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  • 6:30AM TODAY, May 6: picket lines at IHSCA and IJLA high schools
  • 10AM TODAY: Protest/delegation, Chicago Community Trust, 225 N. Michigan Ave. Strikers will attempt to deliver letter to Instituto board chair/CCT COO Andrea Saenz.

Latino Youth strikers win sanctuary protections, mental health support, restorative justice, culturally appropriate curricula for low-income, Latinx high school students.

CHICAGO—The strike by CTU members at Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy and Instituto Justice Leadership Academy, both run by IdLP—Instituto del Progresso Latino—will enter its second week today, beginning with pickets at both schools starting at 6:30AM.

At 10AM TODAY, strikers will gather downtown at the offices of the Chicago Community Trust at 225 N. Michigan Ave., and attempt to send a delegation to Suite 2200 to deliver a letter to CCT chief operations officer and Instituto board chair Andrea Saenz, urging her to step in and press management to settle a contract.

On Sunday, Latino Youth strikers won a tentative agreement and will return to work on Monday. Among wins are mental health support, including a school counselor, for all students; big steps toward wage parity with CPS workers; maternity/paternity benefits for the first time; a shorter workday with no impact on student instructions; restorative justice and culturally relevant instruction for students; and sanctuary protections for the high school’s youth, critically important for the impoverished, overwhelmingly Latinx student population.

CTU demands at Instituto dovetail those at the charter operators who’ve already settled in this round of negotiations—four Aspira schools, YCLA, Latino Youth HS and ChiArts—are anchored around four central demands: living wages, smaller class sizes, adequate staffing and more resources for classrooms and student supports. CTU educators struck ChiArts and Latino Youth at the same time they struck Instituto—although ChiArts management and strikers reached a tentative agreement before teachers walked off the job—in the first multi-employer strike against multiple charter operators in U.S. history.  .

CTU strikers charge that Instituto management is siphoning off public education dollars that should be invested in classroom resources and student needs.

2017 revisions in the state school funding formula invested more funds in charter schools, and CPS revenues to IHSCA went up by $1 million—12%—from 2017 to 2019. But salary costs for educators have declined by 8%. If Instituto had invested proportionately into IHSCA teachers and paraprofessional staff, salaries would be 20% higher than they are today. At IJLA, CPS revenues have increased by 33% since last year—yet expenditures for wages and benefits of bargaining unit members shrank by 10%.

In additon, Instituto charges the two schools almost a million dollars a year in management fees, up this year alone at IHSCA by 20%, even though both schools already cover all “management” costs for school administration, payroll, recruitment, legal and accounting costs out of their own budgets.

Low wages and chronic under-resourcing of classrooms has driven huge turnover and a parallel instability in the school community, with at least 35 percent of staff leaving IHSCA since the start of the 2017-18 school year. Special education students are chronically denied services to which they’re entitled under federal law.

At IJLA, the charter operator has cut positions from a fully funded staff of over 25 teachers and support staff in 2011 to only nine today—including zero counselors for a highly traumatized student population. The school has no science teacher, and special education students are chronically shortchanged, as well.