Skip to comments.Beware of Backfire - Striking Chicago teachers may turn Illinois into Wisconsin.
Posted on 09/12/2012 12:59:07 PM PDT by neverdem
If Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has spent the last 18 months painting a portrait of public-employee unions as intransigent and selfish, the Chicago Teachers Union this week provided him with confirmation. On Monday, 25,000 Chicago teachers (average salary: $76,000 before benefits) walked out of their classrooms, leaving nearly 350,000 schoolchildren and their parents in the lurch. The teachers are fighting to protect their lavish pay and benefit packages and also trying to stave off a new accountability plan that would evaluate their effectiveness using students test scores.
The Chicago strike serves as a counterpoint to events in Wisconsin after Walkers election in 2010. In a protracted, contentious battle, Walker virtually eliminated collective bargaining for public employees, weakening the unions power significantly. Illinois is now demonstrating what Wisconsin might have looked like without Walkers reforms. Those reforms didnt come easy: for a year and a half, Wisconsin was paralyzed by demonstrations and union disruptions. But the union tantrums in Wisconsin clearly backfired, and in a recall election this past June, Walker won by a greater margin than he had in 2010, against the same opponent. Walker is now a national star on the Republican scene, while public-union membership is plummeting.
Theres no reason to believe that the Chicago teachers strike wont similarly backfire on union loyalists. For one, the teachers demands are well beyond what normal citizens consider just. In recent negotiations, the CTU rejected a 16 percent pay increase over the next four years, which in todays economic climate would seem like a generous deal to virtually anyone who doesnt work for a public-employee union. Instead, the union demanded a 30 percent pay increase, in part to compensate for an extended school day. And the negotiations addressed only salaries. With new accounting rules in place, the Chicago Public Schools annual contribution for teacher pensions will jump from $231 million to $684 million between 2013 and 2014, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. Next year, pension costs will eat up nearly half of the education funding that Chicago schools receive from the state.
Perhaps most egregious are teachers attempts to duck accountability to save union jobs. Under Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuels plan, a public school teaching position would no longer be a sinecure; teachers would have to justify their employment with their students test scores. While this makes sense to the public—Barack Obamas own secretary of education, Arne Duncan, has fought for similar accountability plans nationwide—unions see it as a threat to job security, which, to them, clearly takes precedence over student learning.
Even to those inclined to support unions, these issues are losers. People out of work and parents scrambling to find care for their kids are likely to lose sympathy with teachers quickly as the strike drags on. The fact that Emanuel, a Democrat, is the one getting tough with the CTU is a sign that the unions demands are out of line even by mainstream liberal standards. (On Monday, Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan issued a statement saying that he stands with Rahm Emanuel, which made me check to see if my office was properly ventilated.)
The strike could also damage support for the teachers by drawing a clear contrast between heavily unionized public schools and union-free charter schools. Currently, Chicago has nearly 100 charter schools, and 52,000 of the students in those schools will be attending classes on schedule and outperforming public school students academically. A study by the Illinois Policy Institute examined the Chicago districts open-enrollment, non-selective high schools and found that nine of the ten top performers were charters—all while the average Chicago-area charter-school teacher earns about $49,000 per year. Charter schools, of course, are also anathema to the CTU—but by walking out on the citys schoolchildren, the unionized teachers are only reminding parents that another option exists, one that works better at lower cost.
Its possible, of course, that the CTU could prevail in this dispute and win valuable concessions from Emanuel. But its also possible—if the mayor remains strong—that Chicagos teachers have given Illinois the shove it needs to start moving toward the Wisconsin model.
It’s already happening. Many folks on my team at work live in the city and have kids in these wretched schools. They are NOT happy with the teachers, many calling it an illegal strike now.
Most of rural Illinois looks like a ghost-town, with boarded up storefronts, and empty strip malls everywhere.
Unemployment is outrageous, and the Democrats raised income taxes to pay for Gub’ment pensions.
Now, the highest paid teachers in America are demanding a 30% pay increase??
I cannot see how this wouldn’t upset the sheeple. But then, history shows us they vote however the Magic Glowing Box in the living room tells them to.
Let’s see... $76,000 + 25,000 in health ins, pension and other benefits for 180 days per year work.
180/5= 36 weeks
$101,000 / 36 weeks = $2,805.55 per week
$2,805.55 per week X 52 weeks = $145,889.60 per year equivalent
“..Many folks on my team at work live in the city and have kids in these wretched schools. They are NOT happy with the teachers, many calling it an illegal strike now...”
And that pansy thug of a mayor of Chicago is just pandering to the extortion of the teachers union. A good crooked DemoRat, he would not dare confront the unions. And where is his ex-boss? Probably denying the strike is even happening.
