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  • Morning Bell: 25,000 Chicago Teachers Walk Off the Job

    This morning, about 350,000 students in Chicago Public Schools will be without teachers. While the 25,000-plus unionized teachers take to the picket lines in a strike over benefits and teacher evaluations, working parents are scrambling to figure out what to do.

    “We know a strike is really going to be painful. People will be hurt on both sides,” Jay Rehak, a union delegate and high school English teacher, told the Chicago Tribune. “But in the end, it’s like saying, ‘I’ll be bloodied and you’ll be bloodied, but at least you’ll know not to bully me again.’”

    Among other demands, the Chicago Teachers Union had asked for a 30 percent pay increase—despite the facts that just 15 percent of fourth graders are proficient in reading and just 56 percent of students graduate in the district. The school board ended up offering a 16 percent pay increase over four years, but as last night’s midnight deadline for strike negotiations neared, the union rejected the offer.

    The average teacher in Chicago Public Schools—a district facing a $700 million deficit—makes $71,000 per year before benefits are included.

    Reuters reports that “Chicago Public Schools has projected a $3 billion budget deficit over the next three years and faces a crushing burden of pensions promised to retiring teachers.”

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, formerly President Obama’s White House chief of staff, is getting an advanced class in union power. He came into office last year and asked the teachers to accept a 2 percent pay raise instead of 4 percent to try to address the $700 million budget shortfall, and the union refused.

    He did reach a deal to lengthen one of the country’s shortest school days. As the Tribune describes: “In exchange for the longer school day—an additional half-hour in high schools and 75 minutes in elementary schools—CPS agreed to rehire nearly 500 teachers in non-core subjects from a pool of teachers who had been laid off. That kept the hours in the work week the same for full-time teachers.”

    The most reliable data show that teachers in general work no more than private professionals in a typical workweek, even when off-site work on evenings and weekends is included. Yet the CPS school day is among the shortest for teachers in the nation.

    Heritage’s Jason Richwine and the American Enterprise Institute’s Andrew Biggs did an extensive study of teacher compensation and followed up with additional discussion of controversial issues. When it comes to teacher pay, Richwine sums up:

    Because the average public-school teacher already receives above-market compensation, policymakers should avoid across-the-board pay raises. Instead, they should focus on rewarding high-quality teachers with targeted salary increases.

    Of course, teacher compensation is much more than just wages. Part of Chicago Public Schools’ financial problems is the guaranteed pensions for retired teachers. Richwine explains that these defined-benefit plans, which cost several times more than the typical retirement plan in the private sector, are a bad deal for taxpayers:

    Since benefits accruing to today’s workers need not be paid now, states can promise generous benefits without feeling the full fiscal impact for years or even decades. Benefits to workers are guaranteed, meaning taxpayers are ultimately responsible for any shortfalls in their states’ pension systems—and there are many shortfalls.

    The Chicago strike, highlighting the urgent need for education reform, comes at a time when lack of confidence in public schools is at an all-time high—and support for school choice is also at an all-time high. Is it any wonder?

    Quick Hits:

    • One Chicago blogger has links to lists of school alternatives for parents who need somewhere to take their kids during the teacher strike.
    • The former Navy SEAL who just released a book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden gave an interview to “60 Minutes” about the experience.
    • “The U.S. is ‘not setting deadlines’ for Iran and still considers negotiations as ‘by far the best approach’ to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said,” according to Bloomberg.
    • Reuters reports that GM is losing as much as $49,000 on every Chevy Volt it builds.
    • Last week, President Obama and others touted the auto bailout as a great success of his Administration. Just how successful was it?
    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    54 Responses to Morning Bell: 25,000 Chicago Teachers Walk Off the Job

    1. Rich says:

      The part about "states" can promise pensions and if short, the state will then have to find the difference in the future may apply to several states, but does not apply to Ohio. Ohio's systems are separated and paid into 5 pension systems and the system's investments pay for pensions. No current public money is used.

    2. none says:

      Replace them all with those smart enough to have been happy to be even employed.

    3. Fed Up says:

      This is so disturbing! The Dems complain republicans and corporations, when the real problems are the Dems and UNIONS! I hope when Romney wins these union thugs are put out of business….sickening!!

    4. They walk off the job because the love the kids.

    5. Bernard P. Giroux says:

      Fire them all and hire equally qualified, unemployed college graduates who will do a better job.

    6. toledofan says:

      The democrats will cave and all will be well. I mean this is exactly what Obama and his administraion are promoting, more teachers, more pay and benefits and they will be the engine that fuels the economy. But, the dirtty secret is where does the money come from and thats what these guys don't understand or maybe it's just me because they think you can just keep borroweing it forever and create deficits that they think, in their life time, won't have to be repaid.

