Immorality of a Teachers Strike

Earlier this week, the Chicago Teachers Union leadership gleefully announced they may strike as a protest to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's reform efforts.

This does not mean they will actually strike, but if the Mayor doesn't give them what they want, they are giving advanced notice to city residents that they intend to hold every Chicago Public School child's future hostage.

A teachers strike is particularly sinister because it does the most damage to the youngest students. Middle school children and high schoolers will be deprived of classroom time, but at their age they can catch up and not be permanently harmed by a few missed days. It's the very young kindergarten and first graders, who are often the most excited to go to school,  who suffer life long damage from a teacher walk out.

The youngest students are the most eager to learn and are at an age where education is still fun. Their whole tiny life revolves around school, classwork, teachers and their classmates. When those excited students have no classroom to attend after spending weeks looking forward to the first day back, it will not take long for them to lose interest.

In a matter of just days, a kindergartener's attitude about school can go from excited to disinterested in a flash. If a 5 year-old's first impression of school is a place that you look forward to going only to be disappointed that the first day is being delayed indefinitely, it can set up a life long disinterest in school.

Beyond the psychological impact of missing out on school days, there is the very real risk associated with the loss of  instruction days. A young child's mind is a virtual sponge for information. They have insatiable curiosities and are learning something almost every minute of the day. Such a rapid pace of learning needs to be gently guided by teachers so their leaning follows a step by step building process toward more complex concepts. If the learning is taking place completely without structure, a child may create bad learning habits early that become hard to break.

For all the unsafe, failure factory schools we have in the Chicago Public School System, the lone bright spot has been the elementary schools. Many CPS elementary schools do a fairly good job of educating students up to the 4th-5th grade level. After that, scores start to trail off. CPS needs to do a better job building on this early foundation; but, at least they tend to get kids out of the blocks on the right track.

Five and six-year-old children are totally at the mercy of adults. They depend on their parents for love, shelter, food and protection. They depend on crossing guards to help them across the street and on teachers to educate them. They have no defense of their own if an adult in their life is delinquent in their duties to children. These children get hurt without any ability to defend themselves.

We all agree that parents who fail to provide a clean home for their children or fail to feed them are acting in a morally corrupt manner. Societies pass laws to protect children from such irresponsibility.

If we all agree that failing to uphold your role in a defenseless child's life is morally wrong, why would we not also call teachers walking out on students morally wrong?

If CPS kindergarten - 5th grade teachers walk out of their classrooms this Autumn and refuse to teach those whom they swore to educate, they will be acting immorally. Students whose education process gets interrupted will be less likely to get a fulfilling educational experience which will have negative  life long consequences for them. Not only will their grades and interest in learning suffer, but with it will go their chances of graduating high school and moving on to college and a career.

In other words, teachers who wish to protect their own generous salaries, pensions and benefits are willing to sacrifice the future salaries of their students in exchange for their own. Harming children to advance yourself is selfish and cruel.

There are many ways to negotiate and bargain for a new contract. However, morally bankrupt options should never be on the table. There should not have to be laws against such an act, organizations are simply expected to have the decency not to do it.

If the Chicago Teachers Union strike, it will be an immoral act of aggression against children who have done nothing to deserve it. There are better ways for professionals to bargain. Striking in this circumstance is amateurish and must be avoided.

In the end, the children must come out of this negotiation as the winners. A strike will make them losers regardless of how the final contract shakes out.

 

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  • The claim that the authorization to strike is advance notice that teachers intend to hold hostage the future of Chicago's public school children is neither logical nor accurate. The claim that kindergarten students and first graders would suffer irreconcilable damage from "lost time in class" due to a teacher's strike is absurd. In 1987, the city's longest teacher's strike in history lasted 19 days. With the extended length of the school day and school year this year, a strike lasting as long (or even longer!) as the longest strike in history would still place students in the classrooms for MORE TIME this year than the year prior. According to the CPS website, the 2012-2013 school year is to be extended by 10 additional student attendance days AND 30% more time in each day.

