Friday, April 25, 2008

3 day Trinational Convention in Los Angeles

Rafael Feliciano president of the Puerto Rican Teachers federation spoke forcefully in his key note address on April 19th, 2008, the second day of the 8th trinational conference – he stated without equivocation that “a union without militants is a shell of a union.” As a union leader who successfully led an illegal strike earlier this year, Rafael was speaking from experience. Many times over teacher union leaders from throughout North America called for widespread resistance to privatization, standardized testing, free trade agreements and attacks on public education. Instead of providing a blow by blow of the actual conference we at Substance have compiled a list of powerful quotes that will help our readers get a sense of the many powerful voices present at the three day event. Our union brothers and sisters in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and other parts of the U.S are notable in their ability to confront and defeat those who would dismantle our schools. Hopefully we in Chicago can learn from their example.

“We need to talk about something, not just against something” – Salaam, delegate from New Orleans on the destruction of virtually all the public schools and the teacher’s union in his home town.

They’re trying to define everything as private, one of our jobs is to expand the definition of what is public.” “People used to think that voting was political power, they are now finding out it was just influence.” -- Peter Brown; a machine shop teacher in the Oakland community college system which are about to become inundated with a wave of charter drones.

There is really the potential for an international teachers movement that could be a model for unions elsewhere.” – Lois Weiner who runs the website

“I was hoping we could work towards a general strike next May 1st” – Jenn Laskin, teacher in Watsonville, California.

“Teachers around the country and alot of the population want NCLB ended.” Quoted from a New York City teacher who mentioned that their union president, (and the likely future president of the AFT) Randi Weingarten, had initially supported NCLB, but once she went out campaigning for Hilary Clinton realized that people around the country hated the unfunded mandate. Weingarten, sensing a political opportunity quickly announced her opposition to the law.

“The test is the justification of privatization and without stopping the test its almost impossible to stop the charters” -- “NCLB is so bad, one advantage is that it unites us.” – Rafael Feliciano – president of the Puerto Rican Teachers Federation.

“As a union we don’t only see our role as protecting our members, but in protecting the services and education for each of our students.” – Domenic Bellissimo – teacher at CUNY, New York City.

“We’ve boycotted producing the test and now voted to not administer them” Irene Lanzinger, president of the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation – a teachers union that has successfully boycotted marking standardized tests and sees the tests as the first stage of privatization. The believe that teachers and students will be judged inadequate by low test scores which are an arbitrary measure produced by the business community who use the data to “reform” education to match their interests.

Steve Miller – Teacher in the Oakland School District
”The U.S was the first country in the world to establish public education and is moving to be the first country in the world to end public education.”

”For the last fifty years, public education was one of only two public mandates guaranteed by the government that was accessible to every person, regardless of income. Social Security is the other. Now both systems are threatened with privatization schemes. The government today openly defines its mission as protecting the rights of corporations above everything. Thus public education is a rare public space that is under attack”

“In LA its greendot in Chicago its corporate insanity”

“95 per cent of union work needs to be done by volunteers otherwise you become a business.”

“The Union is the only vehicle they have to act as a collective and bring about change.” – Jinny Sims, former president of the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation.

Participants at the conference agreed that on October 5th, International Teachers’ Day, all three countries would coordinate a day of action against high stakes testing. Also on May 1st, 2009, we also agreed to plan a protest against the war in Iraq and how a war budget leaves every child behind.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Teacher's Unite

The House of Delegates meeting tonight, April 2nd, was nothing short of a disaster. But its through the cracks that the light gets in. For the first time in my recent memory the UPC'ers on stage looked like sitting ducks, with no message of hope or cogent answers to our doubts -- simply blank stares and garbled outbursts of choreographed cheers. Its time to look past the lack of vision or strategy in the current leadership and start developing our own, instead of depending on a disorganized and myopic group to realize it for themselves. Perhaps by taking more personal responsibility teachers can actually shape the policies of the organization that supposedly represents them, we've been dormant for far too long.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Alderman Flores gives tepid support to a new moratorium

Alderman Manny Flores gives tepid support for a Moratorium on School Closings

In a videotaped interview on Wednesday February 27th, Alderman Manny Flores of the First Ward said that he would be willing to revive the Chandler Resolution. Flores testified at the Board meeting to oppose the closure of Anderson elementary school for low enrollment, he has fought to keep it open. He sees the problem as being greater than the Board is willing or able to acknowledge: “Unfortunately I think it speaks to a bigger problem of how it is we are allocating resources city wide state wide in all different jurisdictions, why do you have this disparate treatment? For Anderson the issue was a drop in enrollment, why, what are the factors contributing to that drop in enrollment?”

