LEAD 2014: Chicago Teachers Union to honor charter supporter, pension 'reform' leader (who cut teacher and municipal workers' pensions), and one of the nation's foremost defenders of 'Common Core' ... What 'Our legislative wins' are was left out of email promotion for the Halloween LEAD event

A little more than two years after the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 made the current Chicago Teachers Union a feature of discussion about something new in the battles of the American working class, the CTU will be honoring three individuals each of whose whose proven record is one of attacking the nation's public schools, public workers pensions, and democratic curriculum. These three are Congressman Danny Davis, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

The union has provided the public with the following announcement prior to its October 31 LEAD (Legislators, Educators Appreciation Dinner):

[img=7661The Chicago Teachers Union email announcement said...]"The electoral season is upon us.

"The Chicago Teachers Union will hold its annual Legislators-Educators Appreciation Dinner (LEAD) on Friday, October 31, 2014, at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd. in Chicago, Illinois. Speakers include Gov. Pat Quinn, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Congressman Danny Davis. Joins us at LEAD 2014 as we celebrate our unions legislative wins and chart the path to 2015!"

Tickets are $50 per person, and union staff were required to buy a table of ten at $500.

The precise nature of the "legislative wins" discussed in the brief email bulletin above, which was distributed to all CTU members, has not been discussed in the union, with the Executive Board, at the House of Delegates, or with the 29,000 members of the CTU. The decision to feature certain speakers -- ignoring others who would certainly present a different view on charter schools, pensions, and Common Core -- was made in secret by a union leadership once promoted as the paragon of democracy, openness and "transparency".

As of Ocotber 29, no body in the union been asked to approve the invitation to the three, who have proven records against the Chicago Teachers Union, in their public work.

One of the three speakers listed for the LEAD is U.S. Congressman Danny Davis. Although Davis still tries to rely on a long-ago record as a progressive (and reminds listeners that he was a CTU member once upon a time) in recent years Davis has refused to support the union's work against charter school attacks and then actually became a proponent of the expansion of charter schools in Chicago.

Davis's controversial career includes his recent declarations in favor of another charter school on Chicago's West Side and a statement that he doesn't see a problem with the fact that his charter school is also affiliated with Davis's church.

Davis is the only Chicago Congressman who has spoken publicly in favor of the massive and ruthless expansion of charter schools in Chicago, which expansion has resulted in more than 90 percent of all charters in Illinois being in Chicago. Most of those are in the Black communities of the city's West Side and South Side and have resulted in the destruction of dozens of neighborhood schools and the loss of thousands of jobs for union workers ranging from teachers to janitors and lunchroom workers.

Less the one year prior to the 2014 CTU LEAD dinner, Congressman Davis took the podium at the December 2013 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education to announce his support for an additional charter school for the city's Austin community. The URL for the Substance report on Davis's work that meeting is:

For those who may be skeptical of Substance's reporting, Davis's full speech can also be found at the Board of Education's website (www.cps,edu) in the video of the December 2013 meeting of the Board. Readers can locate Davis's contribution at "Part Four" of the video. The URL for that month's video record of the Board of Education meeting is: /meeting-videos/156

Congressman Davis's outspoken support for the continuation of the expansion of Chicago's charter schools came seven months after the Board of Education had voted to close 50 of the city's community elementary and middle schools, the largest school closure in United States history. The closings were the result of the attacks on the real public schools of Chicago, especially those in the Black Community. By December 2013, there was no reason for anyone who professes to care about that community to support the further expansion of charter schools.

By December 2013, the CTU had documented that the majority of those closures hit the city's Black Community. In most of those communities, the local neighborhood elementary schools and high schools had been sabotaged, as the union documented in several studies, by the Board's votes to place charter schools and so-called "branches" of charter schools in those communities. The CTU had also documented the fact that charter schools in Chicago, despite their claims of being "underfunded," get massive support from corporate America as part of the national program to undermine the nation's real public schools and democratic governance of public education.

Quinn-Vallas for Governor and Lieutenant Governor? The record of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn since the election of the current leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union in June 2010 is another example of hypocrisy, double-talk and double-dealing.

Whenever Chicago Teachers Union delegates meet, the union is reminded that it is in favor of "Quinn for Governor," as if Quinn's running mate, former Chicago schools CEO Paul G. Vallas, diddn't exist. When Quinn is campaigning in some parts of Illinois (above), he is running as "Quinn - Vallas", while in other places it's just "Quinn for Governor" (as in when Quinn is shoveling blarney at the members of the CTU). Quinn resurrected Paul Vallas's career from the political graveyard after Connecticut working families party members forced Vallas out of the top schools job in Bridgeport because, as they proved, Vallas did not have the professional qualifications to be superintendent of any school district in the state, let alone one of the largest and most troubled. Quinn didn't even have the courtesy to tell the leaders of the union that elected him in 2010 that he was pooping in their faces with the Vallas pick. On June 4, 2014, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn arrived to speak to the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates, surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards. Quinn has alienated union teachers across Illinois by signing "pension reform" legislation undermining the pensions of teachers in the Teacher Retirement Systems (TRS) during the previous year, and Quinn had added insult to injury during that same time for Chicago teachers by secretly deciding to name Paul G. Vallas as his running mate, Quinn's choice for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois. At the request of union president Karen Lewis, the 800 members of the House of Delegates didn't loudly boo the governor who had established a record of betraying them. And I decided not to lead a walk out from the room when Quinn arrived, following a suggestion that we should all get to hear how Quinn tried to justify his insults to Chicago and Illinois teachers.

The Quinn responses ignored all of his actual votes, signatures, and actions.

When challenged about is controversial selection of the teacher bashing and union busting former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, Quinn tried to focus on the threats posed by Quinn's Republican opponent, the billionaire Bruce Rauner. Throughout the current election campaign, Quinn's supporters have been focusing their attention on what Rauner might do, while trying to ignore everything Quinn has actually done. For some voters, that ploy has worked, with often droll results.

On June 4, 2014 at the CTU delegates meeting, Quinn was treated to softball questions about his own teacher bashing record. He arrived without Vallas and tried to avoid even mentioning the former Chicago schools "Chief Executive Officer" of grim-faced security guys went around the room giving threatening looks to teachers who tried to take the floor and ask Quinn direct questions about his lengthy record of votes and signings against teachers and other government workers.

One of the most interesting statements by Quinn came when he was asked directly about his decision to save the career of Paul Vallas by selecting Vallas as his running mate. Ignoring the fact that he hadn't even had the courtesy to call the CTU President before announcing the Vallas pick (Karen Lewis said that she had learned about the Vallas pick the "same as everyone else..." that morning -- when it was announced in the media), Quinn basically said that Vallas would not become governor of Illinois because members of the Quinn family lived a long time.

In saying that, Quinn ignored the fact that he had once been a lieutenant governor -- and that he had become governor as a result of it. Pat Quinn moved into the Governor's chair when his predecessor went to prison.

While Quinn spoke, a dozen House of Delegates members sat in the front rows in front of him holding signs asking him not to sign pending legislation that would add municipal pensions to the pensions Quinn had agreed to screw. The Governor even devoted a minute to speaking directly to one of those holding the signs, "Roberta..." who gave Quinn one of those campaign stops talking points.

A week later, he signed the legislation screwing the municipal worker pensions.

A careful examination of Quinn's actions as Governor of Illinois shows that he has consistently been voting against Chicago, Chicago's teachers, government workers' rights, Chicago's retired teachers, and basic democracy for Chicago's public schools.

-- A year before the CORE slate won the leadership of the CTU, Quinn vetoed the "Soto Bill" that was designed to force the Chicago Board of Education to provide detailed facts before any school closings or charter school openings.

-- Quinn's veto of the school facilities legislation was quickly followed by a decision (in April 2010) to support a three-year "pension holiday" for Chicago's public schools pension fund payments. The "holiday" was granted after then CPS "CEO" Ron Huberman told the leaders in Springfield a lurid story, without any facts to back it up, that Chicago's public schools would not be able to open in September 2010 if the "pension holiday" which cost the CTPF $1.2 billion was not signed. Quinn's support of the lies about Chicago's teacher pensions came two months before the leadership of the CTU changed, but presaged three years of attacks on municipal worker pensions.

Quinn's talk one talk but walk another walk version of reality is more lengthy than this article could encompass.

But the Chicago Teachers Union's 2014 support of Pat Quinn and Danny Davis is not the only action supporting those who are against the explicit positions of the union as Halloween 2014 looms.

