CPS- A Petulant Child That Feigns Never Hearing “No” Before

When two sides enter into a negotiation, it is expected for the two sides to go back and forth on various points and details. One side will submit a proposal and the other side will reflect on the offer and then come back to the table to discuss what they like or do not like about the proposal.

Our teacher’s contract expired July 1st 2015 and it took until January 28th 2016 for CPS to make their 1st “serious offer” regarding our contract. The teachers that make up the bargaining team of the Chicago Teachers Union had been making proposals for months about how to help our schools, our students, and our teachers, while CPS had been unreceptive and/or unwilling to negotiate in good faith. But now almost 6 months after our contract has expired CPS submits one proposal and we are all of a sudden expected to take it, like it was the greatest gift ever presented to teachers?!

After the teachers of the big bargaining team went through each line of the proposal, they determined that it was not in the best interest of the students and teachers of Chicago to accept this offer. CEO Forest Claypool sent a threatening letter to Karen Lewis saying he now has no choice but to c.

Wait, hold up. It is not like the big bargaining team declared they will refuse all offers from CPS. They just refused parts of this offer. So the logical next step would be to come back to the table and figure out how make a contract for all parties to agree on. Just because CPS claimed it was a “good offer” and leaked parts of the proposal to the press making CPS look ‘oh so generous’ and teachers look ‘oh so greedy’, once again, does not mean it is a good contract.

So instead of continuing discussions, CPS has essentially given the middle finger to thousands of educators in this city. This is a big middle finger to the hundreds of thousands of students and parents who will be damaged by these draconian cuts to schools across the city.

All of this CPS madness comes from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who controls the schools. The same Mayor who is . The same mayor that appointed CEO Forest Claypool (who has no educational experience) after his other appointed CEO got arrested. Both Rahm and Claypool control an appointed puppet school board that meets behind closed doors and ignores all public input to make their real decisions.

So once again I come back to the “serious offer” that CPS made. In the midst of all this corruption, we educators are just supposed to trust CPS and just accept their offer?

Teachers, unlike the Mayor, CEO, and Appointed School Board work with students and parents everyday.

We teachers send our kids to CPS.

We live in the city.

We will do what is best for the kids.

Yes, making sure a teacher is reasonably protected from the craziness that is CPS and paid fairly is still doing what is best for kids. A fair contract helps keep outstanding teachers from leaving this jacked up mayorally controlled undemocratic school system.

So CPS, grow up, realize that in a negotiation there will be times when you hear “No”.

We teachers are the experts in knowing what our schools, students, and profession need.

The contract negotiating process the Chicago Teachers Unions goes through with the big bargaining team and House of Delegates is Democratic. Just because the politics of this city are run by a “Yes, Rahm” mentality does not mean we will follow suit.

We are educated in what Democracy looks like and like it or not, CPS, we are educating you, just like we educate hundreds of thousands of students across our city daily.

This article on HuffingtonPost Chicago

 

I am a Dictator: A Chicago Public Schools Teacher Responds to Rauner and Claypool

Recently Governor Rauner said, “…the Chicago Teachers Union shouldn’t have dictatorial powers, in effect and causing the financial duress that Chicago Public Schools are facing right now.”

This statement from Rauner comes just a few days after Forrest Claypool our newest CEO says that teachers need to have “shared sacrifice” by taking a 7% pay cut.

The shared sacrifice Claypool speaks of means that my wife (also a CPS teacher) and I would lose about $11,000 in combined income for this year alone.

I could go on and on about how Claypool is just another puppet of Rahm, in a long line of puppets appointed by the mayor or how Chicagoans demand en elected school board (remember Chicago is the only district in the entire state without an elected school board). But since Rauner thinks that the teachers union run by 40,000 teachers is a dictatorship and Claypool says teachers need to sacrifice I will share my stories, so maybe, just maybe, they both (along with Rahm) will realize what it means to really sacrifice.

Two weeks ago I found out that a student who attended and graduated from my high school was shot and killed. I did not know this student well as I had never taught him, but what I have found is that his death has triggered many other emotions and memories that I have suppressed.

There is that says that people who live in violent areas (like many parts of Chicago) show sign of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) similar to soldiers returning from combat. My father was in combat in Vietnam and for the first 23 years of my life he never once talked to me about Vietnam. It was one night that he decided to watch a fictional movie about Vietnam that it all came back to him. I can see how he has days where his mind is consumed by traumatic experiences that he had. He has been able to cope and now is especially from going into the military.

I have worked in CPS for 9 years now and have had students share tragic stories of losing their friends and loved ones to violence. I have seen how certain events can trigger their traumatic memories.

I never thought that a teacher (myself) could have this happen too.

When I found out that the student from my school who had just graduated was killed I was deeply saddened for his family, for everyone who knew him, and that our city continues to let young people die.

However I have found that now nearly two weeks after his death I have been thinking nearly every day of the first student that I ever knew who was killed.

Nearly 5 years ago a young man named Trevell was shot and killed. I taught Trevell as a freshman in high school. He was an outgoing, intelligent, and confident young man, but it was clear that he had some difficulties outside of school. As he continued through high school into his senior year he had made many positive decisions to steer his life in the right direction and had got himself into college. I received a phone call on a cold January Saturday morning from my assistant principal saying that Trevell had been shot and killed. I still remember that day that I found out about his death and also what it was like to go into school that Monday and cry with students and staff and share stories of Trevell.

