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Management continues to reject language protecting special education students, classroom needs, student resources in contract negotiations that have dragged on for three years.

  • 7:30 a.m. Monday, June 7: socially distanced press conference with educators, parents. Urban Prep Englewood campus, 6201 S. Stewart Ave.

CHICAGO — Educators at three Urban Prep campuses will hold a press conference at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, June 7 at Urban Prep’s Englewood campus, located at 6201 S. Stewart Ave., to announce a strike against the charter operator at their three campuses.

“We have been trying to land an agreement that respects our students, our families and the educators who serve them for three years,” said Urban Prep math teacher Dana Wilson. “Roughly 30 percent of our students need special education services that are chronically shortchanged. Classrooms desperately need resources and our schools need stable staffing, instead of bloated bureaucracies and foot-dragging on vital student needs.”

CTU teachers at all three of Urban Prep’s charter school campuses — Bronzeville, Englewood and West — voted unanimously to strike in late May. The CTU also filed an unfair labor practice charge against the charter management in May for a range of abuses, including refusing to release critical financial and other information.

Sticking points at the bargaining table include staff demands to improve special education resources. Management has refused even basic agreements to follow laws governing the provision of special education services to which students are federally entitled. Three in ten Urban Prep students are eligible for those services, yet management has routinely failed to fund those needs.

Urban Prep received over $3 million in PPP pandemic funds for salaries and services in addition to their regular CPS funding — and a long track record of financial mismanagement that includes missing payroll twice, despite CPS funding those wages. Urban Prep receives the same per-pupil funding as every other CPS and charter school, yet UP educators are at the bottom of the pay scale among unionized Chicago schools, with starting pay over $11,000 less than at CPS. Low wages and challenging working conditions drives high turnover and profound instability for the schools’ students.

“We’d rather be teaching our students, but if it takes a strike to win the protections we need, we’ll be on the picket lines,” said special education teacher Shelley Aaron. “We remain ready to meet with Urban Prep management, despite them letting this come to a strike simply because they don’t want to enshrine critical protections like legally required special education supports in our contract. We hope management understands we’re serious about standing up for our students’ needs and bargains with us to land an agreement that gets our students back to school.”

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.