CPS refusing to bargain, not CTU
Letters to the Editor June 13, 2012 6:40PM
Updated: July 15, 2012 3:22PM
On Tuesday, June 12, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial “Time for CTU to bargain” unfairly depicts the Chicago Teachers Union in its representation of Chicago Public Schools and CTU contract negotiations. Instead of asking the CTU about what the bargaining process has been like, the Sun Times decided to print CPS’ version of reality at the expense of balance and objectivity.
The truth is that the Board of Education has refused to bargain on issues of vital importance to students, parents and teachers.
They have outright refused to negotiate about class size, even though Chicago has some of the highest class sizes in the county and the state. The district has refused to bargain about art, music, world language and physical education classes, even though 40 percent of our schools are without a full-time art or music programs. The city has refused to discuss playground facilities or libraries, even though 98 schools have no playgrounds and 160 schools are without libraries.
The board has also refused to negotiate staffing levels for nurses, counselors, school psychologists and social workers even though the ratio is at levels set in the 1960s, one-third of the number of school specialists currently needed in our schools.
Lastly, the district has refused to discuss ways to honor and develop experience in the classroom by making it more difficult for highly qualified and experienced educators to remain in a system that every year engages in massive layoffs, contributing to half of all teachers leaving the system every five years. Certainly CPS is not obligated to bargain the fact that out of the 10 largest cities we have the third-highest student-to-nurse and student-to-counselor ratios. However, it is in the best interests of children for CPS to figure out these vitally important concerns with the experts who have to teach every day.
The CTU would be in dereliction of our duty if we did not demand high-quality public education and dignified learning conditions in our contract negotiations. Instead of allowing CPS to hide behind its right not to bargain important matters to our schools, the Sun-Times, and others, should demand that they do.
We can’t wait; our children need these essential supports now.
Karen Lewis, president,
Chicago Teachers Union
Vatican stifling nuns’ freedom of speech
I strongly disagree with the letter from Jeff Field, of the Catholic League, on Carol Marin’s June 10 column, “Nuns who won’t be bullied.”
Fieldwrote: “What the Vatican has done with its statement on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is to correct the sisters who have mistaken their vocation of service to the Church as one of social work.”
What the Vatican has really tried to do is to stifle some of its religious women’s freedom of speech. The Catholic Church has wailed against social injustice and continues that today in just about every church across this country and world. That is the social injustice that the Vatican agrees with. Some nuns have decided that all social injustice should be brought to the forefront, not just the one’s the hierarchy wants its people to hear about. Freedom of speech is a right in this country. And as long as the church wishes to wail from the pulpit, on whom to vote for and to what injustices should be allowed, they open themselves up to debate from people who work in the trenches and who really feel and see the pain of making it from day to day. Something that is hard to see from a castle in Rome.
Mike Schauer, Joliet