“Men [and women] plan, and God laughs.”
---Old Yiddish Proverb
Dear CTU Brothers and Sisters,
When I decided to run for CTU President several months ago, I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined the scenario in which we find ourselves this spring. Yet here we are.
First, I want to thank you for the honor of representing you as your new CTU President. I was sworn in this afternoon at our virtual Delegate Assembly today, along with the rest of our newly elected Executive Board members and our Chapter Chairs and Delegates. Not exactly the Delegate Assembly ceremony that past Presidents and officers experienced, but we are living in a new world. And as professional public school educators, adapting and making the challenging possible are some of our specialties.
I also want to thank my predecessor, President David Quolke, for his support. I appreciate the example of quality leadership he displayed through 12 years of very difficult times: difficult times for public education, for unions in general, and for the CTU in particular. His strength, competence, and integrity are examples I hope to follow. I know this isn’t how he envisioned the end of his tenure, but he has been with us each step of the way as we have worked to navigate these new choppy waters.
During the closure of schools and an abrupt shift to at-home enrichment and learning, CTU members have shown their resilience and creativity. We have members that are doing Facebook Live, reading stories on every platform imaginable, calling families and students, creating video lessons, doing IEPs and ETRs, and somehow managing to support Cleveland’s kids through unimaginable circumstances.
The CTU also followed Governor Mike DeWine’s orders and the advice of medical experts by closing the CTU office and working from home. The health and safety of our staff are paramount. But you know that the work hasn’t stopped, either for you or our Union. You have received several communications from CTU for everything from how to retrieve essentials from school, to our efforts to define new working conditions, agreements on our evaluations, and guidelines for how to complete IEPs and ETRs.
As union members, we know firsthand the value of solidarity. We understand the invincible strength of many when we all stand together. We will get through the COVID-19 crisis, and hopefully be stronger and more appreciative of our everyday social connections when it’s over. Things like a hug or handshake, seeing our students’ smiling faces, a get-together with our colleagues after school any given Friday, dinner with our families at a restaurant, going to a show or sporting event, all things we may have taken for granted several months ago, will be newly valued.
And just as we are fighting this pandemic, and all of the difficulties that have accompanied it, we will have new fights ahead: how to bring our students and families to school, adjusting what we teach our students to meet them where they will be upon that return, getting a levy passed, adjusting to whatever our new normal will be, and the list goes on. But one thing will remain constant: our commitment to Cleveland’s children, and our commitment to each other, in solidarity, as we work together to keep our Cleveland Teachers Union strong, and to make the Cleveland Metropolitan School District a better district for educators, students, and families. We are in this together.