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Powerful alderman pays the price for blaming Karen Lewis for teacher strike

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A powerful alderman is paying a price for warning last week that Chicago's first teachers strike in 25 years was "inevitable" because of the belligerent attitude of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), chairman of the City Council's Budget Committee, said teachers picketed her aldermanic office on Day One of the strike. furious that Austin had dared to speak out against Lewis.

"The teachers union is pissed off. They picketed my office. My statement infuriated them, but I still stand by it," Austin said.

"I think that's what got 'em because I didn't say anything about the mayor or about Jean-Claude [Brizard, schools CEO]. Well, they were never at the table."

Pressed on whether she still believes Lewis was "hell-bent" on a strike, Austin said, "I believed it at the time and I still do....It [the strike] has happened."

Is Austin worried about losing support from the teachers in her ward?

"No, because people have a right to protest. They have a right to picket me if they believe the statement I have made is untrue or they don't agree with whatever statements I have made," she sid.

"I'm not angry with them [but] I still stand by it."

Asked why she believes Lewis wanted a strike, Austin said, "To position herself to be able to negotiate from a stronger position."

While attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last week, Austin declared a teachers strike "inevitable," warned parents to prepare for it and laid the blame squarely on Lewis.

"They've already decided this is what they're going to do. I think they want to" strike, Austin said after an Il. Delegation breakfast hosted by the Chicago Federation of Labor.

"Karen Lewis, their president, says they want to. [She's essentially saying], `I'm gonna show you.' That's what she projects....They don't want to talk. They don't want to negotiate. Not them--her. I don't believe she wants to talk. That's unfair to our children because education has to be more important than you getting an additional 2 percent."

On Tuesday, Austin sided with the mayor on the two biggest roadblock to a strike: teacher evaluations and teacher recall.

"I was able to pick my own team. The president picks his. The mayor and any other CEO. I look at a principal as being" a CEO, the alderman said.

"I've got dynamite principals. Why should not they be alllowed to chose teachers they believe are gonna be a benefit to the school for the children? That has to be the main focus. Maybe you're a math teacher but you're not teaching at a level that I want my kids to excel up to. Let me go get this [other] teacher. Maybe they can do that for me. That doesn't mean that teacher is out of a job. Because they will be able to recycle them. If that's unfair then I guess that's unfair."

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23 Comments

Kudos to Alderman Austin for standng up to Jabba the Hut....oh I mean Karen Lewis. Perhaps her the reason her storm troopers were picketing this alderman's office was because they are jealous that most people agree with her and are trying to silence her. You rock Alderman Austin and should be congradulated.

Never known the alderwoman to be a bastion of class and clarity I've always thought of her as round the way gyrl with a salary and how many college graduates did she produce?

I am a parent of a CPS special ed student and just want to say SHAME OF KAREN LEWIS. My son loves school and needs the routine of going to school. He does not understand what a strike is; all he knows is that he started school for one week and now he can not go. It seems like special needs children are lowest on the totem pole regarding rights. No one seems to realize these children/adults are so confused on what's happening that they need some regulation and so they keep asking when they can go back to school. It breaks my heart. All this strike is to Ms. Lewis is a power trip and her way of getting back at the mayor. She is obviously the wrong person for the job and everyone knows it.
I am a single mom with an autistic 20 yr. old in a special needs CPS school. Where
are his rights in all this?!
A very concern and sad parent.

You should be more concentrated on the strike ending. Clearly, what you've learned in your English writing class is fading. Oh, and name calling is as mature as crying when you can't have your way.

Paulie your a moron! This is proof you have no education and your thought process is simplistic. Go back to school with your ghetto comments so you can also learn how to spell congratulated!!!

