Tribune blogger and teacher attacks CTU during Tribune forum

A blogger for the Chicago Tribune currently teaching at Hancock High School in Chicago took up more time than any of the other essay contest winners during the question period at the education forum sponsored by the Chicago Tribune and PNC bank at the University of Illinois Forum on September 13, 2011. Ray Salazar, who told Substance he’s been teaching at Hancock High School this year, blogs for the Chicago Tribune’s “Chicago Now.” All of the questions he asked during the forum were from various conservative talking points against the teacher unions, but since he repeated them as a long-time union member, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis tried to answer his questions politely, even referring to him as “Brother.”

Chicago Tribune blogger Ray Salazar at the Tribune education forum on September 13 delivered his questions attacking the union's current positions. Chicago Tribune editorial page editor Bruce Dold, who moderated the forum, allowed Salazar to continue asking questions, pushing out the possibility of questions from the audience. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Salazar, who got the floor because he was one of the winners in a Tribune sponsored essay contest dominated the event for more than five minutes. Moderator Bruce Dold, the Tribune's editorial page editor, allowed him to ask three times as many questions as any of the others who had been invited to pose questions after writing about their CPS experiences. One result of the Salazar filibuster was that audience questions that had been collected during the eventing were never asked. The event effectively closed after Salazar finished. Salazar introduced himself as a writing teacher and 17-year union member. When asked by Substance after the event where he taught, Salazar said "Hancock High." When asked where he had also worked, he told Substance "alternative schools, central office." He said he worked for five years in the CPS central office, and when asked when he said during the years Arne Duncan was CPS CEO.

Chicago Tribune editorial page editor Bruce Dold moderated the event, but lost control of the questions when Salazar continued asking additional questions. By the time Salazar was finished, there was no time left for audience questions. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Salazar's questions included some of the classic right wing talking points used to attack teachers and teacher unions.

"Why does the union protect bad teachers?" he said.

Karen Lewis stated that the union protects due process.

"Why does the union oppose merit pay, when everyone knows that it's coming," Salazar said.

Lewis disagreed with the statement. Throughout the Salazar time, the moderator allowed him to go on and on, and CEO Jean-Claude Brizard for the most part was smiling.

Salazar also threw one question that caused a puzzled look on the face of CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. Salazar demanded to know why there is no public high school in Chicago's "Latino Community" that has the words "college prep" in its name. Brizard answered that the words in a school's name had only limited meaning. The question seemed to ignore the facts of the current number of Latino students in all of the CPS "college prep academic magnet" high schools, implying that there should be one specifically for Latinos (and implying as well that the others were for either African Americans or whites).


September 15, 2011 at 7:39 PM

By: John Kugler

Union Busting Pattern

what is interesting is that in many of these schools that are flipping against the Union there are a few people working in them from the Central Office.

September 15, 2011 at 8:01 PM

By: James Gniadek

Response on Ray Salazar

I am sorry to say that you have your facts wrong. Ray, who I call a friend, is a member of the CTU. I was the Union delegate at HMS last year and know for a fact that he is a current Union member. Who does their research for these articles? Maybe I should apply for a job....

September 15, 2011 at 9:20 PM

By: Larry Washington

Get Your Facts Straight

I have known Ray for many years. He has been an English teacher for about 17,18 years and worked 2 of those 17 years in central office. This article, if I can even call it that, is completely off. I will use this in my own classroom to discuss ethics in journalism and reporting.

It is clear you do not agree with his stance on certain issues, which is welcomed with logical arguments and factual support, but to try to discredit someone's long career, and credibility as an educator with lies is just disgusting.

This article is bashing on Ray because his perspective is different the CTUs, but call him a conservative? Really? I wasn't at the event but know is his more progressive than most who will read this garbage. In fact, asking that question about the college prep in a Latino neighborhood is something people in the Latino community have been wondering for a long time. Brizard implied that a name wouldn't mean much, but tell that to the Latino community because it means something. How about he permanently change his title and see how people treat him. Although it wouldn't change everything, perception is reality sometimes and the college prep title is a start. Kids need to feel this is what they deserve and are preparing for. There are no college preps schools in the Latino community. You say that Salazar implied the college preps were for were meant for white of African American students in the city. I can't disagree with him there. Just look at the schools around the city. Look at where they are located and look at their demographics. Little Village doesn't have a college prep, neither does Pilsen, Back of the Yards, Logan Square, Brighton Park, etc. Ask the people in these communities if they have a college prep to send their kids to.

September 15, 2011 at 11:53 PM

By: Ray Salazar

Out of Focus

George, I am a union member. My check stub proves I've paid my dues. The picture is out of focus and so is your writing. Your adverbs give away your bias. It's too bad Substance uses this outlet present lies. It reinforces the need for better media education in our schools.

