Friday, September 7, 2012

If Your Child Goes to CPS, This Is For You

Ald. Osterman has sent out an email about the possibility of a teachers strike on Monday.  Below is an abbreviated version as it pertains to Uptown students.  We highly recommend reading this article from the Welles Park Bulldog with more details.

"Chicago Public Schools has developed a contingency plan with the goal of providing engaging activities and safe locations for students and families. CPS has designated "Children First Sites" that will be open to students.
  • Stockton Elementary (4425 N. Beacon) will be open for students from Goudy Elementary and McCutcheon Elementary
Important Information About These Sites
  • Each school will be open from 8:30am - 12:30pm
  • Breakfast and lunch will be provided
  • No yellow bus service will be provided
CPS is highly encouraging each student to register at To complete registration, you will need your student ID number, contact information and parent contact information. You can also register your student by calling 311.

We are also awaiting a final list from the Park District and the Chicago Public Library.  Please be advised that CPS' recommendation is to send children to the Children First Sites, as they may be the best option for children.

We are working very hard to provide information to our families as quickly as possible. We will share all updates as we receive them. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact 48th Ward Education Liaison Karen Dreyfuss at or 773-784-5277."


  1. Im a CPS student over at Amundsen High School and the strike shouldnt be a big deal as everyone is making it seem, the days will not count, you dont get graded, and the schools will be over crowded. Not only is my school (Amundsen) going to be open but it is one of the 144 schools open. Senn and Sullivan High School is scheduled to come to our school. I highly do not recommend sending your child to school during the strike if they are in elementary or not. Its only been 4 days since summer break kids should do the same thing they did during there break. If any of you are in highschool do not go, it will be a waste of your time and it is NOT SAFE to any child, they are hiring "Retired Teachers, Former teachers that are now downtown, and Administrative staff." Retired teachers will NOT cross a teacher picket line and there are very few former teachers in downtown let alone to go to 144 schools. At my school we have 6 security guards and 2 Chicago Police officers who will be watching over kids from two of the most dangerous schools in the system, not only will there be gang fights but there will most likely be shootings. You people do have to realize that the teachers arnt doing this because they want money there doing it to stand up for themselves since CPS is firing alot of experienced teachers and hiring "Better Qualified Teachers" who are just kids who just got there degree. My teachers are not just teachers they are over qualified to get what they make and they dont mind that but they do mind that CPS is firing teachers just to hire someone who could do the job for less. If you think my teachers are under qualified my science teachers has 4 master degrees. My english teacher has 2, my AVID teacher (College prep class) has 2 degrees and a administrative degree. My AVID teacher coaches the football team he works with them from May-November but he only get payed from Semptember-November, he HAS to work over the summer to get the team ready but doesnt get payed. Over all the hours he works and gives up his summer he gets $3000, he doesnt do it for the money he does it cause he cares about us. He added up all of his hours from last year (Just coaching) and having a total of $3000 he made about 15 cents an hour because he cares about us. Most people think that teachers are just going on strike for the money but there not there standing up for them selves!

  2. If we must strike on Monday, the staff, parents, children and community members who support a BETTER school day are welcome to join the Stockton School CTU members who will be on the sidewalk, on the line.

    If parents and guardians of our students want them to have breakfast and lunch, and a place inside, we hope that you will join us before (we begin at 6:30 a.m.) during and afterwards. Wear red!

    Please consider making signs at home with your children, and discussing why people go on strike. Parents are the child's first teachers!

    We need local businesses and neighbors to donate water, the use of washrooms, and anything else they care to provide to show their support.

    We will be there daily from 6:30 until 10:30 a.m. daily. We welcome all of the incoming schools and invite you to show your support of a BETTER day for our children.

    We hope to be in our classrooms on Monday. If that it not to be, we plan to do teach as we walk. Come join us!

    Many thanks,

    Claudia L. Pesenti, CPS Teacher amd
    CTU Delegate, Stockton School

  3. (Shared via Julie Wolst) CPS strike info... If your child attends a cps school and the strike goes through, do not send them. They're quoting an adult:child ratio upwards of 1:100, given the amount of kids in CPS and the few 'holding' schools that will be open. Random people will be hired to babysit, not teach, the kids. These people may have never even been background checked. Don't believe the media about anything. If you've got questions, please please please ask me. We don't want to strike, believe me. We just want our kids to have what is rightfully theirs. Please repost or pass along if you can. Thanks.