The Alderman apparently is biased! You can not visit 5% of schools and believe that represents the majority. Principals should decide on their staff. However, they should not bully, jeopardize first year teachers career, expect teachers and students to excel without support. SOME principals never come out of their office. SOME principals turn the other cheek when they witness violence towards the students and staff. SOME principals change grades and attendance. SOME principals give low ratings because their teachers merely disagrees with them. Last but definitely not least, HAVING A HIGH TURNOVER OF STAFF does not create a healthy learning environment. "You're a math teacher but you're not teaching at a level that I want my kids to excel up, let me throw you and your career out. I don't care if you had to relocate to live in Chicago to teach here. I don't care if you piled up loans in attempt to help today's youth. I don't care if the kids stole your car, threatened your life and you still supported them after school and on unpaid weekends". OUR kids need stability; their social and emotional needs MUST BE MET, especially today. But I guess the Alderman just wants to score points with the Mayor and care less about OUR KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do your job whatever that is Ms. Alderman. Oh and for the record, we teachers gave Karen permission and stand behind her to the utmost. I hope your constituents do the same!

I agree....Kudos to Alderman Austin for saying the truth. Lewis just want so show off and justify her over inflated self.....I mean position! She is upset the Mayor actually stood up to her!

4% increase in pay, summer off, pension and medical benefits, and the average teacher’s salary is over $70K /year…when the average median salary in the United States is in the $30k range….what else do you want??? You want to be treated like salaried professionals, then stop acting like hourly employees at a fast food restaurant.

While the rest of Chicago citizens face economic instability, no increase in salaries and no job security, you feel as though you’re entitled to it…get over yourselves!!!!

You want guarantees that teachers that were let go from schools that were underperforming will be rehired? Why? Because it was “though no fault of their own”…how do you even rationalize that? They are the ones who were teaching those schools. CPS does not randomly close down schools, they close down schools with low test scores that have been placed on a watch list and given warnings. I know my Kids’ school was one of those schools, but the administration and teachers there actually turned it around…so it can be done.

As if the strike was not a big slap in the face to all us CPS parents, you further insult our intelligence by trying to justify this BS by telling us that you are doing it for our kids and better schools????

Not sure how my kids exactly benefit from paid maternity days and 4% annual increases to teachers’ salaries….if the answer is that it will help keep the best and brightest teachers in the system, I ask you then what happened after the last strike when your demands were agreed to 25 years ago….why do we have undeforming kids if the best and brightest are retained???

Tell me again how my kids benefit from an ELEMENTRAY LIBRARIAN that makes over $90K /year????? How hard is the due decimal system??

A CPS Parent

Awesome. I'm not a big fan of Austin or Rahm, but I agree that the last points should not be changed for the CTU.

I thought I was the only one who thought Lewis looked like Jabba! Good Eye!

Karen Lewis is nothing short of an embarrassment to the teachers union. How, and why they would ever elect such a radical wackjob is beyond me. A devout leftist, with an inferiority complex to the utmost degree. Something is really wrong when organized labor cannot find common ground with a Rham Emanuel administration. It's not about the children, but about control! CTU wants to monopolize public education...simple as that! No vouchers, no charters, no performance evaluations for loser teachers, nothing to show any degree of accountability. Well, screw her fat arse! Thank God my parents were able to send me to Catholic grade and H.S.

just let the alderwoman get a HINT that she would not get a raise, or cost o living allowance and WATCH her reaction! Too sad that teachers will NEVER be paid the value of their job! Most successful people had a TEACHER (no matter what level) and to think that teachers should take a vow of poverty is just stupid thinking, Teachers buy homes, shop (food clothing) PAY tuition ect. like everyone else BUT they are expected to not want an affordable salary to enjoy these benefits. Why? (too bad (some) principals can be ventictive and mean....jealous as well....and may dismiss a teacher for these reasons and several others. There has to be a better selection process for sure.....just talk to a seasoned teacher and she will tell you of the dual pesonality principals that are in the system.......and they manage to STAY....please don't get me started..............

