-By Warner Todd Huston
As the Daley years wound down, Chicago's public schools teachers were handed an automatic 4 percent raise across the board that was supposed to take effect next year. However, that largess from the taxpayers has just been rescinded by a unanimous vote of the Chicago Public Schools board.
Citing the $712 million budget deficit, the CPS announced that the automatic, meritless raise was simply unjustifiable. In a statement, schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard said, "I have the utmost respect and admiration for teachers and all that they do for our children. But today's board action was taken in response to the massive financial crisis facing our system. My team is now tasked with developing a balanced budget and presenting it to the Board and the public in August and our promise remains to minimize any impacts on the classroom and our kids."
No word yet from the Chicago teachers union as to whether or not they will simply accept or contest the decision.
This seems like small potatoes, however, as many Chicago teachers will still see raises based on new degrees they've earned and automatic raises based on years of service, the latter of which should be another item targeted for elimination, I'd think.
As I said above, except for the raises based on new levels of their own schooling, these teacher's raises are not based on merit. That is something that needs to change. As in the private sector, teachers should only get raises when they deserve them, not just because they have a job!
This is a new era in city (and state) budgeting, for sure. No longer are public employees going to get undeserved automatic raises. The gravy train is grinding to a halt even in America's most liberal cities.
In any case, at an average salary of $69,000 a year in a state where the average citizen only makes about $53,000, these teachers aren't hurting too badly.