- Noon TODAY, Thursday, 2/14: Valentines Day Protest
5th Floor, City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., Chicago. Protesters will head to CICS headquarters to deliver the same message to CEO Shaw following the City Hall action.
CTU teachers and paraprofessionals call on Emanuel to ‘have a heart’ and use his control over school district to press CICS management to return funds to school communities.
CHICAGO—Valentines Day marks the tenth day since CTU educators at four CICS schools hit the picket lines to demand living wages for teachers and paraprofessionals and adequate classroom resources for students. On Wednesday, strikers shut down one of the West Loop’s most prominent office towers. Teachers staged a sit-in to gain the attention of CICS board president Laura Thonn, who’s office is in the building, delivering a letter demanding that she push her CEO to fairly settle the contract.
At noon today, striking educators will take that appeal to the most powerful education boss in Chicago, mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is directly responsible for Chicago’s public school district—including CPS’ oversight of charter operators.
Strikers will stage a Valentine’s Day intervention, complete with valentines for their students, showing the mayor Emanuel why they’ve been motivated to strike. They will call on Emanuel to have a heart and push CICS CEO Elizabeth Shaw to properly fund the schools and settle the strike.
CICS management continues to promote the fiction that they’re too broke to release even a portion of more than $36 million in public education dollars the charter operator is currently hoarding. The strike could be settled for a fraction of that—simply by rolling back just the $1.2 million increase in management fees that CICS has siphoned from schools this year alone.
Charter operators collect more than $600 more per student than district schools from public coffers, yet CICS insists that it will raise pay for low-wage educators only 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.
Educators continue to refuse to sacrifice student services in a ‘trade’ for increased pay. Bargaining will resume Thursday, in an effort to reach an agreement in what is now the longest strike against a charter operator in U.S. history.
Educators have been bargaining for a new contract, which expired this summer, since May. They’ve condemned CICS CEO Elizabeth Shaw’s insistence on providing pay increases for low-wage workers only if educators agree to cuts in services and staffing for the schools’ overwhelmingly low-income Black and Brown students, and vow to remain on the picket lines until they win a fair contract for living wages, decent working conditions and adequate resources for students.
CICS runs a complex network of shell management groups that raised fees by 25% this year alone, and has expanded its corporate staff earning over $100,000/year from four to 14 since 2017—profit-taking that has left schools without enough special education teachers, counselors or social workers while classrooms remain grossly under-resourced.