  4. Dsbizzgames,
    I am happy when I hear students and parents that support and understand what the teachers union is fighting for here. It is not about greed, but more about worker rights. I find it really strange that after President Obama's big speech on Thursday about protecting the middle class and worker rights, one of his close political partners Rahm Emanuel is trying to take away those very rights he said he was trying to protect. From day 1, that has been his goal with the teacher's union for Rahm. Makes you wonder if Obama or any of the other politicians actually care about everyday "folks".

  5. So is it for "better school day" or for "workers' rights"? Because a strike is a major disruptions for the kids especially for the very young ones, kindergardeners who just started school 4 days ago, who are trying to get into routine of things. It's a BIG deal for 5-year-olds! They are going to ask questions, do you really think we are going to tell them CTU is not there for them because they're fighting for better school for them? If it was about the kids there would be a no strike clause in the contract. Period.

    Last but not least, it's a major disruption for parents, who work full days in order to afford property taxes, which fund the school system. So are we expected to take time off to be with the kids AND come out to the picket lines to support the CTU?

    Teachers are just like any other people, not better and not worse. So, yes, Obama is fighting for everyday "folk" but it just happens that some everyday folk are not necessarily teachers.

  6. All I know is I don`t support the teachers. The highest amount of my property taxes is from the Board of Education. The unions stands behind a strike for higher pay as they like to get paid more too. I always thought teachers became a teacher for the good of all children not for the good of their pockets. They are paid well enought and have better benifits then most as my propery taxes reflect.

  7. @ Nickey~

    Teachers DO go into teaching for the good of the children, but they need to make a fair living, too. But pay is only one issue. Most of the people I have heard weigh in on this issue have a poor understanding of what is really going on, and it is not their fault necessarily; the media is not providing very good coverage and many have no idea what it is actually like to work in education on a day-to-day basis. Everyone has a right to their opinion, of course, but some are much more informed than others.

    Our property taxes go toward education, but one of the reasons we are striking is because that money is not going to support the schools as much as it is to line the pockets of the administrators who do not know education and are being hired to run the district. That is why when Brizzard took over his position, he got a $50,000 bonus. That is how CPS is able to come up with 25 million for this ridiculous "contingency plan" should the teachers go on strike. (read dsbizzgames's post above--very true) Not a good use of funds! Why not put that into the schools? WE NEED THE MONEY for hiring qualified teacher, textbooks, repairs, air conditioning, art programs, and the list goes on.

    A strike is a disruption, no doubt, but you have to think long-term. What is reported in the media is often either untrue or biased in that the CTU is being painted as just wanting more money for the teachers. No. We want a longer school day, too and should be paid accordingly. Anyone in any sector would be angry if they were required to work longer hours without appropriate compensation. But there are many other issues. For example, the school day is longer, but it is not yet "better." As usual, rapid changes were implemented with no thought as to how to implement them properly. The kids now have art and music but no instruments or supplies. Have you ever been in an unairconditioned, 100-degree classroom with 35 bored children? The people running the "contingency plan" are going to get a taste of that real fast should their services be required. Forgive me, but that just might be one of the best PR campaigns the CTU will get, albeit, unintentionally.

    Things in the schools are not good. Change needs to happen, and if a strike is what it takes for long-term change, then that is what it takes. The board is trying to bully their way into making changes that save MONEY. All this talk about concern for the children that you hear in the media is far from their motivation. To understand this, all you need to do is sit in on any of the negotiation meetings. The board's plan is short-sighted and about saving money. It will ultimately devalue education, and what is happening in Florida will happen here: no one will go into teaching. Why would they? No job security, poor but expensive benefits, way too little pay, poor working conditions, no creativity because the board dictates exactly what and how to teach, and of course, all these rules made by people who don't know squat about education.

    I believe in a free and public quality education. The CTU is on the forefront of the battle for educational reform in this country. What is happening here in Chicago is happening everywhere, and the CTU has a lot of support nationally and internationally. In a nutshell, it is a fight between educators and corporations, and the two should not be so closely tied as they want it to be.