The following school year I was teaching my senior Urban Studies class. I had taught many of the students in this class when they were freshman. There was one student Deonte who as a freshman I never thought would still be at our school, let alone close to graduating, for how involved he seemed to be as a freshman with life on the streets. Deonte as a freshman in my class would typically be focused on anything and everything as long as it was not academic. But amazingly Deonte had turned it around and now, as a senior had become one of the most liked students by staff and students. He had dramatically improved his grades and got himself accepted into many colleges. This one day in late May just a few weeks before graduation he was not in class. When I asked where he was, another student whispered to me that he had been arrested. I didn’t believe it, because he had put that part of his life way behind him. It wasn’t until I saw a mug shot of him wearing his school shirt and read his charge that I finally accepted it. He was one of my favorite students. I still think of him often.

Then about two years ago my wife and I experienced a miscarriage 17 weeks into our second pregnancy. My students all knew my wife was pregnant and while I was out of school grieving the loss I dreaded having to come back to school to see 150 students who knew that my wife was no longer pregnant. and helped me grieve. My students were actually much better than even some of the adults who knew we had experienced that loss.

I share these stories because my “shared sacrifice” is that every time a student dies I think of these things. I don’t even realize that I am thinking of these things at first, because I usually just get angry or frustrated and don’t know why.

There are days that I wonder like many teachers in Chicago, why do I still stay here? Why do I stay in a system that is run by the mayor with an appointed school board that clearly has no clue what is doing. Why do I stay in a system that has a new CEO every one to two years? Why do I stay in a system that allows its schools to be funded often times $10,000 less per student than schools in the suburbs?

Every answer to all of those questions is because of the students. The students are the reason why 40,000 teachers in Chicago don’t just pack up and move out of the city. We love our students. We love to guide, mentor, coach, counsel, teach, listen, and laugh with and at them.

So Mr. Claypool we teachers have “skin in the game”. My personal stories are sadly not unique; we teachers have and continue to make sacrifices every day by being a teacher in Chicago.

Mr. Rauner you want to blame us, teachers, for the fiscal crises of our city? How about thanking us for doing what we do every day. Thank us today, thank us tomorrow, and continue thanking us for your entire four years as governor, because you will never know what we do for the students of this city.

And after you thank us, give us power over our schools. Give us an . Give us counselors and therapists. Give our students the schools that they deserve.

Yes, giving more to the schools costs money, but let’s be clear, there are out there. You are just choosing to use bogus rhetoric instead of hearing and acting on the revenue options available.

The stress that I and the rest of Chicago’s teachers go through every day of the year to educate the children of this city that we love is not easy, but we do it because we know that our students matter. It is time for the politicians to do the same.

This piece on Gapers Block

This piece on Huffington Post

The Intentional Impoverishment of Neighborhood Schools in CPS by CPS

Over the past 6 years I have seen the public high school I work at on the South Side, TEAM Englewood, lose funding little by little, that is until this year. Our school was part of Arne Duncan’s Renaissance 2010 plan which was based on the faulty premise that one could simply make education better by closing schools, firing everyone that worked in the building and opening a new school. Being new to Chicago and not knowing anything about this plan, school closings and turnarounds I decided to work at TEAM Englewood (which replaced Englewood Tech Prep). I chose to work in the Englewood community, not because I didn’t have job options of where to work, but because I wanted to work in the Englewood neighborhood.

Our school’s motto is simply “Opportunity”. We want to give our students in Englewood the same opportunities that students all across the city get. I am one of the original teachers who started at this school when it first opened.

During the past six years I have seen our school do amazing things. Maybe the most impressive is that we average about a 93% graduation rate for our senior classes. However, the opportunities that we are able to give our kids are slowly dwindling and being taken away by CPS and this city in the name of “mandatory” budget cuts.

These cuts started small. 4 years ago we had two counselors, we had to cut one. In that same year, we had to cut our librarian (we are “lucky” to be a school that actually has a library). 3 years ago we cut our Assistant Principal position. Last year we did get an Assistant Principal back, but we cut our College Readiness Coordinator. Also that year we had to cut our attendance clerk, school accountant, and tech coordinator.

The implied message from CPS was to do more with less.

Obviously little by little our computers stopped working, school staff had to take on more and more roles. Our Curriculum Coordinator now became in charge of fixing technology, organizing all the CPS mandated standardized testing we are forced to give, helping teachers, observing classrooms, acting as an administrator, among other roles.

All these cuts though very large and detrimental at the time now pale in comparison to the cuts CPS is forcing our school (and all CPS public schools to make) this year. Our school of 500 students had our budget reduced by about 15%, which translated into a $400,000 budget deficit. So now our school, due to the CPS budget, is being forced to eliminate 3 teaching positions and 3 non-teaching positions (for example: clerks, deans, assistant principal, curriculum coordinators).

Now that we have less staff, larger class sizes, and less resources our school will be demanded to improve or have the threat of being “turned around”.
Every neighborhood school in the city is facing similar or even worse cuts.

Our city claims it doesn’t have money to fund schools or . Yet our city has money to build new stadiums, river walks, give $85 million to , and a host of other “necessities”.

I agree with the late who said, “Powerful people cannot afford to educate the people that they oppress, because once you are truly educated, you will not ask for power. You will take it.”

The people who run this city truly do not want a fully educated public. They want great magnet schools that are fully funded with experienced teachers for a select few and neighborhood schools that are poorly funded with an inexperienced teaching staff for the majority.

This is not some conspiracy there is historical precedent for the actions of limiting educational opportunities in lower income communities of color around the world. What this city is attempting to do is a . If what was going on here in Chicago was happening in a different country体彩官方app we would easily classify the actions of this city as a human rights travesty.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon in which you can use to change the world.” Our city clearly agrees as it is restricting the education of the majority to keep in power a powerful largely white minority.