    7. 30% increase !!!!!!! Those teachers need to go back to school for their own education ! With an economic climate that Illinois has, how can any reasonable person be selfish enough to create problems for themselves and everyone else that is affected !?!? Oh, I know !!! They don't give a damn !

    8. KC-NM says:

      What a joke – Chicago needs progressive leadership! Obama is just like the union in Chicago and it is not a wonder why the unions back the President. The teachers need to be paid resulting on performance and the results shown in this article shows that they should have been fired a long time ago.

    9. Phyllis Hobbs says:

      If these teachers had worked in the Mississippi schools they wouldn't be complaining. Mississippi has some of the highest requirements for their teachers and the lowest pay.

    10. Bob Tubbs says:

      I can't believe the audacity of these so-called educators. Fire them. They aren't smart enough to
      teach children reading, writing and arithmetic, they're teaching them good old democrat politics!
      Put your hand out and let the government fill it with money we don't have!!!!!!!!!

      I started teaching school in Arkansas in 1955 for $2320 a year, but knew I was getting a raise the
      next year to $2340.

      $71,000, Wow!!!!

    11. Neal Webb says:

      Very disturbing in this economy. The city is almost going broke and they want more…very audacious. You could find a million more qualified teacjers who would start tomorrow at lesser pay!!! They will not sign the contract because they are all concerned about the merit system and possibly loosing their jobs. If they were doing a good job this would not be an issue. It is about the children!

    12. Teachers are working for the government which is dependent on how the people can pay. If they went in to teaching for big bucks, they might as well get out now! If they don't put our children first, they might as well get out now! They say they have to put in extra hours to go over homework and tests, but considering they only work about 180 days a year and get paid for a full year the money is there.

    13. brett mosley says:

      71,000 for half a year and kids still get low scores of ! Bring teachers in from out of state for less and let the other teachers go…The citizens need to go on strike against the union;/

    14. Matt. says:

      Plain and simple. Public workers should not have the right to either strike nor collective bargain. How many of the 25,000 teachers are actually competant to make up their own minds. Guess they want to see the country go down the drain. Oh I forgot that is what Obama is known for (organizing). All public servants teachers included that even think of striking or walking off the job should be FIRED. What happened to the Air Traffic Controllors??? No different.

    15. timpclimber says:

      Teachers should get a 2% pay raise and 4% more by school if their student performance increases. They should get no increase in future years unless student performance increases. And all State government workers should pay into their retirement package and cannot receive benefits until age 60. All unions should be required to make their finances public each year. Bet that would cause many workers to start questioning why the union leaders get paid so much.

    16. will says:

      This couldn't have come at a better time! Here's today's post from Face the Facts USA titled "Test scores don’t budge in response to money:"
      "Pack the kids off to school, then read this: the federal government has spent more than $293 billion in the past decade to improve student academic performance, on top of a combined $5.5 trillion spent by the states, but reading and math proficiency levels haven't budged. A quarter of high school seniors don't meet basic reading standards and a third fall below basic math proficiency."
      Let's go bold Mitt, and take a stance on curbing/banning public service unions for bankrupting government at all levels, while destroying America's ability to compete.

    17. J E Houser says:

      Remember: No child should be left behind! It is important that schooling be reduced to the lowest common denominator. The easy answer is – reestablish the group called "parents." Equip that group with the applicator of discipline and manners. That was the old, historic instrument that was placed upon the rear end. Get the federal government (Pardon me for using profanity.) out of the schools. Supply the principals office with that same device. Insist upon foundations like reading and writing and arithmetic and history.

    18. Larry says:

      Managing a large school system as Chicago does is an impossible task. The quality of education in large school system is not driven by success, but rather just getting by. I am sure that within the Chicago system that are some school that stand out, but for the majority of the schools are a failure. Thirty percent increase in salary for poor preforming teachers and administrators is criminal and the city should reexamine how they conduct business. If the city of Chicago cannot have a functioning school system maybe the city should get out the school business and let the private sector run the system. There are many college graduates that are looking for employment, so Chicago drop the unions, fire the teachers, close schools and hire new teachers are a salary the city can afford

    19. Casey Carlton says:

      $71,000 plus benefits sounds like it just might be enough to live on, provided one is careful (ha). With 12 years of experience, I taught in 1976 for $10,000, plus NO benefits. We would have all been fired on the spot if we went on strike, too. Some of the comments above suggest firing all the Chicago teachers. That's not a bad idea. I wonder how long it would be before they were missed, if ever. By the way, don't let them file for unemployment, not when there are miles and miles of streets and highways that need to have the trash picked up.

    20. Kristina says:

      These people aren't Teachers. They are simply educators. Teachers are there for the kids through thick and thin, regardless of the pay, they help in any way, shape and form. I could see the pay increase if they could prove it with test scores and graduation rates, with rates like that, they deserve a pay decrease. Our kids are our futures. What don't people get?