    Furthermore, how would students who miss time in class due to a teacher's strike necessarily be any less excited about returning to school after the strike as after Winter Break, Spring Break or Summer Vacation? That claim doesn't make much sense, either.

    Finally, to assert that the 90% teacher strike authorization vote is a morally bankrupt move to fight for their "generous salaries, pensions and benefits" to the detriment of the future salaries of the children they educate is quite a huge leap. There are myriad stronger predictive indicators of a person's earning potential that go beyond time spent in elementary school classes-- which again, as mentioned above-- would not actually be any more time missed than years past and present. This assertion also removes an integral variable from the equation: a child's parents or guardians.

    Let's be clear: Chicago's public school teachers have already been denied 4% of their contractual raise from the previous contract due to a budget shortfall (according to CPS BOE). Proposed revisions to the teachers' contract would require teachers to increase their workload by 20-30%. And, according to a recent U of I study, the average CPS teacher works 58 hours a week. So if we do the math: that means that teachers are now being asked to work, on average, a work week of 69-75 hours. What's more, they have been offered a 2% wage increase for that workload, but less the 4% already promised is actually a 2% DECREASE. Also under negotiation is the extent to which a teacher's experience will matter.

    Unlike workers in the private sector, whose salary raises, bonuses and wage increases are determined by company profits-- government and non-profit employees accept lower salaries and wages in exchange for scheduled salary and raise increases to compensate for cost of living inflation.

    But very much like workers in the private sector, whose salaries and wages are typically commensurate with experience, right now-- so are teachers. In business, a person with an MBA typically garners a higher salary than a person without one. In education, teachers with advanced degrees and certifications should be compensated for this investment in their professional development, depth and scope of knowledge as well.

    Teachers are fighting for the right to be compensated equitably-- as fairly as anyone else in the public or private sector. They are fighting for stable working conditions, and for the freedom to teach students as opposed to teaching to the test. Many research studies indicate that employees of employers that provide stable working conditions, benefits, perks, and fair to good compensation are more productive. Similarly, teachers that are respected with fair compensation for their work will be able to give more of their time and energy to their students.

  • In reply to kittykat:

    I applaud your succinct respone to this YR group. Your research is spot on. It is obvious to me that people like the author of this article have never spent any significant time in an educator's shoes.

    Is it immoral to overcrowd classrooms--deprive developing children( who are by law required to be in school) access to physical education (remember the JFK physical fitness programs)--access to music, drama, art classes, and library (including advanced technical training with computers)? Is it immoral to expect teachers, after working full teaching days, to go home to yet another 2-3 hours of work correcting papers and planning for the next day's lessons with no compensation at all for that time? On top of this, these same teachers are prohibited from contributing to the Social Security System---so the need to rely on the pension benefits offered to them when they signed on to teach is all they have to look to for retirement age security (unless they established personal annuities for themselves). Now, the state -and the CPS higher ups- are attempting to cut into that pension amount....what is wrong with our society today?

    I am quite thankful I was able to retire 2 years ago. I'm surprised anyone under contract with CPS is even entertaining the idea of remaining in the teaching profession.

    Teaching used to be a calling---a desire to help youngsters develop into thinking, productive citizens. Teachers never went into education with an eye on making a huge living wage. They loved working with children. The past strikes were instituted because teachers were being treated like indentured servants and they used the best tool guaranteed to them by law-the right to collectiively bargain- to seek better wages, benefits and working conditions. In his one year as Mayor, Emanuel has done more to erase most all of the gains made by the CTU on behalf of its teacher members than any mayor in the History of Chicago. I voted for him for his first term. He will not get my vote again.

    I stand with the teachers and the 90% who voted to strike if necessary. They are today's heroes!!

