Editorial: Marilyn Stewart begins 2009 - 2010 sellout early (again)

Between August 17, 2009, at Amundsen High School and August 21, 2009 at St. Augustine College on 25th St. (almost in the shadow of Cook County Jail), dozens of members of the Chicago Teachers Union were involved in struggles some of which will determine the fate of hundreds of their colleagues, while others will determine the fate of every remaining member in the shrinking but still powerful union of more than 30,000 members.

On August 17, August 18, and August 19, 2009, the Chicago Board of Education held hearings on a proposed 2009 - 2010 budget that promises a "deficit" of more than $1 billion in time for the next round of union contract negotiations. Neither Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Marilyn Stewart (above, with hand to head, smiling) or any of the union''s staff of more than 60 people attended the hearings, nor did anyone from the CTU speak out publicly on the budget itself. For most union members, it was "deja vu all over again," as Stewart continued her support for the policies and praxis of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and corporate "school reform" based on the "mayoral control" model. The photograph above was taken at the June 19, 2009, breakfast hosted by the corporate school reform group called "Advance Illinois." At that event, Stewart cheered when U.S. Secretary of Education told the group that U.S. policy would be that the nation's public schools should be privatized via charter schools, and that teachers in "failing schools" should be fired (and the school subjected to "turnaround") based on what Stewart has supported as the "Chicago Model." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Members of CORE (the Caucus of Rank and file Educators), CSDU (the Caucus for a Strong Democratic Union), and PACT (the Pro-Active Chicago Teachers and school workers) caucuses of the Chicago Teachers Union testified at the three nights of hearings on the Chicago Board of Education's $6.9 billion proposed budget. On August 21, members of CORE also participated in huge meetings to discuss the fate of Pulaski Elementary School and the turnover of the recently closed De La Cruz Elementary School.

Not one leader of the Chicago Teachers Union was present at any of those events.

CTU President Marilyn Stewart has not even established any way in which her $20 million staff can read and understand the Board's budget. That budget claims that CPS this year has faced a "deficit" of $475 million, and that by 2011 (the next time CTU has to negotiate a contract), the "deficit" will have risen to $1 billion.

Rumors had the president of the largest union local in Illinois on vacation or otherwise occupied during the third week of August 2009. But for many of the union's 30,000 (or so) remaining members, it was "deja vu all over again." Many still remember August 2007, when Stewart quickly sold out on the 2007 - 2011 contract to lawyers for Mayor Richard M. Daley, then refused to take the "No" votes when members of the union's House of Delegates staged a massive protest against Stewart's quickie vote count on August 31, 2007.

So August 2009 was really nothing new to those whose $1,000 per year in union dues help pay Stewart's salaries of more than $250,000 per year (an estimated $150,000 pay and benefits as CTU president and another $100,000 as "secretary treasurer" of the Illinois Federation of Teachers). 


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