New contract includes historic language to cut class sizes, put nurse and social worker in every school.
CHICAGO, Nov. 15, 2019—Chicago Teachers Union members voted today to accept the tentative agreement they won in the wake of their historic eleven day strike.
With eighty percent of schools reporting, members have voted 81 percent yes to ratify the new contract with CPS.
The union won powerful gains for students and their school communities.
Those gains include mandatory class size caps and enforcement, language forcing CPS to comply with special education laws and regulations, sanctuary school protections for immigrant and refugee students, and supports for thousands of homeless students. While today most schools have a nurse barely one day a week, the contract will provide schools with a nurse and a social worker in every school every day. The union also won another freeze on charter expansion, and additional funding for staff that include librarians and counselors, who now must be allowed to serve only as counselors, not recess supervisors, test proctors or substitute teachers.
The contract will also, at last, lift up teaching assistants, school clerks and other paraprofessionals out of poverty.
“This contract is a powerful advance for our city and our movement for real equity and educational justice for our school communities and the children we serve,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. We live in one of the richest cities in the wealthiest nation in the world, and finally Chicago must start investing in the future of our city—our children.”
Moving forward, the union has put some of CPS’ most harmful and inequitable education policies squarely in its sights—including ending CPS’ discriminatory ‘student-based budgeting’ formula and the district’s racist school ranking system called SQRP. That includes the union’s effort to win passage in Springfield for an elected, representative school board, a bill that the House and Senate leadership have vowed to move this spring and the governor has promised to sign, restoring to Chicagoans the same democratic rights that voters in every other school district in the state possess. The union is also pushing legislation to restore CTU members’ bargaining rights, which were stripped away in 1995 with the imposition of mayoral control over CPS.
“Our contract fight was about the larger movement to shift values and priorities in Chicago,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates. “Working class taxpayers in Chicago have paid for skyscrapers that most will never visit—but a school nurse is someone their child in need can see on any day. In a city with immense wealth, corporations have the ability to pay to support the common good.”