During the speech by Bill Gates to the 2010 AFT convention in Seattle, AFT sergeants at arms patrolled the huge convention center trying to keep protesters, led by some Chicago delegates, from denouncing Gates for his attacks on public education and his union busting work in the tech industries. At the end of the Gates speech, AFT President Randi Weingarten told the delegates to give an "AFT welcome" to Gates, and led by members of the decimated Baltimore local and the loyalists from New York, hundreds of the delegates rose for a standing ovation. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The third "featured speaker" for the night is American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, one of the most important supporters of the so-called "Common Core" national "reform" activities in the USA. The "Common Core," a central part of the Obama administration's "Race To The Top" program of privatization, charter expansion, teacher bashing and general opposition to the real public schools (especially in the cities) has been opposed by numerous teachers and others, but by the summer of 2014, Common Core was on the agenda of the AFT's national convention, thanks to the CTU.

Without the support of Weingarten, the Common Core would already be near death in most stares, as opposition has spread.

A stark contrast needs to be seen between the American Federation of Teachers 2014 convention and the union's 2010 convention. Both were chaired by Weingarten, who became AFT president in July 2008 at the union's Chicago convention.

In July 2010, Weingarten insulted most AFT members and all unionists in the "Northwest" by inviting Bill Gates to be a featured speaker at the AFT convention in Seattle. Gates, the son of a wealthy Seattle family who used lawyers to accumulate the intellectual property rights that created Microsoft Corporation, has long been an opponent of union's for technical workers, both in Seattle and across the Microsoft empire. In addition to his own corporate anti-union activities, Gates has also supported an array of corporate "school reform" activities and regular provided the media with speeches in which he develops the talking points of corporate America's attacks on public education and teacher unions. But unlike many of the teacher bashers, Gates puts his money where his mouth is, financing those attacks.

At the time she smiled and introduced Gates as a keynote speaker at the union's national convention in Seattle, Weingarten's AFT locals were getting more than $5 million from Gates's foundation. The money went to fund merit pay and other corporate "reform" schemes in various AFT districts around the USA (most notable, Tampa, Pittsburgh, and Denver). The Chicago AFT local, through its QUEST center, was also getting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to promote Common Core.

By the time of the 2010 Chicago Teachers Strike, Weingarten was not longer promoting the work and ideas of Bill Gates as vigorously as she had two years earlier. Weingarten marched with CTU leaders during the strike. Later she announced boldly that the AFT was no longer taking Gates money to promote Common Core.

Yet in July 2014, Weingarten's allies in New York and other locals and state federations took the floor of the AFT convention to block a Chicago Teachers Union resolution in opposition to Common Core. The resulting floor fight was dramatic. Several reports on the debate about the Common Core resolution were published at Substance and elsewhere before and since.

No one in the CTU leadership explained why Weingarten was invited to speak at the Halloween LEAD dinner, while other local leaders have been snubbed. Substance will continue reporting on how these event unfolded and who made the decisions on behalf of the union's 29,000 members.


October 29, 2014 at 10:48 AM

By: dave vance

danny davis

Thanks for writing about the Dec. 2013 Board meeting. Your photo of Danny Davis made me upset.

Besides Danny Davis speaking for a church sponsored charter school was Emma Lozano speaking for destroying Ames neighborhood school and converting it into a military school. Alderman Maldanado was there also to push against the community that opposed a military school at Ames.

It seemed that our once progressive community leaders (Emma and Danny) had turned in their papers for a cheap stage before the Board of Ed.

And, you are correct with the closing of 50 public schools the charter operators were looking for new places to establish control and recruit students who didn't want to go to the disrupted schools run by CPS.

School activist agree the plan was to disrupt the neighborhood schools and cause a shift to the private controlled charter schools.

And instead of defending public schools in comes Danny Davis with his church proposal to create another west side charter school. Public education money in the hands of church privatizers was their real motive, not education.

October 29, 2014 at 2:40 PM

By: Stavroula Harissis

Danny Davis or Chuey Garcia

Chuy Garcia, not Danny Davis? Per the Facebook event page for the dinner, the speakers are Quinn, Weingarten, and Chuy Garcia (not Danny Davis).

Can you confirm which is correct?

October 30, 2014 at 7:22 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Possibly a bigger problem than Danny Davis

Whether we are talking about Mr. Davis or Mr Garcia we are talking about members of the Democratic Party. It is part of the institutionalized process of political rule in the United States, progressive Democrats accept the predominance of the private sector in our country and will not challenge it. Hence the private control of schools funded with tax dollars is generally not antithetical to the world outlook of many so called progressives. Moreover, the vast majority of progressives now accept the idea that market mechanisms are more rational than public allocations of resources outside a market framework.

The difference between a progressive and non-progressive Democrat is based on the level of regulation of the market mechanisms of our society.

We should all recall that public education as we know it, the common schools to be more precise, exists no where in the US constitution. The reason for that is historically education was a priviliage paid for by families that could afford it. It was only because of economic necessity that the common schools grew.

