Summary

We will continue our negotiations with CPS through the summer to ensure we win a transformative contract. CPS must deliver on a vision for creating the schools Chicago’s children deserve.

Dear CTU family,

Our contract expired June 30.

We will continue our negotiations with CPS through the summer to ensure we win a transformative contract. CPS must deliver on a vision for creating the schools Chicago’s children deserve.

We are making CPS work harder than ever to engage with our transformative demands. Though there are signs of life and progress, they are struggling to meet this moment with vision.

Even when CPS doesn’t show vision, our CTU members do! Our members rallied in support of our paraprofessionals outside of the Board of Education this week, demanding that CPS find new solutions to the claimed funding shortage that don’t involve laying off hundreds of members who are the backbone of their schools.

In this moment, with this Mayor, our contract negotiations can genuinely address the segregation, privatization, and budget cuts that have harmed Chicago students for far too long.

Thank you for your collective strength and determination as we continue negotiations. Here’s how we moved our contract priorities forward this week.

Taking a stand against CPS layoffs

CTU President Stacy Davis Gates with CTU members outside this week’s Board of Education meeting.

CTU members and leadership took a stand against CPS CEO Pedro Martinez’s layoffs at this week’s Board of Education meeting, rallying in a press conference outside, then testifying in front of the board about the impact of these devastating cuts.

“This has put me in a hard position, stressing me over finances for the summer, as I am a one-income household,” said Grisel Sanchez, a bilingual teacher assistant at Mark Twain Elementary School in Garfield Ridge who was recently laid off. “Why am I being taken away from my school?” She was told she could reapply for her job, but she wasn’t guaranteed to be rehired at the same school.

Read more coverage from the Tribune here.

CTU Member and parent Edward Ward calls on the Board of Education to make better budget decisions at our press conference.

CTU stands against CEO Pedro Martinez’s layoffs of over 330 paraprofessionals, largely Black and Latine women. Our paraprofessionals work with our most vulnerable students, including those experiencing homelessness, English language learners, and those with disabilities.

This year’s budget must invest in our city’s classrooms and protect the vital role paraprofessionals play in our schools.

As President Davis Gates said on Chicago Tonight this week, CPS leadership is comfortable with the status quo, but CTU is challenging the district to do things differently than they have done in the past. Our students need more, in this year’s budget and our contract.

When it comes to supporting our paraprofessional members, CTU won’t back down!

Bargaining on REACH: Confronting Racism and Ineffectiveness in Teacher Evaluations

The zip code in which a school is located and where its students live is the most significant factor in determining the average evaluation scores for teachers in that school. In Chicago, Black teachers are more likely to teach students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds when compared to their white colleagues. This has resulted in Black teachers receiving lower average ratings and facing significantly higher non-renewal rates compared to their white counterparts. This has caused a lasting impact on the Black educators in our district: since the implementation of the REACH teacher evaluation system in 2012, the number of Black teachers in CPS has dropped significantly, from 30% to 20.6% of all CPS teachers.

It’s clear that REACH is not an effective support system for new teachers. In fact, it’s often used as a punitive tool rather than one that provides development. In contrast, our We Care program, which supports early career educators, has demonstrated a 90% retention rate. This highlights the need for sustainable support and mentoring initiatives to improve teacher retention and practice.

Our negotiations on this topic include support for legislation in Springfield mandating a study on the racial and geographic impact of REACH towards a fairer evaluation system. We’re also proposing to make REACH less punitive and more supportive, reducing evaluations for experienced teachers and offering more development opportunities for non-tenured teachers through programs like We Care.

View the slides from our REACH Bargaining Session here.

Announcing our historic endorsements for the Elected School Board!

This week, our democratically elected governing body approved the historic endorsement of a citywide slate of candidates for the first-ever Chicago school board elections. In Chicago’s long-awaited school board election, the CTU House of Delegates endorsed a slate of parents, faith leaders, community organizers, former CPS students, and educators who will fight for CTU’s priorities and the schools our students deserve.

Here are our endorsed candidates:

District 1: Jennifer Custer

District 2: Ebony DeBerry

District 3: Jason Dones

District 4: Karen Zaccor

District 5: Aaron “Jitu” Brown

District 6: Anusha Thotakura and Brenda Delgado

District 7: Yesenia Lopez

District 8: Felix Ponce

District 9: Lanetta Thomas

District 10: Rev. Robert Jones

More About Our Endorsed Slate: Ebony DeBerry, Brenda Delgado, and Lanetta Thomas are Black mothers of CPS students who have also served as community organizers advocating for educational equity. Jason Dones and Felix Ponce, both former CPS high school teachers and current fathers, are ready to address and rectify the inequities within CPS. Jitu Brown and Rev. Jones, both Black fathers, participated in a hunger strike to save Dyett High School, which is now a nationally highlighted, exemplary institution within CPS, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to educational justice and community advocacy. Jennifer Custer, Karen Zaccor, Anusha Thotakura, and Yesenia Lopez are educators and organizers who have dedicated their careers to working on education policy and striving to implement transformative changes that benefit all CPS students.

What’s At Stake: We will have our work cut out for us in this election. We know the Illinois Network of Charter Schools has already allocated nearly $3 million to subsidize candidates who sign off on its policies of pushing profits and privatization over student needs. It’s a move that we, as public school educators, expect and have seen before. These are the same forces that cheered the closing of 50 schools in Black and Brown neighborhoods and supported Paul Vallas’ failed Republican mayoral campaign. Despite their long history of demanding policies that increased racial inequity at CPS and denied parents a voice, these organizations now want to buy their way into influencing the election and running our schools.

What’s Next for Our Contract?

CPS’ story is clear: The district has a “budget deficit.” CPS CEO Martinez talks about this budget deficit every time we advocate for our students or make our transformative demands.

But this budget deficit is just an excuse: it’s how CPS sidesteps accountability for putting veteran educators with decades of service to their school communities on the chopping block.

Instead of throwing up its hands and claiming a “budget deficit,” CPS needs more vision and a commitment to partnering with us to win more resources to create real equity in our schools.

SAVE THE DATE: CPS will hold two public hearings on the budget at CPS Headquarters on July 16, at 4 p.m., and July 17, at 6 p.m. We will need a strong showing of members at the hearings to say NO to these harmful budget cuts and YES to fully funding our schools, so stay tuned for details.

CTU members rally outside this week’s Board of Education meeting.

Next Bargaining Dates

CTU and CPS have agreed to hold four to five more public bargaining sessions over the summer and into the school year, giving our communities a front-row seat to the critical issues CTU is negotiating for our members, students, and school communities.

We will continue bargaining throughout the summer. Our next big bargaining team session is planned for July 31. We will also have sessions on dual language education, Sustainable Community Schools, and a better school day for students while continuing to bargain on the proposals we’ve already presented to CPS.

We will make our vision for Chicago Public Schools, one that reflects what our students need, a reality.

We won’t let this historic opportunity pass us by. Stay united and ready for what’s to come.

In solidarity,

The Chicago Teachers Union Leadership Team