The Chicago Teachers Union turned their backs on Chicago area students today. It is not a big surprise. We all know the CTU leadership values their pocketbooks more than their profession. Chicago is nationally known for it's underachieving public schools, so hearing about a teachers strike will draw little more than a shrug across the country. It's not like award winning Harvard teachers walked out on their classrooms today.
As the Mayor said last night, this is a strike of choice. The CTU wants to make a point. They want more money, no accountability for education outcomes, no teacher evaluation system, no disciplinary policy for teachers and no benefit adjustments. Basically, they want the status quo plus more money.
The reason we know the CTU is not interested in reform is that they have not publicly proposed any plans. What is their teacher evaluation system proposal? Where is their accountability provision? How do they believe teachers should be disciplined for offenses against student?
They have no plan. They are not interested in reforming the school system. And why would they? Their average annual salary is over $70K, double that of the average Chicagoan. Their health and pension is very generous, while many Chicagoans are uninsured and have no pension. They get pay raises whether students succeed or fail. Heck, a teacher could not say a word to his/her class all semester and still cash those paychecks every two weeks without incident.
This strike brings into the clear focus the reason Republicans believe in full school choice rights for students and parents.
While nearly 400,000 students are being deprived of a day's education, tens of thousands of other Chicago students will be going to class on a typical Monday because their parents had a choice.
Private schools such as Catholic parochial schools are open as usual. So are city charter schools. Parents with some extra disposable income have a choice and can simply send their kids to private schools. They don't have to put up with striking teachers and poor results. Other parents who win charter school lotteries also can escape the CTU hostage taking. It is the low income parents who lost those lotteries and don't have the money to send their kids to private school who lose out.
Every parent and every child deserves a choice in education. It would restore the power to parents in local education. No longer could teachers hold them hostage for higher pay or better benefits. The focus would shift back to students and how to innovate so schools can compete against each other for the privilege of educating young minds.
Let's use this immoral CTU teacher strike as an opportunity to shed light on the low income families whose children deserve better. Let's make sure someone takes their side. Let's make sure students have a voice in their future.
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