Here we go again


90 percent of Chicago teachers authorize strike

Teachers in the nation’s third-largest school district voted overwhelmingly to authorize the first strike in 25 years if their union and the city cannot reach a deal on a contract this summer — signaling just how badly the relationship between teachers and Chicago school officials has deteriorated, union officials said Monday.

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 —and called it “an indictment of the state of the relationship between the management of CPS and its largest labor force members.” State law requires 75 percent approval.

Teachers are upset that Mayor Rahm Emanuel canceled last year’s raise and that they’re being asked to work longer days without what they consider to be an adequate pay increase. Lewis said other key issues include class size and resources.


Much of the teachers’ frustration has centered on Emanuel, who rescinded a 4 percent raise last year and then tried to go around the union in his push for longer school days by asking teachers at individual schools to waive the union contract to work more hours. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board subsequently blocked Emanuel’s negotiations with schools.

He still was able to lengthen the school day for children to 7 hours, starting this fall, without the union’s approval.


The district has proposed a five-year deal that guarantees teachers a 2 percent pay raise in the first year and lengthens by 10 percent the amount of time teachers must spend at school, from 7 hours to 7 hours and 40 minutes. The union wants a two-year deal that reduces class size and calls for teachers to receive a 24 percent pay raise in the first year and a 5 percent pay raise in the second year.

Chicago public school students have the shortest school day — 5 hours and 45 minutes — among the nation’s 50 largest districts, according to a 2007 report from the National Council on Teacher Quality — part of the reason Emanuel moved to lengthen it.

But the Chicago Teachers Union said that report did not track actual classroom time and insisted the amount of instruction time was on par with other districts.

There is an interesting pro-teacher post and comments about this at Cheetoville. The best part is how they are trying to blame this on the Republicans.

BTW – The current median income for Chicago Teachers is $65,000 a year.

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47 Responses to Here we go again

  1. Oswald says:

    Laura W. at AofS:

    And, frankly? You do not need to be a brainiac to teach math to eight year olds. Much of what teachers do consists of fairly mundane skill sets. This is why you or I can do this at home if we decide to, with pretty good results.

    Yes; great teachers make a difference in students’ lives. Yes; we believe that the people who teach the future generations should be compensated fairly. No; we do not believe that teachers are more important than every other member of society.

    To what can we attribute this strange idea, that teaching children is so exalted a career? It’s ridiculous. Lots of people work very hard and you don’t hear them crying about how special they are or exhibiting high dudgeon every time they are asked to do more. The world changes; fortunes are altered. We soldier on, because that’s what people do. Working with children does not make you better than other people or grant you immunity from a bad economy. It’s just a job, with its own peculiar challenges, like lots of other tough jobs with their attendant difficulties. Sweet Jesus Almighty. Get over yourselves.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      This is among the reasons we’re so poor at math, because the idiots who run the education think like this. And they allow the people least likely to even be competent at math, let alone excel–women–to teach the bulk of it. Yes, it sucks that women still get held in ignorance (their collective math skills being but one example), but at the same time we should be smart about education. We need to massively diversify the teaching field. That’s one of the points on my 5-point plan.

      • gxm17 says:

        Are you really saying that women shouldn’t teach math because they’re (most likely) incompetent at it?

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          No, I’m saying 90% of the workforce shouldn’t be assigned to the people least competent in subject. It should be based on merit, where plenty of women will still qualify.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          Also, I’m referring to statistical incompetence, not likely incompetence. One of objective, the other subjective.

        • angienc says:

          This isn’t about women teaching math this is about people teaching something incorrectly because they do not know it themselves.

          My mom has her PhD in Math & teaches at a university. She once taught a workshop through her school for in-service grammar school teachers (New Orleans has a lot of high needs public schools & the state run university where my mother works conducts these workshops as a kind of outreach thing; they also have free tutoring services for public high school students, etc). Anyway, in this workshop my mom did she was dealing with people who were currently teaching math in public schools. First thing she did was give them a “test” to see what areas she needed to focus. The question 1/2 + 1/3? ALL of them answered 1/5 — again, people actually teaching fractions to students did not only not know how to add fractions, they could not recognize that 1/5 is LESS THAN 1/2 and you cannot possibly add *anything* to 1/2 and get less than 1/2 as a result.

