Chicago Tribune publishes Karen Lewis's Op Ed 'When Trust Goes Out The Window' on June 19

The Chicago Tribune has published Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis's Op Ed "When Trust Goes Out the Window" on its Op Ed page on June 19, 2011. Does this mean that the anti-union corporate editorial board members at the Tribune are suddenly going to cover news of Chicago's schools and the Chicago Teachers Union accurately? Since they busted their unions nearly 30 years ago, the owners and top editors at the Tribune have followed a party line that has been almost completely anti-union — and not just in their editorials. Readers of Substance who want to send their letters to the Tribune to continually correct the record of the biased reporting in the Tribune's news pages can also send them to Substance. If the Tribune doesn't publish teachers' letters within ten days after you send them to us, we will publish them, noting when you sent them to the Tribune. As Substance has already noted, Sam Zell, the Chicago billionaire who bankrupted the Tribune but still owns it, contributed $100,000 to the union-busting efforts of "Stand for Children." We'll see what Zell's workers do over the next few months.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (right above) began leading the feeder march on June 14 from the shadow of the Tribune Tower. The march joined two other feeder marches at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel, which is owned by billionaire Penny Pritzker and other members of her family. The day after the Stand Up Chicago marches and rally, Pritzker voted as a member of the Chicago Board of Education in favor of the fraudulent claim that CPS was facing a budget "crisis" and couldn't pay teacher raises, following a rigged Power Point presentation by a guy hired by Rahm Emanuel who had been at CPS less than two weeks. Substance photo by Graham Hill.Below is Karen Lewis's commentary:

When trust goes out the window, By Karen GJ Lewis

June 19, 2011

I grew up in a family of teachers. My parents both taught in the Chicago Public Schools system, and they taught me early on that there's no higher calling than helping children build a bright future for themselves. My folks made sure I worked hard so I could attend one of the nation's most prestigious colleges. Then, like many young people, I searched for years for my life's passion. I finally found it the first day I taught in a Chicago public school.

I'm now president of the Chicago Teachers Union. After 23 years of teaching, I'm motivated by the same thing today as I was the morning I stepped into my chemistry classroom for the first time: the idea that every child should have access to a high-quality education. Unfortunately, that ideal is now under attack — from our very own school board.

In 2007, our members negotiated a sensible agreement with the city, and we've spent every day since then holding up our end of the bargain. After all, it's doing what we love. But on Wednesday, the Chicago Board of Education voted to deny Chicago teachers and paraprofessionals the very modest raise agreed to in the contract. That's not right — and more important, it's bad for our students. Breaking promises with teachers, engineers and lunchroom staff is no way to attract and retain top-notch employees.

Many Chicago teachers are already paid substantially less than their colleagues in the suburbs and around the state. Our elementary school teacher pay ranks just 37th in Illinois; for high school teachers that ranking plunges to 71st. A master teacher in Chicago — a professional with 20 or more years of experience — makes $17,000 less than his or her suburban counterpart.

And there are more challenges on the horizon. Just last week, the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank forecast a 2.6 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index over the coming year and health care costs continue to rise. The small "step" pay increase some teachers receive isn't even a raise at all; it's simply a way to keep salaries in line with spiraling costs. And teachers who've taught for more than 14 years — as many have — their "step up" is a quarter of 1 percent each year.

All of us are concerned about the financial health of our school system, and our members are willing to do their part. But even though we are just one piece of the puzzle, at every turn teachers are demonized and told to sacrifice.

The city gives away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to big developers. And for years, Chicago has played fast and loose with our school system's finances. Tax-increment financing districts take hundreds of millions of dollars away from our schools each year. The city took more than a billion dollars from the pension system and engaged in risky mortgage swaps with big Wall Street banks. If we're going to get serious about funding shortfalls, we should renegotiate these wasteful deals — not break promises to teachers.

I know how important an education from Chicago's public schools is because that's where I went to school. And I know the difference that a good teacher can make in a child's life. That's what drives our 30,000 members to stay at work late. It's what drives us to make sure that every last student gets the help she needs. Come what may, our teachers will always put our children first. Isn't it time their city did the same?

Karen GJ Lewis is president of the Chicago Teachers Union.


June 20, 2011 at 11:49 AM

By: Anton Antoszek

Appealing to thieves, liars, murderers.

While lewis is the the duly elected teachers union president, she has lost credibility by inexplicably refusing to fight the odious 75% strike provision in SB7.

The acceptance of that provision alone, shows how this rigged game operates. Toady up to the larcenist pritzkers, emanuel, and their nefarious charter school front groups.

Reject their circumlocution about bad teachers, boss always righteous meme and you will be punished for daring to question authority. Criminals operate in this fashion, not decent people.

Where is the provision in the social contract that states the proletariat must suffer in silence about injustice or inequality? Where does it state that supervisors, bosses, or administrators are the salt of the earth? When their feet touch concrete, flowers grow.

These aforementioned dynamics exist because of obdurate people like the deceiver and chief at McClellan, obummer, arne skunkun, Senator lieford, and Chicago's current thief and chief emanuel.

This system is broken, so state your peace as long as you are willing to back it up with appropriate action. Anyone who has no fear is psychotic and should be given no quarter in any type of altercation. Its easy to be fearless when one has all of the underhanded advantages of power.

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