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A PEOPLES LAWSUIT AGAINST THE CATHIE BLACK WAIVER

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF ALBANY IAS PART Index no:
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In the Matter of the Application of ALEX COSS,
KAREN PLUMMER
Petitioners VERIFIED PETITION
For a Judgment Pursuant to Articles 78, 30 and 63 of the
Civil Practice Law and Rules
-against-
NEW YORK BOARD OF REGENTS,
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK,
NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT,
DAVID M. STEINER, in his Capacity as
New York State Commissioner of Education,
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, Mayor of the
City of New York, CITY OF NEW YORK
Respondents
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 SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF ALBANY IAS PART Index no:
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In the Matter of the Application of ALEX COSS,
KAREN PLUMMER
Petitioners VERIFIED PETITION
For a Judgment Pursuant to Articles 78, 30 and 63 of the
Civil Practice Law and Rules
-against-
NEW YORK BOARD OF REGENTS,
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK,
NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT,
DAVID M. STEINER, in his Capacity as
New York State Commissioner of Education,
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, Mayor of the
City of New York, CITY OF NEW YORK
Respondents
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Petitioners ALEX COSS and KAREN PLUMMER, by their attorneys, Roger S. Wareham, Ramon Jimenez and Kafahni Nkrumah, for their Verified Petition, allege the following:

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
This suit seeks a judgment: declaring that Respondent New York State Commissioner of Education [hereinafter Commissioner] David M. Steiner’s grant of a waiver and a School District Certificate [“Certificate”] to Cathleen Black which allowed her to be appointed as Chancellor of the City School District of the City of New York [hereinafter Chancellor] was arbitrary and capricious, and/or an abuse of discretion; compelling the Commissioner to rescind his grant of a waiver and the issuance of the Certificate to Cathleen Black; preliminarily and/or permanently enjoining Mayor Michael A. Bloomberg [“Mayor”] from installing Cathleen Black as Chancellor on January 1, 2011;  and directing Mayor Bloomberg to conduct an open, national search for a properly qualified candidate for Chancellor.
2. Respondent Bloomberg's nomination of Cathleen Black for the post of Chancellor of the New York City School District, Respondent Steiner's granting of a waiver of qualification for Ms. Black, were, individually and respectively, arbitrary and capricious or, in the alternative, an abuse of discretion and will cause irreparable harm to the students of the New York City Public School System. PARTIES
3. Petitioner Alex Coss is a resident of Bronx County and a parent of two children in the School System.
4. Petitioner Karen Plummer is a resident of Queens County and a parent of a child in the School System.
5. Respondent New York State Education Department [NYSED] is part of the University of the State of New York [USNY] and oversees pre-K through 12th grade programs in the State of New York.
6. Respondent David M. Steiner is Commissioner of Education for the State of New York with the legal authority to issue school district leader certificates.
7. Respondent New York Board of Regents sets education policy for the State of New York and oversees both USNY and NYSED.
8. Respondent City of New York is a municipal entity created under the laws of the State of New York and authorized to carry out certain functions by the State of New York through its employees.

9. Respondent Michael A. Bloomberg is Mayor of the City of New York with the authority to nominate candidates for the Chancellor of Education for the City of New York School District. FACTS
10. The New York City School district is the largest in the United States with 1.1 million children, 135,000 employees and 1600 schools.
11. The overwhelming majority of that student population is Black and Latino.
12. On November 9, 2010, without any prior notice to the public and, on information and belief, with notice only to a few of his closest associates, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the resignation of Joel Klein as Chancellor of the School System and the nomination of Cathleen Black as his successor.
13. The powers and duties of Chancellor, which are many and varied, are set out in section 2590-h of the New York State Education Law [Exhibit 1]. They include: a. control and operation of: academic and vocational senior high schools…; all specialized high schools; all special education programs and services; [sub-section 1] b. establishment, control and operation of new schools or programs … or to discontinue any such schools and programs as he or she may determine… [subsection 2] c. … Prepare an educational impact statement regarding any proposed school closing or significant change in school utilization [subsection 3] d. Develop and furnish pre-service and in-service training programs for principals and other employees throughout the city district …. [subsection 14] e. Promote the involvement and appropriate input of all members of the school community… f. Promulgate regulations establishing educational, managerial, and administrative qualifications, performance record criteria, and performance standards for the position of superintendent and principal [Subsection 29].
14. The qualifications of the Chancellor are set out in Section 3003 of the New York State Education Law [Exhibit 2].

