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  • 11:30A, Friday, 2/15: protest at Goldberg Kohn, office of CICS founding board member David Chizewer, 55 E. Monroe
  • 2:45PM: Sen Duckworth, state legislators to join CICS strikers, CTU HQ, 1901 W. Carroll Ave., Chicago

Senator to meet with CTU teachers and paraprofessionals, as strike for living wages and adequate student supports marks ninth school day and educators target office of second board member.

CHICAGO—On Monday, more than 175 striking teachers and paraprofessionals got a much appreciated signal of support from U.S. Senator Tammi Duckworth, who tweeted her solidarity as educators began week two of their strike against charter operator CICS. On Friday, Sen. Duckworth will meet with striking educators, who’ll share why they remain on the picket line, and what their students need from the operator.

Sen. Duckworth will join educators beginning at 2:45 PM Friday at CTU headquarters, 1901 W. Carroll Ave., with a number of state legislators also expected to join, to hear directly from strikers about their battle for educational equity for their students. The Senator, educators and supporters will hold a brief press availability during the visit.

Before educators meet with Sen. Duckworth, they’ll stage a picket at 11:30 AM at Goldberg Kohn, the office of CICS founding board member David Chizewer, at 55 E. Monroe. Chizewer is also a co-founder of INCS, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, the charter lobby that has backed CICS management over striking educators.

On Thursday, strikers delivered Valentine’s Day cards to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is directly responsible for Chicago’s public school district—including CPS’ oversight of charter operators—asking the mayor to help CICS CEO Elizabeth Shaw ‘find the heart’ to settle a contract. The Chicago City Council’s Latino Caucus also issued a letter to Shaw on Thursday calling on her to settle the strike, describing management resistance to coming to a fair agreement as ‘shameful’. And late Thursday afternoon, civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson joined bargaining team members to lend his support—and demand that management settle the contract. Rev. Jackson has invited strikers to Operation PUSH Saturday morning at 10AM.

Last week, more than a dozen elected officials and progressive candidates joined strikers at a picket of the charter industry’s powerful lobby, INCS, which has backed CICS’ foot dragging at the
bargaining table. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle called on CICS
to settle a fair contract with strikers, reminding CICS that teachers’ working
conditions are students’ learning conditions—and both needed to improve at the schools.

CICS management continues to refuse to release a portion of more than $36 million in public education dollars the charter operator is currently hoarding. The strike could be settled simply by rolling back just the $1.2 million increase in management fees that CICS has imposed on schools this year alone.

Public tax dollars provide charter operators close to $700 more per student than district public schools receive, yet CICS continues to insist that any pay increase for low-wage educators must come in exchange for cuts to social workers and counselors, larger class sizes and gutted parental leave for paraprofessionals—some of whom earn less than $30,000 per year.

Striking educators have refused to ‘trade’ a pay raise of any size for cuts to student services.

More than 90% of the students at the striking schools, which serve overwhelmingly low-income Black and Brown children, have not crossed educators’ picket lines. Educators renewed their pledge on Thursday to remain on strike until they win a fair contract that provides living wages, decent working conditions and adequate resources for students.

CICS controls a stable of management groups at the schools, with management fees increasing 25% this year alone, while corporate staffing has jumped more than 100% since 2017 and six-figure corporate hires have jumped from four to 14 in the last three years. That corporate profit-taking has left schools confronting a growing shortage of special education teachers, counselors and social workers, while classrooms remain short of resources and supports.

Educators will be back on the picket lines at Ellison, ChicagoQuest and Northtown high schools and Wrightwood elementary beginning at 6:30 AM Friday. Bargaining continues Friday afternoon.

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.