When the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) took over the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) last year, many teachers were hopeful that things would change, especially the horrible policies of Arne Duncan and the collaborationist policies of the old school CTU. CORE includes many leftists, including members of the International Socialist Organization and they campaigned on a platform of fighting against the attacks on teachers, layoffs and testing.
However, CORE and the new CTU have failed to deliver. As is typical of so many teachers unions, CTU accepted without question the firing of over 500 probationary teachers. Hundreds of tenured teachers were also laid off and remain without jobs and could lose their seniority if ever hired back. Over half of Chicago’s schools are at risk of failure and subsequent mass firings of teachers, creating a tense atmosphere.
The Billionaire Assault on Illinois Teachers
The Illinois legislature is considering passing the Performance Counts Act, which would tie teacher pay and job security to student test scores and it would ban the right of teachers to strike. This bill was drafted by Stand for Children, which gets funding from Bill Gates and other billionaires, along with Advance Illinois, a front group for Chicago investment bankers. Many of the candidates supporting Performance Counts received donations from these same backers.
The Union Assault on Illinois Teachers
The CTU has joined with the Illinois Federation of Teachers and Illinois Education Association to create a counterproposal, “Accountability for All,” that is strikingly similar to the state plan. While the union plan supposedly protects teachers’ rights to due process, it would make it easier to remove “underperforming” teachers (measured in part by student achievement) and it would link teacher performance to tenure, recertification or dismissal. Fred Klonsky views the compromise as a sellout of seniority rights and a step toward making unionism impotent.