CTU LEAD dinner October 30

The annual LEAD (Legislators Educators Appreciation Dinner) will be held at the Plumbers Hall 1340 W. Washington on the evening of October 30, 2015. The annual LEAD dinner, which began during the Great Depression as a corned beef and cabbage dinner and "smoker" with political leaders, has been held virtually every year for more than three quarters of a century. The union gives awards to members who have contributed to the success of the union and to political leaders who have helped the union. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, most Illinois Democratic Party leaders, including Michael Madigan (but never Richard M. Daley) attended the LEAD. Madigan has not been present for LEAD since the beginning of this century.

The CTU explained the themes of this year's LEAD in a press statement issued on October 30, 2015.


CTU celebrates year of political action at Legislators/Educators Appreciation Dinner


CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) tonight will hold its 2015 Legislators and Educators Appreciation Dinner (LEAD) at 5 p.m. at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd. This annual event, organized by the CTU Political Action/Legislative Committee (PAC), provides an opportunity for rank and file members to engage elected officials and discuss the conditions in Chicago’s public schools and the Union’s fight for the city that Chicago’s students deserve.

The theme for 2015 LEAD is “Changing What We Cannot Accept,” and as the Union prepares for the next year of political and community action, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district continues to blame Springfield for its “broke on purpose” narrative. This, however, is a one-sided story that leaves out the parts CPS controls:

No request for a property tax referendum to voters—last referendum for CPS was in 1968.

No mention of righting the wrongs that CPS had the power to do, such as the capital improvement tax that went unused for 10 years, or opposing tax increment financing (TIF) expansion.

No mention of the things the district has done to create its own crisis, such as toxic swaps, excessive charter expansion and pension holidays.

CPS creating an astro-turf advocacy program to goad parents into lobbying Springfield lawmakers would be laughable if it was not so offensive and disrespectful to those who went without food for over a month as a last resort to keep their neighborhood school open, or to those who marched and protested the encroachment of privately ran charters in their communities. For decades, the voices of parents have been ignored, and now the mayor and his hand-picked Chicago Board of Education want them to raise those same voices in an attempt to shame Springfield into bending to their will.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s latest strategy is perhaps the clearest indication that he has lost credibility with Springfield lawmakers. Beginning in 1995 with the Chicago School Reform Amendatory Act (the state’s first “Turnaround Agenda”), City Hall has received nearly every piece of legislation it has lobbied for—from binding the ability of teachers to bargain over class size, to obtaining multiple pension holidays, to ushering in school privatization, to making the choice to close more than 50 neighborhood schools.

While City Hall’s media machine promotes a message that blames Springfield, teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians for CPS’ current budget woes, it is the lack of democracy, loss of worker agency and the mayor’s inability to secure adequate progressive revenue sources that have failed our district. The “broke on purpose” narrative is the complete and total fault of Mayor Emanuel, who can no longer ignore empirical data that proves mayoral control of Chicago Public Schools is a failure. He also cannot ignore the impact of the underfunding of teacher pensions as a result of non-payment through multiple pension holidays.

Parents understand that unchecked privatization has left our schools filthy, our district with mediocre education “options” and scores of veteran educators in unemployment lines. Springfield lawmakers—more than 50 of them—have said that CPS needs an elected, representative school board. The mayor and his current hand-picked Board of Ed should join parents and voters in supporting that measure


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