Mockufeminist website Jezebel recently put out an article about three things that should not be the focus when discussing the Chicago Teacher's Union strike.
- Karen Lewis is Fat. It's not only disrespectful, but also has NOTHING to do with the issues at stake. So, grow up. (I also dislike when people mock Boehner for his orange skin. That has NOTHING to do with his politics. So, again grow up people on the right AND left.)
- Teacher's Don't Care About the Kids. Again, another disrespectful thing to say especially about a profession that requires caring about the kids and dealing with them every day.
- Money, and that is where this article joins the conversation.
I tweeted a while back when the strike started that it was not about money, but also the larger issues at stake in the new system of public, a.k.a. charter, education. I received a response back saying no it has to be about money in order for them to strike. Yes, they were fighting about pay too, but not JUST that issue. Yet, it seems to be the main issue everyone cares about.
And maybe money is the core issue, but not in terms of teachers' salaries. Because guess what? As much as we like to think that you just can't throw money at problems, sometimes money is what is needed to fix the problem. Everyone wants issues to be fixed but no one put any money towards fixing them. That is how we got No Child Left Behind and the longer school day in Chicago, because they are cheaper than actually tacking the issues of public education that require funding. Schools needs books, computers, markers, etc. That stuff isn't free, and as a nation and city, we have other priorities we would rather take care of than our kids.
Here are some ideas as to where Chicago could have obtained the money to give a moderate raise to teachers and not have to close down over 100 schools.
- Defense Spending. I've mentioned it several times before, but the United States spends a lot of money on the military. More than the next 19 countries combined. Chicago is part of these United States, and its citizens pay their fair share of taxes for the Department of Defense. How much? $4.8 BILLION from their 2011 federal tax dollars. I shouldn't even have to move past this point since a quarter of that would be enough to help Chicago's education problems, but I will.
- TIF Reform. Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is a source of taxpayer dollars set aside for use by the mayor and the aldermen as corporate subsidies or to fund public projects. Yet, the money keeps being funneled to areas, like downtown, that don't need the money. The CME Group was going to use their $33 million to redo their bathrooms. A corporate plaza was going to be built on Lake and Canal Streets for a little less than $30 million.
- NATO. Yes, that old thing back in the news. There are still no official numbers as to how much the summit cost the city, but here are some numbers surrounding the summit. It costs an estimated $65 million to host. The overtime paid to police was $15 million. The parking meter company also billed the city for spaces unused during the summit. That bill has not been released, but it is expected to be in the six figures. So, low ball estimate $100,000.
- The Parking Meter Privatization. The city has been billed by the company an additional $30 million for unused spaces due to handicapped spots and festivals. Is that what is going to happen to charter schools in the future? We'll just have all the millionaires billing us for every test point a Chicago student is below the national average?
- Boeing & Other Chicago Based Corporations. In 2001, To get Boeing to move its headquarters to Chicago, the city and state gave them over $63 million in tax breaks. During the same period of time, Boeing paid zero in federal taxes. Had they been taxed at appropriate level of 35 percent it would have created $10 billion in federal tax revenues. Assuming taxes are evenly distributed among states, that's an extra $200 million for Illinois. That's just Boeing too. I can't even imagine what other types of tax breaks are happening in Chicago.
- Maggie Daley Park. This issue is difficult to discuss. Ms. Daley was active in Chicago and recently died of cancer. She deserves to be remembered, but at what cost. Mayor Emanuel announced that they were going to remake a park downtown for $55 million and name it after Maggie. Do we really need to spend that much money on fixing a park?
- Lollapalooza Clean-Up. Maybe it's just me, but I think the people who are responsible for putting on the show should be the ones cleaning its mess up not Chicago. This year it costs $350,000. Last year, it was $1 million.
- Chicago's Failed Olympic Bid. I guess with the Olympics comes prestige, and with dirty politics, Chicago needs all the prestige it can get. Yet, it took Montreal 30 years to pay of its Olympic tab. The Athens games costs $11 billion. Where was Chicago going to get this type of money? The city spent $100 million in a failed Olympic bid. Can you imagine how much it would have cost had it been successful?
So, in the end, I guess it really is about money, but with more focus on where that money should be coming from than where it is going. If it's going to the schools and our children's futures, I really don't see where the problem lies. The total amount from Chicago expenditures, not including the nice big Department of Defense funding, is $392,450,000 or 56 percent of CPS's budget shortfall, which is estimated at $700 million. The money for the schools and teachers can be found. City Hall just needs to prioritize public education. Listen to Walter Jacobson, Mayor Emanuel.
Check out my other posts on CTU and education: