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CTU Speaks!

Our new podcast, CTU Speaks! is hosted by rank-and-file CTU members Andrea Parker and Jim Staros. We’ll chat about our union, bargaining for a new contract, and our fight for the schools our children and educators deserve.

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CTU Speaks! will make a new episode at least once a month. Hear the latest episode below:

LATEST EPISODE

This episode of CTU Speaks! has co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros speaking with Mueze Bawany, a teacher at Roberto Clemente High School, about another epidemic hitting our city…housing instability. They discuss issues of homelessness, rising rents, and gentrification as well as the overarching need for safe and affordable housing in Chicago. These issues impact our students and families throughout the city and across the racial and socio-economic spectrum.

Links mentioned in this episode:
Information about CTU committees, CTU Housing Committee’s Facebook page,Article: “Homeless student advocate positions now open at 14 Chicago public schools”, Research on effects of homelessness on students, Article: “Improving educational outcomes through housing”

Want to be part of the conversation? Send us your thoughts about remote learning to the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Previous Episodes

Previous Episodes
Episode 27: Everyone's Essential in Remote Learning

In this episode of CTU Speaks!, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros discuss the recent release of CPS’ remote learning framework as the first day of the school year approaches. They also speak with Walter Taylor, the director of Professional Development for the Chicago Teachers Union, about classes for teachers to help them improve their remote teaching chops. Finally, they invite to the show two rank-and-file members — teacher assistant Marilyn Piggee Williams and special education teacher Roman Henclewski — to discuss what teachers, students, and parents need to be successful at the start of this new year.

Links mentioned in this episode: Information about CTU committees and professional development classes about remote learning.

Want to be part of the conversation? Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 26: CTU Never Sleeps

In this episode, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros discuss the issue of union organizing with Norine Gutekanst (director of organizing for CTU) and Jhoanna Maldonado (organizer for CTU) and show how CTU never sleeps! They discuss what organizing is, why it is critical to the successes of the Chicago Teachers Union over the last 10 years, and what we as rank-and-file members or members of the community can do to get involved. We also ambush Norine with our appreciation of her contributions because she is retiring after spending the last 10 years leading the CTU’s organizing department. She and her co-workers built it from scratch into a model now emulated across the country of how a socially conscious union can set itself up for success.

Want to be part of the conversation? Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 25: Slaying Goliath

In this episode, co-hosts Jim Staros and Andrea Parker interview author and historian Diane Ravitch, who is Research Professor of Education at New York University. In this episode’s deep dive into the exploitation of our school system by “disruptors” and public education profiteers, Andrea and Jim will discuss Ravitch’s latest book “Slaying Goliath” and how the current coronavirus shutdown has offered fertile ground for those who want to privatize education, diverting money intended to help schools through the pandemic, into private charter operations and other corporate reform agenda items. Ravitch outlines how education is an integral part of our democracy and how charter schools and other privatizers destroy communities by choking off their central place to organize and fight for their local issues. This is particularly true in impoverished and marginalized Black and Latinx neighborhoods. She also talks about the critical role of unions in joining the anti-privatization resistance. And she talks about the key role played by former CTU President Karen Lewis in spearheading the resurgence of the the struggle for the rights of children, teachers, parents and workers all across the country.

Want to be part of the conversation? Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 24: CPD out of CPS

In this episode of CTU Speaks!, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros talk to teacher Kent Martin and security guard Denzell Sanders, both of whom work at Ms. Parker’s own Robert Fulton elementary school. This episode focuses on the smoldering issue of police in public schools—and how it came to be that today there are plenty of schools with cops but no counselors and no social workers who are actually trained to deal with students. Instead, we have police who are trained to treat those they patrol as “criminals,” not kids.

Want to be part of the conversation? Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 23: The right to recovery

CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates speaks with co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros in this episode of CTU Speaks! about the right to recovery for the students and families of Chicago. She discusses how in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, an economic downturn, and widespread demands for racial justice, we have a unique opportunity to redesign how our society looks, and with bold government action, meet the needs of those in our society who have been left behind for generations.

