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While money will never undo the harm these educators, and their students and school communities experienced, this settlement is an important first step toward closure and accountability.

Board approves $9.25 million settlement for Black CTU teachers, PSRPs, staff displaced by 2012-14 turnarounds

In December, we reached a historic $9.25 million settlement of two racial discrimination cases our Union fought on behalf of displaced Black educators who were purged from the district over the last 15 years.

The cases, filed a decade ago, were our union’s response to the “turnaround” model of school management and the systemic assault on experienced Black educators waged by former Chicago mayors, CPS and CPS CEOs. The lawsuits were one of the first acts taken by our beloved President Emerita Karen Lewis, who said at that time, “It appears the only purpose that the firing and replacing of staff serves as part of a ‘turnaround’ is to discriminate against experienced, expensive educators, especially educators of color.”

We only wish Karen had lived to see the end of this fight.

CPS fought the lawsuits tooth and nail, even though the district’s own evidence acknowledged that budgetary layoffs and turnarounds — where the entire teaching force is removed from a school and replaced — had a disproportionate effect on Black teachers and paraprofessionals. Those racist policies remained in place until this year, and have contributed to the dramatic reduction of Black teachers in CPS, which is down from 40 percent in 2000 to barely 20 percent today.

Research shows that having even one Black teacher improves educational outcomes for Black children, but that’s a reality few students experience in CPS. So our union thanks the many veteran Black educators who stood with us in this fight, sharing heartbreaking stories of derailed careers, financial hardship and emotional trauma in the wake of these illegitimate layoffs. Our hope is that their sacrifice, and programs like Grown Your Own and our own We Care, will create more opportunities for Black teachers in the future.

While money will never undo the harm these educators, and their students and school communities experienced, this settlement is an important first step toward closure and accountability. We are grateful to the legal team, and most critically, indebted to the Black teachers and paraprofessionals who saw this case through. Their fortitude, commitment and solidarity is the heart of our strength as a union and a community.

Previously in the CTU year in review:
Bargaining for a safe return to our schools
New part-time clinician positions for 2021-2022
CTU bargaining units organized at two charter campuses
CPS finally agrees to start paying $25 million in sports funding
Making history in Springfield
Reducing REACH evaluation
We Care program for new educators and clinicians of color
Summer organizing and bringing vaccines to communities
Carnegie Elementary unites and fights for safety

We have updated info at ctulocal1.org so please check the important updates on the campaign for safety in our school communities for the latest on safe return, including our reopening proposal to CPS and Sunday’s all-member tele-town hall.