The CTU is a democratic union that has elected officers that stand up for the teachers and for the students. Education in this country is being cut by the rich and powerful because they do not care about our kids. They only care about tax cuts for themselves. The CTU has taken a stand against privatized (undemocratic) education, against wage cuts and for class sizes and work conditions that allow well trained people to do their jobs successfully. To be evaluated on the results of testing that measures the students socio-economic background more than the efforts of the teacher is fundamentally unfair to teachers. To ask for some job security in a world that just throws people away is a very just demand. This strike is about the future of education and about the future of workers in this country and the union is the future that holds hope for us, the position of the rich leads to more austerity, declining standards of living and the loss of the middle class.

Teachers need to pass a vote of NO CONFIDENCE against KLewis and get back to work. Lewis is on a power trip. Get rid of her.

While I do not like the CTU President, you gotta admit that Mayor Rahm knew full well that the vote to strike was overwhelmingly high...higher than he and his advisor's ever imagined. Knowing this fact and now Rahm says it is a strike of choice? Sorry Charlie. I saw this and you should have also. You reap what you sow and sow what you reap. Good luck with the public's opinion which seems to be behind the teachers, This may be Rahm's Blizzard snow storm that does him in.

I saw a picture of the strikers posing for a pic with HUGE smiles on their face. Having fun while our children suffer. Take you 75,000 and shortest days in the country and get back to work.

If you have never worked in a classroom, or a school, you could not possibly understand. As was stated - some principals NEVER come out of their offices, require teachers to keep their doors closed (principals do not want to know what is going on in the classroom), and won't let teachers transfer to better performing schools, closer to their homes. The Board does not close under-performing schools. Its ALL politics; all it takes is a phone call from one principal to the other to stop an employee from transferring.

No one is discussing the number of principals that retired on June 30th of this year, nor the number of teachers (something like 300 principals and 2000 teachers!)

No one wants to deal with Rahm and his new administration being given the privilege of living outside of Chicago, sending THEIR children to private schools, while earning greater than the national average.

And, by the way, Chicago teachers earn far less than their suburban counterparts, and have a harder job to do with the crime rate in Chicago going up every day, poverty and other social issues these children and teachers have to deal with - office and classroom conditions are horrendous.

I'm sure Austin will score points from the Mayor. She knows how to play the game!

Karen Lewis and the rest - you all have my support.

I cant believe what I am reading? Why aren't the rest of the population who feel they are over worked and underpaid out fighting for better conditions for themselves???? Do you really think bosses and CEOs are hurting? Arent they getting raises and bailouts? So why is everyone venting the anger at teachers? Stand up! Fight back! Demand not to be treated as servants! Come on people get with the program.

As a union delegate and parent, I have seen and read about the progression of the negotiation process beginning back in 2011. I was part of the pilot for the Additional Learning Opportunity program that had great intentions but per CPS management was DOA, with under staffing, underestimation of scope of student and technological support and eventually showed no true correlation to student success.

Schools that were chosen for the extended school day initially for the 2012 year were pay offs were schools were so hard up for funding because either populations were either not low income and have high parental support ie Skinner or low income and needed other resources out of desperation still showed no increased student performance. The longer day that Rahm initially force fed schools was not supported by scheduling models nor human resources were students would be dismissed in areas of known gang territories, crossing guards and support for curriculum development within the implementation timeframe.

Lastly, begining teacher salary is 47200, 3000 more with a masters. In 5 years, you must complete at least 12 credit hours or 70-100 hours of non paid, professional development, unless a principal sends you to one or two specialized developements in a school year during PD days. Aside from lessons plans of what your teaching, and grading papers, teachers must create an individualized action plan for every student to show how they will raise there test performance scores approximately every 6 weeks. As a rule, no teacher takes off during the school year. During the summer we still attend professional developements or school, as well as beginning currilculum planning for the upcoming school year.

