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Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates meeting October 6, 2010... Political Endorsements to be Voted On

The political action committee (PAC) of the Chicago Teachers Union will present its list of endorsements in the November elections at Wednesday’s House of Delegates meetings. The committee members (including myself) have taken a close look at the candidates’ backgrounds, questionnaires if they filled one out and their voting records in the legislature to decide whether or not to endorse them.

The CTU has not given any financial contributions to any of those endorsed.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) has decided to not endorse any Democrats who voted for the pension bill that cut $2.5 billion and increased the retirement age for teachers to 67.

The CTU PAC decided to look at more than the pension vote, including their position on support for charter schools, vouchers, mayoral control and an elected school board, and more funding for neighborhood public schools. One of the main reasons for this was that the previous administration at CTU had given mixed signals to legislators regarding the union's priorities — when the union was signaling anything at all. As a result, many long-time union supporters were unclear on key pieces of legislation.

The PAC committee, comprised of 18 teachers, some of whom were members of different caucuses that ran in the recent CTU elections, debated the merits of the candidates in a series of late-night meetings before voting on endorsements.

The CTU sent out a questionnaire to new candidates for office. It asked questions, such as would the candidate support legislation that would require returning surplus funds in TIFs to the Chicago schools, support legislation that demands full disclosure of expenditures of all publically funded schools (including charters), support a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools until more research is provided, support both a repeal of mayoral control and reinstitute an elected school board, support a moratorium on school closings until an impact study is done on its effect on children, restore collective bargaining rights for class size, support legislation that requires teacher and union input into developing teacher evaluation plans as mandated by Race to the Top and support making full pension payments.

The Union announced on its website that it plans to start phone banking and activate members as soon as the House of Delegates approves the group of endorsed candidates.

The big change this year from years past is the new CTU leadership is taking a tough stance against the privatization of public education, something the CTU led by the UPC refused to do.

State Rep. Monique Davis, who has historically been a strong defender of public education and a friend of the CTU, said the reason she started supporting charter schools was that she was under the impression the teachers union supported charter schools.

Former CTU president Marilyn Stewart, taking her cues from the American Federation of Teachers, always defended charter schools in delegates meetings, saying the focus should be on organizing the teachers. Charters have replaced many public schools with no better academic results.

The Union website – ctunet.com - has published its endorsements and listed the reasons why.

No federal candidates were endorsed who support Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s privatization agenda that ties teachers’ evaluations to standardized test scores and mandates more charter schools.

In addition to endorsing Lisa Madigan as attorney general and Jesse White as secretary of state, a total of 25 state reps and 7 state senators were endorsed.

The committee raised a number of questions before voting on the various races.

For example, some noted that Rep. Cynthia Soto, who sponsored the Soto bill that mandated a "Facilities Task Force" that would gather community input before CPS closes or remodels schools, and has historically been a strong ally of the teachers union, voted in favor of the recent voucher bill.

Soto, who complained that Stewart was rarely available to discuss legislation in Springfield, told the new CTU she would vote against any future voucher bill.

Almost every Democrat who either voted in favor of vouchers — which take public education money and divert it to private educators — or supports charter schools was not endorsed by the committee.

There were a few races where the committee crossed the traditional party line. The PAC endorsed Republican state rep candidate Angelo Saviano, who voted against vouchers and is listed by CTU researchers as an “historic ally.” He is also running unopposed in the 77th district.

The committee endorsed John Millner, the Republican candidate for the state senate seat in the 28th district, because he voted against vouchers, against the pension bill, against charter schools and is in favor of equitably funded public schools. His opponent democrat Corinne Pierog attacked Millner for voting against the pension bill, according to CTU research.

Republican Rosemary Mulligan, a candidate for state rep in the 65th district, looked stronger than her democrat opponent in areas such as voting against vouchers, supporting teacher mentoring, and raising concern about merit pay being able to help retain teachers in the toughest schools. She voted against the initial robbing of pension funds which she claimed was caused by “irresponsibility,” CTU research showed.

However, Mulligan and her opponent democrat Wendy Green both support charter schools, therefore neither candidate was endorsed.