a. He shall be a graduate of a college or university approved by the commissioner and in addition shall have completed sixty semester hours in graduate courses approved by the commissioner; and b. At the time of his appointment each shall have completed three years of teaching experience satisfactory to the commissioner in public or non-public schools.
15. Neither Ms. Black's educational (a B.A. in English) nor professional background (entirely within the private business sector) qualifies her for eligibility for Chancellor.
16. Given these clearly insuperable obstacles, the Respondent Commissioner, at the written behest of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg [Letter dated November 17, 2010, Exhibit 3], resorted to subsection 3 of Education Law, section 3003, which states: The commissioner, at the request of a board of education or board of cooperative educational services, may provide for the issuance of a certificate as superintendent of schools to exceptionally qualified persons who do not meet all of the graduate course or teaching requirements of subdivision one of this section, but whose exceptional training and experience are the substantial equivalent of such requirements and qualify such persons for the duties of a superintendent of schools. [Exhibit 2]
17. The specifics of granting such a waiver are set out in section 80-3.10 of New York Code, Rules and Regulations [hereinafter NYCRR, Exhibit 4]. Subsection (b) School district leader [the equivalent of Chancellor] states that the candidate shall meet requirements in two areas: (a) education and (b) experience.
18. The "education" requirement is : (3)(i)(a) a master's or higher degree from a regionally accredited higher education institution or an equivalently approved higher education institution as determined by the department; and [Emphasis added] (2)either: (i) have successfully completed a New York State program leading to a professional certificate as a school district leader in the educational leadership service registered pursuant to section 52.21(c)(3) of this Title, or its equivalent as determined by the department. As part of the program completion requirements, the candidate shall have successfully completed at least sixty semester hours of graduate study, which may include graduate study completed prior to admission to the program, and achieved a satisfactory level of performance on the New York State assessment for school district leadership. The requirement of achieving a satisfactory level of performance on the New York State assessment for school district leadership shall be waived if the candidate completes the registered program prior to the availability of such New York State assessment. The department shall determine the date on which such assessment is available and required; or (ii) have successfully completed an educational leadership program outside of New York State that is equivalent to a program leading to a professional certificate as a school district leader in the educational leadership service registered pursuant to section 52.21(c)(3) of this Title, or an educational leadership program leading to a regular certificate in an equivalent title to school district leader, accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education at a regionally accredited institution outside of New York State, including a requirement to pass an assessment equivalent to the New York State assessment for school district leadership, or alternatively the candidate shall satisfy this component of the educational leadership program by passing the New York State assessment for school district leadership. The requirement of achieving a satisfactory level of performance on an assessment equivalent to the New York State assessment for school district leadership or alternatively passing such New York State assessment shall be waived if the candidate completes the program prior to the availability of such New York State assessment. The department shall determine the date on which such assessment is available. The candidate shall have successfully completed at least 60 semester hours of graduate study, which may include graduate study completed outside of the educational leadership program.
19. Cathleen Black fulfills neither of the above requirements.
20. The "experience" requirement: The candidate shall have successfully completed three years of classroom teaching service and/or educational leadership service and/or pupil personnel service experience in public or non-public schools N-12.
21. Cathleen Black does not fulfill the above requirement.
22. To overcome Ms. Black's qualification deficiencies, Respondent Steiner arbitrarily implemented the NYCRR's escape hatch: (ii) alternative route two, the certification of exceptionally qualified persons through screening panel review. The Commissioner of Education, at the request of a board of education or board of cooperative educational services, may provide for the issuance of a professional certificate as a school district leader (superintendent of schools) to exceptionally qualified persons who do not meet all of the graduate course or school teaching requirements in subparagraph (i) [Emphasis added] of this paragraph, but whose exceptional training and experience are the substantial equivalent of such requirements and qualify such persons for duties of a superintendent of schools. Prior to the appointment of any such individual, the board must obtain the approval of the commissioner. In its formal request to the department the board must submit its resolution noting approval of the request, the job description, its rationale for requesting such certification of the individual, a statement identifying the exceptional qualifications of the candidate, the individual's completed application for certification, vitae and official transcripts of collegiate study. The certificate, if issued, will be valid only for service in the district making request. The commissioner will refer the materials submitted by the board to a screening panel consisting of representatives of the department and appropriate educational organizations for review and advice.

