[10 Years in Power] CORE announces 'interim' CTU transition team

It is now ten years since CORE (Caucus of Rank-and-file Educators) took control of one of the most influential unions in American history ... Substance News was on the ground floor of this generational shift in power ... we will be re-posting original content in the next few months so individuals can read for themselves what is past, how it relates to where we are now and how we need to move forward.

Karen Lewis the first CORE President of the Chicago Teachers Union would say in her speeches:

Does it unite us?

Does it make us stronger?

Does it increase our power?


CORE announces 'interim' CTU transition team

Jim Vail - July 01, 2010

Newly elected Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis announced before a full audience at a CORE meeting on June 28, 2010, the new union transitional team. The members of the team will join the four officers who were elected as a result of the Chicago Teachers Union runoff election held on June 11, 2010. Liz Brown (above, speaking at the February 24, 2010 Board of Education meeting) will be serving as chief of "external communications" at the Chicago Teachers Union beginning July 1, 2010. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

The officers are: President, Karen Lewis; Vice President, Jesse Sharkey; Recording Secretary, Michael Brunson; Financial Secretary, Kristine Mayle. All begin working full time at the CTU offices at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago on July 1, 2010.

The members of the transition team will also be working at the union with the newly elected officers. They are:

Carol Caref (above left) and Norine Gutekanst (above right) will be working during the summer for the Chicago Teachers Union as part of the CORE leadership transition team. Above, Caref was speaking to the June 23, 2010 Chicago Board of Education meeting while Gutekanst looked on. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The staff coordinator will be Jackson Potter, the founder of CORE and a teacher at Social Justice High School, (Chicago Vocational math teacher Carol Caref will temporarily fill in for Jackson who is on leave).

The legislative coordinator will be Xian Barret, a teacher at Julian High School.

Clemente High School teacher Sara Echevarria (above at microphone speaking to the May 26, 2010 meeting of the Chicago Board of Educaton) has been appointed by Karen Lewis to head the CTU grievance department during the summer transition. Standing with Echevarria are (left to right) Patricia Breckenridge, a displaced teacher, Jesse Sharkey (now CTU vice president) and Kristine Mayle (now CTU financial secretary). Substance photo by George N. Schmdt.The head of the field reps will be Sara Echeverria, a teacher at Roberto Clemente High School who also worked as a field rep under former CTU president Debbie Lynch.

Internal organization coordinator will be Norine Gutenkanst of Whittier Elementary School.

Internal communications coordinator will be Kenzo Shibata, a teacher at Hancock High School.

External communications coordinator will be Liz Brown, a teacher at Kelvyn Park High School.

Two new faces that Lewis chose were Michael Harrington, a high school friend of Lewis who, according to Lewis, worked under former CTU president Jackie Vaughn, and Lou Ester Jackson. a long time union staff member, who will be office coordinator.

Lewis stressed to a crowd of more than 80 teachers that this is an interim team meaning everyone is welcome to apply for union jobs once the transition has been complete. The new union leadership will take control on July 1, 2010.

Lewis, who added that she spoke with AFT President Randi Weingarten by phone last week, said they also plan to form a bargaining committee comprised of 60 people.

"We met the entire staff of the CTU although some are on vacation and the current recording secretary asked how many will be at the bargaining table and I told her 60 people," Lewis said. "She looked at me as if I was from Mars and I said this is how unions do it across the country."

Newly elected Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle said many teachers have been calling the union to say their positions were cut, and they have heard those answering the phones tell teachers to talk to the new administration. She added field reps — some of whom openly campaigned against CORE even though their contract strictly forbids any partisan politics — still have one more year in their current contract. The field reps are unionized, represented by Teamster Local 743. The clerical staff at the union office are represented by OTEG.

"We're working on an organizing plan, but we haven't taken office yet," Mayle said.

After campaigning on promises of a new era of transparency and accountability in union affairs, incoming Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (above, speaking to supporters at Connie's Pizza following the June CTU House of Delegates meeting and prior to the June 11 runoff election) surprised most of her supporters with the announcement of her transition team at the June 28 CORE meeting. Substance photo by John Kugler.About 15 teachers raised their hands when asked if they were at the CORE meeting Monday at Manny's because their positions were cut. One teacher, Kevin Higgins, who worked as a mentor teacher for the Board, said to make it clear there is a distinction between displaced teachers who still receive one more year of their salary while substituting, and terminated teachers who can no longer teach or even substitute for CPS.

"We will fight this," Caref said to applause. "It's incredibly unjust to give your life service for the kids and then just be terminated and lose all your health insurance in three days. It's insane when you have the human resources department now called human capital."

Caref added that CORE will defend the 200 teachers who received an unsatisfactory rating. The Chicago Tribune and Sun Times are calling on the Union to help fire these teachers, even though the teachers' contract guarantees certain procedures must be followed.

"It is never questioned who put these people in that category, whether or not a struggling teacher can improve with compassion and mentoring, or what is really behind the Board of Education's new policy," Potter wrote on the CORE listserve. "It turns out that there are quite a few abusive principals throughout the system who degrade the ratings of teachers that stand up for their students, themselves and their colleagues. At Prescott Elementary, the principal [Erin Roche] has used ratings to move out the school's entire veteran leadership and replaced them with his own loyalists. Even the Board of Education called for him to end the abuse. Nonetheless, four of the 200 teachers currently targeted for dismissal are from Prescott. What happens if a teacher blows the whistle on an administration for stealing from a school budget or misappropriating funds? Are we setting the stage to allow that administration to retaliate against that person, lower their rating and get them removed before the scandal can be exposed?"

Appointed to one of two positions in "communicatons" (internal communications) on the CTU transition team was Hancock High School teacher Kenzo Shibata (above, speaking to Chicago Board of Education President Rufus Williams at the January 2009 Board meeting). Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.CORE also unveiled at the meeting the "Pink Slip" campaign to get as many people to sign onto a postcard that states a Notice of Termination for Mayor Richard Daley, who heads the Chicago Public Schools, for siphoning off $250 million from the schools to pet projects via TIFs (Tax Increment Financing), losing $1 billion in future city assets due to the privatization of the parking meters, and leading a 15-year "nightmare" of school reform that significantly reduced the childrens' educational opporutities, seen recently in the drastic education budget cuts his "CEO" Ron Huberman is proposing.

There will also be an upcoming CORE convention and a study group entitled the "Reform Union Movements Study Group", which plans to analyze the reason why other elected reform union caucuses were voted out of office after serving only one term. The first meeting of the study group was held on June 30, hosted by Nate Goldbaum, a Whittier Elementary School teacher who has been editing CORE's monthly newsletter.


July 2, 2020 at 12:40 PM

By: Adam H


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