Parent, Student and Teacher Partnerships that Yield Systemic Change
One of the many insightful picket signs from the successful 2012 Chicago teachers' strike read, "together we bargain: alone we beg." That important lesson doesn't apply only to teachers, but to everyone who wants to improve their public schools.
In that spirit, several cities have developed community and labor partnerships that are working on collective community bargaining platforms for local change that goes beyond teacher salary and school day hours. These alliances translate into community power.
Early education funding, community schools, changing zero tolerance policies, and even banking foreclosure reform are among the issues community and labor groups are uniting around and scoring big wins. Across the country, parents, students and educators are discovering the power they have when they build a common vision and work together to make it a reality.
Join the Schott Foundation and community and labor leaders for an exclusive webinar — part of our 25th anniversary celebration — in which we will discuss effective collaborations and strategies used by teachers unions and education justice groups led by parents, students and community members to achieve substantive outcomes for students and communities in Chicago. We will also explore the broader implications for community and labor partnerships to address education reform, as well as the racial and economic justice issues that impact a student’s opportunity to learn.
Our speakers will include:
Dr. John H. Jackson
President & CEO
Schott Foundation for Public Education
Chicago Teachers Union
Building Movement Project (Moderator)
Karen GJ Lewis is the president of the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). A member of CTU since 1988, she taught high school chemistry in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for 22 years. Karen has served the CTU as a member of the House of Delegates, High School Functional Vice President and as a member of the Illinois State Certification Board. She received National Board Certification in 2002.
Lewis is a vice-president of the more than 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, and in 2010, she was elected executive vice-president to the more than 100,000-member Illinois Federation of Teachers. She believes that students, parents, teachers and community members are educators’ natural allies. Her goals are to ensure that Chicago’s youth attend quality neighborhood schools and to stand firmly against the privatization of public education.
In 2012, she successfully led a nine-day strike against the Chicago Board of Education, where in addition to winning a fair and equitable contract for members, the board agreed to implement many CTU’s recommendations to enhance the learning process. Also under Lewis’ direction, the CTU published “The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve,” a study that argues for education reforms within CPS.
Katelyn Johnson is Executive Director of Action Now and Action Now Institute. She began her community work fresh out of college in 2004, as the primary organizer in the successful fight to save nearly 1,000 units of affordable housing in North Lawndale, Chicago. Following her success, she worked to encourage people of color and people of faith to become organ donors, through the inaugural "Communities for Life" initiative at the Center for Organ Recovery & Education. She came back to her community organizing roots in 2009 as the Grow Your Own Teacher (GYO) Illinois Cohort Coordinator and Education Director for Action Now. After becoming Executive Director of Action Now Institute in 2010, and Action Now in 2012, she recently, she steered Action Now into a leadership position in the Raise Chicago coalition that won a city-wide minimum wage increase in Chicago. When she isn’t out fighting for racial justice or engaging in civil disobedience, she is off somewhere being a sci-fi fanatic, collecting Doctor Who and Star Wars memorabilia.
Sean Thomas-Breitfeld joined the Building Movement Project (BMP) in 2013, as Co-Director. Prior to joining the BMP staff, Sean spent a decade working in various roles at the Center for Community Change, where he developed training programs for grassroots leaders, coordinated online and grassroots advocacy efforts, and lobbied on a range of issues, including immigration reform, transportation equity and anti-poverty programs. Before joining the Center, Sean worked as a policy analyst at the National Council of La Raza, where his work focused on employment and income security issues.