As per the statute, Respondent Steiner submitted the materials which had been sent him by Respondent Bloomberg to an 8 member Advisory Panel [hereinafter Panel] which he (i.e. Steiner) himself chose. Prior to the Panel review of the submitted materials, there was public criticism that the composition of the Panel was weighted too heavily in Mayor Bloomberg's favor (New York Times, "Education Panelist Did Not Disclose Possible Conflicts," 22 Nov. 2010; "Education Chief Raises Doubts on Pick by Bloomberg," 23 November 2010) [Exhibits 5,6, respectively]. Three Panel members had worked for the current Chancellor, Joel Klein, who himself needed a waiver of qualifications to become Chancellor. One Panel member, a personal friend of Respondent Bloomberg, chaired an academy which received millions of dollars in donations from the Mayor and worked for a museum to which he (i.e. the Mayor) personally donated nearly half a million dollars [Exhibit 5]. On information and belief, not content with the favorable composition of the Advisory Panel, Respondent Bloomberg tried further to influence Respondent Steiner's decision by organizing a campaign of public figures to write Respondent Steiner in support of Ms. Black. On November 17, 2010, the Department of Education's website under "News and Speeches" trumpeted "Business Leaders Announce Support for Cathie Black as Schools Chancellor;" those who wrote Respondent Steinberg included three former New York City Mayors, 91 high-level business executives and several entertainment figures. [Exhibit 7]

After reviewing the materials submitted by Respondent Bloomberg, four of the 8 Panel members unequivocally opposed granting a waiver, two said they would deny it at the time and only two were in favor. Faced with this rejection by his own hand-picked Advisory Panel, Respondent Steiner, in an attempt, on information and belief, to: i) placate Respondent Bloomberg, and ii) salvage Ms. Black's nomination, suggested an alternative plan, i.e. that he would consider granting the waiver if Respondent Bloomberg were willing to appoint an assistant, who actually had a legally and educationally acceptable background in education, to Ms. Black. This novel proposal by Respondent Steiner on its face would create a two-headed Chancellor, one, whose only claim on the job was her friendship with the Mayor and her expertise in the private corporate world, the other, someone with the credentials which a qualified Chancellor should have. On November 26, 2010, Respondent Bloomberg supplemented his November 17, 2010 letter to Respondent Steiner [Exhibit 3] with a letter indicating that Ms. Black would appoint Shael Polakow-Suransky as Senior Deputy Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer and attached a job description. [Exhibit 8]. The creation of this new post, Chief Academic Officer (to Oversee Curriculum and Testing), and the responsibilities attendant on it, which include many that the Chancellor would normally carry out [Exhibit 8], not only avoids the issue of Ms. Black's lack of qualifications, but is an inadvertent admission that she still did not merit a waiver. The Chancellor's paramount responsibility is in educating the student body, and preparing them to be successful, productive members of society in the 21st century.

