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Friday, September 14, 2012

Historic Karen Lewis Announcement of CTU Strike, 9/9/12 Press Conference

[Scroll to end for more on need for air conditioners.]
Click on the video at right for the complete Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis press conference announcement 10 PM Sunday night, September 9, 2012, of the strike of the Chicago Public Schools, to begin on Monday, September 10. Video is from NBC, WMAQ, Channel 5, uploaded at WBEZ Chicago.
NYC Eye's Full corrected press conference transcript:

"Negotiations have been intense but productive, however we have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike. This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could have avoided. Throughout these negotiations have I remained hopeful but determined. We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.

“Talks have been productive in many areas. We have successfully won concessions for nursing mothers and have put more than 500 of our members back to work. We have restored some of the art, music, world language, technology and physical education classes to many of our students. The Board also agreed that we will now have textbooks on the first day of school rather than have our students and teachers wait up to six weeks before receiving instructional materials.

“Recognizing the Board’s fiscal woes, we are not far apart on compensation. However, we are apart on benefits. We want to maintain the existing health benefits.

“Another concern is our evaluation procedures. After the initial phase-in of this new evaluation system it could result almost 6,000 teachers (or nearly 30 percent of our members) being discharged within one or two years. This is unacceptable and leads to instability for our students. We are also concerned that too much of the new evaluations will be based on students’ standardized test scores. This is no way to measure teacher effectiveness at all.

Further, there are too many factors beyond our control which will impact how well some students perform on those standardized tests. Those factors include poverty which no one wants to talk about, exposure to violence which over this past summer we all know has increased exponentially, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control. Evaluate us on what we do, not the lives of our children that we do not control.

“We have talked seriously about job security. Job security is stability for our students. Despite a new curriculum and new, stringent evaluation system, CPS proposes no increase (or even a possible decreases) in teacher training. This is notable because our Union through our Quest Center is at the forefront teacher professional development in Illinois. We have been lauded by the District already and our colleagues across the country for our extensive teacher training programs that help emerging teachers strengthen their craft and increased the number of nationally board certified educators.

“We are demanding a reasonable timetable for the installation of air-conditioning in student classrooms--a sweltering, 98-degree classroom is not a productive learning environment for children. This type of environment is unacceptable for our members and all school personnel. A lack of climate control is unacceptable to our parents.

“As we continue to bargain in good faith, we stand in solidarity with parents, clergy and community-based organizations who are advocating for smaller class sizes, a better school day and an elected school board. Class size matters. It matters to parents. In the third largest school district in Illinois there are only 370 social workers -—putting their caseloads at over 1,000 students each. We join them in their call for more social workers, counselors, audio/visual and hearing technicians and school nurses. Our children are exposed to unprecedented levels of neighborhood violence and other social issues, so the fight for wrap-around services is critically important to all of us. Our members will continue to support this groundswell of parent activism and grassroots engagement on these issues. And we hope the Board will not shut these voices out.

“And while new Illinois law prohibits us from striking over the recall of laid-off teachers and compensation for a longer school year, we do not intend to sign an agreement until of the matters of our contract are addressed.

“Again, we are committed to staying at the table until a contract is place. However, in the morning no CTU member will be inside our schools. We will walk the picket lines. We will talk to parents. We will talk to clergy. We demand a fair contract today, we demand a fair contract now. And, until there is one in place that our members will accept, we will be on the line.

“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the state and the country who are currently bargaining for their own fair contracts. Most people don't understand, it is not just Chicago it is file intent to strike. Let's be clear --in Illinois we have at least five AFT locals and twelve IEA locals.

“This announcement is made now so our parents and community are empowered with this knowledge and will know that schools --real schools-- will not open tomorrow. Please seek alternative care for your children. And, we ask all of you to join us in our education justice fight—for a fair contract—and call on the mayor and CEO Brizard to settle this matter now. Thank you.”

And for the need for air conditioners for the students and their teachers --remember, everything is being measured: From the New York Times:
Unfortunately, studies by Shin-ichi Tanabe, a professor of architecture at Waseda University in Tokyo who has long been interested in “thermal comfort,” found that while workers tolerated dimmer light just fine, every degree rise in temperature above 25 Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) resulted in a 2 percent drop in productivity. Over the course of the day that meant they accomplished 30 minutes less work, he said.

Other studies have found that with office temperatures between 82 and 86 degrees, symptoms like headache, drowsiness and difficulty concentrating increase, which may explain the drop in performance.

Worse still, perhaps, Mr. Tanabe calculated that the suffering was all for naught: When offices were kept above about 82 degrees, so many people were using inefficient fans at their desks that the total electricity consumption could be higher than if the building had been better cooled. “That’s just stupid,” he said.

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