Chicago Union Head Beats Back Challenge by Teacher

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The leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union has beaten back a challenge by a teacher who campaigned for greater union involvement in school-reform efforts.

Thomas H. Reece, the president of the union, was re-elected to a second two-year term on May 17 with 13,957 votes or 72.8 percent of the total votes cast. He defeated Deborah Lynch Walsh, who received 5,214 votes and 27.2 percent of the votes.

Mr. Reece highlighted during the race the 32,000-member union's four-year contract and its comfortable relationship with the school administration installed last summer by Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"This resounding victory clearly shows that members of the Chicago Teachers Union solidly support our new move towards a positive and cooperative working relationship with our students and their parents, with the city of Chicago, and with the new Chicago public schools management team," Mr. Reece said last week in a statement.

Ms. Lynch Walsh, who resigned as the director of the union's professional-development center to return to teaching and run for the presidency, had argued that the union should play a greater role in setting education policy. (See Education Week, May 15, 1996.)

She also faulted the current leadership for allowing teachers' contractual rights and protections to be severely curtailed by the state law that gave Mr. Daley control of the city's schools.

But Ms. Lynch Walsh faced a tough fight in rallying support during a time of labor peace, backed by the widespread feeling that the district is making tangible progress toward improvement.

--Ann Bradley

Vol. 15, Issue 36

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