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On July 11, CPS held simultaneous budget meetings at three locations throughout the city – Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College and Daley College – to discuss next year’s proposed budget and receive feedback from the community.

The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign (CTSC) – the group that resulted from the unification of CTU members, Occupy Chicago-ers, International Socialists and members of other unions – has spent the past several weeks preparing for these meetings and ensuring members are present at each of the three.

Carole Ramsden, of CTSC, said to her fellow members, “At our meeting of the Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign […] it was decided that we would try to get as many people out as possible to protest CPS’s proposed budget.”

Members of the CTSC have been planning and strategizing in order to appear representative of the community. In one exchange, member Diana Berek wrote, “I would hope that the parent (and student?) speakers are given some very up-front placement [at the budget meetings]. We don’t want to look like we are only a union cheerleading squad.”

The CTSC launched its first official press conference before the budget meeting outside of Malcolm X College. At this meeting, Lorraine Chavez, of CTSC, said, “You (CPS) are creating an emergency so that you can then turn around next year or the year after that and tell the Chicago Teachers Union, ‘Well, we just don’t have money for you.’”

Referencing a proposed longer school day and 2% pay raise for teachers, another CTSC-er and “insulted” CPS teacher Becca Borr said at the meeting, “I work my ass off in school, and I’m not compensated for a lot of time now.”

Apparently Chavez and Borr were too busy plotting their budget meeting ambush to do their research: CPS is currently attempting to dig itself out of a $665 million budget deficit. The deficit is projected to exceed $1 billion next year due to pension liabilities.

It’s important for everyone in Chicago to know that the people speaking out at these meetings – some of whom are neither CTU teachers nor parents of CPS students – are pushing a union agenda. That is the goal and purpose of the CTSC – to stand behind the CTU, not because they care about the children, but because, as one of the largest unions in Illinois, the outcome of the CTU’s battle will have a ripple effect on all unions throughout the state.

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