News and Notes

Photo of a CTU member at a strike rally for Instituo del Progreso Latino schools.

Instituto members on strike for the resources educators and students need and deserve

CTU President Stacy Davis Gates speaks at the Instituto strike rally.After over a year of frustrating, unproductive bargaining with Instituto del Progreso Latino, CTU members at the two Instituto schools were forced to hit the picket lines Tuesday morning to win a fair contract that provides educators and their students with the resources they need and deserve.

Let’s step up and support them:

  • On your school’s red-for-ed day, make a sign that says “[insert your school’s name] stands in solidarity with CTU members at Instituto!” Upload them to Google Photos at ctu.sh/upload or email communications@ctulocal1.org.
  • If you have time before work, support the picket lines starting at 6 a.m. at Instituto Health and Sciences Career Academy, 2520 S. Western Ave.

Photo of CTU strike picket line at Instituto del Progreso Latino.

Why are we on strike?

Since bargaining began last year, Instituto has refused to address our members’ concerns for special ed staffing, more bilingual resources for the school’s predominantly Latine students, and sustainable pay and benefits in order to hire and retain experienced educators.

Photo of Instituto teacher Eva Arcentales speaking at the strike rally.Over the last year, we’ve negotiated contracts that enshrine these resources with other charter operators. But Instituto steadfastly has refused, instead funneling money that should be going to classrooms to their parent group’s coffers.

For example, Instituto has raised the “management fees” and rent that they pay to themselves out of the two schools’ budgets by an astronomical 81 percent this year — to over $3.1 million annually. Fees paid to Instituto now account for 23 percent of the schools’ combined budget.

Instituto struggles to retain quality teachers and staff due to low pay and insufficient classroom resources, putting more stress on the dedicated educators who remain at the schools.

No one wants this strike — our Instituto teachers and staff would prefer to be in the classroom. And it shouldn’t take a strike for charter schools like Instituto to meet minimum special education staffing levels, increase pay to end teacher shortages, or commit to sanctuary protections for immigrant students and employees.

We are taking a stand to do what is right for our students and school communities and will remain on strike as long as it takes to get a fair contract that provides educators and their students the resources they need and deserve. Read more and watch video from this morning’s news conference where Instituto members explain why they are on strike.


Graphic advertising CTU’s Weeks of Action for Black Lives Matter at School week.

Black Lives Matter at School Week

Did you know that from 1942 to 1945 CPS piloted the nation’s first mandatory Black history curriculum? That’s another reason CTU is encouraging all Chicago educators to prep lessons for Black Lives Matter at School Week and to teach them next week (Feb. 12-16). Our website has a wealth of information and resources for you to use in your classroom. Check it out.


CTU kicks off Black History Month with blood drive, important panel on sickle cell disease and Black maternal health

Last week, the CTU Foundation hosted a Blood Drive and panel on Sickle Cell Disease and Black maternal health awareness. Members stepped up to donate blood, saving an estimated 100 or more lives, and learn about sickle cell disease. For Black History Month, the event shared the legacy of Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman whose own maternal health struggle revolutionized sickle cell treatment with cells that were stolen from her.


Curriculum Share prepares educators for BLM at School Week

On Monday, dozens of CTU members from across the city joined CTU staff and rank-and-file presenters to prepare for their teaching practice during Black Lives Matter at School Week. Peers shared strategies on topics ranging from anti-racist picture books to The 1619 Project and more. Participants will upload evidence of their practice to earn 3 ISBE continuing education credits. We strongly encourage members in every school to take advantage of the resources collected by members and staff to aid your teaching of the truth about the history of Black excellence and Black oppression during this month and throughout the year. You can read more about Black Lives Matter at School week and take part in the events below.


Celebrating Black History Month at CTU

In honor of Black History Month, we’re featuring a series of events that celebrate the Black experience and the work of our Black union siblings. Here’s what’s in store:


In honor of Black History Month, we’re lifting up Black CTU members who are making a difference in our schools and our union. This week, meet Lovett Elementary teacher Dr. Denita Armstrong-Shaffer.

For preschool teacher Dr. Denita Armstrong-Shaffer, being a CTU member means “giving voice to the voiceless”

Lovett Elementary teacher Dr. Denita Armstrong-Shaffer has been walking the picket line for as long as she can remember. The daughter of two educators, she learned the importance of educators and the CTU when she was young. Now, Dr. Armstrong-Shaffer is one of our union’s biggest cheerleaders because CTU gives “voice to the voiceless.” And without that voice, she says, our students and our schools will never have all they need. Read more about Denita.


CTU President to AFT: It’s about democracy

CTU President spoke at an AFT meeting of Midwest leaders this weekend, telling audience members, “If there is no democracy in the White House, there will be no democracy in your workplace, in your city, on your school board.” Indeed.


Group of CTU members at a student rally for a CPS New Green Deal.

