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Wednesday, July 28, 2010312/329-6250 (office)

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CTU President Karen Lewis Calls forHiring Freeze on New Hires;

End Teach For America Contract

Chicago - CTU President Karen Lewis made the following statement earlier today at the Board of Education Meeting.

More than ever, the Board needs to retaincareer teachers –professionals who devote their lives to perfecting their craft. But sometimes your actions appear as if a lifetime devotion to our children holds no value. That schoolinstability and high teacher turnover is, in your eyes, “good enough” for our children and that our teachers deserve little respect. That makes me want to say shame on you.

In June, the Board fired over 200 of our top teachers – the coaches who were chosen by CPS to teach other teachers and help them raise standards of instruction. Had these coaches ignored CPS and said, “I’m closing my classroom door and focusing just on my kids. To heck with the others,” they’d probably still be teaching today. But they didn’tbecause they are career teachers and care deeply and passionately about education and all of Chicago’s children. And then the Board fired them, callously and capriciously. You fired them without notice, without benefits. For many, you destroyed their lives.

But were these cuts calculated? A few months before, in March, you signed a contract to hire up to 200 Teach for America novices with zero experience this year, 80% of whom will leave our classrooms in less than three years. Four of five will leave their students behind.

And last week you announced through the media that you are firing 600 more educators – 400 teachers and 200 support personnel – and threaten to fire even more. You said you would not raise class sizes in our elementary schools, but you did.

What is unfathomable is that, by its own admission, CPS did not even measure how raising class sizes and cutting teachers would impact our children’s education. I have it in writing from your lawyers, Mr. Franczek’s offices, and I could not believe my eyes. But there it was – no impact study. You are making life-altering decisions without even bothering to assess the consequences of your actions.

It is time to redeem yourselves, in part, with a no new-hire hiring freeze today – and keep your word. No new inexperienced teachers until each coach, each experienced teacher, isteaching again. Because our students can’twait for a teacher to “get good”-- that’s a direct quote from a student about her Teach for Americanovice.

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The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve. CTU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, is the third largest union in the country and the largest local union in Illinois.