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Behind the Scenes on the Chicago Teachers Union Anti-Common Core Resolution

May 10, 2014

On May 7, 2014, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) passed a resolution against the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

That evening, I wrote this post and included my own experience and conversations on Lewis’ position on CCSS. In the post, I figuratively note that this is now a battle between Lewis and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, who has stated that if it comes down to AFT constituency rejection of CCSS and keeping CCSS at the AFT convention in July 2014, she plans to keep CCSS.

Though I metaphorically describe the battle as being between Weingarten and Lewis, I know from my interactions with Lewis that she is a union president who serves her constituency. Unlike Weingarten’s dealings with AFT members, Lewis does not try to force CTU membership into the mold of her top down choice.

On May 10, 2014, fellow blogger Anthony Cody posted a guest article by CTU member Michelle Gunderson. In it, Gunderson describes the process by which CTU arrived at and crafted CTU’s anti-CCSS resolution.

Include below is Gunderson’s post in part:

By Michelle Gunderson.

Wednesday evening I stood before my brothers and sisters at the Chicago Teachers Union to speak in favor of our resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards. When I finished speaking, there was a call for the vote. It was unanimous. It was resounding – not a single voice raised in opposition.

There are times when the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) seems like an engine; that we are able to accomplish great and difficult work seemingly overnight. I would like to pull back the curtain for a moment, and help others understand the purposeful and deliberate process we take in order to form our decisions and actions at CTU.

There are those in the media who contend we are being reckless and blindly following Karen Lewis, the president of our local. Nothing could be further from the actual case.Michelle.jpg

As much as we admire Karen Lewis and are grateful for her talents, this work was not generated from her. In fact, characterizing this event in such simplistic terms denigrates the social justice transformation of the Chicago Teachers Union, a long and hard-won struggle that involves many. We do not act on Karen Lewis’ behalf or her wishes. She acts on ours, with our guidance, and we love her for it.

It is hard to imagine a union in existence where a full democratic process is expected by everyone involved – leadership, rank and file, and union staff. Yet, in Chicago, we hold this ideal in such high regard we cannot imagine a union working any other way.

Several months prior to the passing of the resolution, the Caucus of Rank and File Educators began discussing and debating the Common Core in our open meetings. We read Diane Ravitch’s bookThe Reign of Error in small study groups. And many of us followed Anthony Cody’s work on this blog. Through conversations and study we came to a strong conclusion. The authors of the Common Core view the purpose of education as college and career readiness. We view the purpose of public education as a means for educating a populace of critical thinkers who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to lead good and purpose-filled lives.

With our philosophical underpinning so drastically divergent from that of the Common Core we did not see any room for common ground.

That is why we say no to Common Core.

My hat is off to CTU.

To read the rest of Gunderson’s piece on Anthony Cody’s blog, click here.

2 Comments
  1. Reblogged this on Reclaim Reform and commented:
    CCSS, Karen Lewis, CTU, Michelle Gunderson, Randi Weingarten, AFT: How are these linked? What does it all mean? Mercedes Schneider connects all of these by letting us see what happened, when it happened, and who was involved.
    The results of these momentous decisions are of tremendous importance for public education nationwide. The repercussions will be felt for decades to come.
    -KP

  2. Trisha Beaty permalink

    Kudos to Karen Lewis & the members of CTU for accomplishing 3 very important tasks. 1) Recognizing that CCSS is far more than a set of educational standards designed to help all children succeed. 2) Being advocates for the children whose lives will be affected by this national education reform. 3) Having the courage to take a stand against the demons who are using our children as a means to fulfill their agendas. May CTU continue to press forward in their efforts to take back local control for the benefit of our students, teachers, parents & communities!

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