          So you tell me, what is the solution here?

          (This is a 100% true story).

        • gxm17 says:

          Whew. I was thinking of my brilliant English professor father who was a self-described “math moron.” It would have been disastrous to have him teaching math.

          One of the problems with elementary school is that, at least in Virginia, there is only one teacher for the basics, with specialty teachers for art and language. I’ve always thought that math should be treated as a language, with a specialty teacher and intense focus in the early years before kids’ brains get to the point where they don’t absorb language as easily.

        • gxm17 says:

          So you tell me, what is the solution here?

          Buy the teachers calculators? 😀

        • votermom says:

          Have the music teacher teach math. (Half kidding; I’ve noticed that music majors are comfortable with basic math concepts. Must be all those quarter notes.)

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          Good question, Angie, but I already proposed the solution: diversify the field of teaching. In other words, eliminate the pink ghetto. I’d be curious to see what percentage of your mother’s teachers were women. I’d be willing to put $20 on it being well over 50%.

          If we diversify the field at the same time we reform teaching standards to include subject degrees, then women who actually know math will be able to teach it, along with men who can teach it. If we diversify the field, the effects are bountiful, even beyond quantitative reasoning. Children get to see men who care about their academic success and women get more economic power in their workforce. This will also indubitably have the benefit of boosting our national math and science scores.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          I do agree about math being a language and specialized educators being beneficial.

        • angienc says:

          gxm17 — I realize you are kidding with the “buy teachers calculators” but we aren’t talking about Calculus, we are talking simple 6th grade-level addition of fractions. Everyone — and I mean EVERYONE — over the age of 12 should know how to add 1/2 + 1/3. This is basic math that people don’t know not because I’m saying they are idiots, they don’t know it because they were not taught it properly & they are continuing the cycle of math being taught improperly in public schools. This is not a complicated issue & I don’t think it needs a complicated solution with diversifying, class room size (how many students you have doesn’t matter if you don’t know that 1/2 + 1/3 is not 1/5), blah, blah, blah– people can learn this if they gave a damn & if there was a consequence to them not knowing it. Ensure the people you have teaching subjects know what they are teaching and make a consequence for them not knowing what they are teaching the loss of their job. I would get fired in a NY second if I didn’t know what I was doing at my job.

        • elliesmom says:

          I’m a woman, and I’m certified by my state to teach both science and math, but I didn’t go to “teacher school” to learn math. I went to engineering school where 4 semesters of calculus was a general education requirement so I won’t comment on the quality of the math education many teachers receive. However, as someone who knows the ball costs a nickel, I say that there are multiple things in play here. We have math teachers who don’t know enough math to teach it, but we also have people who are very good at math who suck at teaching. Two very different skill sets are involved. If someone died and made me queen, I’d start by ferreting out the people who are “naturals” at the teaching part, and then make sure they are well-versed in the subjects they teach because teaching people how to teach is trickier. Just like there are doctors who are very good doctors and very good with their patients, and some are just very good doctors. The latter is much better than having a bad doctor, but not nearly as good as the former. Especially if you’re 10.

        • gxm17 says:

          Yes. I was joking, angienc. I totally get your point and agree that it’s a very real problem.

          But it’s not just in education. My co-worker and I have been complaining all week about having to troubleshoot for our vendors because, apparently, they don’t employ anyone who knows how to operate their output devices.

        • gxm17 says:

          I came up with .833. In my work, I convert to decimals on a regular basis so that’s just the way my brain is used to working.

      • DandyTiger says:

        Don’t get me started on math education… 🙂

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      My favorite comment so far:

      Yes! Fight those Republican bastards! (2+ / 0-)

      We can’t let Republicans like Rahm Emmanuel and the other Tea Baggers running Chicago force something like this down teacher’s throats!

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Wow, lots of disagreement in that thread. The union issue threatens to render a tear in the delicate fabric of Democratic unity. Interesting…

      • elliesmom says:

        If there is any city in the US where what Republicans want is superfluous, it’s Chicago, and yet the people commenting seem to think that Republicans are behind the move to limit teacher pay. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

  2. Lola-at-Large says:

    The union wants a two-year deal that reduces class size and calls for teachers to receive a 24 percent pay raise in the first year and a 5 percent pay raise in the second year.

