News and Notes

Contract campaign update: This time around will be different

Christel Williams stands in front of an array of media microphones as CTU members, including President Stacy Davis Gates look on.

CTU Recording Secretary Christel Williams explained the significant roles paraprofessionals play in students’ lives, as union members called for more special education investments, dual language studies for both English- and non-English speakers, and to bring sports, music, and the arts to build a better school day.

This year’s CTU contract negotiations will be different than any other. For more than 10 years, we’ve organized educators, parents, and community partners toward creating the schools Chicago students deserve while fighting off budget cuts, privatization, and corporate “education reform.” Now we have the opportunity and responsibility to truly move our schools on a path forward.

As part of this transformation, we have compiled our movement’s most ambitious package of contract proposals yet, rooted in our values and the pursuit of justice and equity. Together, they illustrate a new vision for the future of our schools and our city, ranging from affordable housing to dual language studies to full special education services and jobs designed to keep families out of poverty. Read more.

TAKE ACTION: Stakeholders must come together for Chicago students

Last week, we formally presented our contract proposals to CPS and invited key businss and civic leaders to join us in securing the schools Chicago children deserve. Sign our petition to: Jerry Reinsdorf, Owner of the Chicago Bulls & White Sox; the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago; Gov. J.B. Pritzker; CPS CEO Pedro Martinez; Kids First and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago; and Mayor Brandon Johnson. Sign the petition.


Earth Week calls us to fight for healthy, green, sustainable schools

Photo of students protesting for environmental justice.

The average age of a CPS building is 84 years old. Due to decades of racist disinvestment, privatization schemes, and environmental pollution in many neighborhoods, too many of our buildings are outdated, dirty and full of harmful toxins. They are not places where students and staff can engage in joyful learning.

This Earth Week, we are redoubling our efforts to educate members, our families and CPS officials about the need to make a historic investment in green upgrades to our buildings and campuses to ensure their climate resiliency. CTU members are fighting for healthy, green, sustainable schools in our next union contract. For the first time we have a set of Climate Justice proposals in which we are asking CPS to agree to:

  • Equip at least 25 schools with the necessary equipment for a scratch kitchen so students can eat culturally relevant, nourishing lunches.
  • Create at least five new Green Technology (solar installation, EV battery, etc.) CTE programs.
  • Install solar panels/arrays in at least 50 schools to power the school buildings.
  • Remove all lead pipes and/or install water filtration systems in all CPS Schools.
  • Remove all asbestos, mold, and other toxins from all CPS schools.
  • Install/fix windows in every classroom so they open and have screens that work.

Photo of chalk writing on school steps that says: We can’t learn if we can’t breathe.

What are Green Schools and why do we need them?

Green schools are free from harmful toxins, have modern and low energy ventilation and temperature controls, and provide green spaces and empowering learning opportunities rooted in community for students. Unfortunately far too many of our schools are full of health hazards like lead paint, asbestos, and lack of proper ventilation and CPS has had no equitable plan to repair and remediate these issues. Our school communities most impacted by the harms of pollution should be first in line for green school renovations.

Did you know CTU has a connection to the founding of Earth Day? Read this article about William Cherkasky, uncle of Lynn Cherkasky-Davis, CTU’s director of teacher leadership, university partnerships and special projects. He was one of Earth Day’s founders.

This Week of Action

This week, we are asking members to engage in Earth Week actions. See what’s already in store for the week and use our tool kit below to help you plan your activities.


Wednesday: School budgets webinar

CPS has released preliminary school budgets for the 2024-2025 year and there are foundational changes to how the district is budgeting our schools. Join CTU staff for a webinar on what we know about the budget and the formula changes, what we know must still change, and how we can fight back so that all our schools have the funding they deserve. Register for the webinar.


Collins High School roundtable centers need for Sustainable Community Schools

Photo of students, elected officials, CTU President Stacy Davis Gates, and Mayor Brandon Johnson at a roundtable discussion at Collins Academy High School.

Photo: Chalkbeat
CTU President Stacy Davis Gates speaks with a student at a Corliss High School roundtable.CTU President Stacy Davis Gates joined Mayor Brandon Johnson, AFT President Randi Weingarten, elected officials and students for a roundtable at Collins High School to illustrate the need for more Sustainable Community Schools. Students spoke about the resources they don’t have, but need to succeed.  Read more from Chalkbeat.


CTU lobby day targets funding, protecting neighborhood schools

CTU members pose in front of the Illinois Capitol during a lobby day visit.

CTU members posed in front of the Illinois Capitol last week before heading in to speak with legislators. Members spoke about the need for more state funding for CPS and also asked legislators to reject a bill that could put neighborhood school budgets on the chopping block.


Applications still open for CTU Environmental Justice Freedom School

Photo montage of last year’s CTU Environmental Freedom School.

There’s still time for your students to enroll in this summer’s Environmental Justice Freedom School. During the two-week program, 30 high school students will develop local school climate action plans. Read this feature on last year’s program and share the application with your students today. The deadine to apply is April 26.


Resolution recognizing tragic death of Dexter Reed

At its April meeting, CTU’s House of Delegates unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the tragic death of former CPS student Dexter Reed and calling on CPS to fully implement the Reparations Won curriculum. Read the resolution.