September 16, 2011 at 4:55 PM

By: Todd Frantz

Ray Salazar

Ray Salazar is a talented teacher, writer and long time friend of mine. He has been a member of this union for as long as I canI remember. You need to cut this brother some slack. He asked some spirited questions and made some valid points. It's unfortunate he is being characterized as some kind of imposter because you disagree with his views. He is passionate about education and a advocate for his students. Anyone who suggests he has a hidden corporate agenda doesn't know Ray.

September 16, 2011 at 7:52 PM

By: Jesus Ayala

Ray Salazar

So is Ray Salazar a Union Member, or not?

I have recently started reading Substance News, and find many of the articles interesting. However, I hope there is some validity to the claims made.

Evidence from either side?


September 17, 2011 at 7:09 AM

By: Sharon Schmidt

From the editors: Ray Salazar

Thanks Ray, Todd, Larry, James, and Jesus for commenting.

I made some changes this morning to the text and picture captions that eliminate the assertions that Ray was not a union member when he spoke at the forum.

Of course, we will take your word, Ray, that you are a union member. We apologize for the error.

September 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM

By: Drew Heiserman

The Ray Salazar piece

I find it interesting that those who come to the defense of Mr. Salazar here only defend the fact that he is a CTU member.

Why not defend what he said? For those who were not there, you should know that he was one of two people booed that night. The other was CEO Brizard.

If you weren't there, and want to decide for yourself, listen to the audio recording from WBEZ.

Okay, so he's a fellow union member, but those questions he asked were NOT from someone who cares about union solidarity, and DID come from the right wing talking points of those who would like to see public education destroyed.

Defend that.

September 17, 2011 at 11:12 AM

By: Meghan McClory

Ray Salazar

I have worked with Ray and know that he is an amazing teacher who puts his students first. Sadly, I have also seen how difficult it is to remove poorly performing teachers from the classroom. This not only makes the union look bad, but also causes great harm to the students. I am sorry that Substance chose to portray him in such a biased manner.

September 17, 2011 at 11:58 AM

By: John Kugler


News floating around that Hancock wants to vote for extended day? Anyone can confirm or deny that?

September 17, 2011 at 12:21 PM

By: Ray Salazar

Better but still bad

You did the responsible, Sharon. You shouldn't have to take my word for it. George should have made a quick phone call to the union to check. You do have contacts there. Thanks to my friends and colleagues who posted here. To Drew, the people here are commenting on the inaccurate information. This is being presented as an article when it's an editorial. They're speaking up on behalf the personal attacks (I teach that as a fallacy to my students). I have a good friend who disagrees with me my view of the union and, sometimes, I disagree with him. BUT we're still very good friends. Substance follows the union's logic and exaggerates instead of providing accurate info. They presents themselves as reporters when they're really commentators. Thanks to this, though. More people are reading my blog. More conversations need to happen--even if they go againg CTU tradition and the status quo.

September 17, 2011 at 3:34 PM

By: John Kugler

Hancock Waiver Talks

Will someone answer the question: Is Hancock considering going along with Rahm's longer day rhetoric?

Second question: Ray, do you get paid by the Tribune?

September 17, 2011 at 5:40 PM

By: Xian Barrett

Right-wing talking points

I'm not too concerned about whether Mr. Salazar's points are right-wing talking points or not. I'm also sure that he's a talented, well-respected teacher.

What I am concerned is the notion that something bad is coming so we must accept it. There are decades of research to show the negative or non-positive impact of merit pay on education.

If the policy makers were supporting blood letting, I would hope that teachers would vocally oppose it. Merit pay is as outdated and destructive to children, and an appeal to popularity is out of line.

Finally, I know that I've grown my teaching skills through careful listening to students, parents and fellow educators. I have not seen a major problem with "bad educators", but with fearful educators who are restricted in teaching their passion due to the type of policies that Mr. Salazar is supporting.

I strongly reject the type of divisive self-exceptionalization that is offered to higher profile teachers as it damages education of students system wide. "Love me because I'm great, but go after those bad teachers" is not a constructive approach, and seems rather self-serving.

September 18, 2011 at 8:32 PM

By: Ray Salazar

The Trib Question

Last point that needs clarification: No, I do not get paid at all by the Tribune. I started my blog earlier this year. This summer, I saw Chicago Now was accepting pitches so I submitted. They accepted. Chicago Now does not review or edit my posts. I alone am responsible for the posts. Again, the Trib does not pay me. I stand by my commentary.