  • In reply to kittykat:

    One thing first: 20 to 30 percent more classroom hours does not equate to 20 to 30 percent more total work. Just as 1 hour in class might equate to 2.5 hours outside prep for that hour, 8 hours in class would result in perhaps a half hour prep for each hour in class. The relationship is not linear. That's a poor example of "do[ing] the math."

    Now to the heart of the matter:

    Do you really want to be compared to the private sector?? Because I'm all for paying good teachers "equitably" with the private sector.

    How many private sector employees have contracts with guaranteed wage increases every year these days? You're complaining of a great injustice because the teachers accepted the LACK OF AN INCREASE last year -- oh you poor, poor baby. At the private company I recently worked for, the best employees (the heart of the company) had to take 20 percent cuts from a few years ago. .. and then there's the laughable idea that public employees accept lower salaries these days.. But aside from how spoiled you are, including the apparently ridiculous demand that you start doing the same amount of work as teachers in most school districts, let's consider something else.

    You are NOT a private sector employee. If you were, you and your ilk would have been fired a long time ago for failing to achieve expected results. But since private schools are forbidden to compete with public schools for a particular child's share of property taxes, the public must be protected from the labor cartel that you belong to. To be honest, the mere existence of unions in public education is immoral for the simple reason that you are a public servant serving those without a voice -- children. Their interests cannot be as well defended as yours for two reasons:

    1. They don't speak for themselves
    2. Their parents [and the taxpayers] don't directly sit across from the table in negotiations with you. The hand feeding you is not the same as your employer. Nor can your employers decide to hire somebody else -- they are bound by law. This is what nobody on the left seems to understand, and its the chief difference between public and private sector unions. There's a massive conflict of interest keeping the arbitration table from properly representing both sides.
    3. Children can't go on strike to threaten YOUR jobs

    The entire reason for the existence of your job is to serve the children. YOUR INTERESTS ARE NOT IMPORTANT!!! The schools are not there to serve teachers!!! Therefore, education level and experience level should not be treated the same as they are in the private sector. There is one measure for your value in your job -- how effectively you serve and educate children. And as an individual who remembers his teachers, let me tell you that the worst ones were often the oldest -- your talent as a teacher is not directly related to your length of incumbency or hours studying.

    Let's be clear -- the state is broke and the public are determined not to have their children used as a bargaining piece for self-serving teachers. The union will lose this on the alter of 30 percent salary increase demands, a laughable idea. In fact, I believe it will tick the public off enough so that we can finally pass teachers' union prohibition in this state. I look forward to the day when teachers who are derelict in their duties to the children who they exist to serve are summarily fired and replaced.

    Do not underestimate the extent of your special privileges in the public sector. It is so INequitable, in fact, that the union is currently threatening AGAIN to use the power of poor state law to hold children hostage for selfish benefit.

    What a bunch of self-righteous thugs. Somebody call the Rraahhmmbulence. Oh wait, he has children.

    It's a sad commentary that the union will fight its last battle over a historically large salary increase demand.

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    In reply to C M Snyder:

    I completely agree with you that a 20 to 30% raise is ridiculous. I also think that such a request will not garner the respect in the public eyes that teachers so need to cultivate. I am also worried because this could have nationwide effects on how the public views teachers if this strike really occurs - especially when the media gets a hold of it and spins it (kind of like you did).

    I disagree with your comparisons of the private sector and teachers. You questioned, "How many private sector employees have contracts with guaranteed wage increases every year these days?" Teachers are guaranteed wage increases every year because our beginning salaries are so low. I don't teach in Chicago, I teach in NC, so it is hard for me to grasp the cost of living up there, but in NC and SC we start at 30K and the poverty line for a family of 3 is about 20K. And unlike in the private sector, we do not see large hikes in our salaries ever. We cap out at much lower salaries than our peers with comparable education levels. This also explains why we enjoy better benefits, because our wages suck.

