Nothing screams relevance in today’s economic and political climate like a teacher’s union threatening a strike if their members aren’t given a 24 percent pay raise, and yet that is exactly what is happening in Chicago, the nation’s third largest school district.
Teachers are unhappy with a decision made last year by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to cancel their four percent pay raise while also asking them to work longer days. According to The Associated Press, “Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis announced the result of last week's balloting — nearly 90 percent of its 26,502 members voted to authorize a strike.” The strike will not happen over the summer; the union has decided to wait until school is in session to call the strike.
It’s rather hard to make a coherent case for a 24 percent pay raise based on the previous year’s four percent pay raise being canceled, but that is precisely what the teachers union intends to push for. Of course, the union trots out one of their favorite talking points to justify the action, “We want a contract that gives Chicago students the school they deserve. So we call on CPSs to take this process seriously and negotiate with us in good faith with an eye on the real prize, our children.”
Yes, it’s for the children. No doubt a 24% pay increase and avoiding having to work an extra 40 minutes per day – up to seven hours and 40 minutes – will increase the quality of education being delivered.
Who cares if the Chicago Public Schools and those tasked with paying for them, the taxpayers, can’t afford a strike? It’s for the kids, you know. Who cares that the graduation rate is a paltry 60.6 percent or that teachers in the CPS are already paid an average of $74,839? It’s for the kids, obviously. Who cares that teachers don’t want student performance tied to their evaluations? It’s about the kids, right?
This outrageous demand for a 24% increase in pay and shorter work days has nothing to do with increasing the quality of education produced by Chicago Public Schools.
Hopefully the taxpayers responsible for footing the bill in Chicago will realize that this is not about the children and will elect leadership willing to take on the teachers unions. That is the only way to allow real and meaningful education reform to take place.