Installing a Chancellor whose entire professional experience is in the private business arena has the effect of reducing the student body to articles of merchandise and indicates that Respondent Bloomberg's paramount concern is more in making the $23 billion school budget accessible to the private corporate sector than in providing the highest quality of education to the students. The billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the former employer of Ms. Black and future employer of Chancellor Joel Klein is quoted thusly, "education in the U.S. is a $500 billion sector 'waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching.'" He has just purchased 90% of Wireless Generation, one of whose clients is the New York City School system. (Staci D. Kramer, "News Corp Shells Out $360 Million for Ed Tech Company Wireless Generation," paidContent.org, 22 November 2010.) [Exhibit 9] Respondent Bloomberg's nomination of a candidate with absolutely no background or experience in education has a chilling effect upon the predominantly African-American and Latino student body and their families. On November 29, 2010, Respondent Steiner, apparently agreeing with his own to Respondent Bloomberg, vis a vis appointment of an Assistant to Ms. Black, issued a determination ["Determination"] granting the waiver and issuing a School District Certificate of Leadership to Cathleen Black. [Exhibit 10]. On that same day, Mayor Bloomberg, in response to a question about the authority of the newly created position of Chief Academic Officer, told reporters "There will be one person in charge. Make no mistake about that." ("With Deal on Deputy, Black Wins Helm of City Schools," NYT 30 Nov. 2010, p A24) [Exhibit 11]

Students, their families and citizens of New York State will suffer irreparable harm should Ms. Black assume the post of Chancellor. Cathleen Black's assumption of the post of Chancellor will shatter the belief in the lesson repeatedly taught to all our children that the bases of success in a democratic society are hard work and proper qualifications. [Boubacar Bah Affidavit, Exhibit 12] It will reinforce the growing cynical belief that if you are rich enough, sufficiently connected to those in power, and white, that you are not subject to the same rules as "the little people" and can therefore do whatever you choose to. The New York City Public educational system is in a tremendous educational and financial crisis. Respondent Bloomberg has ordained mandatory budget cuts and decisions have to be made in which areas they will be implemented. Those decisions have to be made, not from a purely business viewpoint but from an experiential one, taking into account the effects on education and where cutbacks will cause the least harm to the school population. [Affidavit of Petitioner Coss] A clear example of the deleterious effect of inexperienced leadership in the Chancellor's Office can be found in the school testing controversy. Just a year ago, the City and Department of Education [DOE] trumpeted the progress made in education due to higher pass rates in reading and math, only to find that they had utilized artificially low standards. The demoralizing effect on a child to be told one day that she had passed and months later that, "Sorry," she had indeed failed, is incalculable and with the properly qualified leadership was avoidable. Financial cutbacks will also involve delicate negotiations with the union sector, a mishandling of which can have severe negative repercussions on the education of the

city's children. Yet even in this field, Ms. Black has admitted that her extensive private business experience does not include dealing with unions.
46. Corporate skills are not automatically and seamlessly transferable to public sector, non-profit areas like education. Business executives changing careers need additional schooling not on the job training. ("Why Cathie Black Should Go Back to School," Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor Harvard Business School) [ Exhibit 13]

CLAIMS

Respondent Bloomberg's nomination of Cathleen Black for the post of Chancellor of the New York City School District, Respondent Steiner's granting of a waiver of qualification for Ms. Black, were, individually and respectively, arbitrary and capricious or, in the alternative, an abuse of discretion and will cause irreparable harm to the children of the New York City Public School System. WHEREFORE, Petitioners request that this Court issue a Judgment: (a) Declaring that Respondent Steiner improperly granted a waiver and awarded a school district leader certificate to Cathleen Black, and (b) Directing Respondent Steiner to rescind the school district leader certificate he granted Cathleen Black based upon the improper waiver given to her; (c) Preliminarily and/or Permanently Enjoining Respondent Bloomberg from installing Cathleen Black as Chancellor; (d) Directing Respondent Bloomberg to conduct an open, public, nationwide search for a properly qualified candidate for Chancellor.

DATED: Brooklyn, New York December 6, 2010 ________________________ ROGER S. WAREHAM 10 11 Attorney for Petitioners 394 Putnam Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11216 (718) 230-5270 ________________________ RAMON J. JIMENEZ Attorney for Petitioners 145 E. 149th Street Bronx, NY 10451 (718) 993-3002 ________________________ KAFAHNI NKRUMAH Attorney for Petitioners 116 W. 111th Street New York, NY 10026 (212) 971-8771

Chicago Teachers Union ANTI-RACE-TO-THE-TOP Resolutions

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis speaking during the Illinois Federation of Teachers convention. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.

PROPOSED IFT RESOLUTIONS

The following resolutions were adopted by the Chicago Teachers Union Executive Board on Monday, September 13, 2010 and passed by the Illinois Federation of Teachers convention on October 15, 2010:

RESOLUTION NO. 1. REPEAL SECTION 4.5 OF THE IELRA (ALSO KNOWN AS THE 1995 AMENDATORY ACT)

 WHEREAS, the 1995 reform of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA) gave control of the Chicago Public Schools to the mayor in order to improve them, but has led directly to the marginalization of all other stakeholders (students, parents, community partners and educators) from having input as to the functioning of the schools; and

WHEREAS, mayoral control of the Chicago Public Schools has led to the destruction of neighborhood schools, layoffs of qualified educators, failed privatization models and attacks on the bargaining rights of members of the Chicago Teachers Union; and

WHEREAS, mayoral control of schools and the destruction associated with it has become a model of “reform” in other states across the country, weakening union locals and failing to truly address the educational needs of students; and

WHEREAS, the purpose of the IELRA is to regulate labor relations between all educational employers and educational employees in the state including the negotiation of wages, hours and other conditions of employment; and

WHEREAS, Section 4.5 of the IELRA removes all bargaining rights except for the negotiation of wages from educational employees (whose territorial boundaries are coterminous with those of a city having a population in excess of 500,000) in Chicago; and

Kelly High School teacher Bill Lamme speaking to the convention. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.WHEREAS, the determination of class size, class staffing and assignment, class schedules, academic calendar, hours and places of instruction are important issues that directly affect the educational achievement of students and these issues are not included in the bargaining rights for educational employees (whose territorial boundaries are coterminous with those of a city having a population in excess of 500,000) in Chicago; and

WHEREAS, class size, class staffing and assignment, class schedules, academic calendar, hours and places of instruction directly affect students’ ability to achieve academic success and these issues are directly related to schools’ ability to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and avoid school turnaround procedures; and

 WHEREAS, the lack of ability to achieve AYP leads to school turnarounds and school closures where schools are replaced by non-union charter schools; and

 WHEREAS, few, if any, charter schools have shown to effectively increase the academic level of its students, especially those whose communities lack other educational outlets, thus requiring these students to leave their immediate community in order to receive the mandated education required by the state of Illinois until the child is 17 years old; and

 WHEREAS, students of color make up 92 percent of turnaround schools which disproportionately inhibits these students from receiving the mandated education; and

 WHEREAS, Section 4.5 of the IELRA removes the protection of the rights of the educational employee and does not promote the harmonious relationship required between educational employers and their employees thus contradicting the purpose of the IELRA; therefore be it

 RESOLVED, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers support the Chicago Teachers Union in a campaign to raise public awareness of the negative impact on students of Section 4.5 of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act in Chicago and its potential to be expanded to affect other areas in Illinois; and be it finally

 RESOLVED, that the IFT immediately and actively lobby state legislators through all possible means to sponsor a bill to repeal Section 4.5 of the IELRA.

