Mayor and hand-picked board must now also end ongoing racist CPS policies – starting with discriminatory student-based budgeting and SQRP school ranking system.

  • 11:30 a.m. Monday, February 7: press conference with named plaintiffs in CTU civil rights turnaround cases, officers. CTU HQ, 1901 W. Carroll, Chicago

CHICAGO — For a decade, the CTU has fought racist school turn-around policies – the wholesale purging of Black educators from ‘under-performing’ schools – in the courts and on the streets, in coalition with grassroots groups from across the city who stood up in solidarity to reject this failed neoliberal education policy. Now the Union is about to go into federal court for a status hearing to further the deployment of a $9.25 million civil rights settlement from CPS for hundreds of Black educators harmed by wholesale purges of Black staff in school turn-arounds.

Some of those Black educators will join CTU officers and allies on Monday at 11:30 a.m. at CTU headquarters, 1901 W. Carroll Ave., where they’ll talk about next steps in the historic civil rights lawsuit – and urge the mayor’s CPS team to further dismantle ongoing harmful racist policies.

The parties are scheduled to meet in court for a status hearing on the settlement agreement on Tuesday – the one-year anniversary of the death of the principal architect of the civil rights lawsuit, CTU President Emerita Karen GJ Lewis.

Lewis jumpstarted the lawsuit with her vice president at the time, Jesse Sharkey, a decade ago – and she tirelessly campaigned against the harm that turn-arounds and other racist policies had on the ranks of Black educators. Today, barely one in four teachers, school clerks, counselors, school nurses and other support staff are Black, when their ranks made up more than 40% of Chicago’s educational workforce before the deployment of turnarounds and other racist neoliberal education ‘reforms’.

The policy that this civil rights lawsuit targeted was the brainchild of former CPS CEO Arne Duncan, as part of his sweeping privatization scheme to open corporate charters and dismember neighborhood public schools under the pretext that they were ‘failing’. The Board of Education tacitly ended the failed experiment last year, when it voted to cancel its contract with its most clouted consultant, AUSL, after years of CTU and grassroots campaigning to force the mayor to end the practice. Neighborhood groups from the Albany Park Neighborhood Council to the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization – KOCO – partnered with the CTU to oppose not just turn-arounds, but related waves of school closings, costly privatization schemes and devastating budget cuts by the last three mayors.

As CPS looks to move beyond the bitter legacy of racist turn-arounds, the Union is calling on CPS to go further by ending persistent racist policies that harm Black and Brown students and school communities. CPS should start by dismantling Rahm Emanuel’s racist ‘student-based budgeting’ scheme and the district’s racist school ‘ranking’ policy, currently called SQRP.

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