Educators are calling for greater supports for special education students, English language learners, as well as more investments in classroom, safety and family needs rather than bloated administrative costs.
CHICAGO, June 2, 2021 — For the second time in a week, educators at a Chicago charter school have voted to join the CTU. Rank and file educators at Christopher House Charter School, in Chicago’s Belmont Cragin neighborhood, voted three to one to be represented by the Union, joining dozens of other charter schools across the city.
“We do this because we love the students and families we serve,” said educators in their mission statement. “We are proud to work at Christopher House and proud of the school we have built together … and we advocate for our students and colleagues now by declaring our intent to form a union.”
Christopher House educators first reached out to the CTU last summer, as concerns about safety skyrocketed — just as the pandemic was building again to a devastating second wave in neighborhoods like Belmont Cragin. Educators formed an organizing committee to build the union shortly after that.
Management refused to recognize the union, and educators were forced to schedule a mail-in ballot vote through the NLRB — a process that has taken months longer than usual during the pandemic. That election was finally held today. Elected officials expressed their solidarity to charter educators in a statement on April 5, saying “It is important that your students receive an education where learning and creativity flourishes, and we strongly believe that unionized charter schools are the way forward.”
“We are proud and excited to join the CTU and begin the next steps towards stability for our school — including winning the services that our special needs students and English language learners need,” said second grade teacher Kelsey Nelson. “We are looking forward to working collaboratively with Christopher House, our families and community to negotiate a contract that creates the working and learning conditions that our students deserve.”
Educators want management to invest more of their funding from CPS into classroom needs, rather than bloated administrative costs. Besides pandemic-related safety needs, educators want management to increase supports for special education students and English language learners at the school, as well as improve working and learning conditions that lead to staff churn and undermine school stability. Over 90 percent of Christopher House’s roughly 500 students are Latinx. More than 35% have limited English proficiency, roughly one in five is a diverse learner, and over 85 percent are low-income.
Educators are also seeking a stronger voice both for school staff and parents, who have been largely locked out of any decision-making at the school.
“I am proud and honored to welcome these forty educators into the ranks of our Union family,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. “They understand the power of unity and commitment — especially in times of need. They care deeply about their students. And they know that it takes advocacy and courage to win what our students need and deserve. It is an honor to welcome them into the Chicago Teachers Union.”
Charter educators will gather for a solidarity rally on Friday, June 11, after school, at Christopher House Charter School, 5235 W Belden, as they head into bargaining for next year.