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  • 4:00 p.m., Monday., Sept. 23: Press conference
    Passages Charter School, 1643 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago

While CEO rakes in quarter of a million dollar salary, management rejects sanctuary language for refugee and immigrant students, lowballs special ed and English language supports.

CHICAGO—The elementary students at Passages charter school speak dozens of languages, and hail from regions as far flung as Central America and West Africa. Close to 70 percent are low-income, over half are Black or Brown, almost four in ten have limited English skills, and the school has one of the highest percentages of refugee students in CPS. Yet management at the charter has refused to agree to sanctuary language to protect the school’s immigrant and refugee students, and the administration chronically under-staffs teachers and supports for English language learners and special education students.

CTU ACTS educators have had enough. After months of fruitless bargaining, educators will vote to authorize a strike against the charter operator. CTU members will announce those results with parents and allies, including 40th Ward Alderman Andre Vasquez, at 4:00 p.m. Monday, September 23 at the school, located at 1643 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. in Chicago’s West Edgewater neighborhood.

Passages is run by Asian Human Services—but services are in short supply at the school. Chronically under-resourced classrooms and poor working conditions have led to acute levels of staff turnover that destabilize the school community and rob working-class students of a quality education. CTU members are battling low wages, with many staff earning under $35,000/year.

Management has also rejected putting sanctuary protections for students in writing, and chronically underfunds supports for special education students and English language learners. Those practices hit the school’s high number of refugee, immigrant and special needs students particularly hard.

Management’s refusal to enshrine sanctuary language and policy—a key demand in bargaining with other charters and CPS itself—is especially troubling. The sanctuary language has little cost for management, and would guarantee critical protections for students and their families. Management has refused to even entertain the proposal.

CTU educators came close to striking school management in May of 2017, but settled the school’s first contract, designed to improve learning conditions for students and wages for educators—some of whom earned as little as $25,000/year.

Low wages persist. The school’s special education teacher makes $30,000/year—barely 10% of the annual $250,000/year salary of Asian Human Services CEO Craig Maki. Wages for many full-time support staff hover at $13/hour, less than half the $27/hour living wage for households with one adult and one child in Chicago.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.