On October 11, Chicago public school teachers may go on strike for the second time in four years, not including an illegal one-day strike last spring. Eighty-seven percent of union members voted to support the strike, but the vote was criticized for intimidating teachers who might be opposed to the planned walkout.
Last week, parents held a prayer vigil urging teachers not to strike. “We need the schools open,” parent James Dukes said at the vigil. Adding her voice against the strike, parent Gerenia Lee wrote on the Chicago Unheard blog: “The teachers strike will seriously hurt our kids.”
And pro-union politicians, including Alderman Howard Brookins and State Representative LaShawn Ford, have publicly discouraged a strike because of the inconvenience to parents, lost instructional time, and concerns for student safety.
“Every day on the picket line means losing a day of learning for kids and a day of pay for teachers, inconveniences parents and puts children at risk,” Education Post Executive Director and former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Peter Cunningham said. “Let’s come together and do the right thing for everyone: keep schools open, keep kids in class, and reach a fair agreement.”
As parents and taxpayers across Chicago consider whether to support the striking teachers or to encourage them to stay in class, they should know the following facts:
- While teachers deserve as much money as we can afford, Chicago teachers earn on average $78,000, making them among the highest-paid teachers in the country.
- A 2014 study shows that the lifetime earnings for a 30-year Chicago public school teacher is $2.15 million, not including pensions.
- When adjusted for the local cost of living, Chicago teachers earn more than teachers in the 10 largest cities in the United States, including New York and Los Angeles.
- Chicago teachers also earn well above the regional average salaries at every level of the pay scale, so they are more than “competitive” with surrounding communities.
- The City of Chicago has raised local taxes more than $1.1 billion in the last year to pay for, among other things, pensions for teachers, police and firefighters.
- Retired Chicago teachers get a 3 percent increase in their pensions every single year.
- The latest offer on the table from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) gives all but the most senior teachers a net salary increase, even after teachers pick up more cost for pensions and health care.
- CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) are discussing options to provide bonuses to the few veterans who don’t qualify for raises under the proposal, so everyone gets a raise.
- The current contract proposal assumes the State will pass pension reforms this year and provide another $200 million to help pay for Chicago teacher pensions. A teacher strike could jeopardize needed pension reforms and additional state funding.
- Alternative revenue proposals floated by the CTU are politically unrealistic (progressive income tax, financial transaction tax), or, at best, represent a one-time solution (TIF surplus funds) that will create a budget gap next year.
For more information:
Mike Vaughn, Director of Communications