Submitted by Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1

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RESOLUTION NO. 2. OPPOSITION TO “RACE TO THE TOP”

 WHEREAS, Race to the Top (RttT) has further encouraged the creation of schools run by private operators, but funded with public monies, that do not have the same accountability and transparency as existing public schools; and

 WHEREAS, RttT includes teacher evaluations, based on student test scores that have proven to be an invalid, unreliable and inconsistent method to measure student achievement and teacher instruction; and

 WHEREAS, RttT punishes teachers, schools and school districts that serve populations with high percentages of students that are low performing. This competition undermines these schools that serve children living in poverty and suffering other social ills who need the most help; and

 WHEREAS, RttT seeks to undermine the contracts of teachers unions and the collective bargaining process; and

 WHEREAS, RttT encourages the closing and turnaround of schools, which has led to increased violence and destabilization of urban communities; and

 WHEREAS, RttT has been criticized by several national civil rights organizations, including the Urban League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Rainbow PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), for encouraging competition to receive federal funding rather than assisting schools based on their needs; and

WHEREAS, RttT encourages the expansion of charter schools, which have been proven to make no difference in achievement compared to traditional public schools; and

WHEREAS, RttT will limit the scope and opportunity of students’ curriculum due to its reliance on standardized test scores; and

WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers worked to elect President Obama to be a positive force for education, not to promote programs like RttT that undermine public education and the teachers and other dedicated professionals who staff our public schools; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers lobby to repeal the Race to the Top competition; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT declare no confidence in the Obama administration’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his RttT policy; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT call upon the federal government and the U.S. Department of Education to fund schools based on their needs; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the IFT call upon elected representatives at the federal, state and local levels to support struggling schools and the teachers and other dedicated professionals who staff our public schools.

Submitted by Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1

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RESOLUTION NO. 3. CALL FOR A MORATORIUM ON SCHOOL CLOSURES

WHEREAS, Illinois ranks 3rd in the nation with 117,541 students in schools in Tier 1 and Tier 2 schools eligible for school closure (as of July 9, 2010) under the 2001 law NCLB; and

WHEREAS, Tier 1 and Tier 2 NCLB schools risk four major closure models (turnaround, restart, school closure or transformation) without consent or input from students or parents; and

WHEREAS, all four intervention models are imposed upon the community, instead of developed with the school community; and

WHEREAS, all four interventions focus on structural change, rather than educational change; and

WHEREAS, all four interventions are refuted by evidence and research on what types of reform effectively impact student academic success; and

WHEREAS, 81 percent of students in these schools are students of color and none of the four intervention models attempts in any way to gain collaboration with these already disenfranchised communities, or analyze in any systematic way other factors that may lead to poor performance, such as funding inequities in the district, enrollment practices that lead to concentrations of high need students, district staffing projections or social and economic developments; and

WHEREAS, school closures deeply disrupt the social and community capital of neighborhoods and potentially transfer students to other underperforming schools or schools outside the neighborhood lacking safe passage; and

WHEREAS, politicians and policymakers have used school closures as a tool to gentrify neighborhoods, decrease union membership and promote business objectives instead of best educational practices; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers actively lobby the Illinois legislature for a moratorium on school closures in its state; and be it further

Carrie Maxwell of Chicago, speaking to the IFT convention, while delegates from the United University Professions look on. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.RESOLVED, that the IFT commission studies examining the educational and social impact school closures have had on student academics, safety, stability and community input; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the IFT work with local and national affiliates to expose the for-profit business motivations that underlie school closures in the state of Illinois.

Submitted by Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1

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RESOLUTION NO. 4. CALL FOR AN ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD FOR CHICAGO

WHEREAS, since 1995 when the Illinois General Assembly placed Chicago Public Schools (CPS) under control of the Chicago city mayor, we have seen the systemic flaws evident in the appointed school board of that city. The negative impact of the currently appointed school board is self-evident but includes:

• Dictatorial management of the CPS with little to no respect for teaching staff; • Excessive expenditures on non-classroom items, including consultants, that now consume more than 40 percent of the CPS budget; • The slow but persistent transfer of public assets to private entities through the privatization of the public schools; • The under-serving of CPS children through continued mismanagement of public assets and continuous misunderstanding of students’ educational needs; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Chicago Teachers Unioncall upon the Illinois General Assembly see the solution to this ineffectual autocratic form of management as an elected school board and call upon the Illinois General Assembly to formulate and pass the laws to effectuate an elected school board for this change Chicago. Submitted by Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1