    I also disagree with your assessment about the triviality of unions for teachers, although I do understand your concern. I am suspicious about unions also, at least when they try and bargain for more money. I think it is respectable and meaningful when they bargain for better working conditions and the right to have a break so they can take a piss. These are things that will actually work to benefit kids in the long run, although the same can be said about higher wages too (the unionized states have the highest NAEP scores, while Finland is highly unionized with an educational system the U.S. envies).

    We are missing that element down here in NC, although I am currently lucky to be in a great school where I don't have to worry so much. It is important that teachers enjoy the right to voice their opinions in such a bureaucratic and political hostile environment. I think this is where unions can be important, it just makes me nervous when teachers start fighting for higher wages, especially when things are so rough. We haven't had a pay raise down here in 4 years, and although teachers would like one, I don't see teachers too unhappy. I think teachers understand this is a rough time, although if we don't get one soon, I think teachers will begin to dissent.

    And you seem to be repetitiously pointing out that we would be fired in the private sector, but that is not true. There is no true benchmark to assess the effectiveness of teachers - no bottom line - like there is in the private sector. There are too many factors outside the control of the teacher that impacts what we do, whereas in the private sector, where money is the bottom line, success is easy to decipher.

    But by saying that the interests of teachers are not important, you are bypassing the number 1 factor of student learning WITHIN the school. It is important that teachers are heard and taken seriously. There's a reason why we have our college degrees and many of us have advanced degrees - because we are experts and we care about what's good for your kids.

    Your comments are radical, however, I think some of your points make sense.

  • In reply to kittykat:

    I tried to respond, but it didn't go through. So see my response to you here: http://www.chicagonow.com/make-no-little-plans/2012/06/the-immoral-teachers-union/

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    In reply to kittykat:

    The fact that you continue to put forth the lie of "lower salaries" makes your whole post suspect. Teachers have been getting good deals in good times and in bad, working hand in hand with the democrats that controlled the purse strings, and finally, THEY RAN OUT OF MONEY. It is too bad that prior teachers and administrators got theirs - they sold the younger teachers down the river - but that is the boat we are now in.

    Also, your comparison of the person earning an MBA with a teacher getting "more education" is not really accurate. Generally, the person getting the MBA will get a different, or higher level position, where that knowledge can be usefully applied. My M-I-L was a teacher as were some of her sisters and I heard about the kind of classes that "qualified" the teacher for more salary - nothing that really benefited the students.

  • What is immoral is that our society values, compensates, and admires those who have perfected buying low and selling high more so than those that can educate and help form a functioning human adult. In a perfect world that would be different. It is not a perfect world. So teachers need to grapple in the "market" as best they can. Nothing immoral about it in a competitive world.

  • In reply to symes4u:

    Well put

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    In reply to symes4u:

    Well, you can also argue that many CPS teachers have not been very successful in helping to form a functioning human adult.

  • A teacher's strike is not immoral but the young republicans may be.

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    In reply to jackrc1:

    We are talking about education, in a state COMPLETELY CONTROLLED BY DEMOCRATS, in a city that has not seen a republican for DECADES, and you want to somehow smear republicans? You must be a product of CPS.

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    The attacks on teachers are a bi-partisan affair, but the shrillest venom comes from the Republicans. Republicans lecturing teachers about morality? Hand me a thesaurus, I need a synonym for "hypocrisy on steroids".

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    In reply to Bob Simpson:

    Republicans are complaining most because they are PAYING for it.

  • "Nothing immoral about it in a competitive world" except for using Children as human shields

    JBP

  • People who aren't even making a living wage AND lay out their own money for school supplies to help their students are "acting immorally"?

    You sicken me, you anonymous Romney wannabe.

  • More idiotic commentary from the sheltered suburban subdivision youth of the GOP. New and improved with selected statistics!

    There's nothing immoral about labor rights or going on strike when teachers get a raw deal. It's the American way.

    I suppose your underlying solution would be that all kids should be homeschooled. Problem is that they turn out to be as clueless about the outside world as you are.