After speaking highly of the Chandler resolution he stated, “I signed on to that, it had a lot of support. Whether or not that’s going to be the answer to the problem, I don’t know, truth be told it’s just one component.” I followed up by asking if he would be willing to support a new incarnation of the resolution, Flores said without pause “I would be open to it.” Perhaps it’s also time to revive the Chicagoans United for Education coalition that promoted the first Chandler resolution. Maybe this time with the Chicago Teacher’s Union, hemorrhaging from another round of school closures, will actually put some time and resources into it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stop the School Closings ......... Again

Stop the school closings, info below -- this Wednesday (Feb.27th)
morning -- 125 S. Clark -- get there at 8am to sign up as a speaker, 10:30am for
the public comment section (it will fill up, if you come at that time you
will likely have to go to an overflow room).

The following is a call to action from Teachers for Social Justice.
has been moving quickly to close, consolidate, and "turn-around"
schools in predominately African American and Latino neighborhoods that
are experiencing gentrification or rapidly changing demographics.
see new report posted at
these school closings.

Please go the CPS Board of Ed meeting on Wednesday to demand justice
the affected communities and to help fight for a just and equitable
education for all children...details are below.


Flood the CPS Board of Education Meeting Wed. Feb. 27
*TSJ is calling on all teachers and everyone else who can to take off
work and attend the next CPS Board meeting at 125 N. Clark Street. Be
there by 9AM. Be there at 6:30 AM if you want to speak.

CPS is phasing out or "turning around" 19 schools. Parents, teachers,
and students have been picketing, petitioning, and organizing to
challenge CPS plans even though the media have not covered their
actions. Some phase outs are supposedly for "low enrollment" but there
are actually special programs or other schools in the building. In
cases, the closing is linked to the CHA plan for transformation, and
closing the neighborhood school will drive public housing residents out
of the area (e.g., Abbott School). Some schools in African American and
Latino areas are being handed over to become selective enrolment
(e.g., Andersen, Miles Davis). Some closings will force children to
cross dangerous streets and will result in under-enrollment of other
neighborhood schools, opening the way for more closings. The bottom
is that all this is being done without consultation or participation of
African American and Latino schools and communities and against their
demands and proposals.

CPS "hearings" are even more of a sham than previous years, with no CPS
officials present to be held accountable. One parent group was told
all the evidence they presented for keeping their school open was not
even going to be considered. The decision was already made before the
hearing. These decisions are being made by Mayor Daley's appointees as
part of a larger political and economic agenda for the city that does
not include the welfare of working class people of color.

This round of closings undermines any pretense of democratic
participation in school decision making, particularly by African
American and Latino communities. TSJ stands with the teachers,
students, and communities to demand equitable, quality education in all
neighborhoods, for all children and for the necessity for families and
communities to participate in decisions about their schools.



this email sent to you by:

Teachers for Social Justice (Chicago)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Union Divided, An Opportunity to Strike?

Hey all check out the latest on CTU's mishaps of dissolution in the face of record numbers of school closings. Now may be the time to form a alternative caucus. What do folks think?

A non-union member has been given power over our elected officials.

The members have lost total control.

John O. has never been a teacher and he is not a card carrying member, but has just taken control of our union!

Again, READ THE EMAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From: Ostenburg, John A.
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 10:08 AM
To: 006 Entire Office

President Stewart has asked that I circulate the following.

