Chicago Teachers Union likely to lose vote it allegedly electioneered with public school students

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) appears to be heading to defeat in an election in which it allegedly violated ethics policies by using school resources, including students, to electioneer.


The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) appears to be heading to defeat in an election in which it allegedly violated ethics policies by using school resources, including students, to electioneer.

With 98% of the vote counted, the Chicago Sun Times reported that the “no” vote is outpacing “yes” votes by 8 percentage points for the ballot issue known as Bring Chicago Home.

“The vote on the Bring Chicago Home referendum was 53.7% to 46.3%, with 98.2% of precincts counted,” said the paper. 

Chicago election laws allow for ballots to be counted for the next two weeks if they bear a postmark equal to or before the date of the election, so the election can’t be officially called yet. 

Bring Chicago Home was a property tax scheme that would have raised the sales tax on any properties in Chicago sold for over $1 million, while lowering sales taxes on properties under $1 million. 

The Lion reported previously that a policy group in Illinois filed an ethics complaint with the Inspector General of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) alleging violations of school district rules by using teachers and students for an upcoming election.  

In a letter to the CPS Inspector General, Senior Director of Labor Policy and Staff Attorney at the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) Mailee Smith said the use of teachers during work hours to organize students to electioneer, “seemingly violates provisions of the Chicago Public Schools Code of Ethics.”  

In a video produced by local ABC News 7, a reporter asks a student if his teachers encouraged him to vote for the Bring Chicago Home tax hike.  

“Yes,” the student answered. 

“This is a clear violation of the district’s ethics policy and warrants an immediate investigation. The Chicago Teachers Union and [Chicago Mayor] Brandon Johnson must be held accountable. This is not democracy. This is a political machine,” said Austin Berg, Vice President of Marketing at IPI. 

Other footage produce by the local ABC news affiliate shows the students being organized at CTU headquarters after being pulled out of school by teachers and subsequently participating in a congressional candidate forum, which clearly included only Democrat candidates. 

“But the non-partisan integrity of this event is under question with its starting with a congressional candidate forum hosted at the headquarters of the Chicago Teachers Union,  staunch advocate of Bring Chicago Home,” said the local ABC reporter.  

The CTU hosts a website which prominently features recommending a “yes” vote for the Bring Chicago Home campaign. 

The site also features 25 endorsements of Democrat candidates and none for Republicans. 

“The Chicago Teachers Union is a partisan organization; it supports political candidates and political causes, by its own, it is seen as a partisan event,” said ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington. 

And the reason for CTU bias in this election is pretty obvious, even if cynical, said critics.  

The money to be generated by higher property taxes was ostensibly earmarked for the “homeless,” but non-partisan critics worried that that referendum’s verbiage would allow the city to spend money on other items, such as housing for CTU teachers, who IPI notes, make an average of $93,000 annually. 

IPI said that CTU average annual wages will rise to $145,000 by the end of their current contract.  

“It’s pretty easy to find Chicagoans in greater need,” said IPI Senior Vice President Hilary Gowins.  

IPI noted that even in a low turnout primary, using allies like the CTU – which spent $400,000 in the campaign and mobilized nearly all of its 28,000 members in support – Chicago’s mayor couldn’t pass one of his keystone promises to hike Chicago real estate taxes. 

“This is a political blow to Johnson and the Chicago Teachers Union, who aggressively supported this tax hike. With the defeat of Bring Chicago Home, Chicagoans made their voice heard: they’re wary of tax hikes,” said Matt Paprocki, president and CEO of IPI.  

Paprocki said Johnson, who he claims has the lowest approval rating of any first-term mayor in recent Chicago history, should focus more on issues Chicagoans care about, such reducing taxes and addressing rising crime and the illegal immigration crisis.