  • In reply to Andy Frye:

    There should be no unions for taxpayer funded employment. If you want to work for the government, then you should take it or leave it. If unions still make sense in the private sector, which I doubt, then so be it. But where our tax dollars pay these salaries and benefits, then its the taxpayers, through their representatives, who decide how much these positions are worth in today's economy.

    Maybe they should throw them all out hire a charter school company to run the schools and then teachers can reapply through them without tenure or step increases. How would they like them apples?

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    The market decides what teachers are worth, just like everything else. By your logic, we should be able to dictate what we pay any private company providing goods or services to the government. The teachers' union has taken a hardline stance in response to Rahm Emmanuel's belief that he can arbitrarily change their terms of employment. CPS is already experiencing a talent drain, as good teachers take jobs in other districts or leave the profession entirely.

    Charter schools are no panacea for troubled schools. The quality of the students has more to do with a school's record than the quality of the teachers. Forcing CPS teachers to handle bigger classes and work more hours is going to harm students more than a two week long strike.

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    In reply to notfol:

    The market does NOT decide what teachers are worth because parents cannot take their already spent money (taxes) and go somewhere else competitive. Until the dollars follow the student, the school system is a racket run by a bunch of thugs.

  • @AtomicKommieComics - I do want to make sure readers are not misled by your particular comment. You indicate CPS teachers are not making a living wage. According to Dr. Amy Glasmeier and Penn State University's Department of Geography Living Wage Calculator, a living wage for an adult is about 20K gross pay per year and if you add a child it would be 34K. The total base salary/pension per year for a CPS teacher is $74,798 which if calculated into pay/per hour for the year would add up to about $34.50/hour assuming the teacher used all of their sick days.

    You are correct about teachers having to lay out money for school supplies. No disputing that one.

  • Let's make sure readings are not mislead by your particular comment... Starting salary for CPS teachers is around $47,000, which also means, as a new teacher in your career/classroom, you are expected to compensate for the lack of supplies provided. This year, I spent approximately 4,000 dollars on supplies for my autism classroom.

    There are so many factors left out of these oversimplified arguments. For example, most people don't know that there is no paid maternity leave for CPS teachers, so they have to save up their sick days for years before having a child. Most teachers do not use even half of their sick days for this reason, among others. This additional information makes your money argument grayer. I am so tired of seeing only half truths being yielded as absolute truths.

  • In reply to phillipec:

    Phillip, you make an excellent point. $75,000 is the average CPS teacher's annual compensation, but by no means is that the flat rate for everyone. As a starting salary your rate is of course much lower than the average. Conversely, there are teachers in CPS who make nearly 3 times as much as you do. For instance, in the August 1, 2011 Employee Position Roster, several teachers are listed with gross salaries near or in excess of six figures. The highest I could find for a teacher was shared by Linda Kateeb and Mary Beth Benjamin who each earn $105,772.48 per year. Much of the CTU membership is at or above the $75,000 average.

    However, I think we can all agree we have some really overpaid principals and non-union staff. The assistant principal for Fenger High School gets $110,000 a year and he presides over a school where 94.5% of students fail to meet PSAE standards, the average ACT score is a 14 and 98% of students scored below a 20 on the ACT.

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    But the average wage of the teachers factors in their educational experience. I think you are comparing apples and oranges by comparing a "living wage" at 34K compared to a professional's wage at 75K. We are not waiters and waitresses (no offense).

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    At what point are the parents responsible for filling unavoidable gaps in their childrens' educations? Teachers have a right to a reasonable wage, reasonable guidelines and reasonable expectations. Too often a child's failures are blamed on the educational system when, if the parents had shown some interest and done their part to inspire, the outcome could have been something else all together.

  • How silly - no teacher would "gleefully" strike. It isn't something they'd enjoy - it would only cause them to feel the pressure of meeting curriculum requirements in less time.

    In general, while a strike would suck, not giving teachers the support they need is worse. It's not just a matter of giving them better pay (although teachers are often forced to rely on their own salaries to buy classroom materials), it's a matter of the school board's overall budget.

