News and Notes

Photo of CTU President Stacy Davis Gates and a roundtable on migrant issues held at Cameron Elementary.

Supporting our newcomer students, while fighting for the resources ALL students need and deserve

For more than a year now, our city has been the target of an extremist right-wing governor who has chosen to use human beings, vulnerable asylum seekers fleeing hardship in their home countries, in his political game. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s trafficking of asylum seekers to Chicago, in the middle of winter wearing just sandals and t-shirts, is beyond disgusting.

Faced with thousands of newcomers to our city and our schools, CTU members are doing what we do best: organizing to support our students. Members began welcoming migrant families to the police stations and hotels where they were being housed, providing food, blankets and clothing and helping to enroll children in school. We’ve held meetings with members across the district, always hearing the same refrain: we need more resources.

We’ve also held several round tables, like the one above at Cameron Elementary, with elected officials, parents and educators. We meet weekly with CPS, the city, and community partners and continue to push for more resources.

Increasing the number of students who need trauma support and extra academic help into a school which already has a shortage of support impacts ALL students in the school. Our schools lack the bilingual educators, bilingual curriculum, and social and emotional support professionals students need. We needed them before, we need more now.

This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. As you’ll see below, our members are stepping up to help meet the needs of our students. But our members and the city of Chicago cannot do this alone. We need the state and federal government to do the same. Now.

What can you do in this moment? Call or write to your elected officials. Describe for them the conditions in your school and push for more funding. Make a sign or poster documenting your school’s needs and how you have stepped up to meet them. Send photos to and share on your social media.

And, sign up for a shift to educate voters about Bring Chicago Home which will create affordable housing and wraparound services for all Chicagoans in need.

Together, we are unstoppable. Just take a look at how CTU members have been stepping up in this moment:

  • CTU hosted a roundtable on the migrant crisis at Cameron Elementary. See media coverage from the Chicago Tribune and ABC-7.
  • Roosevelt High School teacher Evelyn Gonzalez spoke at the January CPS Board of Education meeting, discussing the challenge of receiving, on average, one newcomer student a day at her school. Watch Eveyln’s testimony.
  • Video still of CTU Organizer Linda Perales appearing on WTTW’s Latino Voices program.CTU Organizer Linda Perales, pictured here, called for more federal funding to support newcomer students on WTTW’s Latino Voices.
  • We presented a proposal to CPS calling for more resources in five major areas: staffing and professional development, resources and curriculum, language access and know your rights, STLS supports, and enrollment.
  • The CTU Bilingual Committee created a newcomer tool kit for educators and staff.
  • Like Cameron STLS Coordinator Viviana Ortiz, featured below, members have volunteered at and donated to numerous Free Stores open to refugees across the city. Here’s a photo of the Cameron “store.”
  • The CTU Foundation’s Student Assistance Fund has provided coats, uniforms and other necessities for students in need.
  • We cosponored a three-part webinar series on Expanding Sanctuary in Chicago and Beyond. Watch the latest event in the series.

Viviana Ortiz greets newcomer students with a “bienvenidos” and warm smile

As a child of immigrant parents from Guatemala, Viviana Ortiz understands the struggles of newcomers to Chicago. Her family grew up poor, with her father working three jobs to provide for her and her two sisters.

Now, as the coordinator for Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS) at Cameron Elementary, Ortiz derives joy from helping students and families facing the same struggles her family faced. Read more about Viviana.

Video still of Congresswoman Delia Ramirez being interviewed on WTTW.

Rep. Delia Ramirez calls for more federal funds for newcomer support

Our ally Congresswoman Delia Ramirez has been working tirelessly to convince the Biden administration to send more funds to Chicago and Illinois for migrant support. Watch her discuss the issue on WTTW.

Instituto members set Feb. 6 strike date, show your solidarity

After two years of negotiations, members at Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy (IHSCA) and Instituto Justice and Leadership Academy (IJLA) have set a Feb. 6 strike date. Management has failed to put the needs of students and educators first and has been unwilling to reach a fair agreement. Instead, the charter wants deep concessions from the union, while also refusing “equal pay for equal work.” While Instituto cries poor, it is hoarding 23 cents out of every dollar marked for the schools, which continue to suffer chronic staff shortages. Read more and watch video of CTU members Leah Jonaitis and Carina Gutierrez, who testified at last week’s CPS Board meeting.

Show your solidarity with your Instituto union siblings!

On Friday or your school’s RedForEd day, make a sign that says “[insert your school’s name] stands in solidarity with CTU members at Instituto!” and take a photo with as many of your colleagues as possible. Send photos to

CTU President Stacy Davis Gates speaks at CPS Board meeting

Last week, CTU President Stacy Davis Gates spoke before the CPS Board meeting, discussing how we use our collective bargaining process to make schools, both district and charter, better. “Our members live in the city. They pay taxes in the city and they want the public schools to work,” she said. Watch her testimony.

Red and white flyer advertising a CTU blood drive and panel on Black maternal health.