    Chicago public school students have the shortest school day — 5 hours and 45 minutes — among the nation’s 50 largest districts, according to a 2007 report from the National Council on Teacher Quality — part of the reason Emanuel moved to lengthen it.

    A 24% pay raise?? As if! This is why unions will negotiate themselves to extinction, and soon. $65,000 a year for a 6 hour work day 9 months out of the year. Don’t they know there are people out here like me who would teach 8 hours a day for similar benefits, and would be willing to take a 24% pay cut? This is what’s coming after the unions: market forces.

    • myiq2xu says:

      I’ve said before, it’s really hard to get the proles to support your strike when you make more than the proles.

      I still remember the 1981 PATCO strike. I was still in the Army.

      The air traffic controllers were making $35,000 a year and complained it wasn’t enough. They couldn’t get much sympathy from people making $4 hour. My reaction was “I’ll take the job at $35,000 a year. Where do I apply?”

      • HELENK says:

        some of the air traffic controllers who were fired came to work at the railroad. From what i was told the strike was not so much about money as it was about safety issues. Some of the problems they complained about and were fired over became major issues in later years.

        some time the unions do have issues that are worth striking over.

        this teacher’s strike is just plain stupid. Taxes were just raised in Ill and Chicago, businesses are leaving because of it.

        I have worked for eight years without a contract and there was no strike because it would have been illegal to strike

        • leslie says:

          You can bet the increased monies raised from the new taxdes won’t go anywhere near the schools. There is so much graft in IL and Chicago in particular that schools and education have been left out of the loop.

          Speaking of the loop…The news today was that the Bulls want to build a new place “in the Loop” to train for the basketball season. THAT is the big news in Chicago. And that is due to lobbying by Mayor Rahmbo. So pay no attention to the real issues in the city ’cause theres; gonna be aplace to watch the Bulls practice. (or maybe it’s the Bears, but either way – THAT’s the big news here.)

          Look – Squirrel !!!

  3. wmcb says:

    OT, but this article has me cracking up.

    Last night we got home from a dinner and discovered something wonderful when we switched on the television. There’s an entire cable network called MSNBC devoted to the entertainment of conservatives. Apparently all they have on this station is disconsolate lefties 24/7. We assume it’s part of the Fox empire. Roger Ailes is a genius, isn’t he?

    • myiq2xu says:

      I think the MS in MSNBC stands for “Maximum Schadenfreude”

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Okay, the Kos/Htoo twins analogy has me cracking UP. 😀 Taranto is so derivative of Bob Somerby, which tends to grate on my nerves. But this one is a priceless article. Good catch.

  4. angienc says:

    No books, no tests, what could go wrong?

    Parents yank tots from $32k a year progressive school in NYC founded by Blue Man Group

    • votermom says:

      What kind of idiot parent enrolls their kid in a school like this in the first place?

      • angienc says:

        That’s what I thought — when you heard “no books, no tests” what made you think this was a good choice?

        • votermom says:

          Srsly. If you’re rich and you want an open classroom that actually lets your kid learn, you sign up at a prestigious Montessori school with a humongous waiting list right after you give birth. Everyone knows that.

  5. Lola-at-Large says:

    Canada is no better at coming up with useful, effective ideas for improving education.

    Dorval refused to go along with his school’s new No Zeros policy. It states teachers can no longer hand out zeros to students who fail to show up for tests or do assignments.

    • wmcb says:

      The world has gone insane. I still love freaking Progs out by telling them I love Swedens total school choice model. Every kid gets X amount of dollars, it follows them to whatever school they choose, public or private. The State sets the standards and monitors, nothing more.

      I love freaking them out further by arguing from the LEFT: that it is fundamentally unfair that only kids in good neighborhoods, or whose parents have money, get a choice of schools. Which is the egalitarian conclusion the Swedes came to as well.

      • wmcb says:

        I have noticed that the “socialist” programs that seem to work best are the ones where the State provides funding and minimal structure, but otherwise stays as hands- off as possible.

        IOW, they trust their citizens to be able to make good choices.

        The ones that, in my observation, end up a mess are the ones where the State insists on lots of control and micromanaging along with funds. The ones where they assume citizens are idiot children incapable of functioning without lots of oversight.

        We need more oversight on our fucking govt, and less on our citizens.