More information on the Right to Recovery and the various partners committed to the effort.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 22: Remote Learning, Expert Edition

In this episode of CTU Speaks! co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros meet with Walter Taylor, Director of Professional Development for the Chicago Teachers Union, who is an expert on remote learning as well as training others on how to implement digital education. He talks with Jim and Andrea about what a true public education should entail, and how irreplaceable in-person teaching really is. They also discuss the essence of teaching remotely, the “savage inequalities” that exist within the city, and the three main ingredients necessary to make remote learning successful here in Chicago.

For more information about the EPIC union drive, check out their stuff on Instagram, Facebook, and the CTU website.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 21: Solidarity is EPIC

In this episode of CTU Speaks!, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros talk with the organizers of a historic vote to unionize at EPIC Academy, a charter school on Chicago’s South Side. Three educators and a CTU organizer reflect on their struggles, successes, and the impact of the pandemic, including how EPIC tried to compel teachers to come to the school to vote instead of allowing for a mail-in election (for real, y’all).

For more information about the EPIC union drive, check out their stuff on Instagram, Facebook, and the CTU website.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 20: Teaching from a distance, Part 2

In this episode, co-hosts Jim Staros and Andrea Parker revisit their discussion with school teacher elementary Carla Jones, early childhood teacher Arathi Jayaram, and middle school writing teacher Comfort Agboola who were featured in Episode 17. During this episode, these three teachers outline their struggles and successes with remote learning during the first few weeks of the shutdown. Discussion ranges from how it has been going interacting with their students in their virtual classrooms and grading practices, to social and emotional learning and graduations, as well as what still needs to be done to ensure equity for our students and communities across the city.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 19: Parent perspectives

It’s pretty clear that teachers don’t like remote learning, and students like it perhaps even less than teachers, but what about the parents? In this episode, CTU Speaks! co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros talk with CPS parents Andrea Mosley and Valerie Nelson about their assessment of the first couple weeks of remote learning. How are parents dealing with the digital divide? Are their children learning? And what does remote learning demand from parents themselves?

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 18: Corona revelations

In this episode of CTU Speaks!, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros have a discussion with Professor David Stovall from University of Illinois-Chicago about race and inequity in Chicago schools, and how the current pandemic has highlighted problems that have existed within Chicago’s most vulnerable communities for decades. And Andrea talks with Jim about prior episodes in American history when the government stepped in to save the free market from itself.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 17: Teaching at a distance

In this episode, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros discuss the remote learning experience with three rank-and-file teachers. Remote learning officially goes into effect in Chicago Public Schools on Monday, April 13, but teachers across the city have already started implementing many aspects of digital instruction. Their experiences provide an early look at the opportunities, challenges, and frustrations of this massive transformation in the teaching lives of Chicago educators. Teachers featured in this episode are elementary school teacher Carla Jones, early childhood teacher Arathi Jayaram, and middle school writing teacher Comfort Agboola.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 16: Corona complications

In this episode, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros continue our coronavirus coverage with CTU President Jesse Sharkey detailing the union’s ongoing effort to fight for equity within Chicago Public Schools as the learning environment shifts online. CTU clinician and nurse Dennis Kosuth also joins the team to describe his view from the front lines of the coronavirus landscape and to discuss what it will look like from a public health perspective to return to the classroom.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 15: Corona crisis

In this episode, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros speak with Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey and Vice President Stacy Davis Gates about the COVID19 pandemic and its far-reaching impact on schools, the union, the city, and the world. Then they interview Emily Hecht, the CTU delegate at Vaughn Occupational High School that was closed a week before the rest of CPS because a teacher aide at the school tested positive for COVID19. Emily provides an inside look at how Vaughn’s school community is responding to the urgent needs of students and parents.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Bonus episode: Live Recording of Black History Month panel

This special episode of CTU Speaks! was recorded live on February 26 to commemorate Black History Month.

Over the last two decades, CPS, the nation’s third-largest school district, has lost half of its Black teachers. The percentage has fallen from 41 percent to 21 percent—a loss of more than 5,000 Black educators. This panel discussion seeks to grapple with all the causes and consequences of this decline and its impact on Black teachers, students, and communities.

