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Sunday, June 13, 2010

New CTU president is a fierce foe of Daley's agenda

Well I missed this one in recent days:
Karen Lewis, a high school chemistry teacher who has been a fierce opponent of Mayor Daley's Renaissance 2010 program to shake up and rejuvenate public schools, handily defeated two-term president Marilyn Stewart for the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union early Saturday.

Lewis and her Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) slate won in a virtual sweep against Stewart's United Progressive Caucus team that has been in power for 37 of the last 40 years, with Lewis trouncing Stewart by a 3-2 margin.

The change in CTU leadership -- Lewis takes the reins July 1 -- could put Mayor Daley in a political pinch through demands for the city to return tax-increment financing (TIF) funds to each school taxing district.

Lewis has organized protests against the Renaissance 2010 program, which has closed schools and displaced hundreds of teachers. Closed schools have reopened as charters that use non-CTU teachers. She inherits a hornet's nest of troubles as the Chicago Public Schools system struggles with an estimated deficit of $437 million, plus another $420 million in late state payments.

One elementary school teacher who voted for Lewis said teachers at her school "were really fed up with Marilyn Stewart. . . . They feel like she's in bed with Mayor Daley and [schools CEO] Ron Huberman, and she's not standing up to them," said the teacher, who asked to remain anonymous.

Up to 2,700 teachers and 300 non-teaching union members could lose their jobs if class sizes rise from an average of 30 to 35, which has been proposed as a budget-balancing measure by CPS officials. This would infuriate parents, who have protested against larger class sizes.
Well not so sure Ms. Lewis would be much more of an improvement over Marilyn Stewart who was on record as not wanting to give in to any conncessions. Not sure that makes her an effective stooge of Mayor Daley, but hey it sure made for great theater. Besides that kind of talk in terms of unions having to give something in terms of whats going on currently in public finance is not something the public wants to hear right now.

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