400,000 Chicago Public School Teachers Strike Today

September 10, 2012
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The Chicago School System is the third largest in the country with 400,000 students, 675 schools, and 30,000 teachers and support personnel. Thirty-nine percent of the people who live in Chicago send their children to private school. About half of the students graduate

For over a year, the School Board and the Teachers’ Union have been engaged in a slow, painful, unsuccessful process to reach agreement.

The Chicago Public Schools and the Teachers’ Union are separated on several key issues but mostly teachers are concerned about job security which is a problem for them as Chicago is looking to close 100 schools as well as firing teachers based on the poor performance of students.

Rahm is a Democrat and maybe the teachers should go to Wisconsin to look for jobs with the Republican Governor. The teachers aren’t striking there and seem to like what is going on despite all the craziness last year.

The district offered 16% increases over four years and modified step increases which rewards experience but also provides incentives for mid-career teachers (merit pay increases). The teachers want to stick with raises for experience only (this way poor teachers get to make a good salary. I’m joking but, in fairness, teachers could be victimized by poor administrators or angry parents).

The teachers also want a 30% increase in salary even though they are among the highest paid city teachers in the country, averaging $76,000 annually plus generous benefits. The average salary of the Chicago residents is $40,000.

The teachers are concerned about health costs. They are not far apart on salary but they are on healthcare costs (wasn’t Obamacare going to solve that?)

They want a large raise in the first year because the work day has been extended. Sounds like they should work a longer day. I don’t know how many hours they work, but it’s obviously not long enough.

The union wants a recall system for laid off teachers. Chicago is looking to close 100 schools.The district would obviously like to decide who they will rehire or not rehire.

The next one is basing teacher evaluations on test scores. The union wants to lower how much student performance contributes to teacher evaluations. The district had already settled this issue, however, the students are performing so badly that it would mean 6,000 teachers (or nearly 30 percent of our members) would be discharged within one or two years. The district said they have no idea where the union got these numbers because they are not true.

The union wants more teacher training to back up the new evaluation system; smaller class sizes; a better school day and an elected school board.

Interestingly, an elected school board takes the governance out of the government’s big hands and into the hands of the community – that’s going from a Democratic ideal to a Conservative one.

The union has asked for more social workers, counselors, audio/visual and hearing technicians and school nurses. I don’t doubt they need that.

The want air-conditioning. It’s Illinois, not Florida, give me a break.

Day cares have been set up for the children while the teachers strike. I’m sure that will be fine because the gangs have values and will probably bring it to the alley as Rahm Dead Fish Emanuel asked.

Information from Chicago Teachers’ Union can be found here.

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