Chicago's Jackson Potter, a former Little Village High School teacher now working full time for the CTU, spoke on a number of issues to the IFT convention, making up, some said, for the lost time of the AFT Seattle convention, during which Potter was studying abroad. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.RESOLUTION NO. 5. ENDING CHARTER SCHOOL PROLIFERATION

 WHEREAS, it has always been the intention of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and its affiliates to improve education so that every student, especially the most disadvantaged, in Illinois will graduate high school ready for college or a career;

and WHEREAS, excellence and innovation have always been hallmarks of traditional public schools where professional union educators teach students across the state and not solely the mark of private or charter schools;

and WHEREAS, the original intent of charter schools was to enhance student learning and NOT to compete with, takeover or cause the closing of traditional public schools that are now being unjustly closed or turned around and their qualified teaching forces displaced;

and WHEREAS, charter schools take over pre-existing public school buildings, are awarded newly constructed school buildings that are publicly funded, receive federal charter-only grant money, receive state bonds earmarked for individual charter operators and benefit financially by diverting taxpayer dollars for private enterprises – all with little or no parent, community, student or teacher union participation of substantive input; and

WHEREAS, traditional public neighborhood schools continue to accept ALL students and a preponderance of charter schools only enroll select students; and

WHEREAS, according to the Stanford University Center for Research on Educational Outcomes Study, 83 percent of charter schools perform worse than or fail to provide any measurable improvement over their traditional fully public counterparts, and 37 percent of those charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools; and

WHEREAS, when key resources and people from charter operators, corporation and private foundations such as the Gates Foundation continue to have an increasing influence and presence in Arne Duncan’s Department of Education within President Obama’s administration, a greater emphasis is placed on privatization and profit than real education reform; and

Kenzo Shibata, who took a leave from his teaching position at Hancock High School in Chicago to edit the Chicago Union Teacher, spoke in favor of the Chicago resolutions during the 2010 IFT convention. Looking on (right) is Kelly High School teacher Eric Skalinder. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.WHEREAS, Bill Gates recently stated publicly at the National Charter School convention in Chicago on June 29, 2010 that the charter school movement “is the only place innovation will come from”; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers support policies and legislation that put a moratorium on the creation of new charters, charter clones and other schools that divert public education funds into corporate models; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT demand all existing charter schools to be held as accountable and transparent as regular public schools, in regards to student progress and achievement, budget, funding and influence of corporate and private interests and entities; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the IFT lobby for changes in legislation to allow existing charter schools to join large existing union locals rather than being forced to form their own small affiliate or work to close them; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the IFT support local union efforts to march, petition, rally, hold media events, mobilize its members and utilize the help of supportive community partners and use all resources at its disposal to dispel the myths about the success of charter schools compared to traditional public schools, to expose the inequalities that exist within the funding and management of public education and to improve the public perception of public education.

Submitted by Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1

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RESOLUTION NO. 6. REPEAL OF ILLINOIS SENATE BILL 1946

WHEREAS, both city and state governments have the responsibility to adequately provide actuarially derived contributions to maintain the financial viability of pension plans; and

Chicago high school teacher Brian Galaviz spoke forcefully about the DREAM Act. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.WHEREAS, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union are committed to preserving and protecting the traditional defined benefit pension plans for Illinois and Chicago teachers and are committed to working with members, public officials and any other interested parties to encourage and support policy decisions that guarantee retirement security for teachers; and

WHEREAS, the IFT and CTU support teacher pension plans that are designed to:

• Assure self-sufficiency for retirees by providing a predictable benefit that is guaranteed for life, including cost-effective disability and survivor benefits; and

• Create a high performance workforce by providing a benefit that will attract and retain quality and highly-trained public employees; and

• Lower overall benefit costs by pooling the risk of outliving retirement benefits and of investment losses over the total number of participants; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers push for the repeal or suspension of fiscally irresponsible laws such as SB 1946 (2010) that have reduced employer contribution to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund by $1.2 billion over the next three years.

Submitted by Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1