February meeting of the CTU House of Delegates

While the Chicago Teachers Union Executive Board recommended that the House of Delegates endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for president, it was voted down at the Feb. 5 meeting. A second vote accepted an official position of "neutrality." The meeting started at 4:15 p.m. with the traditional pre-meeting Question and Answer period.

-The delegate from Ray School had strong complaints about the ASPEN system, with more than 2,000 new “clicks” required for grades. Add to this the problem of long load times and it is driving teachers nuts. Pres. Jesse Sharkey said he was aware of these problems and will bring them up with the CPS.

-A delegate said that a Case Manager has not yet been appointed to her school although there is a .5 position for one. Her principal told her that their school is not high on the list of priority schools. Jesse said that the CPS is working on filling these positions but there is a shortage of personnel. He will take the issue to the joint CTU/CPS staffing committee.

-A delegate from Taft High School said that a co-worker wants to work as a sub in a sub-urban school during Spring Break. Jesse told him that there is a special form that needs to be filled out in advance so there is no perception of some kind of conflict of interest.

-Another delegate said that some students are constantly swearing at teachers and have been for three years. The teachers have documented it as the principal had instructed them to do, but then does nothing. Jesse will send someone from the CTU to the school and the principal needs to set up a remediation plan. If he/she doesn’t do it, then a grievance will be filed.

-Jim Vail from Hammond School complained of the unfairness of the REACH evaluation system in the elementary schools that measure a teachers’ performance partly on student “growth”. Vail said that research on “growth” has been shown to bean inaccurate mea- surement of teacher performance plus it is not used in high schools. Jesse agreed on the unfairness and will work on resolving this.

-The Eli Whitney School delegate said there are two vacancies that result in teachers missing preps to cover classes. Jesse said the principal is responsible for finding coverage and the PPC needs to get involved.

-Retiree delegate Helen Ramirez-Odell spoke in favor of the CTU supporting the funding of a statue honoring Mary Harris “Mother’ Jones (1837-1930), a fierce defender of the working man and woman who was once described as “the most dangerous woman in America”. The statue will cost about $200,000. Individual donations may be made on line at: or by checks made out to the Mother Jones Statute Fund and mailed to Mother Jones Statue Fund, 630 Joanne Lane, DeKalb, Illinois, 60115.

-The McCutcheon School delegate said her principal told the faculty that no students in the ELL program can receive a grade of “D” or “F” and she wanted to know if this is right? Jesse said the ELL program is under federal rules and he will send someone to the school to look into it.

-Alison Eichhorn of Lindbloom wanted to know if there is a list of who serves on what CTU or joint CTU?CPS committee. Jesse will have to get back to the House on whether all that information can be made available.

The regular meeting began starting at 4:48 p.m.

I. Officers/Administrative Reports

A. Recording Secretary Christel Williams-Hayes announced that 48 teachers have recently achieved the status of being NBCT and 114 new teachers have gotten their certificates through CTU programs. Christel also reminded delegates of the February 29 P.E.A.C.E. brunch.

Lastly, Christel announced that a para won $9,000 in a grievance as she was given teacher duties and described as a teacher on the school’s website. She stressed the importance of filing grievances.

B. Financial Report by Kathy Catalano. Kathy said that we are half way through our fiscal year and are in good shape. She said a surge in the cost of “Rent and Utilities” was due to the CTU buying out part of the lease on the Merchandise Mart location. We will have much smaller monthly rental costs on that property in the future.

C. Financial Secretary Maria Moreno reported that CTU membership is now 27,943 but retiree membership is down to 1,922.

Maria announced that an adjustment of dues will be implemented now that the new pay scales are set. Dues are 1% of Lane 1, Step 6.

There is a vacancy for an Elementary Vice President and two candidates, Teri Hehn and Paula Barajas were given one minute to address the House . Elementary teacher delegates then voted and Paula won, 123-86.

D. Vice President Stacy Davis Gates spoke of the relationship of Student Based Budgeting, the School Quality Rating Policy, and the decline in diversity of CPS employees. There will be a conference/panel about these policies tonight, February 6, at Dyett High School and those who can are urged to attend.

Stacy said the argument over how to give veteran teachers a pay raise is still before the Illinois Labor Board and there has been no decision made as of yet.

II. President’s Report. Jesse said that a CTU resolution, “Black Lives Matter in Schools Week (February 3-7),” has been criticized by the Police department as being anti-cop. He said that it is not anti-cop; that CPS spends $30 million per year to have police in the schools and a different approach to discipline and safety problems might be able to divert some of those funds to other needs in the schools. Jesse said the CTU is still working actively to organize teachers in the remaining charter schools and said we are hoping for success with this in the near future. Jesse also added that due to the new contract, starting this semester any K-3 class with more than 32 students needs to have a teacher assistant assigned to those classes. Delegates should be aware of this and keep an eye on the situation in their schools.

III. Items for Action

A. The House voted to forego the March House meetings and instead replace it with a Delegates and School Leader Conference that can be attended on either March 25 or 26.

B. The House endorsed Thaddeus Jones (29th) and Andre Thapedi (32nd) for the Illinois House of Representatives. The PAC/LEG committee offered no endorsement for the U.S. presidency. The last time it did was 2008 (Obama). However, the CTU E-Board recommended that we endorse Sanders for president. Note: Even if we endorse someone for president the law forbids any monetary contribution. Delegates Beth Eisenbach and Tara Stamps spoke against endorsing Sanders while Victoria Rosario (Rogers), Kenzo Shibata (Ogden International High School), Debby Pope and one other delegate spoke in favor of it before the question was called. The vote was 121 in favor, 136 against, and 28 abstentions. I voted in favor of the measure.

At this point Stacy Davis Gates went to the floor and motioned that the CTU take an official position of neutrality as opposed to looking like we rejected Sanders. After a short debate the House voted in favor of neutrality with one “No” vote.

C. The House passed a “Resolution to Support the Mother Jones Statute Campaign” unanimously. I voted in favor of this. `As mentioned above, individual donations may be made on line at: or by checks made out to the Mother Jones Statute Fund and mailed to Mother Jones Statue Fund, 630 Joanne Lane, DeKalb, Illinois, 60115.

D. The House also passed a “CTU Resolution on Climate Change”. I voted in favor of it but there were two no votes.

IV. Department/Committee reports

A. Kathy Murray asked for information if paras were being docked one hour of pay for being tardy.

Kathy announced that the rules for the $250 supply reimbursement now being used are the same as last year. The new rules from the new contract will take effect starting in September. Lastly, Kathy said that a grievance over cleanliness in Simeon High was won in arbitration. She asked that she be contacted at the CTU if there are more cleanliness issues in other schools.

B. Pension Trustee Mary Sharon Reilly reminded the delegates that there two more meetings for impending retirees this year and teachers planning to retire should attend them.

Mary Sharon also said that this is the 125th anniversary of the Pension Fund; the oldest such fund in Illinois. As part of the celebration the CTPF is asking retirees for photos of themselves while they were still working.

V. New Business/ Questions and Answers

A delegate motioned to adjust the dues to be based on 202 days of work instead of 208 as we lost 6 days due to the strike. Jesse had to rule her out of order as the CTU constitution dictates the dues structure. However, he was sympathetic to her intent and will bring up the issue before the E-Board.

The meeting then adjourned at 6:49 p.m.


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