THE HOME STRETCH: CORE does phone banking in final days before CTU election

In the final push to win the upcoming Chicago Teachers Union election for control of the 30,000 member union CORE — the Caucus Of Rank and File Educators — held personal phone banking sessions at historical Benton House on Chicago's South Side on May 19. About 15 CORE volunteers gathered at the location to personally call union members to remind them to vote Friday, May 21, 2010 in an election that could define the direction of public education for years to come. This is partly due to the fact that Arne Duncan, now US Secretary of Education, is using all the union busting privatization schemes that started in Chicago with Renaissance 2010 now across the nation.

Zulema Ortiz phone banking for CORE. Substance photo by John Kugler.Phone banking took place at Benton House, 3052 S. Gratten Avenue in the heart of Bridgeport. Benton House was part of the early 20th century settlement house movement. It was founded as Providence Day Nursery in 1907 by Janett Sturges offering day-care support for mothers who worked in local factories. The nursery provided the children with three meals a day and weekly health check-ups by a local doctor. For the parents, nutrition clinics and English classes were offered in the evening.

Kristine Mayle, CORE's candidate for Financial Secretary, talked to members asking if they understood the issues and importance of the upcoming vote. A special education teacher, Kristine informed teachers she talked to about her investigation into the new mandates for special education teachers to complete IEP's and paperwork from home or face disciplinary measures.

“Yes I understand,” Kristine responds in one call “I work an extra 3-5 hours a night too. This has got to stop or they have to pay us for our time. That is one of things we are fighting for, no work from home unless you are compensated or they have to give us the time in school to complete our work.”

Sarah Chamber phone banking for CORE. Substance photo by John Kugler.CORE volunteers took to the phones personally calling union members first to remind them to vote this Friday. Then callers talked about CORE's advocacy against school closings, recent EEOC filings against the turnaround school process; that labels schools as failures and fires all the staff within the school replacing everyone with new staff that is usually a lot younger and less experienced that the fired staff. Fenger High School — where the murdered Darrion Albert attended as a CPS student — is a turnaround school and Dr. Donald Fryand admitted in a February 1, 2010 turnaround hearing that mistakes were made but "We have learned a great deal."

CORE phone-bankers made it clear that the turnaround process and needs to stop.

One union member that was called remarked “This is the first time anyone from the union called and listened to my concerns.”

Over the years, Benton House became a place where the neighborhood gathered for concerts, events and political rallies.

To learn about Benton House or volunteer to help with many community programs offered go to their website

Today Benton house became the place where the fight to take control of the Chicago Teachers Union continued. Instead of cold impersonal automatic robo-calls, CORE members spent time calling members and making sure that they understood the importance of the upcoming May 21 vote. Many calls went on to discuss specific issues that concerned the union member that was called.

[Full disclosure. Substance reporter John Kugler was scheduled to be on the CORE slate for convention delegate but was removed at the last minute by CTU financial secretary Mark Ochoa, who is now running for vice president on the United Progressive Caucus (UPD) slate.] 


May 21, 2010 at 11:59 PM

By: Gertrude Berthowicz

Who is that sexy mama?

She can robo call me anytime. That's how we do!!!

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