Pat Barcas photo
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn stand at the podium during the annual CTU LEAD dinner last Friday night.
By Pat Barcas
CHICAGO — The 32nd annual Chicago Teachers Union Legislators Educators Appreciation Dinner (LEAD) paid special appreciation to local legislators who support the union — and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was not one of them.
Governor Pat Quinn was the keynote speaker at the Oct. 28 event, which drew about 1,000 politicians, educators, and their friends and family to the Plumbers Union Hall in the west Loop.
“I will ensure your collective bargaining rights stay intact,” said Quinn in his address. “Me, my staff, and yes, even Mayor Emanuel are all a team on a mission. And that mission is to make Illinois the best educated state in the union.”
The mention of Emanuel drew a brief chorus of boos in the audience, since he has been fighting the union over longer school days ever since being elected in the spring.
“We’re very glad to have Gov. Quinn here, and I’m personally happy that he still answers the phone when I call,” said CTU President Karen Lewis before introducing Quinn. “We are all here for the children. We’re experts in education, and we know what is best for them. I ask that today belongs to the rank and file.”
After the addresses, the CTU Education Policy and Legislative Program Highlights for 2011-12 were laid out. These are the goals the CTU outlines to better the workplace for its members, while increasing the quality of the education of Chicago students.
The goals that the CTU is advocating for are smaller class sizes, ending the 20th day rule which is used to reduce the number of teaching positions based on student attendance on the 20th day of school, and have taxpayers elect members to serve on the Chicago Board of Education in order to have fair representation, accountability and inclusiveness.
The CTU is also making an effort in Springfield to stop House Bill 3827, which is designed to eliminate the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Board of Trustees (CTPF) and give the mayor of Chicago the power to appoint four members to a new, combined seven-member pension board. The legislation proposes combining the pensions of the Chicago Police, Chicago Firefighter, Chicago Municipal, Chicago Laborers, Chicago Park District, and Chicago Teachers and as a group would then elect only three trustees.
Quinn assured the teachers he will stand by their side in the future.
“We know that you sacrifice some of your present for your kids’ future. I can’t think of a more sacred trust there,” he said. “As long as I’m governor, I’m not going to keep teachers down.”
Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.