City Teachers Support Striking Colleagues In Chicago

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By Stephen Witt
The city’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT) this week sent some solidarity out to their striking brethren in Chicago to the tune of $10,000.

In a unanimous vote, the UFT executive committee wrote the check to the 25,000-member Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), noting that 90 percent of the CTU voted to strike.

According to several reports, the CTU and the administration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel remain far apart on the issues of teacher evaluations and job security.

The CTU notes Emanuel’s appointees to that city’s Board of Education is top-heavy with corporate honchos, financiers and bankers – all of whom favor charter schools getting millions of federal dollars in “Race to the Top” money while closing failing schools in poorer neighborhoods and laying off thousands of teachers.
Emanuel contends that principals should have the right to fire teachers who they believe are not acting in the school’s best interest because (ultimately) they are responsible if the school they run is deemed failing.
The strike comes as the UFT has been without a contract since Oct. 31, 2009, or nearly three years.
In UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s letter to teachers last week kicking off the school year, he indicated the union and the city remain far apart on similar issues as in Chicago.

“We are now in the last full school year of the Bloomberg Administration, and it is no great secret that we have not gotten along with the mayor and do not like the way he has treated us or the communities in which we live and serve,” he wrote.
Mulgrew argued in his letter that every classroom and every school are different and treating them all the same is counterproductive, and championed that the UFT recently succeeded in court from letting the Bloomberg Administration close 24 schools deemed failing – almost all in communities of color.

“The mayor’s shameful practice of concentrating the highest-needs students in overwhelming numbers inside a school, then calling that school a failure, blaming the teachers and shutting the school down is wrong. It is wrong for students and it is wrong for teachers,” he wrote.

A DOE spokesperson said the DOE does not comment on teacher/union negotiations in Chicago, as it’s another city.

The DOE did not respond to questions regarding its own negotiations and lack of a contract with the UFT at press time.