  8. What many people fail to recognize is that teaching is not like just any other job. The school board (appointed by the mayor, most without children in public schools) has gone out of its way to shortchange our children at a profit.

    First, a clarification of what this strike is about. The people pushing the orders through are not teachers and most never have been. They don't recognize that this isn't a job where you show up, do your job, and go home. They don't recognize that a "45 minute unpaid lunch" cannot be guaranteed when you have troubled students who need your help. If you have new students that need help adjusting, it isn't uncommon to start a special lunch group with the teacher and some (or all) of your students, working through social anxieties and forming a community among your students. If a student has an emotional or behavioral meltdown, you may be with them for whatever process CPS requires through your lunch. And it isn't as if you can just have lunch when you're done, you have 20-40 children waiting on you for guidance and direction (usually with VERY little patience). Or what about when you take them to recess and you're supposed to have your "prep" time (an hour a day to prepare 6 hours worth of high-interest, intensive presentations that can keep the attention of and educate a room of children EVERY DAY, except on the days when meetings are planned for you and are usually a waste of time and resources) and there isn't anyone to take over/watch them. You can't just say, "Sorry, it's my prep/lunch/whatever" and walk away. If the person who is supposed to be there isn't (they usually aren't, since CPS cut the funding for those positions), then you're stuck. It takes 3-4 hours PER DAY to plan lessons. Except for that one hour that you are SUPPOSED to get (again, you usually don't), that is on your own, unpaid time. And that's before grading papers, filling out bureaucratic paperwork that CPS requires, calling parents/counselors/case-managers/psychologists/homeless shelters/whoever else you need to contact for your job (none of this can be done on the clock). And now we are expected to arrive with the students and leave with the students. What about setting up for the day? Cleaning up? Other paperwork? When are you supposed to do that? But they cancelled the raises that they were contractually obligated to (4% last year) and added an hour and a half to the time that students are in class...another hour and a half to plan for. Besides the fact that you're trying to get 8 year olds to focus and learn after 7 hours in a classroom that regularly tops 95 degrees. And then they were wanting to base our pay rates on student evaluations of their teachers and student performance. Yes, that's right, let's ask a ten year old how well they like their teacher and base their pay on that information. Should I just start bringing candy bars to class and giving everyone A's? Because that's the only way you can guarantee a good review from 5-13 year olds, it's all they really care about. (I believe that this has now been taken off the table.) And you aren't allowed to enforce completing homework or send books home with the students (too many bad home situations), but you expect to pay the teacher on how much that student learned? The pay is a VERY small part of the problem. CPS says they have been working on a contingency plan since June and have $25 million to spend on it if there is a strike. Could you not spend four months and $25 million making sure that these students were given the opportunity for foreign language classes, art, music, gym, computers, etc?(all of which Rahm's own children get at their private school) But no, you can't. As Rahm famously said, "25% of these kids weren't going to amount to anything anyway, (I'm) not going to waste money on them." Some of us aren't that cynical and think our students deserve better. (continued...)

  9. (continuation)

    But we've still been going to work an hour and a half earlier every day, leaving at the same time, not getting the raise that was in our contract, and still giving extra time at home...all in good faith that a resolution would be reached. It has become obvious that CPS has not interest in providing a better learning environment for our students and are creating a situation where they can blame teachers when their unfunded mandates fail. I can't continue on and allow that to happen. We understand that this is disruptive to students, but it is MUCH LESS disruptive than the situations that CPS is creating in our schools through unfunded, unproven initiatives (none of which have lasted more than three years in tenure as a teacher) that provide 6-7 figure kickbacks for board members and politicians. Our children are already being robbed by the lack of resources and mismanagement of resources from the top. We can no longer sit idly by while those who think that our students "won't amount to anything anyway" run roughshod over those working to create a better community and world for our students.

  10. I support CPS teachers as they advocate for the improvement of the learning conditions for the students of Chicago. Only 200 nurses, 300-some social workers for 400,000 students. Schools without AC, without libraries, without playgrounds. Schools with high class sizes, teachers forced to teach to tests. Schools sabotaged and then closed. The inequities in the quality of public education within the city, across the state, and across the country can no longer be ignored!

