Outside groups, such as Stand for Children, Education Reform Now and New Schools for Chicago, are placing a big bet on the impending contract negotiations between Chicago Public Schools Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union. All three organizations serve as advocacy groups that tend to push for charter schools, merit pay, and stronger testing.
With such innocent sounding names, who can be against them? They want new schools, are looking out for the kids and reform always sounds like a positive thing. But that’s not what why they are beginning to push their influence in Chicago. Both New Schools and Stand for Children held ceremonies for parents that participated in their training program. More than 130 parents are now in the communities advocating for these two organizations. Stand for Children held their sessions at two charter schools run by Academy for Urban School Leadership. CPS Board Chair David Vitale is the former leader of AUSL. The current COO of CPS, Tim Cawley also worked for AUSL prior to joining CPS.
These organizations claim to hold an attitude of students first but the board members public actions deem otherwise. CEO of Exelon Corporation, John Rowe serves as Chairman of New Schools for Chicago. As the CEO of the energy company, Rowe has advocated for lower and lower tax rates despite record profits. The decreased tax revenue has hurt public schools and underfunded other public run programs. Rowe is not alone on the board either.
These are corporate CEO’s, money managers, and venture capitalists. Are we really supposed to believe they have the best interests of community children at heart when they have done little to nothing to prove it when they run billion dollar corporations?
Education Reform Now sent Chicago parents a robo-call to denounce the strike authorization vote taken by the teachers union.
In the “robo-call,” a woman identifying herself as a Local School Council member says that, “Teachers deserve a raise. But it bothers me that the union is taking a strike vote before an independent arbitrator offers a compromise.”
Matthew Blake of Progress Illinois writes more:
CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll says that the district has not coordinated with any outside group in getting their message out to parents.
While that might be the case, the message from CPS and Education Reform Now is identical on the strike authorization vote, they argue that CTU violated the spirit of last year’s landmark state education law by holding the strike authorization while an independent fact finder reviews both sides’ proposals.
In a letter to CPS parents (PDF) dated June 6, CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard writes that the two sides “are in the middle of a contract negotiation process that was established in the recent Illinois Education Reform Legislation and designed specifically to foster negotiation and avoid a strike.”
“Teachers must be allowed to see the final independent compromise proposal before making the decision to authorize a strike,” Brizard added.
An identical message sent only to CPS parents? PURE Parents wonders if CPS shared the phone numbers with the corporate education advocacy organization. It would not be unthinkable as CPS provided grant money to a Pastor that then ended up paying people to appear as protesters in favor of CPS’ agenda.
The connections are there but just a bit off to make a direct accusation. It won’t just be the weather that heats up this summer. Look for more to unfold.
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