Inside deal a year ago in Springfield by Marilyn Stewart screws Chicago teachers today

Dirty deals don't see the light of day, and that's why they get done. For example, with the stroke of a pen, or click on the keyboard, Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emmanuel — along with a few other Chicago players, including William Daley and former School Board President George Munoz — helped make the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) free trade agreement under President Clinton a reality. NAFTA resulted in the disappearance of millions of decent manufacturing jobs in the USA. And the damage continues.

At the time of the March 25, 2008 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, the President of the Chicago Teachers Union was Marilyn Stewart (above, at microphone) who had been cutting murky deals with Chicago Board of Education officials since she negotiated the controversial 2007 CTU contract after kicking most of her team out of the negotiating room and then railroading the vote to approve the deal through the House of Delegates on August 31, 2007 without calling for the "No" votes. By 2011, when the damage from many of Stewart's deals became clear, Stewart was drawing a pension of more than $110,00 per year, while many of the members of her team (including Gerald Siegel and Sandy Schultz, in the background of the above photograph) were drawing pensions in excess of $90,000 per year. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Do you think such a deal would have been possible had the public seen the details beforehand, and realized that many careers and lives would be ruined? There were those who tried to warn, but they were marginalized by corporate media, just as they are now.

To make such deals that benefit the rainmakers possible, both sides at the bargaining table need to sit down where no light shines — with "labor" leadership on one side, the corporate chieftans and their political whores on the other.

Such deals are popping up at a frightening pace during the contemporary teacher bashing and union busting era.

One perfect example happend last year at this time when the Chicago Teachers Union leadership sat down behind closed doors and negotiated a disasterous deal for teachers under the Performance Evaluation Reform Act of 2010.

The deal was cooked up by former Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart and some Illinois political leaders — and its damage is only becoming clear now. The act states that each school district in Illinois shall "in good faith cooperation with its teachers or, where applicable, the exclusive bargaining representatives of its teachers, incorporate the use of data and indicators on student growth as a significant factor in rating teaching performance, into its evaluation plan for all teachers."

Now, here's where CTU President Marilyn Stewart totally screwed her members — only in Chicago can the teachers be evaluated solely on a standardized test.

CTU President Marilyn Stewart was so arrogant in her power in March 2006 (above) that she appointed a personal friend, Tracy Cobb-Evans (above at podium) to be the union's main person in Springfield despite the fact that Cobb-Evans was a scab. Stewart gave Cobb-Evans the $100,000-per-year union job knowing that Cobb-Evans had crossed the union picket line repeatedly during the 1987 strike, which lasted 19 days. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt."In the latest session of the General Assembly, many of our longtime friends betrayed us," former IFT President Ed Geppert wrote in the summer 2010 Illinois Federation of Teachers news magazine. "A teacher performance evaluation system that requires at least 50 percent of a teacher's performance to be judged by student growth data, with Chicago teachers' performance determined by only state tests results."

Why were Chicago teachers — most of whom teach in low-income schools where many social factors also affect the students' performance — determined to be the only teachers in Illinois who can be solely judged by a standardized test?

Substance called the IFT political department, and a spokesperson blamed it on Stewart, and her sidekick Tracy Cobb Evans, the chief political operative at the time (more importantly, a former school colleague and friend of Stewart who was hired for a $100,000 per year union job despite the fact that she had scabbed on the 1987 CTU strike).

The statue passed by the Illinois legislature, and signed into law by Gov. Quinn, was in response to requirements under the Federal Race to the Top manadates, which says any state seeking RttT money must consider "student growth" as a significant factor in teacher evaluations. Illinois still didn't get the cash, but like many other states, it still has the laws that the U.S. Department of Education was pushing for when the "competition" was intense and every state was being pressured to change the laws to be in the running to the "top" set by Arne Duncan and the Obama administration.

However, the law doesn't say how much "student growth" should be measured, and instead directed the Illinois State Board of Education to set up a committee (the CTU committee on this is headed by Carol Caref, a former Chicago Vocational math teacher who has been working for the union at the Quest Center since Karen Lewis took office July 1) to develop methods of measuring student growth.

At the March 25, 2008 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education then Board President Michael Scott spoke with his usual oleagenous smile after Marilyn Stewart had dutifully presented the union's case in the two minutes Scott allowed her. Scott, a master practitioner of the "Know who the sucker at the table is" from West Side Chicago poker was distraught after Chicago lost the Olympic bid for 2016 and the people who had been playing him told him he was of no further interest to them. A few weeks later, Scott was dead, supposedly by his own hand. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt."If you read Section 24A-7 it is clear that the legislature wanted the ISBE committee to consider a number of different factors besides tests in determining how to measure student growth, including various 'student characteristics,'" said Bill O'Connor, an attorney who teachers law at a community college. "That committee is apparently meeting regularly to work on this. Almost all professional literature, as well as the Educational Testing Service (ETS) that writes the tests, urge that a student test should not be the sole measure of student growth, since there are so many variables that go into student performance."

The "truely objectionable" part and what runs "contrary to all professional standards," said O'Connor, is in the last paragraph of Section 24A7 that states nothing shall prohibit a district of over 500,000 (Chicago only) from using a "single annual assessment" as the sole measure of student growth for purposes of teacher evaluation.

"This is unacceptable," O'Connor said. "in that 1) it uses a method of measuring student growth (a single test) that is rejected by even the people who give the test and 2) it treats Chicago teachers differently than all other teachers in the state with no rational basis for doing so."

It certainly couldn't be rational when you look at the CTU legal bills that accrued during Stewart's tenure. But of course, lots of litigation was directed against union members, while the sharks circling around smelled blood. Along with many of those who ran the union during her six years in office, Stewart is now drawing a pension in excess of $100,000 per year.

And you wonder why the unions have been in a free fall all these years?

There is an old saying in poker: If you sit down at the table and you can't see the sucker, the sucker is you.

The current CTU leadership is working to reverse the damage done by Stewart's deals, and this deal, which insiders say was a result of a "complex series of negotiations" in which a sucker was needed. In addition to singling out Chicago teachers who can be evaluated solely on tests, it even accelerates the timeline for implementation of the new evaluation for Chicago only and fast tracks it before the development of the new data evaluation systems, which "defeats the purpose of the bill."


January 12, 2011 at 10:29 PM

By: Dirty Dealin' Dogs

Dirty Deals

That isn't all Marilyn gave away, she's the one who also gave the Board the OK to create the 'Do Not Hire' list. I wondered what she was talking about at one BOE meeting when she commented that there should be a DNH for principals....

I can't begin to imagine what would have happened had she not lost to Karen--scary; almost as scary as having Rahm Emanuel ass Mayor of Chicago!

January 21, 2011 at 12:59 PM

By: R. Bell

Inside Deal

Good article - don't forget that our legislators allowed that legislation to get through. CPS teachers need to hold their elected officials accountable for signing these laws. In many instances, they are not even reading the legislation that is put in front of them!

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 4 =