Emails sent to principals across the district have been forwarded to the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA). These emails indicate CPS officials are coercing principals into lobbying for Springfield’s voucher legislation during work hours. District officials frame their instruction to principals as being motivated by a need for funding in general, but no such lobbying instructions were sent for any of the previous voucher-free versions of school funding legislation. One of the district emails includes a section that states, “there will be a Google Sheet for you to indicate the result of your calls.” Such sheets are often used in CPS as accountability measures to ensure principals turn in required documentation. Principals call it the “tracker” because it is understood that CPS uses it to keep track of who’s complying and who’s not. Emails from two different network chiefs contain the coercive sentence, “These calls need to happen today or tomorrow.” This indicates that lobbying for the passage of the voucher bill is required rather than optional.
The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association condemns CPS’s flagrantly unconstitutional action. CPS’s attempt at coerced employee political mobilization makes principals feel pressured to support the pro-voucher positions of CPS officials and the mayor who appointed them. As the American Prospect stated, “This kind of mobilization poses a serious threat to the right of workers, as citizens, to arrive at their political views and decisions free from the undue influence of others. Coercive mobilization also violates individual workers’ rights to free speech, as they are pressured into making political statements that they may not believe but feel are necessary to appease their employers.” This kind of heavy-handed political coercion is particularly troublesome coming from a public institution.
CPAA echoes the American Prospect and calls on CPS to immediately end their efforts to coerce their employees to support voucher legislation that many fundamentally disagree with.
The text from the emails of CPS officials is below. We are working on getting versions from principals in a larger variety of CPS networks.
We’ve included a screenshot of an email sent from CPS Network 10 Chief Bogdana Chkoumbova to all of her school principals, below. The email includes the “These calls need to happen today or tomorrow” line. One segment reads, “Every principal was in attendance this morning and heard Chip [Johnson] make the request to reach out to their state officials. Attached is the list of schools in Network 10, along with the State Senator and Representative phone numbers. You make also want to reach out to the families urging them to contact elected officials. Ask APs (Assistant Principals) to do the same.” In other words, “You were there so you don’t have an excuse not to comply. Here’s you call list. Get it done.”
From Network Chief #1: Felicia Sanders – Network 9
From Network Chief #2: (Working on getting the name, since it was not included in forwarded email.)
As you heard, fair funding from Springfield for our schools is in sight. However, one thing we know about Springfield is that nothing is done until the Governor signs the bill. We need to make sure the State Representatives and Senators that represent our schools hear from our Principals about the importance of this funding. These calls need to happen today or tomorrow.
Every Principal that was in attendance on Friday, August 25th morning heard Chip make the request of them to reach out to their state officials. Principals may also want to reach out to their school families urging them to reach out to their officials
The plan being proposed helps stabilize the system, which brings certainty for parents, students, teachers and communities. Not to mention the equity that all of us have been fighting for.
Thanks for all you do for students, families and CPS.
Email from the Chief of Network 10
Troy LaRaviere, President
Chicago Principals and Administrators Association
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