  11. I respect teachers, yes, we do entrust our most valuable ones in their care every day. But please don't try to gain our support by saying the strike is about playgrounds, AC, libraries, etc. That's not what Lewis said! She said it's about healthcare benefits, merit pay. And the raises they agreed on. 14% over 4 years?! that's $20 mil each percentage point! More than enough to retrofit schools with AC, libraries and what have you! That's $360 over 4 years and CTU got it!

    Again, teachers do hard work but they also make $71/year while average chicagoan makes $33!! You think cashier job at Aldi is not hard work? And does cashier at Aldi has benefits? Summer off? Pension?? And yes, they do work 12 hour days, too, still make $33K/year though.

    It's not about envy, teachers chose a good career and they probably deserve $71K, plus holidays, summer off and pension equal to their last salary for life. But chicago parents won't support you if you claim it's for the "kids". Kids, our future, are getting dumbed down every day and please don't blame it on the parents! Parents are your customers and would a Policeman blame a victim for getting victimized? No! I wouldn't blame my customers for their needs!

    If the claim is, "administrations is stealing money", let's see some hard facts. The CTU has plenty of resources to expose it but all we hear is media is against the union.

    If it was about AC, playgrounds, etc, teachers would be in classrooms for the kids.

    "Schools without AC, without libraries, without playgrounds. Schools with high class sizes, teachers forced to teach to tests"

  12. Uptown Neighbor, it seems a bit unfair to compare a teacher to a worker at Aldi. The teachers that make $71,0000 a year have at least bachelor's degress. Many (if not most) have master's degrees. Many have large student loans as a result. They have also worked to perfect their craft over many years. (Starting teachers make no where near $71,000. It's only with experience that they get to that level). The person working at Aldi is valuable, but they haven't spent tens of thousands of dollars on school before they can pursue their career. Also, while working at Aldi is physically demanding, it really isn't that mentally taxing. It doesn't require thinking of creative ways to reach needy students. Teachers have a very hard job, one I couldn't do, and I think they deserve every penny we pay them.
    I must say though, Karen Lewis is a very poor representative for the teachers. She doesn't help their cause at all, and I don't know how she got elected as head of the union.

  13. Uptowner~

    I agreed with everything you said until the part about Karen Lewis. As a clinician for CPS, I find Karen Lewis to be a brilliant strategist and very well-spoken representative for the CTU. She represents a new era, a shift away from the old guard of the union leaders of the past (e.g. Marilyn Stewart) who were in the pockets of the board. She is the first person who openly states in plain language what all of us who work in education have been saying for years. She is one of us! She may not be the prettiest thing to look at, but she is one hell of a tough cookie.


  15. Little Tomato,
    In speeches, Karen Lewis is often abrasive, insulting and rude to our elected officials. Unfortunatley,public relations matter in this whole mess, and Ms. Lewis has also done very little to get the public on the teachers' side. She has made a number of stupid comments in the past, like insulting Arnie Duncan's way of speaking. (I know she apologized, but she should have known better in the first place). I've talked to people about her, and the average person on the street does not think highly of her based on what they see on the news. Unfortunatley, in some instances that carries over to their impression of the teachers as a whole. (they think teachers are greedy, etc.) I'm not a teacher, and maybe teachers think she is managing the situation well, but at least on the public relations front, her skills are lacking. In a fight with Mayor Emanuel, that matters.

  16. Uptowner~

    I see your point for sure. It is well-taken but I really think it is a matter of whom you talk to. Either way, it saddens me because it speaks to the enormous division between the public's perception of the issues versus the reality. The media has a big hand in this. Most of the news channels are in Rahm's pocket. We haven't seen a whole lot of complete or fair coverage.

    What you call "abrasive" is an echo of the anger in the voices of 26,000 teachers, clinicians and paraprofessionals who are sick to death of being scapegoated and abused in a system that has been actively trying to promote school failures in order to justify the privatization of education. Karen does not mince her words and tells the truth about schools. She is not afraid to bring up the p-word (poverty) or talk about the pedagogical differences between the two sides. If her language isn't pretty, it's because the situation isn't pretty.

    Rahm may have better spin doctors and PR people, but she has the love and dedication of her people. How else do you get over 30,000 people to rally downtown like on the first day of the strike? This hasn't happened in over 40 years. With each passing day of this strike, we are only more united in our fight. You need only to talk to a teacher to feel this.
    Rahm will listen