THE HOME STRETCH: CORE Fundraiser at Casey Moran's Lights Up North Side Friday Night, May 7

[EDITOR'S NOTE: With the publication of this story, Substance begins a series of articles which we will be calling "The Home Stretch" leading up to the May 21, 2010, Chicago Teachers Union election. We hope that reporters from every caucus and group in the Chicago Teachers Union will provide us with regular reporting and photographs from schools and community events leading up to the most hotly contested election in the history of the Chicago Teachers Union. Every article we publish will indicate for our readers the caucus affiliation of the reporter, if necessary. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance].

CORE officer candidates Kristine Mayle, Michael Brunson, Karen Lewis, and Jesse Sharkey at Casey Moran's. Substance photo by Jim Vail.The Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) held a lively fundraiser on the northside at Casey Morans on Friday, May 7, 2010, with two weeks to go before the Chicago Teachers Union election.

About 75 people attended the event just across the street from Cubs Park where supporters gathered. A raffle was held in which this reporter won a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks Central Division Champion hat, which was promtly given to his son Leo.

"We are gathered here because we want to stop the attacks on public education and build a strong union again," CORE Presidential candidate Karen Lewis said to cheers and whistles.

Part of the crowd at Casey Moran's. Substance photo by Jim Vail.As the campaign heats up in the final two weeks before election day May 21, more and more schools have been contacting CORE to set up school visits. Many delegates have been impressed with Lewis's fighting rhetoric and reigniting a 30,000 strong membership to fight the latest round of budget cuts Mayor Richard Daley and the Board of Education are threatening, including laying off thousands of teachers by increasing the class size to 37 students.

"Isn't Karen Lewis a part of CORE?" wrote a northside delegate. "I heard and saw her at the delegates meeting ... I was impressed!"

Another CORE northside meet and greet fundraiser will be held Friday, May 14 at the Fireside Restaurant and Lounge at 5739 N. Ravenswood from 4pm - 7pm. CORE candidates president Karen Lewis, vice president Jesse Sharkey, recording secretary Michael Brunson and financial secretary Kristine Mayle will again be on hand to meet people and answer questions.

[Full disclosure: Jim Vail is a CORE candidate (for elementary functional vice president) as well as a long-time Substance reporter].


May 10, 2010 at 9:14 PM

By: Jay Rehak

It's time for Change

Every CTU member knows, in his or her heart, that the Union leadership needs to change. I'm on the CORE slate as a Trustee for the CTU, so I have a bit of a bias here.

But the truth is, we, as a Union, can't continue to have our membership and strength eroded, year after year, by the continuing encroachment of the privitization movement, and the dismissal of our teachers and PSRPS due to "turnarounds" and other such policies. We need to stand up for one another, and that's why I'm voting CORE.

I believe in Karen Lewis and the rest of the CORE slate. I believe all CORE members understand that in order to regain our strength, we need to have a Union that knows how to exercise the strength of 30,000 members. CORE is full of good people (many from other caucuses who continue to join us daily) who are working to make the Union strong again. Every day, new people join, because CORE has been building a movement for the past two years. Let's continue to rebuild the Union and win the election on May 21st. Look for CORE on the right side of the ballot! (Do the "Right thing")

May 11, 2010 at 8:35 AM

By: Jean Schwab


I can't vote but the people still on staff have to vote. Too many teachers decided not to fight and just retired, or left, when they realized that there wasn't any support at the CTU. They just walked away(which was all they probably could do at the time.) Staff members that are still working need to vote because nothing is going to change until the leadershhip of the CTU changes. In the past it's always been someone else but it is getting to the point that most public schools will be closed and everyone fired and no one will be left. I believe that the people that will pay the most will (as always) be the children. This is all too sad.

May 11, 2010 at 9:29 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Not so fast with "Woe bedite us..."

After Paul Vallas — in conjunction with Mayor Daley and Gery Chico, with some of the leaders of the CTU cheering them on — suspended me without pay (March 1999) for publishing those ridiculous CASE tests, and the Chicago Board of Education fired me (August 2000), it got to the point where only a handful of people were willing to stand up with us at Substance.

For every person willing to sign his name, there were nine or ten who said "Please keep my name out of it..." Those same people almost always contributed money to our legal defense and survival fund. One guy, a lifelong UPC member, would contribute $100 a month (cash, never risking writing a check) to our legal defense and survival fund. It was an interesting time, to say the least. We learned that "Name withheld by request" is a common reality in a dictatorship.

The election of Deborah Lynch and PACT in 2001, made possible in part by massive mailings of Substance between March and May 2001 (as most historians now acknowledge), changed some of that. Over time, people lost some of their fear. The changes within CTU during those years have yet to be recorded accurately, and as usual in this election season, there is too much historical revisionism as varying contenders jockey for political advantage.

There were many very important programs launched during the years 2001 and 2004 in CTU. Those that I had a direct hand in, from delegate leadership training to the anti-gang programs of "security and safety", were working. All were destroyed by Marilyn Stewart within a year.

