A Teacher's Day

The day in the life of an inner city large urban school district teacher after the high stakes testing ends and there is still three more months left before summer vacation.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

I have taught school for over thirty years always in the inner city and for the most part always upper grade students. I have two children and I have been married for twenty years.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

After a Lousy Day I have to go to a Teacher's Union Meeting

The June House of Delegate’s Meeting Notes, June 7th, 2006
Michael H. Brownstein, Union Delegate

I guess every June the House of Delegates has to approve the budget for the Chicago Teacher Union’s staff. The first item on the agenda stated: “Special Order of Business. Vote on the 2006-2007 Budget.”

When Marlyn Stewart opened the mics for debate, three dozen people rushed to them. She called on mic one—“I make a motion we postpone the vote on the budget until we can get a copy of the benefit package for all employees on the executive leadership staff.” She went on about rumors teachers’ dues were funding extra benefits to the Executive Committee including 20,000 dollars in annuities and bonuses every year.

The motion was quickly seconded.

The debate was thick and furious—a lot of booing and foot stomping and just plain ugly yelling. Just a note of interest—this budget is approximately a half a million dollars higher than the last budget. Nowhere are the costs of benefits listed.

A vote was taken after about twelve more minutes of debate. We were asked to stand. From my view point, the motion passed. Stewart said, “Motion failed.” People in the audience began to yell a call of division (a parliamentary call that asks the leadership to make an exact count). According to the constitution and Robert’s Rules, a call of division with a second (and there were seconds) is a mandatory call to cease discussion and do an actual recount of the votes (not a visual count like Stewart did).

George Milkowski, a retired CTU delegate (he gets to vote), told me: “Stewart does this all of the time. It’s obvious she lost. Watch how she ignores the call for a recount.”

And then she did.

A motion was made to end debate. A two thirds vote is needed. The vote was 259 to 179. (In case I heard wrong, I asked others what they heard.) Once again Stewart said the motion passed—debate is ended. Do the math. Two thirds of 438 members is not 259. When this was called to her attention, Stewart turned a dark crimson, banged the gavel down a number of times (I’d hate to see her really angry) and went off—actually yelling at members. “Get off the mics,” she yelled. She looked extremely silly. I wonder if I look half as stupid as she does when I go off. (If so, I promise you I will stop immediately.)

“The point about how much I get paid is not important,” she screamed banging her gavel down at least a half a dozen times. “I don’t get paid enough for all of the crap I’m taking from you.” The House of Delegates went wild. “Don’t get me started.”

Her president’s report talked about absolutely nothing of any consequence. The only important item is that Michael Scot is resigning and the new board president hates the union. When she was done there was a massive walkout of delegates. I left too. After all, I can’t stand going to in-services where the instructor passes out literature and then spends the entire time reading it to us. That’s exactly how the officers gave their reports. “Look at the green page in your packet,” one of them said, for example, and then read a few lines from it.

By the way, Dorothy Tillman signed the petition to stop the closing of schools due to the Renaissance 2010 Plan along with 39 other alderman. The resolution sponsored by 24th Ward Alderman Michael D. Chandler states in part:

“Whereas, before more schools are closed and their student’s education is disrupted, it is incumbent that some oversight and evaluation be made of those Chicago Public School pupils whose lives have already been disrupted in order to better judge whether this radical experiment with these pupil’s education is working; now therefore

“Be it resolved that a moratorium is in immediate effect for all further closures until the progress of students from all schools that have been closed or reconstituted under the Renaissance 2010 plan have been evaluated.”


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