Jim's article

Delegates Show Solidarity

By Jim Vail

February 7, 2010

Chicago teacher delegates showed overwhelming solidarity when everyone stood up to support President Marilyn Stewart’s motion to approve the mobilization of members, parents, community organizations and other stakeholders to oppose Renaissance 2010 and the school closings this Wednesday.

The Chicago Teachers Union has called for an informational picket in front of the Board of Education headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. February 10, 2010 at 4pm. A few delegates recommended friendly amendments such as also mobilizing a protest at the Board meeting Feb. 24 when the Board members will vote to on whether or not to close the proposed 14 schools due to low test scores or underutilization.

Stewart told the delegates they could not get a permit from the city to march, so they will picket instead.

Stewart also said she was open to delegates’ ideas on how to make the protests successful. Whitney Young High School delegate Jay Rehak said the CTU should form a Renaissance committee to be more proactive, Schurz High School delegate Lois Jones said the Union should do another phone bank to mobilize members and send flyers to the schools to raise awareness and another delegate recommended every teacher wear orange the day of the information picket.

Then the big boom hit when Illinois Federation of Teachers Ed Gebhert told the delegates that Illinois is looking at an almost unprecedented “funding cliff” the likes of which has not be seen in over 40 years.

Illinois is looking at an almost $10 billion deficit which will mandate big cuts for school districts across the state, he said. Chicago Public Schools Chief Ron Huberman is projecting an almost $1 billion deficit next year which will mandate possibly thousands of teacher layoffs and possibly reopening the teachers’ contract for give backs.

Gebhert said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is trying to be pro-active so that the Union will have a say in how teachers are evaluated. A new Illinois state law will link students’ test scores to teachers’ evaluations.

It should be noted that while Gebert warned today of a Washington consensus to destroy public education, he implored teachers to vote for President Barrack Obama at last year’s House of Delegates meeting.

After his historic election, Obama chose former CPS Chief Arne Duncan as his education secretary, whose Race to the Top is being used to force more states to close public schools, open more charter schools, and use standardized tests to link to teachers’ performance.

Duncan also recently said the best thing to happen to New Orleans education was Hurricane Katrina so that hundreds of public schools could be closed and replaced with charter schools, a statement he had to apologize for later.


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