In a way, I feel sorry for the CTU. The lousy performance of the students is a reflection of societal and cultural decay.
But with the Great Recession still going strong, the CTU is on the wrong end of a losing argument, IMHO.
Don’t count on it. Rahmbo will back down.
“Lets see... $76,000 + 25,000 in health ins, pension and other benefits for 180 days per year work.
180/5= 36 weeks
$101,000 / 36 weeks = $2,805.55 per week
$2,805.55 per week X 52 weeks = $145,889.60 per year equivalent”
and, mind you, that evil Rahm wants to extend the workday from 6hrs, 45minutes, to (GASP!!) SEVEN HOURS PER DAY!
They only work a 5 1/2 hour day too not counting lunch and breaks.
350,000 students———25,000 teachers=
1 teacher for 14 kids ratio.
I went to school where the classes held 35-40 kids. We did just fine. Was on the Honor Roll most of high school.
You got Rahm “The Wonder Horse” wrong. He PROVOKED this strike with demands for another hour (16% longer day).
BTW 76 Gs is not a huge salary and is less than most of the suburban teachers make. Chicago is expensive to live in.
Lower Charter School salaries reflect younger teachers.
Now Rahm “The Wonder Horse” is floating the idea of MORE Charter schools (non-union) to try and bring the union to sanity.
Walker has shown the way and Rahm “The Wonder Horse” has determined that the unions must be confronted even the idiot in Springfield has realized this.
My sis and I are four years apart. The kids in my class all had two parents. More than half the kids in my sis’ classes were divorced. Our culture changed overnight.
My sister's kids are in Florida. The Public School System, like in most places, leave much to be desired. They moved into a neighborhood with a great K through 6th grade school. The middle school was horrid. My niece did well on national tests. Because she did so well, she placed out of all English classes. IOW, no more English.....she was only 12 years old!!!! They took out both kids and sent them to a very good and unbelievably expensive private grade and high school. My BIL was laid off and they are barely pulling through....
I don't know what to say anymore.
While you have your calculator out, run these numbers: 350,000 students divided by 25,000 teachers on strike, and that’s the average class size.
and there lies the disconnect with the rest of us. a short day for me is 10 hours.
Most people it’s 8-9 hours a day, 5 days a week year round for as much as HALF what these “teachers” make.
To bad Chicago does not have a Reagan as mayor. He’d fire the whole lot of them like the air traffic controllers.
At some point, free market or not, someone’s going to figure out 9 out if 10 teachers have absolutely no qualifications, and all those masters degrees don’t amount to a hill of beans. Does anyone else remember honors announcements at college graduation? It was a trickle in math and hard science, a steady stream for the humanities and social sciences, and a flood for business school. Where was education? For me, at least, nowhere. Because they were a school unto themselves. Most likely because however corrupt higher education has become they’d still blanch at pretending even business school is comparable to education school. And this at a university that used to be a “normal college,” or school for teachers.
I, who’ve had nothing to do with school since taking a bachelor’s, could teach a kid reading, writing, and the times tables in my spare time, if I really wanted to. It’s not that hard. There’s absolutely no reason you have to pay as much as they do, especially given the results. Nuns used to do it for free and better.
Physics, chemistry, calculus, that’s different. Pay them more. But ABCs and math up to algebra could almost be taught for minimum wage.
Good teachers like my late wife did not stop working after leaving her classroom. She worked a couple of hours every night and a lot on the weekends. Taxpayers got their money worth from her and there are lots of devoted teachers like her.
Teachers worked 6 hours per day and Rahm’s unilateral extension of the workday by an hour is a 16.7% increase in the work day. He provoked this strike for his own political reasons.
Teachers get great health benefits but their pensions are not particularly generous.
Anyone who has to deal with the Chicago pupils (75% of Blacks out of wedlock, gang infestation, worshippers of Evil) and/or their insane parents gets burned out VERY fast. I would not be able to do their job for 150Gs a year.
Surely you jest! It would be impossible for Illinois to make the changes Wisconsin did for several reasons. First, the governor is bought and paid for by unions and special interests. Second, the number of dead people voting in Chicago is directly related to the number of votes necessary to approve or disapprove any initiative or elect or un-elect any politician that would try something like what Wisconsin did. Third, the majority of the people of Illinois have the progressive illness that renders them delusional and completely irrational.
Impossible! Nothing could turn wretched, dirty, crowded, corrupt Chicago into Wisconsin!
“76 Gs is not a huge salary”
How does it compare to the Median income for Chicago? Probably at least 30 grand more. And that’s not including benefits, nor factoring in hours worked per day and the tact that they’re off for three months a year.
I realize the entire point of unions and government monopolies is not to think about it, but what would these teachers make if they had to compete with everyone else in the job market and schools had to compete with every other expenditure? Not this much.