(Does anyone really believe — to take one example — that CPS could get away with this ridiculous $60 million "Culture of Calm" nonsense if we still had an active union safety and security committee confronting the reality of Chicago gangs at the schools where those gangs are a reality? And for those schools — the vast majority — without a gang problem, recognize that the hundred schools in the center of that firestorm are our brothers and sisters.)

One of the proudest things the Chicago Teachers Union did during those years was put the union, amicus curiae, before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of our appeal in "Schmidt v. Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees" (the CASE case). You can read that brief, a very moving defense of teacher First Amendment rights, at the "old" Substance Web site ( under "Legal Fight."

It was also during those years that the Curie 12 announced they would boycott the CASE tests, and in the face of widespread teacher opposition, CASE collapsed and Arne Duncan pulled it.

Deb Lynch's defeat in 2004 reverted much of that to the bad old days, although not all at once. But it was no coincidence that between 2001 and 2004, Daley and Duncan hesitated to close any schools because of "academic failure" (so called). It took Deborah Lynch's defeat in 2004 to empower Daley to announce "Renaissance 2010" almost as soon as Marilyn Stewart's election was confirmed. The body count of destroyed schools and destroyed teacher careers (including some suicides and early deaths) is a matter of historical record, part of the legacy of the last six years of the history of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Until it became clear that Marilyn Stewart was willing to betray everyone for her power (and roughly $300,000 annual compensation package, as PACT noted at the last House of Delegates meeting), some people had hope.

The tyranny behind the passage of the 2007 contract, followed by the ruthless purge of the UPC leadership itself, was accompanied by an equally venal attack on most teachers. Through "Fresh Start" and the "TAP" program, Marilyn put the union in direct collaboration with management, and against the majority of the members. Although most didn't realize it fully at the time; we publicized it from the beginning in Substance — including the purge of Dallas and the attempted purge of Linda Porter.

I'm only writing this to remind people that there have been times of woe before today, and worse times than now.

It's also necessary for people to realize that the struggle never stopped, even when things were most difficult (for example, for those of us at Substance when we were facing a million dollar lawsuit and having to raise nearly $100,000 per year for legal expenses).

What is very necessary this month is for people to get some accuracy in their history.

It is no accident that the Chicago Teachers Union website does not include back issues of the Chicago Union Teacher. To publish an accurate history of our union, UPC would have to publish what was accomplished between 2001 and 2004.

But there is another danger this month, and that is a form of frothing revisionism that is pretending, in the fact of the facts, to revise history as dishonestly as the UPC has tried to do.

I dislike salvation narratives. They are the root of many bad things, including the current corporate "school reform" mess we are fighting. (In that salvation narrative, Daley arrives as Savior to save the schools from "worst" ness, as in -- according to that racist William Bennett and the union-busting Chicago Tribune -- Chicago schools, worst in the USA).

A dishonest version of recent Chicago teachers history is just as bad.

Just as bad.

There was resistance to all of these things before the most recent arrivistes arrived. Substance covered those resistances every year, year after year. Once of the reasons some of us at Substance are not on any slate this election is that I don't want to encourage the dishonesty that seems to be spreading in some places, as people repeat, over and over, the old lies, under new wrappers.

What's nice about now is that within the next 40 days or so, we'll know who will be running the Chicago Teachers Union until 2013 (and negotiating the contract in 2012). We're in the middle of the biggest democratic brawl in CTU history, and if we come out of it in one piece, we'll be stronger for it.

But only if people stick more closely to the facts, and stop lying to themselves and in some cases their acolytes and devoutees.

And I'm not saying here anything I have said before, or said personally to the people I mean.

Things are better now than they've been in a long time.

But spreading a new layer of lies is not going to serve us well, now or in the future.

May 12, 2010 at 10:42 PM

By: Jackson Potter

teacher , co-chair of CORE

Right, so we should talk about people who have been fighting the assault on teachers, psrps and the children they teach over the past 6 years. Most of the readers, and editors here know this too well to feign myopia. CORE formed to protect us against this assault cause Marilyn and Ted refused, and since it wasn't an election year -- no other caucuses were out there organizing. CORE is our best shot -- you elect a team not an individual who have a different model of organizing.

May 13, 2010 at 1:29 PM

By: Ann Cata

displaced tenured teacher/cadre status

We need to have all 30,000 members show support for those qualified to run the CTU. Change in what is needed from the individual teacher (fearful of losing their job) to the delegates (that inform the membership) to all officers in the CTU.

The WIN for displaced teachers is a farce. Those displaced were never provided an interium position are getting them now only to be displaced again. CPS did what the arbritrator wanted done, provide a position to make amends. This is the loophole and the teacher is SOL and so are the students that did not have a highly qualified teacher for a whole school year because of $$$$$.

That is why CPS hired a law firm that handles strictly Labor Law.

Time for a change is coming.

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