Sep 012012

August 2012 Coalition Power Breakfast –  Karen GJ Lewis, President Chicago Teachers Union

For COAL’s August Breakfast, we continued our series covering areas of critical concern for our community. The focus was on Education and we were honored to host Karen Lewis, President of the 32,000 member Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Ms. Lewis passed out the CTU’s The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve: Research-based Proposals to Strengthen Elementary and Secondary Education in the Chicago Public Schools, which contains the following:

“The [CTU] argues for proven educational reforms to dramatically improve education of more
than 400,000 students in a district of 675 schools.”

Ms. Lewis pointed out that the CTU’s strategic proposals for improving the education of our children are research-based, a key approach the CTU is taking moving forward.

Ms. Lewis talked candidly about the CTU, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and ongoing battles with the mayor’s office.  Items that stood out:

  • Class Size: Chicago has one of the largest class sizes in the state which inhibits learning for our students.
  • Wrap-around services: We need to increase the number of school counselors, nurses, social workers and psychologists as recommended by national professional associations.
  • School facilities: No more leaking roofs, asbestos-lined bathrooms or in-operable windows. Students need to be taught in well-maintained facilities.
  • Allocation of Capital Funds: Funds to improve facilities should be allocated based on need – the condition of schools – not equally distributed. This is inherently unfair to schools in the most challenged neighborhoods.
  • Solutions to problems that have plagued Chicago schools entails systemically changing ‘processes’ that have been in place for decades and this takes time and can be messy.

Ms. Lewis stated that there is “ no silver bullet” that will remedy the Chicago Public School system, however, together we can work to begin the process of reforming the education of our children.

Action Items:

Ms. Lewis encouraged concerned members of the community to join their local school councils.

Ms. Lewis stated that she is open and interested in meeting with the community in large or small groups. She provided contact information to attendees for this purpose.

Please see the CTU’s Report here.

A few pictures from the Breakfast:


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