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CTU produces research on issues important to our members and to all public education advocates.

The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve 2.0

Why do CTU members fight for students? What motivates them to prepare for a possible strike? This 2018 update to CTU’s 2012 report, The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve provides a counter-narrative to the corporate agenda on education. SCSD 2.0 highlights the many racist inequities that have continued, or in some cases worsened, since 2012. CTU has a track record of fighting for reforms to change these realities, which is why Chicagoans continue to trust the CTU more than the Board of Education, more than Mayor Emanuel and more than any “reformer” backed by billionaires and corporate foundations.

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Our City, Our Racial Disparities

Corporate education reformers love to harp on the “education gap” between different racial groups as a cause for alarm, focusing on test scores and college graduation rates while blaming teachers for these outcomes. The Chicago Teachers Union, on the other hand, has been arguing that the issues our students and their families face at home and in the community greatly affects their academic outcomes.

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Still Separate, Still Unequal

On the 59th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released a report on the history of disruptive actions against communities of color by Chicago Public Schools (CPS), exemplified by school closings that intensify the harmful effects of segregated schools and neighborhoods.

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Unseen: Students’ Traumatic Experiences

CPS is giving superficial attention to the issue of social-emotional learning, but will not commit resources to do the job right. The lack of social workers in CPS is appalling—the district has about 20% of the what the National Association of Social Workers... read more

Abandonment or Revival? What to Expect from a New High School in Englewood

There is little evidence to support the CPS claim in a letter to parents: “We believe that every community deserves an excellent neighborhood high school that will give your children the skills and knowledge they need to achieve their dreams.” The opposite is true. Through poor planning and racist policy decisions, CPS has deliberately undermined Englewood’s neighborhood high schools.

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Nursing Services at CPS

Promoted as a cost-savings move, the Chicago Public Schools outsourced the management of school nurses to an east coast company with defense contracts in the summer of 2015. Six months into this four-year contract, nurses from the Chicago Teachers Union report on the drastic failure of this company to meet its contractual obligations, putting nearly 400,000 Chicago students in danger.

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Chicago Public Schools Budget Brief (2015)

Chicago Public Schools are broke on purpose. They’ve used the annual specter of a financial crisis to close down schools in disinvested neighborhoods, slash staff and supports from our district schools and narrow the curriculum by extending the school day without appropriate funding for arts, music and libraries. At the same time, they have recklessly outsourced essential services…

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A Just Chicago: Fighting for the City Our Students Deserve

Education in the U.S. is subject to huge disparities in opportunity (the “opportunity gap”): some groups of students have incredible experiences while a much larger group is subject to extremely limited in-school and life experiences. These educational opportunities are directly linked to students’ socioeconomic status, and what happens outside schools is more influential than what happens inside. Students’ neighborhoods, family situations, health, level of poverty and race all impact their school experiences and learning. A Just Chicago was published in 2015 as both PDF form and as a standalone website.

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AJC §1: Introduction

Education in the U.S. is subject to huge disparities in opportunity (the “opportunity gap”): some groups of students have incredible experiences while a much larger group is subject to extremely limited in-school and life experiences. These educational opportunities are directly linked to students’ socioeconomic status, and what happens outside schools is more influential than what happens inside.

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AJC §3: Our Students Deserve Freedom from Judicial Inequities

A significant factor in constraints on Chicago’s students and their families’ economic opportunities is the phenomenon of mass incarceration. Some students have no interaction with the criminal justice system, while others experience the effects of incarceration at very young ages and for extended periods of time.

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AJC §5: Our Students Deserve Better Access to Whole Health Care

Chicago’s healthcare disparities by neighborhood or ‘side of town’ provide just one tangible example of how concentrated poverty and extreme segregation affect the quality of life for people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Health care is less available and health outcomes are worse in low income neighborhoods of color.

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AJC §6: Our Students Deserve Equitably-Funded, Quality Education

Students need a well-rounded, full curriculum. As part of the fight for a “better day”, not just the mayoral-imposed “longer day”, CTU won art, music and PE teachers for all schools. However, with Student Based Budgeting (SBB), many of those positions have disappeared. With the increased emphasis on standardized testing, tested subjects of mathematics and literacy get the bulk of classroom instructional time, even though research has shown conclusively that art, music, and movement improve students’ reading and math.

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AJC §7: Our Students Deserve Bold Political Action to Equalize Opportunity

Inequitable justice policies, healthcare, housing, education, and job availability is the expected outcome of a system designed to maintain two distinct Chicagos: one for those with access to income and true decision-making opportunities and one for those left to navigate whatever is left over. The divisions present in this system could be mitigated by a series of political decisions. Lessening the opportunity gap and the resulting inequities is a question of political will.

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Arguments Against The Common Core

As educators, we are obligated to question the true purpose of the Common Core Standards, and expose flaws in the standards themselves, their developmental appropriateness, the testing requirements, uses of test results, equity of opportunity, their roll-out time frame, and their implementation. The CCS reflect a narrow vision of education.

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Twelve Months Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago

On May 22, 2013, The Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50, “turn around” five, and co-locate 17 elementary schools. Faced with widespread opposition to these actions, CPS promised hundreds of millions of dollars in capital improvements and transition supports for schools receiving students from closed schools. However, CTU’s examination of the evidence finds that the promises made to receiving schools were hollow in many cases and only partially fulfilled in others.

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A Sea of Red: Chicago Teachers Union members reflect on how the social organizing model of unionism helped win the union’s 2012 contract campaign

In September of 2012 the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) carried out a successful seven-day strike against Chicago Public Schools (CPS). This was the first strike by the CTU in over 25 years. As unions decline across the USA and education “reformers” restructure urban public K-12 education along the lines of market mimicking business models, the CTU strike campaign of 2012 stands apart.

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The Great Chicago Pension Caper

This report demonstrates the unintended consequences of misguided pension reform. We need sensible revenue solutions. People need to understand that our retirees do not receive social security and have to pay for Medicare Part A out of our own pockets. We must put an end to this pension caper so that people can survive in an economy that is not kind to older Americans.

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Budget Analysis: 2013-14

As the 2013/14 school year opens, schools across Chicago are facing challenges beyond the complex process of teaching and learning. CPS students, families, and staffs are facing ballooning class sizes, limited learning materials, strained nerves tied to unfunded mandates, and massive uncertainty about whether the current state of CPS is the “new normal.”

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