The committee voted 6-4 on recommending again the endorsement of Governor Pat Quinn, which the House voted down in the last delegates meeting. Many committee members were adamant that his Republican opponent Bill Brady will be far worse because Brady is strongly anti-union and advocates cutting the education budget by 10%.

However, other committee members noted Quinn signed the pension bill into law despite the heavy IFT lobbying to veto it, and he vetoed the Soto bill that was overrode in the legislature and is now law.

No third party candidates were endorsed.

The delegates will be able to debate and discuss the merits of the CTU endorsements and then vote thumbs up or down on the endorsements.



Comments:

October 8, 2010 at 5:34 PM

By: Lourdes Guerrero

Endorsements

Thanks for all the work keeping us informed. I used to be feel clueless concerning which candidates were strong for education and the unions.

October 20, 2010 at 10:48 PM

By: SN

re-vote until you get it "right"

The CTU voted against endorsing Quinn in mid September, and then (shortly after the IFT endorsement) re-voted to reverse its position and endorse Quinn in early October. So much for Jim Vail's claims of "CTU House of Delegates... House of Delegates Meeting Opens New Era of Democracy in Chicago."

Again, I wish the rank-n-file of the CTU all the best as they work to hold their leadership accountable to the democratic and progressive aspirations that CORE rode into office on.

Sean Noonan

October 21, 2010 at 9:11 AM

By: To SN

There was no vote

I sat in the visitor section during the September union meeting and what I heard was the delegates agree to put off a vote until the October meeting. There was some discussion about not supporting Quinn, but there was no vote.

October 21, 2010 at 9:19 AM

By: xian

Quinn

The vote in September was to amend the partial PAC recommendations to remove Quinn.

The recommendations were tabled until October.

In October, a substitute motion that had the entire slate of recommended candidates was amended by a member to add Quinn.

The amendment and main motion passed overwhelmingly.

I don't think it's fair to only identify a process as "democracy" when the outcome is what one agrees with.

September was democratic and October was democratic. In both cases, we had a healthy debate and a variety of points were made. In both cases, the membership weighed the points independently and voted their conscience.

And that's a beautiful thing.

October 21, 2010 at 6:13 PM

By: SN

The Quinn Endorsement

Xian,

Here is what Substance said on September 16th:

"The CTU presented a list of endorsements for the House to vote on, and one, the endorsement of current Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, upset many of the delegates.

Otero and others pointed out that Quinn voted for the pension bill that increased the teacher retirement age to 67 for future hires, and allowed the state to no longer have to pay over a billion dollars into the teachers pension fund.

"You guys said you wouldn't give money to the politicians who hurt us," said Kevin Huff, a delegate from Roberto Clemente High School. Newly elected president Karen Lewis, who ran on the radical CORE platform to fight for public education and not make deals at the top, replied that it is up to the delegates to decide if they want to endorse the current embattled governor who is trailing in the polls to Republican Bill Brady. The delegates unanimously voted against endorsing the governor."

And here is what Substance said on October 5th:

“The committee voted 6-4 on recommending again the endorsement of Governor Pat Quinn, which the House voted down in the last delegates meeting. Many committee members were adamant that his Republican opponent Bill Brady will be far worse because Brady is strongly anti-union and advocates cutting the education budget by 10%.”

Union democracy is not simply a matter of counting votes. Those votes are embedded in a larger context of the organization as a whole. Nothing changed in either Quinn’s or Brady’s political program between 9/16 and 10/6. What did change is that the IFT endorsed Quinn and gave him 450K. Then, the CTU follows suit and endorses Quinn. When CORE/CTU talks about social justice but acts like the same old machine democrats you are demobilizing your own base and making it harder for others to move their own locals and unions in a direction favorable to rank-n-file democracy and more progressive politics. It's not the Quinn endorsement per se but the the talking one way at first and acting another way at the end of the day that is disconcerting.

In Solidarity,

Sean

October 21, 2010 at 7:27 PM

By: bob

Quinn

The Ox Next Time

Gov. Quinn has already voted against us at least twice. Why in heavens name do we

support politicians who do not support us?

In any event the lame duck secession after the election should be quite a blood

letting for teachers. Only then will we see whose ox will be gored.

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