CTU House of Delegates passes resolution demanding the abolition of Christopher Columbus Day...Resolution's title...DEMAND THE ABOLITION OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS DAY AND RENAME IT INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S DAY...

Does the Chicago Teachers Union oppose the continuation of the Columbus Day holiday, which is currently a CPS holiday?By Friday, December 15, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) sent email blasts to members informing of the passage of two action items from the December 13, 2017 House of Delegates (HOD) meeting: constitutional change referendum and a first round of political endorsements.

Re the constitutional change referendum, the CTU membership will vote on two separate ballot questions on January 25, 2018: 1) Do you approve amending the CTU Constitution and By-Laws to allow unionized charter school teachers, PSRPs and other staff to join the CTU, to have representation and membership rights within the CTU, to establish a comparable dues structure, to create a Charter School Division within the CTU, and make other changes regarding charters as printed in the January 2018 edition of the Chicago Union Teacher magazine? 2) Do you approve amending the CTU Constitution and By-Laws to improve the structure and governance of our union by creating a functional group for clinicians, allowing schools with fewer than 20 members a voting delegate, lowering part-time and substitute dues, setting retiree dues at $50/year, adding language that recognizes our commitment to racial, social and economic justice, and make other changes as printed in the January 2018 edition of the Chicago Union Teacher magazine?

Previously, the question of a charter school merger had been included with all of the other constitutional change proposals in an Executive Board-recommended “all or nothing” vote.

Presently, the question of a charter merger has been separated out from all of the other proposed changes which remain “all or nothing”. Included in the “all or nothing” ballot will be the question of CTU officially becoming a union that allocates its resources for “racial, social, and economic justice”.

The resolution for renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day reflects this movement.

Brief Background: At the October HOD meeting, a motion for the resolution-concept was presented during the end-of-meeting question and answer session by Jim Vail, delegate Hammond Elementary School. From there it was sent to the Executive Board. The resolution below was on the November HOD agenda as an action item; however, the quorum count at the end of that meeting ceased the conducting of official union business. Thusly, the resolution was forwarded, presented and passed at the December HOD meeting.

The following is the resolution in its entirety:


Students in the Chicago Public School researched the real history behind Christopher Columbus and decided that this holiday should be renamed Indigenous People’s Day to honor our true history of the people who have lived here for thousands of years before Columbus came in search of gold.

WHEREAS, contrary to revisionist history, Christopher Columbus never “discovered” America because the indigenous people were living here for thousands of years before the explorer came in search of gold and slaves;

WHEREAS, Columbus immediately upon arrival enslaved the natives, treated them like workhorse animals and sex slaves, fed them to his dogs and cut off the hands, ears and noses of those who did not work hard enough or refused orders;

WHEREAS, Columbus Day was originally established in the 1930s by the male-only Catholic Organization Knights of Columbus who wanted a male role model for their kids and thus made it a federal holiday;

WHEREAS, many cities are renaming Columbus Day as Indigenous People’s Day in cities sych as Albuquerque, Seattle, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Portland, Lawrence, Santa Cruz, etc., and Alaska, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon do not recognize this holiday;

WHEREAS, indigenous people have endured tortured relations and destructive cultures with colonial and occupying powers;

WHEREAS, our school’s curriculum is incomplete without sufficient coverage of Indigenous History far reaching from pre-colonial times to present day;

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Columbus Day holiday be renamed the Indigenous People’s Day the second Monday of October, and;

BE IT RESOLVED, that this shall be a day of solidarity and education among the Indigenous communities and people of Chicago, and;

BE IT RESOLVED, that the CTU shall promote this resolution in the schools and help encourage schools to develop curriculum that focuses on the true history of our indigenous population, and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CTU work with the American Culture Center to promote the cultural contributions the native people have made and continue to make in our society.

Full disclosure: As a CTU delegate, I had left the December HOD meeting prior to the vote on this action item.


December 18, 2017 at 7:01 PM

By: Ed Hershey

Jim's Resolution

The resolution on Columbus Day passed without debate after Jim motivated it from the floor. There were a few "No" votes -- perhaps ten.

The was some discussion from the podium on the holiday question -- Jesse raised that we could end the school year a day earlier, but sentiment in the house was pretty roundly against that.

December 19, 2017 at 5:01 AM

By: Brandon Barr

Columbus Day Resolution

My colleague and I were two of the no votes that we mentioned in Ed's comment. There are so many pressing issues that the Union should be facing. What about increases in health care costs? Has the joint savings task force been established to search for health savings between CTU and the Board? What about the frustration that members feel reaching 40 days in their sick bank and now having to use or lose sick days? Where is the fairness and justice in that? Renaming a holiday-and perhaps eventually giving that day back to the board- does not seem like the type of issue that should be addressed by the Union. My fear going forward is that only issues like this will be focused on in the name of social justice.

December 21, 2017 at 12:44 PM

By: Therese Boyle

Columbus Holiday

I agree with Ed's observation, delegates and members I have spoken with do not wish to lose another holiday. We lost Lincoln's Birthday and Pulaski Day and are now down to 8 holidays. If we lose Columbus Day, we are down to 7 holidays.

December 24, 2017 at 1:42 AM

By: David R. Stone

Columbus or Indigenous People's Day

Why does anyone think that the Chicago Teachers Union would give up one of our paid vacation days? Jim Vail’s resolution (which was passed by the CTU House of Delegates in December) does NOT call for an end to the Columbus Day holiday. It calls for the holiday to be RENAMED. The text of Jim’s resolution is quoted in full in the article above.

I agree that “Indigenous People's Day” is a better name for the holiday than “Columbus Day.” The people who were on this continent first deserve more honor and respect than the man who thought he had “discovered” a new route to India and started the European oppression and genocide of the “Indians.” We can use the vacation and build lessons around it, just as many teachers do with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and some teachers used to do with Pulaski Day.

December 24, 2017 at 2:37 PM

By: Edward F Hershey

follow up


I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

This resolution came from Jim, not from the union leadership, and it took minimal time at the House of Delegates.

Stone has two correct points -- I like the name change, and I reiterate, the "give up Columbus Day." Getting out of school a day earlier wouldn't be a bad thing after all -- I think it would make sense to chop a week off of our year as it is.

That said, we NEED that holiday, and I want Pulaski day back too. I would actually propose only having one holiday in February to bring back Pulaski.

Jesse was "thinking out loud", and I think he heard the House's reaction to that thought. I think the issue is mischaracterized here.

The issue about the sick bank is a real one -- but I didn't hear anyone making a fuss about it when we made that concession in 2012.

I partly agree on the point. The union leadership does seem to be more willing to push "Social Justice" than it is to push for "bread and butter" things that members need.

I would say it's an urgent need to reinstate the previous sick-banking arrangement. The current arrangement incentivizes teachers taking all their sick days -- which is encouraged by the Boards sh&T!y policies more generally. Which means we need more subs. Students and our schools (and us) would all win if we brought back full banking of sick days and I would support anyone who pushed in that direction.

December 31, 2017 at 11:09 PM

By: Joe Waclawik

Columbus Day Protest


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