Statement on the Passing of Rev. Walter “Slim” Coleman

Reverend Walter ‘Slim’ Coleman’s commitment to social justice permeated throughout his life and shaped the political landscape of our city and nation in ways that will reverberate for generations. Read our statement on his passing.


CPS BOE evening meeting this week

The CPS Board will be holding its monthly meeting in-person this Wednesday evening, beginning at 5 p.m at Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School, 2100 E. 87th Street. Advance registration to attend or speak at the meeting closes Wednesday at 5 p.m. Register for the meeting.


Sue Davidson renews passion for teaching by reopening her school’s shuttered library

Librarian Sue Davidson, center, poses with her colleagues in the newly reopened library at Hibbard Elementary School.

Hibbard Elementary School librarian Sue Davidson (first row center above) tried really hard not to become a teacher. But after a stint in the corporate world, the creativity of the classroom drew her in. And, then, reopening her school’s shuttered library after the pandemic helped reignite her passion for teaching. Read more about Sue.


Scholarships available for STLS students

Each June, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless awards renewable college scholarships to graduating high school seniors who succeeded in school while experiencing homelessness. Students from Chicago and suburban schools are eligible to apply as well as CCH youth leaders and former youth clients. Learn more and share with your students.


Schedule and flex votes

Your school’s schedule and flex votes must be completed by May 10. Schools will be voting on their daily schedule, flex days, and the 15-minute morning prep for elementary schools and, at some schools, the start and end time. Questions? We have several upcoming drop in sessions. Register in advance for the April 24 virtual drop in and the April 30 virutal drop in. On May 7, we will host an in-person drop in at CTU. All drop ins are from 4 to 5 p.m.


You may be owed back pay if you left CPS and later returned

If you worked in CPS then left for another district before returning to CPS, you may not have received the step credit for your work in other districts that the CTU thinks you deserve. The CTU is pursuing a class action grievance to benefit members who didn’t get their due step increase upon returning to CPS. This may be worth thousands of dollars to members who qualify! Learn more and complete the survey.


April 30: Social Worker contract campaign meeting

Social work delegates will hold a Zoom meeting on Tues., April 30, at 7 p.m. with current CPS school social workers to discuss the current CTU/CPS contract campaign. This will include reviewing proposals and how to organize around our most important demands. Register for the webinar.


May 9: Housing Committee Movie Screening: Shame of Chicago

This four-part series shows how housing policy in Chicago has had a lasting effect on the racial divide and wealth gap. The final episode documents a group of residents who fought back against racist housing policy. Join the CTU Housing Committee on Thursday, May 9 from 5 to 7 p.m. to view the episode and have a discussion on its implications for our housing fight today. Learn more and sign up.


Notices

Delegates Not Present April 17, 2024 House of Delegates Meeting



May 6: Deadline to get your child a scholarship

If you have a child who will be graduating from high school this year, NOW is the time for them to apply for a CTU Scholarship. Scholarships in the amount of $1,000 will be awarded to students to help defray the cost of post-secondary education in college or vocational programs. Learn more and have your student apply by May 6.


Administrative transfer window open until May 8

Teachers may transfer schools without the consent of their current principal providing that the Talent Office receives the administrative transfer request signed by the receiving principal between 75 and 30 calendar days before the end of the second semester. This spring, the transfer window is open until May 8. The actual move to your new school will take place in August on the first day teachers return. Get important details here.


April 24: 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 Wed., April 24, 5 to 8:30 p.m. There is now an $8,000 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 LynnCherkasky-Davis@ctuf.org or register for the NTL information session here.


Grow Your Own applications open

The Grow Your Own (GYO) teacher preparation program is dedicated to addressing the lack of racial diversity in our teaching force. Our PSRPs, teaching assistants, parent workers, tutors, and other members of school communities are encouraged to apply by May 1. Please encourage engaged parents, PSRPs and other community members you know to apply. Learn more and apply today.


May 17: May Day Fun Day for Retirees

Graphic inviting CTU retirees to a May Day Fun Day event.

Retirees are invited to join us Fri., May 17, from noon to 4 p.m. at CTU headquarters to socialize with CTU officers, meet fellow retirees, play games, dance and have fun. Sign up at ctulocal1.org/retireesocial.


Bard Core invites you to come out and play this summer

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater is once again inviting educators join their Bard Core Program, a professional learning seminar, exclusively for CPS high school and middle school English, special ed, and ELA teachers. The program is free and offers the opportunity to earn 30 PD hours. Learn more and apply today.


New Benefit for Members

The Chicago Teachers Union is pleased to introduce a new membership benefit: BMG Money’s LoansForAll program, where “ALL CREDIT SCORES ARE WELCOME.”

BMG Money may be a suitable alternative for those with less-than-perfect credit who need a loan fast for an emergency. If you have limited loan options, BMG Money loans are a better alternative than predatory loans because the APR is generally significantly lower. Download the BMG informational flyer to learn more.


Members corner

In memoriam for March 2024


Celebrate your sibilings

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 communications@ctulocal1.org for consideration in an upcoming Members Corner.


Events

 


In the News

CTUF Quest Center

Google Slides 101
Learning to Spin

Teach Asian American History
Go Guardian

National Board Certification Recruitment Meeting