Rahm’s attempt to split teachers from our union fails. But not all union leaders are the same.

Educator and EdWeek blogger Anthony Cody writes about Rahm’s billionaire buddy Bruce Rauner’s attempt to split teachers from their unions.

Cody quotes Rauner,

The critical issue is to separate the union from the teachers. They’re not the same thing. … The union basically is a bunch of politicians elected to do certain things–get more pay, get more benefits, less work hours, more job security. That’s what they’re paid to do. They’re not about the students. They’re not about results. They’re not about the taxpayers.

I won’t even bring up my years as local union president – unpaid, no release time and the hours of time I and hundreds of other local union leaders around the country give to their colleagues, students and profession.

CTU President Karen Lewis makes the point,

…we purposely tried to change the culture of union so that the union is about education, is about empowering teachers and paraprofessionals and clinicians. And as a result, the union officers took pay cuts, significant pay cuts, so that we can have an organizing department, so that we can have a research department, so that we didn’t do the union the way the old union was done, because those days are over, because then people like Bruce Rauner can separate the union from the teachers. And this is where they’re wrong. They’re absolutely wrong, and they acted that way the entire time, because they didn’t understand what we were really doing, which was organizing our members, not about the whole–yes, we have to negotiate for whatever, but that’s not our main focus.

Exactly. It gives Rauner no credibility to say that not all union leaders are created equal.

Lewis and the fresh leadership that were generated out of the CTU CORE caucus and which won rank-and-file member confidence is rare at state and national levels.

While both the CTU leadership and the state and national leaders claim they want to be leaders in improving schools and that they are not just concerned with wages and benefits, their visions of what counts as better are entirely different.

Frequently the state and national leaders sound no different than those running the Department of Education in Washington.

CTU leaders stand in opposition.

6 Replies to “Rahm’s attempt to split teachers from our union fails. But not all union leaders are the same.”

  1. I may be slow but it occurred to me that we need to cultivate a mentality in school boards whereby they understand and appreciate that they were elected to represent ALL constituents for the purpose of developing and maintaining a. Quality school system. I have always thought they were supposed to protect administration and look after the public investment and that teachers were seen as adversaries in that equation. Teachers are just an expense on the balance sheet. They somehow don’t realize teachers are taxpayers, voters, and parents with family and friends who are the same. They feel they are prohibited from discussing issues like pay, working conditions etc with teachers and leave that to contract negotiations. Of course teachers are equally to blame for not inserting themselves into the conversation and developing relationships with the governing and administrative parts of the system. I attend almost every school board meeting in my district and always make public comment when the meeting opens and before votes when appropriate. No other teacher EVER speaks and rarely attends unless receiving an award or recognition for students. That has got to change. Teachers need to form advisory committees without the necessity for an invitation. Teachers need to make sure their union reps show up and participate in all meetings. I am looking to the CTU for guidance and as a model for the rest of us.

    1. Unfortunately and hopefully this is going to change, but the Chicago Board of Education is not an elected school board, it is mayor-appointed.

  2. CPS board meetings take place during school / working hours. The process to get your name on the list to speak requires getting there hours prior to the start time and then again, there is no guarantee that you will be permitted to speak based upon the numbers. This is a major concern for parents and teachers. Teachers who do attend are required to take a personal business day or a “0” day to engage in this “democratic” process. I am so thankful for the parent and community groups who organize themselves to speak at board meetings and are afforded members whose jobs permit them to do so.

  3. I love Karen Lewis more the more I hear about her, but I don’t think mayor is the proper role for her. Too political, sleazy and sullying. I’d like to see her advance to a national union leadership position. She has shown an amazing ability to form coalitions, energize teachers, generate community support and largely de-politicize teachers unions. I’d like to see that expand on a national level to take on rheeform everywhere it rears its ugly head.

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