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Chicago Teachers Union to take strike authorization vote

By staff |
June 6, 2012
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Chicago, IL - The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) announced June 1 that union members will take a strike authorization vote starting on June 6. The bargaining committee for the teachers is looking for at least 75% of the CTU members to vote yes. This will deliver a powerful message to the Board of Education to actually negotiate with teachers.

Sarah Chambers, a member of the CTU executive board and bargaining committee, made the following statement at the press conference Friday:

“My name is Sarah Chambers, and I am a special education teacher at Saucedo Academy. As a Chicago Public School Teacher, I am outraged by the Board of Education’s destructive proposals that threaten quality education in our schools. We will not allow Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Board to pass these policies that are detrimental to the children of Chicago and the educators that devote their lives every day to teaching.

Currently, the board’s proposals include the elimination of class size limits across the city, which would significantly raise the number of students in each classroom. Similar to the mantra of candidate Mitt Romney, the board has stated, and I quote ‘Studies have not proven that class size reductions have predictable and discernible positive impacts on educational outcomes.’

Numerous studies have proven and every teacher knows that class size has an enormous impact on student learning and performance. Considering that an average CPS class containing English language learners, students with special needs and students living below the poverty line, it is crucial that each and every classroom has a low student-to-teacher ratio.

Some kindergarten and primary classrooms around the city have over 40 students. Would you want your child in a classroom with over 40 students? With such overwhelming numbers, it is impossible to apply the best educational practices, such as differentiation and rigorous small group instruction.

With the Chicago Teachers Union’s proposal to lower the size of classrooms to 20 to 23 students in the primary grades, teachers will be able to provide high quality education that aligns with the class size numbers of other Illinois districts.

These low class sizes are supported at the Lab School where Board member Penny Pritzker and Mayor Rahm Emaneul’s children attend. At the Lab School, the average class size is 18 students, drastically lower than the 40 students in some CPS schools. On the Lab School’s website, director David W. Magill concludes, ‘When planned thoughtfully and funded adequately, long-term exposure to small class sizes in the early grades generates substantial advantages for students in American Schools.’ The students of CPS deserve the same quality education that Rahm Emanuel and Penny Pritzker’s children are receiving.

As CPS teachers, we want what’s best for our students, so that they can become college and career ready. We are ready and fully determined to advocate on behalf of our students by rejecting the board’s proposals, and by voting yes to a strike authorization and yes to successful learning and working conditions.”