Elimination of CTU pocket calendar irks many current and retired CTU members...

As the 2017 - 2018 school year continues, most members of the Chicago Teachers Union have realized that for the first time in more than half a century the union leadership has eliminated the annual CTU calendar and date book, a fixture of union for decades. And as information about CTU (and "CTU Foundation") finances becomes more widely known, more and more CTU members are refusing to take seriously the pretext for the calendar's elimination given by the union officers: its supposed cost.

When the CTU leadership made the announcement last May 2017 at the House of Delegates meeting that there wasn’t enough money for the pocket Calendar/Datebook to be produced any longer, it quickly became a fact that this issue was repeatedly stated and asked about at meetings. Some of the leading challenges to the claims about finances came at the CTU Retiree meetings, but they were also raised monthly at the HOD meeting.

Jessie’s reply was that it’s too costly. Then he and others added, people can use there electrical devices if they need to know a date -- as if the only information in the Calendar/Datebook was a calendar!

What the CTU Vice President and others have ignored is the fact that not everyone has and regularly used a pocket electrical device. Nor is it obvious in many situations that the CTU should use an old fashion calendar for scheduling, because they don’t seem to understand dates. There was always much more than a calendar in the Calendar/Datebook, and that fact needs to be reviewed as another union budget (proposed in May; voted on in June) looms.

Why is this pocket calendar book of 34 pages important? Let me explain. I used pocket calendars from 1997-98, through 2016-17 as references for this article.

Cover art is one thing. For nearly 20 years, a yearly contest would be conducted for a CPS student to do an artistic design that would be placed on the cover of the calendar. Citywide, art teachers would submit the art work from students in their schools. Many schools held competitions, resulting in more and more prominence for student art -- and the importance of art teachers.

The winner would have their name, age, class year, and a photo of the student with their art work, the school's name, and the teacher’s name published on the second page of the Calendar/Datebook. In earlier calendars there was also a photo of the school's delegate. Then in 2002-2003 Calendar only the student and school would have their names on the second page, not the teacher. Art teachers, from then on, did not receive any recognition for their work with the contest.Then in 2012-2013 only the student's name, and school. 2013-2014 no student picture with art work, only student’s name and school.

This pocket calendar was not just a calendar from August of the year to October of the following year. It gave you a full page of names with their titles, of who was who at the CTU. Not only were the officers noted, but so were all of the members of the union's Executive Board -- each by their position. How many new (and even veteran) union members learned that the union had "functional vice presidents" after opening their pocket calendar?

An annual letter from the president would be posted.

Every calendar included a two - page list of benefits with the quote ‘Membership in the CTU affords you the benefits a professional deserves’: 2002-2003 (or whatever year the calendar covered).

Each members was able to keep in the calendar a personal daily leave record.

There was health care information with phone numbers.

And of course how to contact the official CTU website (which was a bit strange:

There were four pages to keep track of school expenses and two pages for notes.

The "CTU contacts" included the name, direct phone number and emails for all officers, directors and those who work at the Quest center. Very important for members, the calendar listed the field representatives' phone numbers and emails. In 2002-2003-emails addresses were available for CTU contacts.

The calendar included a detailed list of important phone numbers not only for the CTU office. It included Board of Education phone numbers. and several more numbers that a teacher should have access too.

The calendar itself would list he PD days of a TI day-Holidays and social schedule days, in another color for quick reference.

House of Delegate meetings and religious Holidays as well as AFT and IFT meetings would be listed. Teacher conferences.

This is just a few of many important items of information that would be in every calendar.

And on the last page space for "My School information."

When the caucus leadership changed at the CTU, various advertisements were added i.e. from Financial advisor to Lawyer representation. The annual advertisement for Fewkes Tower was in the 2013-2014 Calendar, perhaps the last where that appeared (CTU sold Fewkes Tower after that and used the tens of millions of dollars to finance the "CTU Foundation," which now keeps its finances secret from the membership).

These advertisements would fluctuate but in print those who’re allowed to advertise in the last CTU calendar, are on the payroll of the current CTU.

Contrary to what was claimed by those who say that the calendar can be replaced by a phone app, it is as likely that the calendar has been eliminated as part of the drive by the current leadership to reduce the amount of information available to all of the union's members. The pocket calendar was a source for teachers to use as a quick reference for access to phone numbers and dates.

How can it be stated that students are important when the CTU is denying them of a small recognition for them and their school, with this display of Art?

What is the real reason there’s no Calendar? What is the current CTU leadership trying to hide?

It seems they have hired how many new Field reps? Who is currently being paid in the so-called "organizing department" and what does it do for the average union members?

Who is doing what on Carroll Street?

Our Dues have been increased based on the CTU leadership's claim that the union is in financial trouble, and there has been many suggestions on how to get money for the calendar. Those who have actually read the previous calendars note that many of the pages in it were paid advertisements? With that in mind, how much would the calendar really have cost?

When I spoke to CTU Recording Secretary Michael Brunson about the calendar last June (2017), I recommended to sell more advertisement spaces in the book to raise the funds. But what I have learned from listening at meetings it was stated by Audrey May at the CTU Retiree meeting January 2018, when someone else made the same suggestion about selling advertisement spaces that May has the control of that situation. So? How difficult would it be to keep the records of paid advertisements to the CTU calendar, when it is already being done by those who keep records of the advertising in the union monthly magazine?

There’s more to the decision to dump the calendar that the CTU leadership is not telling us. Since they have now pushed socialism into the Constitution and By Laws, maybe it's similar to Communism -- the workers need to work and not really know what’s going on at the top.


February 18, 2018 at 2:38 AM

By: John Whitfield

Loss of CTU Calendar

Just wanted to comment about the conclusion that Joanne drew up, in particular the last line. Personally, having given more than three decades of my life to teaching, we are far from what is described in the last line. And where has it actually ever existed? Haven't most societies that have been labeled as such actually been 'state capitalists'? Weren't the allied powers that allied with us in World War 2, able to defeat the fascists / Nazi s, because of who Joanne describes in the last sentence?

I used my pocket calendar from another source at the anti war planning meeting today at 37 S. Ashland, and was happy to see someone from the CTU office there, though I couldn't recall his name off hand, that wasn't important to me, as I didn't need to know his name. I know Substance will cover this as Larry Duncan of Labor Beat who Substance has published on occasion helped host our meeting. The date for the march has been changed from April 14th to April 21 rst to tentatively kick off around noon at Congress and Michigan. Next planning meeting March 10th at noon also at U.E. Hall. I think I'll take one of my old CTU calendars to take notes, and enjoy the student art work. Got that part right Joanne. A+

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