Members, students rally for a New Green Deal from CPS

President Stacy Davis Gates.CTU members were out strong to support students this weekend at a rally demanding a CPS Green New Deal. From left to right above, members Nick Limbeck, Kevin Moore, Lauren Bianchi and CTU Green Schools Organizer Anthony Capetta — all members of CTU’s Climate Justice Committee — came out to support the students. Check out coverage in the Chicago Tribune, watch Lauren’s speech and take some action to support our brave students. Sign and share their petition and send a message to your elected officials.


Feb. 16: Game night – a Bring Chicago Home fundraiser

Black, gold and white flyer advertising a CTU Game Night fundraiser for Bring Chicago Home.


CPS Facilities Planning Round Tables

CPS’ Educational Facilities Master Plan Round Tables continue this month. This is your chance to let CPS know about the critical needs in your school. Learn more and register at the CPS EFMP community engagement page.


Call to Action

Blue, yellow and red flyer advertising a CTU Educators Day of Action for Graciela Guzman.

Support education champions Graciela Guzman and Tara Stamps

Two of our own are on the ballot in the March primary and they need our support. Come out for a Day of Action this weekend and help send CTU Organizer Graciela Guzman to the Illinois Senate and return Commissioner Tara Stamps to the Cook County Board.

Red, yellow and white flyer promoting Cook County Commissioner Tara Stamps.


Help Bring Chicago Home this weekend

We’re out canvassing to pass the Bring Chicago Home ordinance every weekend. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment as we work to win dedicated funding for Chicago’s houseless population, including 20,000 of our students. Sign up for a shift this weekend and help us Bring Chicago Home.


Notices

Feb. 8: Deadline to run for your Local School Council

Looking to get more involved with your school? Consider running in your school’s upcoming LSC election. The application window for the 2024 LSC elections is open now, with applications due Feb. 8. Learn more.


$250 Prize for Young Writers, Feb. 16 deadline

Multicolored graphic announcing a writing contents for students.


Feb. 17: Future Black Educators Scholarship Gala

Please join the AFT Black Caucus Chicago for its Future Black Educators Scholarship Gala, Feb. 17, 5:30 – 8 p.m., at CTU. Advance tickets are $65 and $75 at the door. Buy your tickets today.


Feb. 21: NBCT Information Session

Recruitment is underway for the 2024–2026 Nurturing Teacher Leadership National Board Certification cohort. CTUF will host a virtual information meeting on Feb. 21, 5 to 8:30 p.m. There is now an annual state stipend for NBCTs who remain in hard-to-staff schools for at least two years (in addition to our CPS annual, pensionable stipend, opportunity to move to Lane 5 on the Salary Scale, optional master’s degree, and paid leadership opportunities). For more information, contact LynnCherkasky-Davis@ctuf.org or register for the NTL information session here.


Feb. 22 and March 2: Delegates and school leaders training

Save the date for our next delegates and school leaders training, where we’ll be mobilizing for our 2024 contract campaign. Stay tuned for details.


Feb. 23: Black Educators Greek Night at CTU

Come out for a night of socializing and community with your Black Greek union siblings, 5 – 7 p.m. at CTU. RSVP today!


Feb. 22: DePaul Forum: The New Illinois Literacy Plan: How Will It Impact K-12 Teachers Across Illinois?

Hosted by the DePaul College of Education, this panel will help attendees understand what the new ISBE plan for literacy curricula means for educators. Learn more and register for the forum.


Apply by March 1: Scholarship opportunity for special education students

The Illinois Federation of Teachers, our state federation, provides a number of scholarship opportunities, including the Carl J. Megel Special Education Scholarship. Application deadline is March 1, 2024. Details and application forms are available from the IFT’s scholarship page.


Collaboration Corner

We know schools work best when administration and staff collaborate to meet the needs of students. But we know that doesn’t always happen. Does your principal demonstrate collaboration and good instructional leadership on important issues? Send your stories to communications@ctulocal.org.


Members Corner

Congratulations Milken Educator Award winner Comfort Agboola

Students and staff at Poe Classical Elementary School broke into cheers at an assembly when they heard one of their teachers, Comfort Agboola, won the Milken Educator Award. The news came as a thrill, too, to Comfort’s colleagues in the CTU’s We Care New Teachers/Clinicians Coaching and Mentoring Program, where she coaches teachers in their first three years of practice. Agboola is the only Illinois educator to receive the award this year and the first CPS teacher to win since 2010. Watch the award presentation on ABC-7.

Celebrate your siblings

Do you know a CTU member who’s achieved a special milestone or accomplishment that you want to acknowledge? Have they made something cool you want to share with the union? Send your blurb (one to four sentences) to communications@ctulocal1.org for consideration in an upcoming Members Corner.


Events


In the News

CTUF Quest Center

Differentiated Instruction
Google Classroom 101

Setting the Stage
Facilitating Difficult Conversations and Discussions

National Board Certification

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