A Fair and Forward Union: Black Teachers and The Chicago Teachers Union 1963 – 1987
thesisposted on 01.05.2020, 00:00 by Kyle Westbrook
This study documents the transformation of the Chicago Teachers Union by black teachers and the collective bargaining battles with the Chicago Board of Education by combining archival research and the oral histories of black teachers who were themselves teachers during the late 1960s into the 1980s. Combined with the documentary research, these black teacher voices provide valuable insights into how black teachers experienced major policy initiatives of the Board of Education and the union, such as the Board’s efforts to comply with desegregation mandates of the federal government through teacher transfer, as well as the seven teacher strikes between 1969 and 1987. In Chicago, black teachers during the period 1963-1987 were at the center of a demographic transformation in which they would by 1984 overtake white teachers as the largest racial demographic in the city’s teaching force. That demographic transformation was at the center of black teachers increasingly fighting for equal rights in the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union. Black teachers by the 1980s were not only the largest racial group in the city but were also the political power bloc at the heart of successive strikes that would improve pay and benefits for teachers as well as lead to an increased focus on professional growth for teachers and contribute to the larger reform agenda of the Board of Education. Finally, this study argues that the elevation of Jacqueline Vaughn, as the union’s first African-American president, led to increased focus on professional development for teachers and a focus on reform that was absent from the previous agendas of union leadership.