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Inside CTU’s decade-long civil rights legal fight

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


The Chicago Teachers Union is headed to federal court today for a hearing about the $9.25 million civil rights settlement from CPS over the layoffs of hundreds of Black educators on the South and West Sides as part of the district’s “turnaround” policy. 

In 2012, the district began identifying schools based on test scores and attendance to “turn around” by replacing all teachers and staff, which disproportionately affected Black educators. 

Laid-off workers were told to apply for new CPS jobs but weren’t all hired. 

Many left the profession or retired, affecting the district’s racial disparity among teachers and starting a domino effect regarding recruitment and retention, union reps said Monday. 

In 2006, about 33% of CPS teachers were Black, according to a ruling last year. In 2022, only 20.7% are Black, according to the district.

Per the settlement, teachers must drop their claims, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. But CTU president Jesse Sharkey said he wants CPS to acknowledge the turnaround policy was racist. 

The union also said it plans to fight other policies that they say are racist: doing away with high-stakes standardized tests, making selective enrollment schools more diverse, instituting student-based budgeting, and more. 

The hearing comes a year after former CTU president Karen Lewis, who championed the decade-long suit, died.


A vacant 21-acre industrial lot in North Lawndale is slated to be transformed into a job training center, public park, and more, as part of a $38 million redevelopment for the city’s Invest South/West initiative. 

But 20 years ago, the land was a key site in a federal anti-corruption investigation into dozens of people connected to the West Side dumping site. 

Reporter Robin Amer tells us about her investigations into “Operation Silver Shovel,” which sat in a residential neighborhood near a school and church.

🎧 Listen to Amer’s investigative podcast “The City” about the lot.


▪️Cops involved in a brutal 2017 arrest that involved pistol-whipping a suspect are still working after the city’s police watchdog agency recommended their termination. [Chicago Reader]

▪️ The Blackhawks fired a minor league trainer for alleged sexual harassment. [NBC News]

▪️ City Hall says Related Midwest is still in the running for Chicago’s first casino as the owner of its parent firm, Stephen Ross, who also owns the Miami Dolphins, faces a racial discrimation lawsuit. [Crain’s Chicago]

▪️ CPS middle schoolers can run for their Local School Councils. [Chicago Documenters]

▪️ T-5 days until the Super Bowl, but this Bengals fan in Evergreen Park has his house permanently decked out. [CBS Chicago]

▪️ Test your news knowledge with this trivia! [Chicago Public Square]


As the daughter of Taylor Street Italians, Carolyn Martineau said places like J.P. Graziano Grocery in Fulton Market are close to her heart — and this Block Club Chicago story about the grocer reminded her of that.

“The best subs in Chicago. Every ingredient is super-high quality, and they even have two solid options for vegetarians like me. 

Plus, quick, friendly service despite a line down the block of folks as diverse as the city itself. 

Preserves a comfortable corner on the otherwise intimidating Randolph Restaurant Row.” 

👉 Treat yourself to one of the signature subs.

What’s your Chicago love story? Email, or text/call (773) 780-0246.

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