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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

EPATA Helping Chicago Teachers ?

Dear Friends,

As some of you may know there is a teacher strike taking place in Chicago right now. Below is a letter from the union president outlining the issues and their response to this process? If you want more information you can go to http://www.ctunet.com/for-members/strike-central and for a full treatment go to http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=3591 . Why should we in California be concerned about what is happening in Chicago? A recent report from the California Dept. of Ed says

“The number of teaching credentials issued from 2004 to 2010 dropped by 40 percent, while the number of college students in teacher training programs plunged by 50 percent, the report said. Sadly, our profession has become a profession under siege. The state has focused on too heavily on holding teachers accountable for standardized test scores without properly equipping instructors and schools. This dangerous combination has driven many accomplished educators out of the profession,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a former teacher, in releasing the report.

And from Chicago,

“The  strike of Chicago teachers will set the stage for much of the future conversation about the nature of public education in the United States — and possibly even globally. At a time when the right to public education, the right to strike (especially in the public sector) and the right to dissent are actively being suppressed on a scale unseen since the McCarthy era, a group of committed teachers have taken back their union and are preparing themselves for a large-scale confrontation with the neoliberal agenda”- Matthew Cunningham-Cook (neoliberal agenda means privatizing education and molding it according to the desires of the corporate world with its focus on competition in the marketplace rather than on the hopes dreams and desires of individual students)


If you are inclined to help, here are some avenues for you:

Buy a teacher lunch by donating to Primo's Pizza, a locally owned and teacher-friendly restaurant near the strike HQ delivering pizza, pasta and salads. Call Gus or Daisy at Primo's Pizza at (312) 243-1052

(My wife and I called Primo’s yesterday morning and bought two large pizzas for the striking teachers for around $18 each.)

Call Chicago's mayor and school board and tell them public education is about students, parents and teachers, not private profit. Demand smaller classes, a better school day, and a fair contract! Let your voice be heard. Call now:Mayor Emanuel at 312-744-3300 CEO Brizard at 773-553-1500 (Every Thursday night Parents4Teachers is calling to flood CPS with messages supporting teachers.)

Visibly and audibly support CTU by:

1) Talking with your friends, family and co-workers,

2) Downloading materials or picking them up from strike HQ and distributing them,

3) Wearing our t-shirt or other red clothing in solidarity. You can also use a red ribbon to tie around your neighborhood or clothing. (Our shirts can be bought at strike HQ, our events, or you can place a minimum order of 24 at $11.50 each union-made, union-printed CTSC shirts by contacting American Campaigns Co. at (773)261-6800 or email Gigi giovanna@americancampaigns.net)

4) Put a CTU support sign in your window/yard. Distribute signs to coffee shops, work places, other public spots.

5) Host a meeting at your home or school to help your friends, family and neighbors understand what's really at stake and brainstorm ways we can all make a difference at this critical time. Contact info@parents4teachers.net and Parents4Teachers will help facilitate the meeting and make a presentation.

 Here is the letter from the union president:

The Chicago Teachers Union is currently on the front lines of a fight to defend public education. On one side the 30,000 members of the CTU have called for a contract that includes fair compensation, meaningful job security for qualified teachers, smaller class sizes and a better school day with Art, Music, World Language and appropriate staffing levels to help our neediest students. Another concern is evaluation procedures. After the initial phase-in of the new evaluation system it could result in 6,000 teachers (or nearly 30 percent of our members) being discharged within one or two years. This is unacceptable. We are also concerned that too much of the new evaluations (40%) will be based on students' standardized test scores. This is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator. Further there are too many factors beyond our control which impact how well some students perform on standardized tests such as poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control.

On the other side, the Chicago Board of Education—which is managed by out of town reformers and Broad Foundation hires with little or no Chicago public school experience—has pushed to add two weeks to the school year and 85 minutes to the school day, eliminate pay increases for seniority, evaluate teachers based on student test scores, and slash many other rights.
 Teachers, parents and community supporters in Chicago have fought valiantly—marching, filling auditoriums at hearings and parent meetings, even occupying a school and taking over a school board meeting. Most recently, 98 percent of our members voted to authorize a strike. But now we find ourselves facing new opponents—national education privatizers, backed by some of the nation’s wealthiest people. They are running radio ads, increasing press attacks, and mounting a PR campaign to discredit the CTU and the benefits of public education.
 We are asking you to support our struggle for educational justice. You and your organization can show your support by making contribution to our Solidarity Fund. All donations will be used to conduct broad outreach throughout Chicago and nation-wide. Specifically, we plan to print educational materials, to distribute information about our positive agenda, such as the CTU report The Schools Chicago Students Deserve, and to mobilize massive support for educators in rallies and gatherings throughout the city.
 Any amount you can give will be a great help. You can donate using your credit card online at www.ctunet.com or write a check to the “Chicago Teachers Union Solidarity Fund” and mail it directly to the Chicago Teachers Union Solidarity Fund, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 400, Chicago, Illinois 60654.
If your organization or union would like to write a letter or resolution of solidarity, we would very much appreciate it. Go to

Thank you for your support.
 In Solidarity,
 Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT
CTU President



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