Chicago Teachers Union, champion of the schools Chicago's students deserve
er the last six years, the Chicago Teachers Union has been the most consistent champion of the schools Chicago’s students deserve. As such, we politely disagree with the premise and loose facts in the recent editorial on CTU.
Let’s look at those facts.
Since 2010, CTU has given up more than $2 billion in lost pay raises, employer contributions to our pension fund and thousands of teacher layoffs. Our contributions this year, through the loss of pay, benefits and laid-off teachers and paraprofessionals, stretch well into nine figures.
The biggest cost drivers in the Chicago Public Schools are not teacher salaries. Total teacher and administrator salaries have been flat for the last five years. Yet, costs tied to debt service, charter school proliferation and pension contributions have exploded. CPS’ costs are tied to terrible management decisions, such as skipping 10 years of pension payments or using operations money to pay debt service.
Educators did not agree to the SUPES contract that led former CPS CEO to plead guilty to a felony last year. CTU members did not agree to the Aramark outsourcing deal that cost more but left schools filthy. We did not target the South and West sides of the city with the largest mass school closing in U.S. history. Those decisions were made by the mayor and his hand-picked board of education.
CTU has consistently, and clearly, advocated that the solution to Chicago’s financial challenges is a sustainable source of progressive revenue. We have supported a graduated state income tax, a millionaires’ tax for education and a LaSalle Street tax on speculative trading. Teachers went on a one-day strike for revenue on April 1; the mayor lobbied for none of these. We have also clearly called and advocated for a school funding formula that is both adequate and equitable for school districts across Illinois. CTU was thus instrumental in bringing additional state money to CPS, thereby ensuring that schools will open in September.
CTU’s Big Bargaining Team was prepared to agree to a contract in July 2015. Forrest Claypool torpedoed that agreement.
CTU’s Big Bargaining Team continues to have major concerns about the district’s refusal to limit class sizes (Chicago has some of the largest in the state) and its inability to enforce provisions that would limit unnecessary charter school proliferation.
CTU members are legally required to live in the city. As such, we too will pay for any property tax increase.
Improvements in CPS education are the result of CTU members’ tireless efforts to “do more with less,” not the district’s rotating leadership.
We remain steadfast in our pursuit of the schools Chicago’s students deserve and equity for students across Illinois. We reserve the right to use whatever tools are required for that job.
— Karen Lewis, president, Chicago Teachers UnionChicago Teachers Union, champion of the schools Chicago's students deserve - Chicago Tribune: