that revolution is possible.
From the CORE web site:
• Capping CTU officer and staff salaries to the average teacher salary prorated over 12 months.
• Limit standardized tests. Ban using test results to punish, label or denigrate schools, students or teachers.
• Repeal mayoral control of schools and restore our right to collectively bargain class sizes, counselor loads and stop school closings and reconstitutions.
• Lead legislation to fund all schools equitably and return all TIF (Tax Increment Financing) funds to each school taxing district.
CORE ran a smart, idealistic, grassroots campaign. If they can stick to their principles, they will have a powerful impact on public schools across the country.
For starters, let's hope they can take this spirit to the upcoming AFT convention in Seattle.
Let's hope Randi Weingarten is shaking in her shoes. And NEA is watching.
George N. Schmidt: http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=1472§ion=Article
The acrimonious campaign saw Marilyn Stewart's supporters in the union's United Progressive Caucus spending in excess of a quarter million dollars (if one includes union staff time that was used to try and re-elect Stewart), but the CORE slate won handily.
Sharon Schmidt reports:
Lewis thanks supporters at June 12 press conference
6-12-10 Karen Lewis, CTU President-elect. Election Acceptance Speech
I want to thank everyone who made today a reality – the CORE members who worked tirelessly for this day, the CTU members who voted for us, and the thousands of teachers, parents and students who stand up each and every day to improve and defend public education, often against some very powerful forces. On behalf of CPS students, I want to personally thank my fellow teachers and paraprofessional educators for the long hours you work off the clock every day under increasingly challenging circumstances. Thank you. We will work night and day to deliver on the trust you have placed in us.
Today marks the beginning of the end of scapegoating educators for all the social ills that our children, families and schools struggle against every day. Today marks the beginning of a fight for true transparency in our educational policy -- how to accurately measure learning and teaching, how to truly improve our schools, and how to evaluate the wisdom behind our spending priorities.
This election shows the unity of 30,000 educators standing strong to put business in its place – out of our schools. Corporate America sees K-12 public education as 380 billion dollars that, up until the last 10 or 15 years, they didn’t have a sizeable piece of. This so-called school reform is not an education plan. It’s a business plan and mayoral control of our schools, and our Board of Education, is the linchpin of their operation.
Fifteen years ago, this city purposely began starving our lowest-income neighborhood schools of greatly needed resources and personnel. Class sizes rose, and schools were closed. Then, standardized tests which, in this town alone is a $60 million dollar business, measured that slow death by starvation. These tests labeled our students, families and educators failures because standardized tests reveal more about a student’s zip code than a student’s academic growth. And that, in turn – that perceived school failure -- fed parent demand for charters, turnarounds and contract schools.
People thought it must be true, and it must be the teachers’ fault, because they read about it every week in the papers. And our Union that has been controlled by the same faction for 37 of 40 years didn’t point out this simple reality – what drives so-called school reform is a singular focus on profit. Profit, not teaching, not learning. Profit.
In Chicago, we’ve seen CPS close 70 neighborhood schools and open 70 charters that do no better. 6,000 Chicago Teachers Union members have lost their livelihoods – their jobs – their dignity – in the process. Countless children have lost their friends, and families have lost their schools that, for most, are a source of pride, tradition and safety.
Of course, just as our city’s social conditions must improve, many of our schools must improve too. But we have hundreds of thriving schools filled with dedicated, loving, and professional educators and administrators who are wise enough to empower teachers to lead.
Outside of the classroom, we need society to recommit to bettering all communities. We also need our parents to recommit to the education of their children. But inside the classroom, the only people who can improve our schools are professional educators. Corporate heads and politicians do not have a clue about teaching and learning. They have never sat one minute on this side of a teacher’s desk. But they’re the ones calling the shots and we’re supposed to accept it as “reform.”
As a Union of 30,000 united educators, we have a lot of work to do … and we know we can’t do it alone. We need to work together and rethink education policy here in Chicago. I am asking that Mayor Daley and Mr. Huberman line up their allies in Springfield, and we’ll line up ours, to stop this annual ritual of “crisis budgeting”. Once and for all we need to change how Illinois funds its schools -- 60% from property taxes and 30% from the state. We need to reverse that, flip it on its head, so ALL children, no matter the value of their family’s home, have equal access to quality education.
And while we’re in Springfield together, let’s make sure that the average CPS teachers’ retirement – just $39,000 a year, yes, that’s the average, $39,000 and that’s WITHOUT Social Security – is safe and sound. The law says our pension fund has to be at 90% … it’s about 60% now. We need to follow that law together.
Now, back home here in Chicago, we need to put ALL the financial details on the table, because teachers got pink-slips THIS week – and yet Chicagoans have not seen a clear, transparent and detailed CPS budget. We don’t KNOW the details behind this claimed 6 hundred million deficit, that’s just what we’ve been TOLD. It’s time for the Board to give citizens all the specifics – how CPS spends our money, on what and to whom. How the 250 million in TIFs that should go to schools each year are really spent. Chicagoans need to know how charters spend their taxpayer dollars because to date, we have not seen one charter school’s financials, not one.
CORE ran a clean campaign calling for a clean government. We called for budget transparency and a clear read on how social ills outside the schools impact our classrooms on the inside. Then we can start to change the conversation. Not what or who to cut, but how to save money and lower, yes, lower classroom sizes. Not whether yet another one-size-fits-all policy – the latest silver bullet – will work, but how each school can rebuild itself into a responsive learning environment. And certainly not whether open access for ALL children to high-quality public education is a luxury society simply cannot afford, but rather that true public education – great schools with great teachers – is the most important civil rights battle of our generation.
And we will change that conversation because the Chicago Teachers Union is now unified. Our teachers and paraprofessionals are poised to reclaim the power of our 30,000 members and protect what we love – teaching and learning in publicly-funded public schools.