Stewart, Stewart Everywhere in Chicago Union Teacher

Nearly 40 photographs of Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart appeared in the May 2010 edition of the Chicago Union Teacher, the union's official (not any longer monthly) "newspaper." Although the Chicago Union Teacher evolved since 2004 (the year of Stewart's election to her first term at CTU President) into a piece of propaganda for the union leadership, in recent months the lack of news, combined with the People magazine approach to the union's Chief Executive Officer, has left even some of Stewart's remaining loyalists embarrassed.

Twenty-eight photographs from the CTU annual "Bowl for Kids' Sake" appeared in the May 2010 Chicago Union Teacher, and each of them showed Marilyn Stewart (wearing a pea soup green sweater) not bowling, but posing with groups of people (and usually with one, two, or three of her United Progressive Caucus running mates. In the process of featuring Stewart, Mark Ochoa, and Keith Vander Meulen at the bowling even, but not bowling, the Union Teacher forgot to tell its readers the actual reason for the "Bowl for Kids" — or how much money the event raised.The ongoing adulation for the Supreme Leader also means that the Union Teacher usually ignores most of the main news from the city's public schools every month. But even when the Union Teacher is not ignoring most political and economic news (the Union Teacher rarely covers the meetings of the Chicago Board of Education, for example, even when, as recently, the Board is claiming that it has a billion dollars — or so — "deficit" that will force it to increase class sizes and fire thousands of union teachers) attentive readers usually find that the amount of information is often dwarfed by the photographs of Marilyn Stewart and other prominent members of her "team."

While some members of the union have objected to paying nearly $1,000 per year in union membership dues (the current rate for teacher members is just under $1,000 per year union dues), many tell Substance they would not mind so much if the union were defending them in public, providing them with services when they need them, and working in Springfield and elsewhere to make sure that the political attacks against CPS teachers (and other unionized workers) are rebutted, then defeated. Under the current union leadership, which has been Stewart's "United Progressive Caucus" since August 2004, none of those things has been the case.

And the union's members need look no further than the official union newspaper, the Chicago Union Teacher, to itemize the problem. In order to do so, however, the members have to save the print editions of the Union Teacher. Why? Because under Marilyn Stewart, the CTU website refuses to post the union newspapers. No explanation is given, in the view of most careful observers, the CTU would then have to allow its members to study its complex history, on the one hand, or view the ridiculous level to which the newspaper has been reduced under Stewart's leadership, on the other.

A cursory Substance review of back issues of the Chicago Union Teacher since Marilyn Stewart's re-election in May 2007 shows that the average issue features photos of Marilyn 25 times, while issues like May 2010, with photo after photo of the "Bowl for Kids' Sake" can top the charts at more than 40 photographs.

An large number of complex issues were discussed during the PSRP and "clinicians" workshop, but little is reported in the story that included two photographs of Marilyn Stewart. Although Substance reporters have not completed a careful review of all the issues of the Union Teacher since Stewart took office in August 2004, the number is between 1,500 and 2,000 photographs of Marilyn Stewart since Stewart's United Progressive Caucus resumed the leadership of the union following the term of Deborah Lynch. Substance hopes to have an accurate six-year tally by the publication of the print edition of Substance for June 2010. The print edition will be out on June 1, 2010 and will cover the results of the May 21 CTU election.

The following is an itemization of the photographs of Marilyn Stewart in the May 2010 Chicago Union Teacher:

Page One. Photograph above the logo, with no comment. Number of Stewart photos: 1; Total: 1.

Page Five. Stewart appears in photograph with winners of the Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teacher award. The article actually explains who the winners of the award are and what they did to win it. Number of Stewart photos: 1; Total: 2.

Page Six ("School Visits"). Stewart appears in four of seven photographs, with no narrative of what took place at any of the seven schools Stewart visited. Number of Stewart photos: 4; Total: 6.

Many teachers (current and retired) participate in 'Recording for the Blind,' but the May 2010 issue of the Chicago Union Teacher ignored them and used the event as a pretext for showing three photographs of the CTU president.Page Seven ("President Stewart participates in 'Recording for the Blind' event. The story ignores all the other teachers who participate in the event, and features three photographs of Marilyn Stewart. Number of Stewart photos: 3; Total: 9.

Page eight and nine ("Union holds city-wide and PSRP informational meetings for members" provides scant information about the issues facing PSRPs and citywide clinicians (who are not PSRPs, despite the implication of the article), but provides the editors with the opportunity to publish more photographs of Marilyn Stewart and Mark Ochoa. Number of Stewart photos: 3; Grand Total: 12.

Page ten ("CTU Quest Center holds Annual School Improvement Conference" again gives the reader little information about the conference's content, especially in light of the escalating attacks on public schools, but provides the editor with the opportunity to utilize another photograph of Marilyn Stewart. Number of Stewart photos: 1; Grand Total: 13.

Page 45 ("Presidential candidates participate in debate") is the only news story in which photographs of the four challengers to Marilyn Stewart appear (other than in the advertisements the union gives for each caucus). Number of Stewart photos: 1; Grand Total: 14.

Page 46 ("Snapshots from the annual Delegates Workshop") offters two more Marilyn Stewart photographs, but virtually no information about the often contentious workshops the CTU held for its delegates on March 6. Number of Stewart photos: 2; Grand Total: 14.

An large number of complex issues were discussed during the PSRP and "clinicians" workshop, but little is reported in the story that included two photographs of Marilyn Stewart. Pages 48 - 49 ("Bowl for Kids' Sake") offers the reader 27 photographs of bowlers, none of whom are identified. Marilyn Stewart appears in all of the photographs wearing her distinctive pea soup green sweater (not "Union Red" as she urges union members to wear), causing speculation that she wore the sweater so everyone could later pick her out in the photographs. Number of Stewart photos: 27; Grand Total: 39. Number of Mark Ochoa pictures: 27; Grand Total Ochoa, 27. 


May 18, 2010 at 9:21 AM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired teacher/parent

I used to make a real attempt to get the Union paper at my local school (although no one seems to have told them that Marilyn promised retired teachers, we could get a copy there if we didn't want to wait--they always acted like they were doing me a big favor!!) The paper has no real news or merit so I stopped bothering. I don't check the website very often either because there is no news there either.

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