Oh by the way, teachers spend a minimum of $750 per year on average for supplies for class preparation for the first day, not to mention ink, paper and other supplies at home, for which we get only $100 back if the business manager/ principal submits the expense report.

Oh yeh, and when schools show achievement gains, have the backing of the community, have petitions from students, parents, teachers and community members and go down to the board to present and still ask them to to keep the school open, CPS closes it anyway and fires the teachers left at the end of the year for an AUSL turnaround model that shows only a 33% success rate anyway, causes children to walk across gang territories as the school "improves" before it opens for a year, teachers are told the school will close in January before kids take the ISAT and that they are free to interview and can leave at this point, destabilizing the school structure.....

No we dont need to say a thing, .... by the way its Dewey Decimal System not due decimal.... that lesson is for free during the strike because I enjoy teaching all levels of kids.... AND ADULTS!!!

As a union delegate and parent, I have seen and read about the progression of the negotiation process beginning back in 2011. I was part of the pilot for the Additional Learning Opportunity program that had great intentions but per CPS management was DOA, with under staffing, underestimation of scope of student and technological support and eventually showed no true correlation to student success.

Schools that were chosen for the extended school day initially for the 2012 year were pay offs were schools were so hard up for funding because either populations were either not low income and have high parental support ie Skinner or low income and needed other resources out of desperation still showed no increased student performance. The longer day that Rahm initially force fed schools was not supported by scheduling models nor human resources were students would be dismissed in areas of known gang territories, crossing guards and support for curriculum development within the implementation time frame.

Lastly, begining teacher salary is 47200, 3000 more with a masters. In 5 years, you must complete at least 12 credit hours or 70-100 hours of non paid, professional development, unless a principal sends you to one or two specialized developments in a school year during PD days. Aside from lessons plans of what your teaching, and grading papers, teachers must create an individualized action plan of learning activities/lessons/concepts for every student to show how they will raise there test performance scores approximately every 6 weeks. As a rule, no teacher takes off during the school year. During the summer we still attend professional developments or school, as well as beginning curriculum planning for the upcoming school year.

Oh by the way, teachers spend a minimum of $750 per year on average for supplies for class preparation for the first day, not to mention ink, paper and other supplies at home, for which we get only $100 back if the business manager/ principal submits the expense report.

Oh yeh, and when schools show achievement gains, have the backing of the community, have petitions from students, parents, teachers and community members and go down to the board to present and still ask them to to keep the school open, CPS closes it anyway and fires the teachers left at the end of the year for an AUSL turnaround model that shows only a 33% success rate anyway (ask schools like Sherman, Orr, DuSable, Bunche), causes children to walk across gang territories as the school "improves" before it opens for a year, teachers are told the school will close in January before kids take the ISAT and that they are free to interview and can leave at this point, destabilizing the school structure.....

For the turnaround and charter schools, examine their student code of conduct, grounds for suspension and expulsion, and track were those kids go in that situation... traditional cps schools

No we dont need to say a thing, .... by the way its Dewey Decimal System not due decimal.... that lesson is for free during the strike because I enjoy teaching all levels of kids.... AND ADULTS!!!

Austin has her nose so far up Rahm's rear end its a wonder that she can breathe.

After being head of the Budget Committee for over 10 years during Daley's term and producing budgets and deficits that we are still paying for, she now has found a new butt to kiss in order to keep her budget committee chairmanship and the jobs she gives to her son and nieces on the city payroll.

Did you know that the 2012 CPS budget contains over $450 million for tuition for teachers?

The type of principal you are describing should be fired. Where is the common sense in that? Not sure how education became so political, what a shame! It's even worse in higher ed. I do believe that this is about the worst time given the economy to shout for larger benefits when it is highly publicized that Chicago teachers are already close to the highest paid in the nation and also have the shortest school day! Again, where is the common sense in that?

KAREN LEWIS THE REASON MY KIDS WILL NEVER STEP FOOT IN A CHICAGO SCHOOL...

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