    A lower budget for schools means less resources of all types, from pencils and paper to useful technologies, learning aids, and perhaps most importantly classroom support through educational assistants. If the author of this opinion piece is indeed concerned with the development of Chicago's youth, then he'd be in support of a bigger budget for schools.

    It is always disappointing when individuals who would claim to be in support of strengthening the foundations of America would be so quick to attack the improvement - and protection - of such an important cornerstone. Without education, we have nothing.

  • In reply to Kurt Evans:

    While the word "gleefully" did remove any credibility this post might otherwise have had (which is admittedly little), at least it did spare me the bother of having to read the whole thing.

    BTW, whenever I try to post, I get an error message telling me, "You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down." So sorry, I forgot that Republicans can't read fast.

  • Right on! Once you become a teacher, you should be doomed to work the rest of your life for a salary of declining value. [<~sarcasm, in you missed it]
    Given the current fashion of Nimbys and NotOnMyDimers, teachers' jobs would be outsourced and off-shored if possible to save the plutocracy its precious nickels. Another example of penny-wise, pound-foolishness brought to you by supposedly conservative "patriots." So cheap they squeak when they walk.
    The only outstanding question in American economics and politics is, "If I qualified as a plutocrat, would I have to be a Mepublican?"

  • In case you didn't know this existed here are the salaries of the teachers in Illinois. I'm not saying they make too much or not enough just some facts for you before you post.

    http://www.familytaxpayers.org/salary.php

  • Off topic, but I love the logo of the Chicago Young Republicans. An enormous elephant trampling on the city. How appropo.

    On topic, I agree with every comment here except your own. I'm especially fond of the one pointing out the irony of Republicans discussing morality.

  • If teachers were paid less than the average American, if teachers had no pension plan or a plan which was much less generous than what the average American receives, if teachers worked 12 months a year, if teachers had no medical plan or a poor medical plan I would say a strike would not be immoral. But as teachers are paid much more than the average American wage, have pensions which pay 6 figures in many cases, have great medical insurance, get the summer off unless they want to supplement their already good incomes and have leaders who say, "We are not here becauase of the students" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwxiRXqH_hQ

    Then I say yes, this strike can be deemed immoral.

  • In reply to ABIGSOXFAN:

    It's not about being paid less than the average American, it's about being paid less than the average babysitter. A teacher is responsible for 20-30 kids for 7+hours a day and, on top of actually managing their behavior, is expected to find time to educate them.

    We're talking 20-30 kids, often without any support in the room. You'd be surprised about these kids, as in any given classroom 2 or more have either undiagnosed attention deficit disorders (or diets and sleeping habits so poor that their behavior mimics such a disorder) or show symptoms of autism (again, often without diagnosis).

    Not to mention the kids who speak English as a second language (ie, they go home to a family that doesn't - or can't - provide support for what was taught that day), on top of the children who struggle to learn in any environment that doesn't support one-on-one learning.

    Now, if you think teaching is EASY, then I understand your attitude. You don't get (or maybe just don't care) that a teacher only gets so many sick days while dealing with not just one cold, but literally dozens from the numerous kids whose parents send them to school every day, no matter what. You don't understand that it's a job you take home with you, where you spend evenings and weekends planning lessons and marking work.

    Teaching is stressful, it is exhausting, it is sometimes heart-breaking work, and, ultimately, it is rewarding and worthwhile. Except when people who think they know teaching make ridiculous comments, such as that teachers have it good, or easy.

    Let me ask you -- how many fights would you have to break up each day before you decided that it's an easy job? Because even in good schools, there are almost-daily fights. How many children would you allow to converse, often loudly, with each other while you were trying to teach them how to do the work before you decide that teachers don't have it good? How many run-ins with angry, non-understanding parents? How many open acts of defiance? How many times would you be willing to repeat an instruction? How would you feel if a student physically attacked you? How many crying, stressed out, heart-broken kids would you be willing to comfort? How many students would have to come to school with a new set of bruises that they won't talk about?

