Rebel Media: Two billion reasons why the Chicago teachers' strike matters to you
8 months, 1 week ago
From the Illinois Policy Institute:
Chicago's Teachers Union said it will strike Monday for the first time in 25 years after talks with Chicago Public Schools ended without resolution. CTU President Karen Lewis said, “We have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike...No CTU members will be inside of our schools Monday.”
The debate is likely to be fierce as representatives of the Chicago Teachers Union and the district jockey for support from the general public. The rhetoric has aready been heated; CTU President Karen Lewis has described Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as "a liar and a bully".
There are certain critical facts that we believe the people of Illinois should keep in mind as they watch the conflict develop and evaluate the claims made by the two sides:
- Chicago public school teachers are already well compensated. By CTU's own figures an average teacher earns a salary of $71,000. Even if we only compare CPS teachers to others with college degrees, they still do well. According to the US Census American Community Survey Chicago the median annual wage for persons with a college degree is $48,866.CPS teachers earn nearly half again as much as an average worker in Chicago with a college degree.
- Four out of every ten kids who start freshman year at a public high school in Chicago do not graduate. While poverty and crime certainly complicate instruction, this is not a system where anyone, including the administration, teachers or the union, can rest on their laurels.
- Chicago public schools expect to drain their cash reserves in the upcoming year and are likely facing another shortfall of as large as $1 billion the year after that. It is doubtful that the district can afford across-the-board pay raises.
- Chicago receives almost $2 billion in funding from the state tax funds. That means almost 35 percent of Chicago's total funding for education comes from state taxpayer funds. The entire state, not just Chicago, is paying for the failures of CPS and CTU.
- CPS has the shortest school days and year in the nation when compared to the ten largest cities in the nation.
As frustrating as the strike is, a bad contract will last longer, and do more damage to both children and taxpayers, than a strike is likely to. The district faces serious financial and academic challenges, and if the district is to overcome these challenges it will need to change the relationship it has with its teachers. The days of automatic generous wages for poor teaching performance need to end, and the fundamental goal of education, imparting knowledge to children, needs to be at the center of everything the district does.