No Lesson Plans For Chicago Students This Week
As the Chicago Teacher’s strike enters its fourth day, those on the picket line are insisting that they would rather be back in the classroom, and only want a “fair” deal. Chicago teachers are already well compensated, to the tune of $71,000 a year, and were offered a 16% salary raise before they initiated the strike on Monday morning. Teacher’s balked at this counter proposal and proclaimed, “[w]e’re not going back to work unless we have a fair contract.” That’s quite a statement when, according to the Illinois Policy Institute, the average starting pension for Chicago teachers is $77,496. Chicago Public Schools face a pretty bleak future:
“The fiscal reality is that Chicago Public Schools cannot afford to hand out any raises. The school district is draining reserve funds during the 2012-13 school year just to stay afloat, and is planning to run a $1 billion deficit the following school year. More importantly, when compared to teachers in other public schools Chicago teachers are relatively overpaid.”
Even the New York Times is troubled by the action taken by the CTU. In an op-ed article Nicholas D. Kristof wrote:
“America’s education system has become less a ladder of opportunity than a structure to transmit inequity from one generation to the next. It’s unconscionable that, until recently, many Chicago elementary students had a school day almost an hour shorter than the national average and a school year two weeks shorter than the national average. Bravo to the mayor for trying to close the gaps. I’d be sympathetic if the union focused solely on higher compensation. Teachers need to be much better paid to attract the best college graduates to the nation’s worst schools. But, instead, the Chicago union seems to be using its political capital primarily to protect weak performers.”
What’s more disturbing is the teachers’ refusal to agree to a new system in which student performance on standardized tests would affect teacher evaluations. Apparently, the CTU is unwilling to hold their teachers to a higher standard since in the past “administrators have given meaningless, sugar-coated evaluations.” This has been detrimental to the Chicago Public Schools. Also, the graduation rate for CPS citywide is 58% versus 76% graduation rate of Chicago Charter Schools. Unless education itself is reformed within the Chicago Public School system, Chicago faces the prospect of a lost generation of students.