CORE meeting develops array of projects, plans protest at Board of Education's July 28 meeting

Attended by more than 100 teachers, PSRPs, and supporters of CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators), the July 26, 2010 meeting of the political caucus that had just (July 1) won power in the Chicago Teachers Union planned for demonstrations at the Chicago Board of Education's July 28 monthly meeting and other events in the coming weeks.

Some of the more than 100 Chicago Teachers Union members (and some other supporters) attended the July 26, 2010 meeting of CORE to plan CORE actions for the coming month. The meeting, held at the headquarters of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at 950 E. 50th St. on Chicago's South Side, outlined plans for a variety of CORE actions between the end of July and the opening of school. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. CORE members announced that the Chicago Teachers Union will have a float in the annual Bud Billiken Parade and that CORE will host its annual convention on August 20 and August 21 at a site still to be determined. The meeting also heard from dozens of Chicago Teachers Union members on a variety of issues, including the recent layoffs which have been hitting hundreds of teachers and PSRPs across the city and about the talks that took place the previous Friday (July 23) between CTU officials and the Board of Education's attorneys and labor union negotiators.

The July 26 meeting was the second large membership meeting of CORE since the caucus swept into power in the Chicago Teachers Union following the June 11 runoff election. All CORE candidates for citywide union offices were elected at that time. On July 1, Karen Lewis of CORE took over as President of the Chicago Teachers Union, while Jesse Sharkey (Vice President), Michael Brunson (Recording Secretary), and Kristine Mayle (Financial Secretary) also began their terms as full-time officers of the CTU. Almost immediately after the July 1 transition, most of the members of the CORE leadership left Chicago for the five-day convention of the American Federation of Teachers in Seattle, Washington (most returning by July 12).

The July 26 meeting, which followed an equally large meeting two weeks earlier at the Postal Workers Union hall at 39th and Wabash, continued the outlining of CORE's strategy and tactics for the months ahead.

Holmes Elementary School librarian Lara Krejca (above left) introduces Operation PUSH official Jonathan Jackson, who has been opposing school closings and turnarounds for two years since he first inquired into why Holmes was slated for closing in January 2009. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Gage Park High School teacher Debby Pope, who chaired the July 26 meeting with Lincoln Park High School teacher Jennifer Johnson, told the group that CORE had to remain active even though many members of CORE were now in office at CTU headquarters at Chicago's Merchandise Mart and devoting full-time to a variety of issues. Upon taking office on July 1, CORE co-chairmen Karen Lewis announced that she was appointing a "transition team" to help her on various projects at the CTU offices pending a review of applications for union jobs. On July 12, the union advertised for several positions at the union on the union website (

The meeting heard reports on the organizing and results of the July 23 'Summit' meeting (from Al Ramirez), on plans for the July 28 Board of Education meeting (from Norine Gutekanst, Carol Caref and others), on the planning for the Bud Billiken parade float and participation for the CTU (from Rosita Chatunda), and on the plans or the CORE annual convention, which will be held on August 20 and 21 at a site to be announced. Lengthy reports and discussions were held on the Friday meeting with the Board's lawyers and on the CTU's work on behalf of the teachers who are being terminated this month and since summer began.

John Kugler, who is now working at the Chicago Teachers Union on grievances and other assistance for all the teachers and PSRPs who are receiving their termination notices, reminded everyone that the terminated teachers have been meeting at PUSH every Tuesday evening for the past five weeks, and that work is also being done at the Chicago Teachers Union offices. In some cases, the cost of parking downtown hinders participation.

Lara Krejca from Holmes Elementary School introduced Jonathan Jackson to the group. She and Jonathan described how he became involved in the fight against school closings after he drove past Holme (on 55th St.) and saw the sign saying "Save Our School" back in January 2009. Mr. Jackson joined in the protests against the school closings and turnarounds in 2009, continued his participation in 2010, and continues to work through PUSH on behalf of the public schools. Speaking from his experience on Wall Street, where he worked for years, he told the CORE meeting that the Board's strategy for privatization and eliminating the public schoos had been the "salami" strategy: wear down an opponent by taking one slice away from them at a time.

There was a great deal of participation during the meeting, which was attended by dozens of teachers who had recently lost their jobs due to the Huberman cuts.

[Full disclosure: This reporter is currently working for the Chicago Teachers Union as a consultant on budget and goes on leave from his duties as Editor in Chief of Substance, at least for one month, effective August 1, 2010. He will remain as a reporter for Substance while working for the CTU for as long as he is employed there].


July 27, 2010 at 8:28 AM

By: Bob



Best of luck in your new job.

July 27, 2010 at 9:15 AM

By: Margaret


I want to add my best wishes at your new job. I think the new Union leadership made a wise decision and it is good to see a retired teacher in an active role.

July 27, 2010 at 7:17 PM

By: Retired Principal

Get Me A Job!

Hey George, why don't you get me a job?

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