      • Lola-at-Large says:

        I totally agree with that solution. Schools shouldn’t be funded via property taxes, considering a sizable portion come from renters anyway. It just entrenches the inequities in the system and reinforces the institutional racism still present in our system, which manifests in personal wealth.

        A fair educational system is one that would be able to impact poverty just by leveling the economic field of school funding, and that’s likely the primary reason it doesn’t happen here. Ultimately we don’t have enough jobs or opportunity to produce that many competent people the way the system is structured now. Because of that, we have what Walter Russell Mead callously refers to as “surplus people,” which are people paid to stay out of the workforce. We still have some effed up notions about how we associate wealth and worth because of this.

      • gxm17 says:

        What happens if/when X amount of dollars doesn’t cover the private school tuition and the family doesn’t earn enough to make up the difference? Is there a cap set on the tuition amount a private school is allowed to charge?

        • wmcb says:

          I don’t think there is a cap. But most (not all) private schools here function on much less per pupil than public schools anyway, not more. One interesting thing that happened in Sweden is that the doomsayers predicted the death of the public schools. It didn’t happen.

      • votermom says:

        I’m another believer in school choice. My kids go to a charter school. If vouchers were available then the parochial school would also have been a choice.
        Another thing I believe in is local control over the schools, as long as they can meet certain standards.

  6. wmcb says:

    HOLY SHIT!!!!! Obama at only 69% in Nevada……. Among African Americans. Looks like NC was not an outlier.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Well, it’s still early. Never underestimate the ability to singularly rally that particular constituency with a well-timed explosive news story in, say, October. I don’t think they will wait that long.

      Side note: AAs aren’t the only susceptible constituency, ftr.

  7. leslie says:

    I had a lengthy comment that you will all be spared from as something went south while I was finishing it. But the gist was that I know many teachers in the CPS – none of whom make anywhere near that $65K salary. And some of them have been teaching for – I can’t tell you how many years. There is a residency requirement for all city employees – teachers are included. That [luse the union dues, makes the supposed $65k salary shrink immediately.
    I am not defending a strike or the vote – but from what I heard on the news, it was Rahmbo who wanted a vote to authorize a strike long before there would ever be one. (My guess is he wanted the teachers to look like greedy worms long before the school year ends to foment animosity toward those teachers. And of course it worked.)
    I’m leaping ahead here, ( I am sick and need to go to bed.) but, the problems in chicago schools may not be so different from other school systems – except many of the schools where the newer teachers are hired are in areas where gang crime is shocking. When I taught in the CPS – 40 years ago, we weren’t allowed to come to chool early or stay late. Because of the gang problems that have grown exponentially in these intervening years. My son teaches in CPS now, and is quite ready to leave it. It is sad, because he is smart, compassionate, great with kids, and is quite well liked by teachers and students alike. but he says there is little to no support for teachers from administration; the demands have grown enormously in the past 4 years so that now there is almost mothing but teaching to the tests.

    I also want to say that the first comment – the quote from Laura W at AofS
    is simply bull shit. I’d love to see that woman face the classrooms of gang bangers or their victims and children without support for education at home – or worse. She’d pee herself in the first five minutes and leave marks in the parking lot from speeding out of there in the next 5. And when she got home, she could get over herself.

    • yttik says:

      I really think administrators have become a problem. In my dinky school district I swear we have more administrators than teachers and they all get paid large salaries. When the levy passed and they got money for building improvements, it was all spent on offices for the administrators and paving their parking lot.

      • myiq2xu says:

        Since many teachers are in defined benefit pension plans, spending their last couple years as an administrator means a huge salary and pension boost.

        • leslie says:

          that may be, myiq.
          But that is no reason to villify the thousands of real teachers in the schools. And there should be some delineation bewteen the teachers and the administrators in those school systems. Of course there is corruption in the school system and there is corruption in big business as well as government and every other aspect of making or disributing money.
          Sadly, that’s life. But to point to teachers as being “less than” is just plain wrong. Like I said before, Laura W of AofS is full of it. She either doesn’t have children, isn’t to concerned about where they go to school or who teaches them or has the brain of an idiot. My apologies to idiots – she makes them look good.

          and right now I’m so angry at unions that they and the CPS administrators should all go suck rotten eggs.

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