Everyone has heard something or other about the possible Chicago teacher's strike this fall. Here are some facts about the situation to clear up some of the questions.
What's it About?
The argument boils down to an automatic four percent raise that Mayor Rahm Emanuel now says is not automatic. As if that wasn't bad enough, this removal of an automatic pay raise coincides with the longer school day. So, teachers are going to be working more but getting paid the same.
- Ninety-one percent of the teacher's union voted for a strike authorization.
- Over 400,000 kids are going to be affected if the strike happens.
- The Chicago School System supposedly has a $700 million budget shortfall.
What does the Chicago Teacher's Union want?
Union officials are asking for a two-year contract that would 1) reduce class sizes and 2) give teachers a 24 percent raise in their first year and a five percent raise their second year.
What does CPS want?
CPS proposed a five-year contract which guarantees teachers a two percent raise in their first year and lengthens the school day by 10 percent.
What should they do?
Something that continues to surprise is that politicians seem to always have platforms about how being a teacher shouldn't mean taking a vow of poverty. Yet, when unions form to make sure that isn't true, they are attacked as being greedy. Yes, CPS might have a $700,000,000 budget short fall, but that is because other aspects outside of education have been prioritized both locally and nationally. In 2011, Chicago paid $4.8 billion in taxes that went towards the Department of Defense. That money could have covered the budget shortfall almost seven times over.
This strike is part of the larger attack on unions across the country. As seen in my previous post, Chicago when it wants something, such as NATO or the Olympics, will find a way to get the money. How does Chicago not want the children of this city to be educated?
As mentioned in another earlier post, this longer school day is going to affect the schools in more ways than just time. Teachers are going to have more time but the same resources. People ask teachers to supplement their own materials, but how are teachers going to do that if they are not making any extra money and schools lack resources like money to print freely? Students already come in so unprepared for school that teachers are supplementing $500-$1000 worth of school supplies like pens and pencils every year. Now they might have to spend an extra $500-$1000 in printing extra materials to fill class time, and they aren't getting a raise to compensate for that? That is not fair.
I'm all for compromise, but at what costs? It will just delay the inevitable, which is people realizing that schools are expected to do great things but aren't given proper compensation or resources. Bank CEOs used the bailout to pay themselves a raise, and that was considered okay because they are job creators. That is a lie. Teachers are the real job creators because they taught those executives and small business owners, and they deserve to get fairly compensated and have adequate resources.
Check out my other posts on CTU and education: