Putting Adults Before the Kids

September 10, 2012

As of 12:00 a.m. this morning, more than 26,000 teachers in Chicago officially went on a union-led strike impacting 400,000 kids in 675 schools. The first Chicago teachers strike in 25 years was brought upon the city’s children and their parents as a result of failed negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Chicago Public School officials. Some topics of negotiation include teacher evaluations, guaranteed wage increases, and health benefits.

Although the details of the contract negotiations are murky, according to the Wall Street Journal, preliminary demands from the CTU included a 19% salary raise in the first year. The current average teacher salary in the city of Chicago is $70,000. Additionally, the union is demanding that any members who are laid off be first in line for new jobs. This would not allow a principal the flexibility to hire the best teacher for the job, but the one that the union says is “next in line.” And finally, the union takes issue with a new teacher evaluation system which would be based partially on students’ standardized test scores.

With all of these hefty demands by the CTU, its members must have an outstanding track record at educating their students. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Here are some Chicago public schools numbers according to National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the Nation’s Report Card:

8th grade math

  • 90% of Black students are not proficient.
  • 80% of Hispanic students are not proficient.
  • 84% of low-income students are not proficient.

8th grade reading

  • 87% of Black students are not proficient.
  • 79% of Hispanic students are not proficient.
  • 84% of low-income students are not proficient.

Additionally, Chicago’s 4th grade scores are just as bad. Do these numbers justify union members’ job security? A 19% pay raise? I would argue, quite the contrary. Once again, the union’s focus is entirely on the adults in the system with virtually no discussion of the kids and their future – or lack thereof given these pathetic numbers.

Mark D'Alessio is Manager of Communications for ICW.