During my absence, no one is authorized to act in my behalf regarding any administrative matters of the Chicago Teachers Union. In addition, no one is authorized to act contrary, in any regard, to the directives that I issued on December 17, 2007, in my memorandum to staff relating to restructuring of the CTU office. I have consulted with legal counsel and have been assured that my absence from the office does not in any way constitute a transfer of administrative power to any other officer or individual associated with the Union.

During the time I am away from the office, I am available by telephone for consultation and to provide direction, as it might be necessary. If you have any questions or needs during my absence that require my attention, please contact John Ostenburg, chief of staff, and he will communicate your needs to me.

Thank you for your continuing cooperation.

Should you have any questions regarding the above message, please direct them to me.


John O.

John A. Ostenburg

Chief of Staff, Chicago Teachers Union
Executive Editor, Chicago Union Teacher
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60654

(Office) 312-329-6251 l (Fax) 312-329-2551
(Cell) 312-909-2311 l (Home) 708-748-1265

Monday, February 4, 2008

On the Miles Davis School Closing Hearing

While the Union showed up tonight, February 5th at Board Chambers, no officers bothered to speak on behalf of the teachers who will lose their jobs. All the teachers from Miles Davis will be forced to reapply for their jobs at the newly formed magnet school combined with Johns elementary down the street. Many parents and LSC members told me that the school has improved in the testing column and that students are thriving at Davis. While no one from the union bothered to indict the board for its harmful shenanigans the CTU reps did come to promote a protest planned for this Saturday at Operation Push, a maneuver that is disappointingly familiar. Marilyn tried the same approach years ago in response to school closings -- and it should be clear from the realignment of Harper High that the reconstitutions are occurring with the tacit approval of Jesse Jackson and Reverend Meeks.... PUSH will be of little help but will provide a wasteful diversion. Delegates should hold the officers accountable for their inability to use basic organizing skills to unite folks around the issue of the school closings.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hearings on School Closings Next Week

Below is a schedule of the CPS school closing hearings. The Teacher's union has been worse than inept and incompetent at addressing the problem, they've been uninformed and disinterested. When it was announced that Englewood would close in 2005, Ted Dallas visited the school the next day and told us all to look for other jobs -- Now that's a Union with some fight in it!

They will likely repeat some of those same mistakes this round, but more is at stake as their membership progressively shrinks. It is up to us to hold them accountable. I suggest that delegates attend these hearings and monitor if the CTU shows up and fights back -- if it doesn't the House of Delegates meeting next Wednesday would be a perfect opportunity to expose that betrayal.



Monday, Feb. 4, 2008
Miles Davis and Johns Academy proposals, CPS Central Office, 125 S.
St., 5th Floor Board Chambers, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008
Midway Academy Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark St., 5th
Board Chambers, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Abbott Elementary School Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark
St., 5th
Floor Board Chambers, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008
Orr Campus Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark St., 5th Floor
Chambers, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Midway Academy Proposal, Hancock High School, 4034 W. 56th St., 5 p.m.
to 8

Howe Elementary School Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark St.,
Floor Board Chambers, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 8, 2008
Morton Career Academy Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark St.,
Floor Board Chambers, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Edison Regional Gifted Center Proposal, Edison Regional Gifted Center
Proposal, 6220 N. Olcott Ave., 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008
Duprey Elementary School Proposal, Duprey Elementary School, 1405 North

Washtenaw Avenue, noon to 3 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 11, 2008
Fulton Elementary School Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark
St., 5th
Floor Board Chambers, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Miles Davis and Johns Proposal, St. Andrews Temple, 1743 W. Marquette
5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Harper High School Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark St., 5th
Board Chambers, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008
Copernicus Elementary School Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark
5th Floor Board Chambers, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Carver Middle School Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark St.,
Floor Board Chambers, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008
Gladstone Elementary School Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark
5th Floor Board Chambers, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

De La Cruz Elementary School Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark
5th Floor Board Chambers, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 15, 2008
Irving Park Middle School Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark
St., 5th
Floor Board Chambers, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Andersen Elementary School Proposal, CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark
5th Floor Board Chambers, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008
Gladstone Elementary School Proposal, Gladstone Elementary School, 1231
Damen, noon to 3 p.m.