    Because most of these things* happen even to good teachers EVERY SINGLE DAY, even in good classes at good schools.

    (*except, in all likelihood, for the "student attacking you")

    If your argument is that we should be paid as much as the average American, then you don't understand the extraordinary job that is teaching. It is one of those rare jobs that you can't do well just because you have the degrees, or training, or even the experience. You need to be willing and passionate. Anything less doesn't work.

    All that said, if teachers didn't pump part of their salary back into their classroom budget, if they didn't dedicate an extra dozen-plus hours a week to working "off the clock," if they didn't suffer tremendous amounts of burn-out from the frustrations of the job, and - most importantly - if they weren't responsible for educating your next gas station attendant, car manufacturer, salesman, accountant, construction worker, doctor, shoe shiner and president, then maybe you'd have a case.

    But otherwise, you are suggesting that we pay less for an essential service. Isn't that like buying authentic jewelry from a guy in an alleyway? The result might shine for a while, but before long the tarnish is all you're left to deal with...

  • In reply to ABIGSOXFAN:

    Just about all of the teachers at the top end of the pay rankings are working after school programs and summer school.

    I wouldn't want the "average American" in front of a classroom! Teachers are more educated than the "average American", and the job is much harder than most. Only the ignorant talk about how nice it must be to be a teacher because the days are short and you get summers off.

    As far as the gripes about good retirement benefits and great medical insurance... it's too bad the "average American" can no longer expect those things from an employer.

  • I'd say teachers are being greedy and selfish, but not immoral.

    Young Republicans - your article lacks and facts and you come across as being clueless. Grow up!

    There are many better written articles out there about the CPS teachers and the union.

  • "However, morally bankrupt options should never be on the table...If the Chicago Teachers Union strike, it will be an immoral act of aggression against children who have done nothing to deserve it. "

    I am a Republican and I will be voting for Romney. I think Obama is the worst president in this country's history. But this article is absurdly over the top. I say let the teachers strike. We taxpayers don't have any more money to give them.

    However, in defense of the teachers, they are caught between undisciplined students and their parents on the one hand and typically lousy government bureaucratic management on the other. I don't know how to fix any of this, but we must somehow. If nothing changes, this country really is doomed.

  • What's immoral is the city robbing schools of $1 billion in tax money every year via TIF, and then funding projects like a grocery store going in next to Dominicks in West Loop... instead of funding hiring extra police like Rahm promised when he ran for office, or even say... a salary increase for teachers who are acting as the only babysitters some of these kids will ever see.

  • Immoral? Are you serious? No teacher *wants* a strike, but they sense that if they don't stand up for themselves now, they will be stuck with less pay for more work for a long time to come. The YR obviously believe that any labor strike is immoral.

    Talking about wanting our best and brightest to become teachers is one thing, but the YR clearly don't actually believe that. Of course, it's easy to pretend this when your kids go to a nice private school where teachers are paid well and only deal with children from good, upper middle class homes.

    The YR need to spend some time in CPS classrooms. I suspect they will come away saying they wouldn't do the job for any amount of money.

  • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Ha. What's with the hysteria? THE CHILDREN, my GOD, won't somebody think of the CHILDREN?!?

    I set up an account specifically to say this: You are woefully misinformed and ignorant about your article's topic. Do you have children? Do you have a degree in child psychology? Can you cite sources to back-up this lifelong irreversible damage that is caused to poor, innocent youth who have those mean, awful, sinister teachers who would like to get paid fairly?

    I graduated from a top tier university and went on to get a Masters in Elementary Education. To do my job well, I need to (and do) work about 60 hours a week on average, 6 days a week. Surely I am the devil for wanting to get ADEQUATELY COMPENSATED for my experience, education, and hours worked. The poor, poor children who just today told me I was "their favorite teacher ever!" My sinister plan will surely scar them for life!

