[CORE] Caucus of Rank-and-file Educators | Calls for Overturn of the 1995 Amendatory Act and an End to Mayoral Control!
CHICAGO – Quietly, with little public debate, on November 18, 2009, the Chicago Board of Education could authorize 8,130 additional charter seats, increasing charters’ current Chicago market share from 7.9% to 9.8% according to Chicago Public Schools data compiled by CORE researchers. CPS proposes to open nine new charter schools in 2010 and 2011 and convert seven contract schools into charters.
Since the onset of Renaissance 2010 in 2004, Chicago Teacher Union membership has shrunk by approximately 6,000 members.
“Labor law doesn’t allow a company to close down a union plant and open up a non-union one across the street, but that’s exactly what Chicago Public Schools has done for the last six years without pause,” said Jackson Potter, CPS teacher at Little Village-Lawndale High School and CORE co-chair.
Karen Lewis, CPS teacher at King College Prep and co-chair of CORE stated that, “It is increasingly clear from mountains of research that Renaissance 2010 schools generally do not offer a better education than traditional neighborhood schools. So today we have to identify the real reason behind school reform in this city — union busting.”
“The Mayor (Richard M. Daley) and his appointed Board of Education are violating the human rights of teachers and putting our children at even greater risk when it busts our union. The 1995 state law that gave Mayor Daley control of the schools – and prohibited the Chicago Teachers Union from bargaining over the closing and opening of new schools — is unconstitutional and must be overturned,” said Potter.
Potter explained that when educators do not have contractual rights, “management can run wild. My union contract backs me up so I can demand that my students receive an adequate education and proper services if they are English language learners, special education students, or are in need of counseling or medical support. Without union protections, students are increasingly at risk.”
Kristine Mayle, a CPS special education teacher, explained that unlike contract schools, charters are barred from joining the CTU bargaining unit, may hire up to 25% non-certified teachers and no administrators need certification or education experience. “CPS is creating a low-wage, high-turnover workforce. That’s the plan,” said Mayle, who added that, “Charters burn out teachers — most won’t stay in the classroom the 10 years it takes to vest into the pension. It’s not a stretch to imagine that the Board sees that as a plus.”
“Mayor Daley is privatizing our schools under the guise of providing better educational opportunities for students and families. There is no sound educational benefit for students in most charter schools,” said Sara Echevarria, a CPS teacher at Clemente High School. “Why would CPS open another charter high school in Englewood ? They have five already and only one neighborhood high school. It’s all mapped out.”
“There’s a myth that unions guarantee teachers a job for life. Not true,” said Michael E. Brunson, a displaced CPS teacher. “Strong contracts provide due process but that’s not happening in Chicago . Each year hundreds of union teachers are dismissed wholesale when their schools are closed, turned around or converted to charters. CPS’s current proposals aren’t about improving education. They’re about privatizing education and busting unions.”
CORE, a caucus of the Chicago Teachers Union, represents rank-and-file members. The group is comprised of teachers, retired teachers, educational staff and other champions of public education.