Brandon Johnson, Cook County Commissioner and CTU member, chaired a panel of four engaging speakers. Nina Hike is a 24-year veteran science teacher who works at Curie High School; Latanya McSwine has worked at CPS for 16 years and currently teaches computer science at Morgan Park High School; Monique Redeaux-Smith is a CPS teacher and Dyett hunger striker who currently works for the Illinois Federation of Teachers as the Director of Union Professional Issues; and Charles Preston is a journalist and activist who is the former communications co-chair of Black Youth Project 100.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 14: Budget Breakdown

On this episode, Andrea and Jim discuss the train wreck of CPS’ school funding formula with sociology professor Stephanie Farmer. CPS calls it Student-Based Budgeting, but it has damaging consequences for students, teachers, and whole communities, particularly those school communities on the majority-Black South and West Sides. You can also download Dr. Farmer’s recent paper on the subject, which is highly accessible, clear, and compelling.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312-467-8888.

Episode 13: Black Teachers Matter

In this episode, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros grapple with the causes and consequences of the disappearance of Black educators from Chicago Public Schools. Jackson Potter, history teacher at Back of the Yards High School, and Gervaise Clay, teacher on leave and field rep at the Chicago Teachers Union, discuss the racist impact of school closings and turnarounds pursued by a host of Chicago mayors. Then, Jim talks with Jesse Hagopian, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter at School national movement, about the origins, the demands, and the curriculum of Black Lives Matter At School movement and its February 3-7 week of action.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312 467 8888.

Episode 12: Protest and Politics

In this episode, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros talk with nine teachers who got arrested on Day 9 of the Chicago Teachers Union’s recent strike. The CTU 9 were calling on mega developer Sterling Bay to return some of the $1.3 billion in taxpayer money they received to develop Lincoln Yards in order to help CPS settle the contract and end the strike. But instead of speaking to the nine teachers, Sterling Bay had them arrested for trespassing. Andrea and Jim also interview Jeanette Taylor, the new alderwoman in Chicago’s 20th ward, about fighting for justice in the streets and in City Hall.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312 467 8888.

Episode 11: Time to Ratify?

In this episode, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros talk with bargaining team members Quentin Washington and Kirstin Roberts about what it was like to spend weeks (and even months!) at the negotiating table with Chicago Public Schools, how the wins in the contract came to be there, and what some of the strategic considerations are when striking to increase leverage at the bargaining table.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312 467 8888.

Episode 10: We're Baaaaaaack!

On this episode, Jim and Andrea review the last couple weeks, during which the Chicago Teachers Union has been on strike, with a number of guests, including CTU Chief of Staff Jen Johnson, President Jesse Sharkey, and Deputy General Counsel Thad Goodchild. Jen takes a step back to look at what we won and how, Jesse describes some of the negotiations he was a part of (and gets a surprise phone call from a special guest), and Thad goes on a deep dive about the class size provisions in the new contract.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312 467 8888.

Episode 09: On the Eve (Ewing) of Justice

On this episode, Jim and Andrea have the absolute joy and privilege to sit down with writer, scholar, and people’s mayor of Chicago Dr. Eve L. Ewing. Eve talks about how the lessons of her book Ghosts in the Schoolyard, which deconstructs the 2013 CPS school closings, connect to the current strike, the impact of structural racism on our school system, and her experiences as a CPS teacher.

Share your thoughts and questions with the CTU Speaks! team by emailing ctuspeaks@ctulocal1.org or calling 312 467 8888.

Episode 08: Five Days Later

Five days into the CTU strike, Jim sits down with Cook County Commissioner CTU member, and former middle school teacher Brandon Johnson (Andrea caught a cold from striking so hard!). Brandon puts the strike in historical context and helps us understand it as a potential pivot point for the city, while also underscoring the ways that CTU has been impactful for labor and education across the country.

Episode 07: Tips for TIFs w/ Ben Joravsky

Andrea and Jim take a deep dive into the wildly inequitable world of TIFs with Chicago’s resident gadfly and journalism legend Ben Joravsky. Ben breaks down how TIFs became a slush fund for the Mayor’s office, why they continue to serve as such, and how this connects to the CTU strike.

Subscribe to CTU Speaks and write a review on Apple Podcasts!: podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ctu-…ks/id1476412067

Photo by Glitterguts from the Chicago Reader

Episode 06: Hit the Bricks

Fresh out of the Hall of Delegates meeting last night in which CTU voted unanimously to strike, Jim and Andrea break down what the next 24 hours will look like with CTU members Rachel Blundy and Linda Perales. They talk about the unreasonable conditions for special education teachers, the disparities between funding and staffing in the city versus neighboring suburbs, and get each other (and you) hyped to hit the bricks, starting today!

