By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Hyde Park native Patricia Breckenridge plans to run against Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis in the upcoming CTU election in May. Breckenridge said displaced teachers were not represented well during last year’s contract negotiations.
“During the strike we weren’t allowed to bargain for the recall of teachers,” said Breckenridge, who has been an educator for 18 years. “I’m trying to fight to keep teachers working and kids at the right reading level.”
She said the state of school reform is dismal and school choice and high stakes testing is not helping.
“We still have 50 percent of kids dropping out of school and the violence and murder rate has risen, “Breckenridge said.
The Hyde Park native said she received the runaround and was the victim of constant policy changes that kept her from receiving tenure. She ultimately became a displaced teacher during the mass teacher layoffs and is now a substitute teacher working at Reavis Elementary School, 834 E. 50th St.
“Why is it that you can dedicate your life to teaching but not be celebrated?” Breckenridge asked.
Breckenridge said that the mass opening and misuse of charter schools is one of the reasons veteran teachers are being displaced.
“The intended purpose of charter schools were to be an appendage of the neighborhood schools — not union-busting competitors,” Breckenridge said. “Charters are not performing better than neighborhood schools, but they continue to receive funding. Some type of intervention must take place now.”
Breckenridge said she grew up on 48th Street and Dorchester Avenue and attended Shoesmith Elementary, 1330 E. 50th St.; Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave; and Kenwood High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. She received her masters in education at the University of Illinois–Chicago and taught at schools including Einstein, Yates and King elementary. In addition to substitute teaching, she runs the Intergenerational Reading Clinic on 53rd Street and Blackstone Avenue.
Breckenridge, who plans to run with the Century 21 Caucus, is organizing her cabinet of running mates and is seeking to collect 1,300 signatures by March 25 so that she can be eligible to run.
“Although [Caucus of Rank and File Educators] is big and they may win again, I want people to have an option,” Breckenridge said.
A coalition that includes members from the United Progressive Party and the Proactive Teachers Caucus has also announced its run against Lewis and the Caucus of Rank and File Educators. The candidates running on behalf of this coalition include Tanya Saunders-Wolffe for president, Mark Ochoa for vice president, Kelly McFarlane for recording secretary and Mary Ellen Sanchez for financial secretary.