Union begins training delegates for organizing, contract enforcement with all-day session at Teamster City

Over 200 CTU delegates attended a day of union delegates training on November 13, 2013 at Teamster City, 300 S. Ashland Ave. Chicago. CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey opened the session with a speech outlining the current issues and struggles facing the union and education. Sharkey discussed the importance of every school developing local school power through the enforcement of the union contract, which was negotiated and won through the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012.

Some of the delegates at the November 13, 2013 training session at Chicago's Teamster City. Substance photo by Kati Gilson.Sara Echevaria, CTU Grievance Coordinator, talked about the grievance process, what makes a grievance and how to file one. She reminded the delegates of the importance of making the Board follow the entire contract. One major example she gave was that the Board's substitute problem, which many schools are facing, has been caused in part by the Board's failure to follow the union contract. The contract requires that the Board maintain 900 cadre substitutes, but the Board had fewer than 200 by November 1. A union grievance has been filed.

Norine Gutenkast who leads the Organizing Department talked about building alliances between parents and communities. Gutekanst gave one example of a school where class sizes were over 40 at the opening of school, and the teachers organized the community to force the reduction of class sizes. Gutekanst didn't report why a union grievance was not used as well.

Carol Caref, CTU Quest Center, talked about the new evaluation process. Caref noted that the REACH PARCC evaluations were mandated by state law under the PERA law that was passed by the Illinois General Assembly in January 2010, a few months before the new union leadership took office.

Stacy Davis Gates is the CTU Legislative Director. After showing and telling the delegates about some of her motivations for her teaching and union work, she talked about the need to change the political climate in Illinois. She noted that teachers have to provide dollars to the PAC, since political power will require the financing and manpower necessary to win the legislative battles in Springfield.

All participants attended the morning workshop, Fighting for the City Chicagoans Deserve. People were broken into small groups based on the old Network structure.

The workshops began with the delegates dividing into small groups to discuss various problems they are facing at their schools. The idea was to problem solve with neighboring schools. A variety of topics on chart paper were listed around the room ranging from administrative bullying, special education, testing, teacher evaluation and more. Participants chose a group and discussed issues with their peers as well as documented them on chart paper and reported back to the main group.

During lunch, President Karen Lewis received a standing ovation as she approached the microphone to speak. She addressed the challenges of education and the importance of solidarity. She stressed the need to help each other and encouraged everyone to maintain strong union presence in school buildings and in the streets. She commented that it was great to see so many new faces in the crowd.

Special Guest Speaker, Micheal de Wall, an Australian Teacher Union Organizer talked about the influence our teacher strike had on Australia and the similarities of educational problems between Australia and America. They too are facing bullying, excessive testing, merit pay, lack of counselors and social services, special education issues and so on.

The afternoon session was broken in to two sessions of work shops:

New Delegates (required if you are a new delegate).

PPC and PPLC - Making our Schools Work.

AUSL Delegates, Teachers (IIA only).

Evaluations and Testing.

Independent Political Organizing with LSCs.

Charter Expansion.

Clinicians Corner (IIB only)?

The PPC / PPLC workshop talked about the legal requirement for PPCs and PPLCs in the schools, problems and success stories and how to form and maintain strong PPCs and PPLCs. Participants left with handouts to help them build and strengthen their committees.

The Evaluation and Testing workshop included a question and answer session where individual questions and concerns were addressed. Also, the rubric for evaluation was reviewed and participants were encouraged to get members to share scores to look for discrepancies.

The importance of collecting evidence to back up pre and post conference meetings was discussed. The time frame for evaluations was explained as well as the appeals process for protesting an unsatisfactory evaluation. Test information letters with opt-out letters on the back were given to all training participants to share with their schools and parents. There is a section on the CTU website with FAQs and other valuable evaluation information.

A great deal more took place at the workshop, which is also to be reported at the CTU website,

A Special education addendum is available and a preschool one is currently being developed.

Delegates Training will be repeated on Saturday, Nov. 16 from 9am - 3pm at King College Prep High School, 4445 S. Drexel Blvd., Chicago. ?


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