Episode 05: Episode Why

In Episode Why of CTU Speaks!, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros speak with Chicago Public Schools nurse Dennis Kosuth about what it’s like to be a nurse in a public school in our city. But first, they discuss some honest questions posed by a parent who’s a friend of Jim. She supports the Chicago Teachers Union’s demands for smaller class sizes and full staffing, but doesn’t understand some of the CTU’s other demands, such as better policies to address homelessness.

Episode 04: We Have a Strike Date

In this episode of CTU Speaks!, co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros begin with a discussion of recent events in the struggle for a new contract. Then they interview CTU legislative deputy Kurt Hilgendorf and CTU legal counsel Thad Goodchild about how Illinois labor law is stacked against the CTU. Next, they bring in two parents — Julie Dworkin and Erica Clark — to discuss the concerns and issues that parents are grappling with at this moment. Finally, they interview CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates about life as a parent, teacher, and unionist fighting for education justice. Oh, and there’s a surprise guest at the very end too…….

Episode 03: Episode Yes!

Chicago teachers are voting this week on whether to authorize a strike. This special episode of CTU Speaks!, which we are affectionately calling “Episode Yes,” answers all your questions about this vote. Joining CTU Speaks! co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros are SEIU Local 73 members Antwon AJ Jennings and Luis Bhamundi as well as CTU members Jessica Rosenbaum and Paula Barajas.

Episode 02: Our Agenda for Education Justice

CTU Speaks! co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros begin this episode talking with Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey and Recording Secretary Christel Williams-Hayes about the status of contract negotiations. After a solidarity statement from Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Andrea and Jim talk with CTU Financial Secretary Maria Moreno and PSRP activist Lashawn Wallace about their experiences of the 2012 strike and what that can teach us about how to advance our agenda in 2019.

Episode 01: Are We Striking?

Welcome to Episode 1 of CTU Speaks! After introducing co-hosts Andrea Parker and Jim Staros, there’s an interview CTU Chief of Staff Jen Johnson about how negotiations for CTU’s next contract are proceeding at the bargaining table. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you get alerts about future episodes, and share this episode on your favorite social media platforms.

Episode 00: CTU Speaks! a new podcast by the Chicago Teachers Union

The Chicago Teachers Union is launching a podcast called CTU Speaks!, which is hosted by rank-and-file CTU members Andrea Parker and Jim Staros. In it, we’ll be regularly discussing our union, bargaining for a new contract, and our fight for the schools our children and educators deserve. Watch for our debut episode in the coming days!

CTU Speaks! is the brainchild of the Union’s member-led Public Relations and Communications Committee, hosted by committee members Andrea Parker and Jim Staros. The inaugural episode, “Are We Striking?” features segments on bargaining with the Chicago Board of Education, in-school contract enforcement, affordable housing, sustainable schools and an interview with CTU Chief of Staff Jennifer Johnson.

“We want our members to feel more empowered, better able to advocate, well informed and more organized, especially in their schools,” Parker said. “We want to build a sense of community by bringing key decision makers like CTU officers, fellow members and local politicians on the show to share information and answer some hard questions about the state of public education in our city.”

Parker, a South Side native and 15-year veteran of CPS, teaches middle school reading at Fulton Elementary, in the same neighborhood in which she grew up. She became heavily involved in the Union after becoming a delegate in 2009 at her former school, Curtis Elementary, which was taken over—or “turned around,” according to CPS—by the Academy for Urban School Leadership. Parker was also a strike captain in 2012, and is a current member of the Union’s executive board and chair of the Public Relations and Communications Committee.

Staros is an East Coast native and until recently was chair of the Social Science Department at King College Prep, where he taught since 2002. He is now a field rep at the CTU. Staros has also been part of the CTU Summer Organizing Institute and just finished the inaugural year of the CTU Policy Fellowship.

“Every day, we are going through similar struggles and experiencing similar triumphs within our classrooms and with our individual students, and sometimes, it can feel like we are all on our own​,” Staros said. “CTU Speaks! will be a conduit for us to be able to tackle important shared issues with our members and school communities.”

CTU Speaks! is proud to be part of the Labor Radio Podcast Network. Check out their site for more great labor podcasts, and find their content by searching for #LaborRadioPod.