Poll shows widespread support for Chicago public school teachers and CTU, while public mistrusts CPS and Jean-Claude Brizard

Even after months of political and propaganda warfare waged against Chicago's teachers by City Hall and most of the city's corporate media, a recent poll shows that the majority of Chicagoans favor Chicago teachers and have a mistrust of the new leadership of Chicago's public schools, and "Chief Executive Officer" Jean-Clude Brizard.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis explaining a point of pedagogy to the audience at the Chicago Tribune "Trib Nation" forum on the city's public schools on September 13, 2011. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.According to the following press release, issued by the Chicago Teachers Union on September 13, 2011:


September 13, 2011 312/329-6250 (office) 312/550-4143 (cell)

New Poll Finds Overwhelming Support for Chicago’s Teachers. Chicago Voters Understand and Want a Better, not Just Longer, School Day with Teachers Appropriately Compensated

CHICAGO - A recent poll of Chicago voters finds strong public support for the city’s public school teachers and broad — and intense — opposition to the Board of Education’s and CEO Jean-Claude Brizard’s attempts to reduce teacher pay, even in the context of an extended school year.[1]

Voters have a favorable impression of public school teachers, serious concerns about the Board of Education and new CEO and do not believe that teachers should be penalized for the Chicago Public Schools’ budget shortfall.

“This poll shows that Chicago voters recognize that teachers are dedicated public servants who often work under difficult circumstances,” said Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, which commissioned the poll. “Instead of blaming and attacking teachers and staging public relations campaigns, the Board of Education should focus on finding the revenue necessary to give all teachers the tools to educate our children.”

“The poll results show that support for teachers crosses the usual dividing lines of Chicago politics,” said Celinda Lake, whose polling firm conducted the poll. “Whether it is opposition to canceling teachers’ cost of living salary adjustments, support for ending tax breaks for developers, or support for paying teachers more for a longer work day, there is consensus across the electorate. These sentiments are shared by solid majorities of White, Black, and Latino Chicagoans; men and women; younger and older; college educated and not; and voters in every part of the city.”

Key findings from the poll:

-- Nearly three-quarters of Chicago voters have a favorable impression of public school teachers (74% favorable to 15% unfavorable), and nearly as many rate the job being done by Chicago public school teachers positively (60% “excellent”/ “good” to 30% “just fair”/ “poor”). A solid majority of voters also holds positive opinions of the Chicago Teachers’ Union (55% favorable to 22% unfavorable).

-- By contrast, voters are highly critical of the Board of Education and CEO Brizard. By margins of more than two-to-one, voters rate negatively the jobs being done by the Board of Education (25% “excellent”/ “good” to 63% “just fair”/ “poor”) and Brizard (14% to 31%).

-- Voters are aware of the severity of the Chicago Public Schools’ budget shortfall, but recognize that teachers are not responsible for it. Few believe that public school teachers are overpaid (8%) and 31% believe they are paid about the right amount. Nearly half of all voters citywide believe that Chicago public school teachers are paid too little (49%).

-- Consequently, there is little appetite for cutting either the number of teachers or their salaries. Roughly two-thirds of Chicago voters (65%) oppose canceling the 4% cost of living increases for public school teachers, with a solid majority of voters (55%) strongly opposed. Just 22% of voters support canceling the 4% raise.

-- Instead, voters would far rather have the city stop authorizing tax breaks for developers, a giveaway that drains 250 million dollars from Chicago schools. Nearly eight in ten voters support this proposal (77%), including 66% who support it strongly; just 24% oppose it.

-- Moreover, the vast majority of voters believe that a longer work day should translate into more pay for Chicago Public Schools teachers. Fully 71% of voters believe that teachers should be paid more if the school day and year were lengthened 1.5 hours per day and two weeks per year, including 56% who feel that way strongly.

-- Voters overwhelmingly support decreasing the time spent on standardized tests put a greater focus on art, music, writing, science labs, and physical education (81%)and oppose basing a teacher’s salary on his or her students’ academic progress on state tests (42% oppose / 35% support).

The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve. CTU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information visit CTU’s website at


[1] Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey, which was conducted by telephone using professional interviewers. The survey reached a total of 723 General Election voters in Chicago, including oversamples of 100 Latino voters and 20 parents. The margin of error for this poll is +/- 3.6%.


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