    21. JBB says:

      I didn't realize they started out asking for a 30% increase. Wow. That is totally unrealistic. I guess it's the same everywhere you look…entitlement thinking and self-centeredness are epidemic. I just don't buy that they are doing this for the kids. Does not compute.

    22. Ballistic45 says:

      First off, anyone making this much money who works only about 9 months out of the year should be held to a very high standard of Performance… If the public is going to be held to paying these exorbitant salaries and benefits, job security should be strictly based on year to year job performance, PERIOD…. Teachers demand pay on equal to other College Degree Graduates, most such workers are usually management not union and are at risk of loosing their positions if they don't perform to minimum standards of the degree they hold…

    23. Brian says:

      Demands for more money despite providing horrible results. Sounds like entitlement to me.

    24. Leon Lundquist says:

      If you need evidence of insanity being induced by the Progressive Agenda? Here it is! These Public Employee Unions are three times worse than the worst unionism practiced in the Private Sector! The Unions are proven to be anti American, it is on tape Union Leaders criminally Intend to use Union Power to harm America! They admit it! I've seen the tapes! Unionism is actually Communism and breaking the Economy of the States has become the new Obama Priority. Realize the Union Force that destroyed huge swaths of the Private Sector has been Tripled, and now grinds upon 'We The People.' May I point out that Bankruptcy has always been considered "Destruction." Public Sector Unions are the self declared enemies of the United States! So, they learned how wrecking the Private Sector, tripled it for that Kloward-Piven plan, Progressives planned this exact take down of the American Economy. That's what 30% means, it is intentional destruction.,

    25. Dan says:

      A strike by teachers is unlike a strike by real workers who actually risk something. Teachers are guaranteed a minimum number of days by law that requires a school year of a specified length. So regardless of when it starts, the teachers will end up working basically the same time, and therefore risk losing nothing. The only hardship is that they will not get their checks for awhile.

    26. channing brown says:

      Why don't you ever approve comments that don't agree with your articles..This place is nothing but a drive thru brain washing for old white Christian geezers..Paul Weirich and Dick Armey know exactly who their target audience is..the same folk Nixons Southern Strategy sought out….same ones St Ronnie went after in his first stop campaign speech…and the only folk simple enough to still swallow this crappola…

    27. Robert Ivy says:

      These teachers make my mother who was a teacher in the 1920's seem like saints and from a different country. They are more interested in lining their pockets than in imparting education to those for posterity.

      If this is what education does for teachers and others today no wonder we are in a mess in our country politically and otherwise.

    28. Jim M says:

      Who is Jay Rehak talking about when he refers to bullying? If he is saying that the city is no longer going to be bullied by the union, I think he is overly optimistic.

      What is not fully appreciated is the comment that parents are scrambling to find alternate baby-sitting because the schools are closed. Turning out illiterates does not generate parental protests, but denying baby-sitting for a couple of days can generate a near revolution. On the whole parents do not care what the schools do to the students as long as they do something with the students during the day.

      When I was a teacher in Anchorage, in the '70's, there was a huge protest when the school district initiated in-service training days when there were no classes and the parents had to take care of the kids. There were meetings and stacks of flyers protesting the damage to the kid's education from missing a day of school. There were never protests about low academic test scores or low graduation rates; just making parents take responsibility for their kids for a day.

    29. timpclimber says:

      More pay when more students read on grade level and more graduate, until then NO!

    30. Sam says:

      Use the same approach Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers: fire them all, and start hiring non-unionized teachers at competitive, real-world wages. You'll lose some good teachers, but overall you'll wind up with better teachers at less cost.

    31. auhunter says:

      70,000 dollars for a grade school teacher, for those kind of wages they should have the best teachers in the country and all students should be getting straight A's. And as for a 30% raise in salary, with those kind of salaries they should get a 3% COLA increase and be happy they got that. With only 15% of fourth graders able to read and a 56% graduation rate, those teachers should be getting pay reductions instead of raises. This one they can't lay off on the students or the parents. They should go back to the old ways, the 3 "R" and emphasis on phonics.

    32. Robert A. Helm says:

      I taught for nearly 25 years in NYC, with my maximum salary at about $22, 300, and my children were nearly always on or above grade ! VTY, Robert A. Helm

    33. Jeanne Stotler says:

      When Nurses strike it's called "Patient abandoment" and they can lose their licenses, WHY isn't it the same fo a teacher?? Children deserve to learn and need GOOD teachers that set a good example for them. Striking certainly does not fall into this. Sadder yet is that this hurts many parents who must scramble to find day care while they work or they face losing their jobs or at least pay, this is not a "WIn Win situation, it's the opposite, the kids lose, parents lose and the county/city and state lose.

    34. KNN says:

      79% Chicago 8th Graders are not proficient in Rading:
      http://cnsnews.com/news/article/us-department-edu

    35. Dave Brower says:

      Unions are "for profit" businesses. I'm certain that they will expect to be compensated by the members for any increases in wages and benefits through member "contributions".

