“We’re reaching out to these families, these communities, to create the structures and supports that our students and families need.”

Summer organizing and months of community and CTU-based vaccination events

In July, the Union kicked off its annual Summer Organizing Institute (SOI), where the goal each year is to train and develop the leadership and organizing skills of rank-and-file members in order to build unity and power in our buildings and communities. The program also seeks to increase members’ involvement in the Union’s committee work, and build long-lasting friendships and solidarity among educators.

The 2021 SOI cohort began with a door-knocking campaign in North Lawndale to help families access vaccines, and also help the community mobilize against talks of school closings. But that was just the beginning. Over the next several weeks, SOI interns partnered with allies and grassroots organizations to address a variety of pressing needs alongside longer-term goals — from marching in solidarity with union home care and child care workers during the “Jobs. Care. Justice.” rally in the Loop, to rallying before CPS budget hearings to demand transparency in how federal COVID-19 funding is spent.

Throughout the summer, SOI interns devoted a significant amount of energy to advocating for using unprecedented pandemic relief money headed to Chicago — some $4 billion — to help the City and CPS recover from pandemic losses that added more trauma to South and West side neighborhoods already suffering from joblessness, lack of affordable housing and gun violence.

Also during the summer, but beginning in the spring, the Union hosted a number of school- and community-based vaccination events alongside Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Department of Public Health and our own Chicago Teachers Union Foundation (CTUF). SOI interns also worked with State Rep. Lakesia Collins in bringing vaccinations to North Lawndale, keeping the issue of disparate vaccine access front and center.

By the end of November, the CTU and CTUF had collaborated on nearly a dozen vaccination events, reaching nearly 1,000 families.

“The CTU does a lot of work with supporting teachers,” said CTU field representative and former Englewood STEM history teacher Mike Smith, “but ultimately its goal is equitable and just education for the community, and when I say community, I mean all of Chicago…In order to help students, you have to know what’s going on in their everyday lives…We’re reaching out to these families, these communities, to create the structures and supports that our students and families need.”

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

(Every year, our CTU Summer Organizing Institute empowers rank-and-file educators from across the city to take leading roles in campaigns to prmote members’ rights and fight for educational justice!)

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 Sunday’s all-member tele-town hall.