Chicago Teachers Union Votes to Move Left
New leadership vows to battle testing, charter schools, and the district's budget balancing plan.
by Collin Hitt
Late last week, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to oust Marilyn Stewart, the head of Illinois’s largest and most powerful local teachers union. Under Stewart’s leadership, the CTU proved intractable in its opposition to the most substantial reform movements of the past decade. Most prominently, the union has opposed charter schools, perhaps the most successful reform policy implemented in the Chicago school system over the past 30 years. Nonetheless, according to the new leadership, the Stewart regime was apparently too moderate.
Newly elected CTU president Karen Lewis has vowed not only to redouble its opposition to charter schools but to stand athwart standardized testing as well.
Many undoubtedly will feel that the new election threatens to further marginalize a union whose policy platform is increasingly out of step even with that of the Obama administration. Walter Jacobson made another observation in the advance of last week’s election:
The candidates for president include Marilyn Stewart, the incumbent, who has four years’ experience in the trenches versus three rookies who have none.
Marilyn Stewart experience vs. rookie fresh faces. Out with the old, in with the new? That’s the question.
It’s hard to predict what will happen, but one thing is for sure: The bosses downtown are rooting for the rookies to get them to a bargaining table and eat them alive.
By the way, I came across Jacobson’s commentary on the CTU’s website last week, posted when Marilyn Stewart was still president.