CTU educators strike with charter operator Urban Prep

Management continues to reject language protecting special education students, classroom needs, student resources in contract negotiations that have dragged on for three years.

  • 7:30 am Monday June 7: socially distanced press conference with educators, parents. Urban Prep campus Englewood, 6201 S. Stewart Ave.

CHICAGO – Educators from three Urban Prep campuses will hold a press conference at 7:30 am on Monday June 7 at Urban Prep Englewood Campus, located at 6201 S. Stewart Ave, to announce a strike against the charter operator on their three campuses.

“We’re trying to make a deal that respects our students, our families and the educators who have served them for three years,” said Dana Wilson, math professor at Urban Prep. “About 30 percent of our students need special education services that are chronically harmed. Classrooms are in desperate need of resources and our schools need stable staff, instead of overburdened bureaucracies and dragging their feet on the basic needs of students.

CTU teachers on the three campuses of Urban Prep charter schools – Bronzeville, Englewood and West – voted unanimously to strike in late May. CTU also filed an unfair labor practice charge against the charter leadership in May for a series of abuses, including refusing to disclose financial information and other criticism.

Sticking points at the bargaining table include staff demands for improved special education resources. The management has refused even basic agreements to follow laws governing the provision of special education services to which students are entitled at the federal level. Three in ten Urban Prep students are eligible for these services, but management has consistently failed to fund these needs.

Urban Prep has received more than $ 3 million in pandemic PPP funds for salaries and services on top of their regular CPS funding – and a long history of financial mismanagement that includes twice missing payroll, despite these salaries being funded by the CPS. Urban Prep receives the same per-student funding as all other CPS and charter schools, but UP educators are at the bottom of the pay scale among unionized Chicago schools, with a starting salary more than $ 11,000 lower than that of CPS. Low wages and difficult working conditions lead to high turnover and deep instability for school students.

“We prefer to teach our students, but if it takes a strike to get the protections we need, we’ll be on the picket lines,” said Shelley Aaron, special education teacher. “We stand ready to meet with the management of Urban Prep, although they let this lead to a strike simply because they do not want to enshrine essential protections such as legally required special education materials in our contract. We hope that management will understand that we really want to stand up for the needs of our students and negotiate with us to make a deal that will bring our students back to school.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and instructional support staff working in Chicago public schools and, by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. CTU is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and is the third largest local teachers’ chapter in the United States. For more information, please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.

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