The modern market economy is not a static entity it evolves and progressive Democrats evolve with it. The evolution of progressive Demcorats in a more conservative direction is fairly obvious. Having today a branch of the Democrat Party as existed in Minnesota into the late 1950s called the Farmer Labor Party that supported cooperatives is today unthinkable.

The problem with the CTU LEAD dinner honorees goes well beyond the particular individuals honored it goes to the marriage of what remains of the American labor movement to the Democrat Party.

Rod Estvan

October 30, 2014 at 7:42 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Democrats as the historical reactionaries

Two other interesting bits of history are updated now that Jesse Sharkey is leading the CTU while Karen Lewis recovers from her serious illness. Segregation is the legacy of the Civil War that lives into the present, but the history of the commitment to "common schools" is also a history of the legacy of the fight for the rights of slaves and former slaves that began under the Republican Party before, during and in the years after the Civil War.

Jesse has been reminding the members (including CORE) of the importance of the Civil War and its legacies on us today. Monday night (October 27, 2014), at the CORE meeting, Jesse reminded us that "Solidarity Forever" (which we sing to begin each meeting) came down to us from "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." But, he added, the "Battle Hymn..." was composed during the Civil War. When the Union soldiers marched to that tune from Fort Sumter on, the, only the words were "John Brown's Body." The memory of the fiercest white abolitionist was on the tongue of every soldier who marched into battle to "save the Union" (and end slavery).

And Chicago and Illinois were in the forefronts of those movements, both during and after the Civil War.

How does that relate to the struggle to preserve the "Common Schools" today. It's as close as the recent Chicago school closings and as distant as the half century or so after the Civil War.

Someone should long ago have gotten a PhD (or at least an EdD) for writing a history of the naming of Chicago's public schools. Of note is the fact that all of the city's 19th and early 20th Century public schools were named after Union heroes of the Civil War (too many to mention; Sherman is one that survives to this day) or abolitionists (Phillips). Within the next few months, CPS will be "disposing" of one of those schools -- named after Lyman Trumbull. Who was he?

The "common schools" that swept across the USA during the last years of the 19th Century and the early 20th Century were a product of the Republican party's commitment to equal education -- especially the public education of Black children. Chicago was a centerpiece for that commitment -- and the Democrats were always in the leadership in promoting segregation and the second class citizenship for the children of former slaves. That legacy persisted into the ruthless segregationist policies of the Democrats in Chicago who followed the reign of Big Bill Thompson (the city's last Republican mayor) all the way through Jane Byrne. Democrats never built one integrated schools when they could get the public money to buy two segregated schools from the 1930s through the 1970s.

And of course in the "South" it was the Democrats who ran the states of what had been the Confederacy based on the work of the largest terrorist organization in U.S. history -- EVER -- the Ku Klux Klan (which was a massive white veterans organization under the leadership of the racist who massacred the Black soldiers at Fort Pillow and continued in that way throughout the war and into the 1890s...).

Until the most recent round of nouveau segregation in Chicago, which began under Democrats Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel, it was impossible to find a Chicago public school named after a Civil War figure from the Confederacy. "Lee" school on the Southwest Side, for example, is NOT named after Robert E. Lee, the slave owner who later was idealized to whitewash Jim Crow and lynch law... Schools in Chicago were named after every major Union Civil War general, from the big ones (Grant, Sherman, Sheridan) through the big but not biggest ones (Thomas, McClellan, etc.).

The history lessons still need to be told, whether in the buildings that are now facing "repurposing" or more generally. But even the New Deal was won in D.C. with the votes of the Representatives and Senators whose careers in politics in more than a dozen states requires working with the KKK -- and against the rights of Black people.

October 30, 2014 at 12:04 PM

By: Ken Derstine

Randi Weingarten

Randi Weingarten participated in a panel with Rahm Emanuel calling for labor management collaboration even as Chicago teachers were voting to strike. Details in this post:

Which Side Are You On?

October 31, 2014 at 7:21 AM

By: Bob Busch

GAR versus VFW (and the KKK)

GAR? It was the first major veterans group, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) These Union veterans were every bit as powerful in the North as the KKK was in the South.

But they were a diverse group who held that a Black vet was just as entitled to don their signature hat as anyone else.

Men grow old and die. By the time of the Spanish American war ended those vets wanted to join the GAR. But many Southern Vets refused because the GAR was integrated. So they started the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) instead.

One notable GAR leader was General John Logan, a natural warrior. Logan Square is named after him.

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