September 18, 2011 at 10:11 PM

By: John Kugler

Now Question #1

I still need an answer to question one:

News floating around that Hancock wants to vote for extended day? Anyone can confirm or deny that?

September 19, 2011 at 4:41 PM

By: Bob Busch

Hancock, racism against African Americans, and 'Latino' college prep high schools

Hancock College Preparatory High School...

At least that is what the Illinois Interactive Report Card calls it. I was not at the forum

Last week so anything I write is based on second hand reports. Also I never met Mr.Salazar. In the spirit of full disclosure, my wife was a cadre sub at Hancock for several years in the early 00”S. And I have served on a city –wide committee with Mr. Kugler, so here goes.

I do not know if Hancock is voting to go for a longer day or not, but it has always been a

kind of mysterious school — seemingly out of place on the south side. Its initial location was the Stevenson grammer school at 79th and Kosner four blocks west of Bogan, where I worked. One day it just appeared. Being curious how a high school could be put in a tiny grammer school so close to Bogan, I asked about why it was there. I was told it was meant to relieve overcrowding at Gage Park High school, which is over six miles away at 55th and Western. When the new century came around my wife and I rode together, and I would pick her up at Hancock after school.

I remember asking her if any Black kids went there, since it seemed the whole school

was Hispanic or white. When they moved to their present building and my wife left

I just forgot about the place, although several faculty and staff from Bogan have

transferred to Hancock.

From everything I know it is a pretty good place with good kids and teachers. If the above story is accurate: Salazar also threw one question that caused a puzzled look on the face of CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. Salazar demanded to know why there is no public high school in Chicago's "Latino Community" that has the words "college prep" in its name.

I would like to point out he teaches at Hancock College prep, which had a 90.6% Hispanic student body in 2010. I don’t know if it qualifies as the Latino Community, but it sure is a Latino School

September 19, 2011 at 9:14 PM

By: John Kugler

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

Why can't I get a an answer to the question if there are elements in Hancock trying to make it the first high school to vote to extend the school day?

September 21, 2011 at 10:31 PM

By: Ray Salazar

College Prep

Glad you brought this up,Bob. The official name plate on Hancock is "High School" not College Prep. It lost it's CP status somewhere along the way. Yes, it would be great if it got it back.

John, I address questions about me and my commentary. I am not Hancock's spokesperson and did not mention the longer day in my commentary so I will not respond to your question.

September 21, 2011 at 11:12 PM

By: John Kugler

Easy Answer

my question was general for any reader.

since you have been mentioned to be from Hancock it would be nice to know if there is talk of being one of the first high schools to flip for the longer school day.

your response answers my concerns.

thank you

September 22, 2011 at 8:54 AM

By: Bob Busch


Mr Salazar

Thank you for the clarification. Bogan has been a College Prep school and a Computer Technical High school all in the same year.

September 22, 2011 at 11:24 AM

By: Jean Schwab

Which door is the side door?

I think one way of keeping a job, looking good to the community and the CPS Board and becoming a hero (to some) is to speak out and criticize the CTU and fellow teachers at a public meeting where they are trying to work things out. Ray — if you are a CTU member — Why didn't you approach the CTU with all your issues instead of blogging?

That is a side door tactic.

September 22, 2011 at 11:37 AM

By: Jean Schwab


Ray-Sorry about the spelling last comment- caught it after I posted. The article said that other people did not get a chance to ask questions because you were speaking. CPS has the time and people to present your argument but some other people with questions will probably not get another chance to present their questions and get an answer. You also have the chance to talk to the CTU and present your argument if you wanted. I suspect that you don't talk to the CTU or at meetings because it is unpopular with teachers who (like the majority) are great teachers and working 24/7 for their students.

September 23, 2011 at 8:00 PM

By: John Kugler

Dude got it made

Hey, Ray, why not tell us about the secret push to have Hancock be the first HS to go for a longer day. Has it anything to do with your teaching schedule? How does a guy displaced from the central office get a sweet gig like you? What is it? One class a day?

September 23, 2011 at 10:22 PM

By: Jean R Schwab

'Bad Teachers'

I was surprised when Ray asked the question about "Bad" teachers. It is not that difficult to get rid of any teacher now. So many teachers have been laid off and fired that it seems like the subject of getting rid of "bad" teachers wouldn't come up, especially from another teacher. The problem is that the majority of the teachers that were fired or laid off were great teachers, even the ones labeled "bad" Teachers. A teacher could get that label by just opposing an issue in the school or advocaing for students. I think that instead of looking for "bad teachers" we should be protecting all the teachers, even the outspoken great teachers. We need to show compassion for the hundreds of teachers that have been laid off or fired- they didn't deserve it and it wasn't fair.

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