    Look. If you want a strong nation, you have to have strong public education. Our country is weak and crumbling and our kids are less and less prepared for higher level academics and careers. You think that's a TEACHER'S fault? Try looking at the classroom full of 35 kids who come to school in unwashed clothes, or who haven't eaten breakfast, or who are falling asleep because they were up all night babysitting their siblings. What exactly, can a teacher do then? It has to start at home with broken families and broken homes pulling themselves together. It's a societal thing first. You can't educate someone whose basic needs (physical, emotional and psychological) are not being met. This is probably one point on which you and I agree (I tend to lean conservative here). Enough with the single mothers with the eight kids from 5 different men. Some of these kids are doomed from the start, and there's only so much one person can do in a classroom of 30 kids.

    This strike authorization is probably the best thing for our kids right now. I work in one of the top schools in the city with an amazing, celebrated, dedicated staff. Each and every one of us has been pushed to the brink this year by Rahm's ugly rhetoric, the uninformed public, all of the monotonous paperwork and testing and "initiatives" required by the board. This entire push has lowered teacher morale to a point where I myself considered up and leaving at least 50 different times this year. Each and every one of us comes to school most days exhausted (10-12 hour days) and overwhelmed, and we still do our jobs damn well. But that can only last so long before people burn out.

    The top educators-- the ones with the highest degrees, the brightest and most creative, the young and well connected-- are going to flee Chicago if they don't get a fair salary. They'll leave because they can. They're mobile and marketable. I'm already looking at private schools and suburban districts. Or hell, a different career all together. I'd love to make what my friends in business make for the same time and effort put in.

    The people who will stay under poor working conditions? The unmotivated, those wouldn't be able to get jobs elsewhere, those who are there to phone it in, collect their paycheck, and go home. What's going to become of America then? (DISCLAIMER: There will also be those who stay that are incredibly dedicated and kind hearted and are willing to sacrifice their own well-being in order to teach. But I'd bet the majority is going to fall in the former group).

    Do I want to strike? No effing way. I can't wait until they're done cleaning the carpets on my floor so that I can get back into my room this summer and start setting up and planning for next year. (Stupid, lazy teachers and their summer vacations!)

    But if I can't make a decent salary here and be able to raise my (eventual) family on it? I'm OUT. And so will many other of the best and brightest.

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    In reply to lcbw:

    Your statement that teachers work 60hrs a week does not match up with what most of us parents have seen out in the real world. Sure, there may be "A" teacher that does this, but most of the times you have to be careful not to be hit by the teachers entering the parking lots just as school begins or ends. In addition, many of the classes are "group-planned" and have been so for years, at least where my kids go (North Shore), so there is not much "prep" time. Factoring in all the vacation and various "institute days" where teachers are not really there (have gone in to retrieve books, etc), I am not really buying it. YOU may put forth that effort, but some people believe unicorns exist as well.

    Also, if you were in the private sector, you would be judged on your own specific accomplishments for putting in those hours. In schools, it is based upon number of years put in and amount of "education" - students be damned.

  • You lost me at "gleefully announced." Even though I don't expect you to be neutral, this start of your argument showed me that you weren't trying to make a point through a well reasoned argument but were just trying to paint teachers in as negative of a light as possible. I can't imagine that you persuaded anyone of anything with this article.

  • One would think that somebody (not a student) is holding a gun to the collective heads of teachers. If the strain is that much, quit. Look to take your many and varied skills into the private sector and then get the compensation you believe you deserve.

    Do not be surprised at what your pay maybe, nor by the contributions to pension and health care plans.

    So tired of the "abused teacher". Quit, dammit. That's what all of us out here have to do if we are under payed or overworked.

    It's "for the children" my buttocks.

  • Wisconsin's resolve against unions was just the beginning . . . You union thugs in Illinois will no longer have the ability to hurt our children sooner than you think. Right to work will be established and the thugs will be culled.

  • In reply to starvedforreason:

    Your screen name is very appropriate.

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