    36. Sam says:

      Fire them all !!!! Maybe they will learn not to take their job for granted !!!!!!

    37. muskegonlibertarian says:

      It should be noted that FDR was opposed to the unionization of public service workers. We can see the reason "why" today. Unlike private business, politicians just raise taxes to pay for the public service workers wages and benefits. Which are generally already higher than what private enterprise pays for someone to do the exact same job!

    38. Doc Hilliard says:

      Co-Operative Home Schooling eliminates the union thugs altogether.

    39. I am an unemployed teacher (non continuing contracts) and would LOVE to have one of these classrooms!!! These people forget about the real world and are waaaaay too greedy. Stop and think about all the unemployed and qualified and certified people you are crapping on with the refusal of this contract.

    40. rick says:

      I feel they shouldn't be paid any more, in payscale and benefits, than mediate income and benefits of those who employ them !!!!!!!!!

    41. I remember when Reagan fired the Air Traffic Controllers when they walked off the job. It was the right thing to do. Public employees are employed by the taxpayer, and when they go on strike, as the teachers of Chicago have chosen to do, they should be fired and replaced. It might be hard at first, but with a graduation rate of around 60% at best, it wouldn't hurt to try. I'm unemployed, I'd love to take a job teaching history to high school students! I'd be first in line to replace a union teacher.

    42. gayle says:

      Remember, it is all about the children. ;)

    43. carrl cox says:

      Does that work out to about 15 students per teacher ?

    44. Multiple Arms says:

      I heard that over 50% of Chicago kids drop out of school, and that over 80% of the kids are unable to read at a fourth grade level. If this is true, the teachers are lucky they aren't receiving minimum wage.

    45. george says:

      30 % i wonder if the teachers know math. that is crazy. 44% of the kids don't even graduate. Somthing is wrong with the unions.

    46. Charles says:

      Public sector unions need to be abolished. They do nothing but drain the taxpayers of their hard earned money by giving it to employees who notoriously underperform. These teachers are not doing their jobs properly and they are demanding ridiculous wage increases to continue failing at what they do. It's sickening.

    47. 2Dokie says:

      Why even discuss this!!!???? It's all for the children!!! They need a better education and we all know that takes lots of money,;blahbla, blahbla, blahblaaahhhhh!!!!!! I got a better education than my own kids, and generations before me were better taught than I was by teachers that made much less proportionately
      than this bunch of sacrificial lambs. Looking for a NEW JOB is very therapeutic, they all need the experience

    48. MJ Burgess says:

      I am a newly retired federal teacher (DODEA). I certainly didn't make $71000 after 37 years in a high school classroom (more like $60000), and I didn't get a raise at all the last 4 years I taught. I also never joined a union. I was happy to have a job. These teachers need to get a grip. Their pay should never be tied to student performance, however. The core curriculum set up by the Progressives years ago and the destabilization in the economy are not the teachers fault. They are probably dealing with unruly children and have large class sizes (I don't know that for sure). Increased salary nor benefits will solve either of those problems. And they know that…they are just counting on the Dems who always cave to their ridiculous demands.

    49. GDRN says:

      Remember when Rahm Emanuel said,"never let a crisis go to waste"? If you don't have a crisis, then what you do is you create a crisis. After you create a crisis, then you step in and become the saviour by fixing the crisis. I see this going on for about a week to possibly a month before Obama shows up and works miracles to solve the problem and end the crisis. The miracles, of course, will be the unions getting everything that they want and Emanuel and Obama being praised by the media for their selfless acts of compromise that resolved such a terrible crisis. After all, the unions, Obama and Emanuel are good buds, and Obama needs a crisis to show that he actually can deal with problems effectively. Do you think that Obama or Emanuel really care about the turmoil, chaos and hardships that they will create, much less the problems they already have created in this country when the end result, to their satisfaction, is all that matters to them. Election year politics at it's worst.

    50. Guerin Green says:

      At least get your facts straight… 62% of Chicago fourth graders are proficient in reading…

    51. Bobbie says:

      They're using children as an ultimatums. Why are children in the hands of these people? The lesson for the days to come is "give up your duty and fight for collective, self centered demands regardless of all consequences your acts put on everyone else! These are the exact people unqualified to teach the youth!
      "don't worry kids, we won't fulfill our obligations expected of us to you until our collective reasoning bankrupts the government to get our way…" That's the "change" in America? Hold the vulnerable hostage with government support? America has been taken over…

    52. guest says:

      Obama will never do with Reagan did when he fired the Air Traffic Controllers. There are many good teachers out there and they are not with a uniThe on, however, Obama will never give these out of work teachers a chance. The solution is to get rid of the teachers union and give the responsibility to each individual state.

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