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CTU produces research on issues important to our members and to all public education advocates.

The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve 2.0

This 2018 update to CTU’s 2012 report, The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve provides a counter-narrative to the corporate agenda on education. SCSD 2.0 highlights the many racist inequities that have continued, or in some cases worsened, since 2012. CTU has a track record of fighting for reforms to change these realities, which is why Chicagoans continue to trust the CTU more than the Board of Education, more than Mayor Emanuel and more than any “reformer” backed by billionaires and corporate foundations.

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Our City, Our Racial Disparities

Corporate education reformers love to harp on the “education gap” between different racial groups as a cause for alarm, focusing on test scores and college graduation rates while blaming teachers for these outcomes. The Chicago Teachers Union, on the other hand, has been arguing that the issues our students and their families face at home and in the community greatly affects their academic outcomes.

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Still Separate, Still Unequal

On the 59th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released a report on the history of disruptive actions against communities of color by Chicago Public Schools (CPS), exemplified by school closings that intensify the harmful effects of segregated schools and neighborhoods.

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Unseen: Students’ Traumatic Experiences

CPS is giving superficial attention to the issue of social-emotional learning, but will not commit resources to do the job right. The lack of social workers in CPS is appalling—the district has about 20% of the what the National Association of Social Workers... read more

Abandonment or Revival? What to Expect from a New High School in Englewood

There is little evidence to support the CPS claim in a letter to parents: “We believe that every community deserves an excellent neighborhood high school that will give your children the skills and knowledge they need to achieve their dreams.” The opposite is true. Through poor planning and racist policy decisions, CPS has deliberately undermined Englewood’s neighborhood high schools.

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Nursing Services at CPS

Promoted as a cost-savings move, the Chicago Public Schools outsourced the management of school nurses to an east coast company with defense contracts in the summer of 2015. Six months into this four-year contract, nurses from the Chicago Teachers Union report on the drastic failure of this company to meet its contractual obligations, putting nearly 400,000 Chicago students in danger.

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Chicago Public Schools Budget Brief (2015)

Chicago Public Schools are broke on purpose. They’ve used the annual specter of a financial crisis to close down schools in disinvested neighborhoods, slash staff and supports from our district schools and narrow the curriculum by extending the school day without appropriate funding for arts, music and libraries. At the same time, they have recklessly outsourced essential services…

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A Just Chicago: Fighting for the City Our Students Deserve

Education in the U.S. is subject to huge disparities in opportunity (the “opportunity gap”): some groups of students have incredible experiences while a much larger group is subject to extremely limited in-school and life experiences. These educational opportunities are directly linked to students’ socioeconomic status, and what happens outside schools is more influential than what happens inside. Students’ neighborhoods, family situations, health, level of poverty and race all impact their school experiences and learning. A Just Chicago was published in 2015 as both PDF form and as a standalone website.

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Arguments Against The Common Core

As educators, we are obligated to question the true purpose of the Common Core Standards, and expose flaws in the standards themselves, their developmental appropriateness, the testing requirements, uses of test results, equity of opportunity, their roll-out time frame, and their implementation. The CCS reflect a narrow vision of education.

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Twelve Months Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago

On May 22, 2013, The Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50, “turn around” five, and co-locate 17 elementary schools. Faced with widespread opposition to these actions, CPS promised hundreds of millions of dollars in capital improvements and transition supports for schools receiving students from closed schools. However, CTU’s examination of the evidence finds that the promises made to receiving schools were hollow in many cases and only partially fulfilled in others.

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A Sea of Red: Chicago Teachers Union members reflect on how the social organizing model of unionism helped win the union’s 2012 contract campaign

In September of 2012 the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) carried out a successful seven-day strike against Chicago Public Schools (CPS). This was the first strike by the CTU in over 25 years. As unions decline across the USA and education “reformers” restructure urban public K-12 education along the lines of market mimicking business models, the CTU strike campaign of 2012 stands apart.

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The Great Chicago Pension Caper

This report demonstrates the unintended consequences of misguided pension reform. We need sensible revenue solutions. People need to understand that our retirees do not receive social security and have to pay for Medicare Part A out of our own pockets. We must put an end to this pension caper so that people can survive in an economy that is not kind to older Americans.

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Budget Analysis: 2013-14

As the 2013/14 school year opens, schools across Chicago are facing challenges beyond the complex process of teaching and learning. CPS students, families, and staffs are facing ballooning class sizes, limited learning materials, strained nerves tied to unfunded mandates, and massive uncertainty about whether the current state of CPS is the “new normal.”

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The Impact of Early Childhood Testing

The “one-size-fits-all,” “drill and kill” approach being pushed is creeping its way into early childhood education. Chicago Public Schools has expanded the required and optional testing for young children, placing importance on continuous assessment through standardized testing and benchmarks. These tests include REACH, Teaching Standards GOLD and Quarterly Benchmark Performance Tasks. Matching the standardization trend in high school education, testing is being used as the foremost indicator of student performance.

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A Tale of Two Schools: The Human Story Behind the Destructive School Actions in Chicago

On December 28, 2011, Simon Guggenheim Elementary School paraprofessional and homeless education coordinator Sherri Parker received an alarming call from one of her students’ parents. The student’s mother informed Parker that shortly before Christmas, the school had called her and recommended she transfer her child to another school. On the West Side, Jacob Beidler Elementary faced similar worries. In 2011, CPS announced its intention to close the East Garfield Park neighborhood school and hand its building over to a charter school.

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Nothing But Net (Profits)

The city of Chicago has been good to Jerry Reinsdorf. Support from a large fan base has helped Reinsdorf transform the Bulls and White Sox into two of the most successful sports franchises in North America, with a combined value of $1.2 billion and over $70 million in total annual operating income as of 2012. This report offers a case study in why calls for increased accountability need to be directed at the corporate profiteers who make it impossible to equitably fund local public education, instead of at hard-working and dedicated teachers.

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Value-Added Education Hurts Teaching

From Education Week: As in other professions, good evaluation starts with rigorous, ongoing assessment by experts who review teachers’ instruction based on professional standards. Evaluators look at classroom practice, plus evidence of student outcomes from classroom work and school or district assessments. Studies show that feedback from this kind of evaluation improves student achievement, because it helps teachers get better at what they do. Systems that sponsor peer assistance and review programs also identify poor teachers, provide them intensive help, and effectively remove them if they don’t improve.

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Debunking the Myths of Standardized Testing (PDF)

The “business model” approach to education is data obsessed and purports that the solution to inequities in education is to fire teachers whose students have low test scores and reward teachers whose students have high test scores. They continue to promote top down approaches to quick fixes, ignoring decades of research. The way to achieve sustainable improvement is through long‐term processes such as developing teaching quality, empowering community and families, mandating smaller class sizes, improving resource access for schools and communities in need, and implementing a joyous, critical, inquiry‐based and creative learning experience for students.

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Chicago schools’ class sizes among the highest in the state

This CTU analysis of Illinois average classroom sizes showed early grade classrooms in the city are larger than those in 95 percent of the districts in the rest of the state. The analysis, using Illinois State Board of Education data, found that classrooms in Chicago’s public high schools have the fifth highest class size compared to other districts in Illinois.

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Class Size: Quick Facts and Resources

A collection of facts and resources on class size compiled by CTU in 2011. Learn about the effects of class size and related issues from studies like the Tennessee STAR project, and from both popular and peer-reviewed sources.

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