Black Lives Matter at School Week

This year, the CTU will take part in Black Lives Matter at School for two weeks of action. We kick off the actions with a blood drive and panel on Black maternal health at CTU this Thurs., Feb. 1. Next week, Feb. 5 – 9, will be educator focused, with planning workshops, educational events and curriculum showcases to support educators in every school across the district. The second week, Feb. 12 – 16, we intend for every grade in every CPS district and charter school to teach truth about the history of Black excellence and Black oppression.

Let’s make this a week in which all of our educators of all races teach all of our students of all races to support love and liberation for Black people. Here’s what’s in store:

CTU joins labor coalition supporting City Council Gaza ceasefire resolution

CTU Vice President Jackson Potter represented our union yesterday as representatives from SEIU, the United Electrical workers, AFSCME, the United Auto Workers, National Nurses United, Graduate Employees Organization, and Warehouse Workers for Justice came together today with elected officials to support the ceasefire resolution pending in Chicago’s City Council and the effort to bring peace and justice to the Middle East at a time when tensions are peaking. Watch a video of Monday’s press conference, with Jackson speaking at 21:21.

AFT passes resolution calling for ceasefire in Gaza

The AFT recently passed a resolution calling for a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza. The resolution says an end to fighting is “necessary to start the process of negotiating a lasting agreement that ends the decades of conflict and bloodshed by recognizing the rights of both peoples and providing each with its own government—two states for two peoples.” Read the resolution.

CPS Facilities Planning Round Tables

CPS’ Educational Facilities Master Plan Round Tables continue this month. This is your chance to let CPS know about the critical needs in your school. Learn more and register at the CPS EFMP community engagement page.

Call to Action

How are you stepping up to support your students?

We know members have been going above and beyond to support their newcomer students and ALL students. We want to share your good works! Send us a photo with a poster or sign illustrating how you are supporting your students. Send your photo to

Help Bring Chicago Home this weekend

We’re out canvassing to pass the Bring Chicago Home ordinance every weekend. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment as we work to win dedicated funding for Chicago’s houseless population, including 20,000 of our students. Sign up for a shift this weekend and help us Bring Chicago Home.


For your science-loving students: Northwestern University CounterAct Summer Research Fellowship

Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine is offering high school juniors and seniors an eight-week paid internship at the university with the new NIH-funded CounterACT Center. Tell your science-loving students to apply. Learn more and encourage applications before Feb. 1.

Feb. 1: Blood Drive for Sickle Cell Anemia and Maternal Health

In collaboration with the American Red Cross, the CTU Foundation and CTU Human Rights Committee are hosting a blood drive and a panel discussion on sickle cell anemia and maternal health. The blood drive runs from 2 to 7 p.m., with the panel discussion from 5 to 6 p.m., Feb. 1, at the CTU Center, 1901 W. Carroll Ave. Register here for the blood drive and here for the panel discussion.

Feb. 5: Black Lives Matter at School curriculum sharing webinar

Sponsored by the CTU Human Rights Committee, this webinar will explore some of the free resources collected and vetted by the committee for use across grade levels during Black Lives Matter at School Week. Join us virtually Feb. 5, 4:30 – 6 p.m. Register for the webinar.

Feb. 8: Deadline to run for your Local School Council

Looking to get more involved with your school? Consider running in your school’s upcoming LSC election. The application window for the 2024 LSC elections is open now, with applications due Feb. 8. Learn more.

$250 Prize for Young Writers, Feb. 16 deadline

Multicolored graphic announcing a writing contents for students.

Feb. 17: Future Black Educators Scholarship Gala

Please join the AFT Black Caucus Chicago for its Future Black Educators Scholarship Gala, Feb. 17, 5:30 – 8 p.m., at CTU. Advance tickets are $65 and $75 at the door. Buy your tickets today.

Feb. 21: NBCT Information Session

Recruitment is underway for the 2024–2026 Nurturing Teacher Leadership National Board Certification cohort. CTUF will host a virtual information meeting on Feb. 21, 5 to 8:30 p.m. There is now an annual state stipend for NBCTs who remain in hard-to-staff schools for at least two years (in addition to our CPS annual, pensionable stipend, opportunity to move to Lane 5 on the Salary Scale, optional master’s degree, and paid leadership opportunities). For more information, contact or register for the NTL information session here.

Feb. 22 and March 2: Delegates and school leaders training

Save the date for our next delegates and school leaders training, where we’ll be mobilizing for our 2024 contract campaign. Stay tuned for details.

Feb. 23: Black Educators Greek Night at CTU

Come out for a night of socializing and community with your Black Greek union siblings, 5 – 7 p.m. at CTU. RSVP today!

Members Corner

Celebrate your siblings

Do you know a CTU member who’s achieved a special milestone or accomplishment that you want to acknowledge? Have they made something cool you want to share with the union? Send your blurb (one to four sentences) to for consideration in an upcoming Members Corner.


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