Monday, September 10, 2012

My (unpopular) thoughts on the Chicago Teacher's Strike

I must say, the news that the Chicago Public School teachers striking this morning was just a slap in the face to the public and more so, to the students that they teach. 

With an average salary of approximately $76,000 (not including benefits), it's tough to feel bad for them.  In a society where people are working two jobs and not even coming close to that salary, how CAN you feel bad? 

Of course the Union indicates that no, the teachers don't make that much.  It's a bit lower than that.  OK.  That may be true, but we're talking about $5K less.  Sorry guys....still not looking too good.  Keep in mind that this salary includes 3 MONTHS of summer vacation along with many...many days off for holidays in between. 

The teachers argue that they aren't being reviewed properly, since new guidelines would indicate that those who teach students that perform very low on standardized tests could potentially lose their jobs.  The teachers indicate that their students are hungry...and poor...and that is the reason that they perform so low. 
I won't argue that hunger in America is a real problem and certainly can hurt a child's ability to learn.  However, most of these students receive not only free lunch from the school, but breakfast as well.   And I'm sorry, but being poor doesn't mean that you get a free pass at tests.  There are plenty of true success stories of those who rose from the projects and even homelessness.  The poorest of the poor. 

So how is this different than any of us who work in corporate America?  We are all reviewed on metrics that we may or may not be able to move the needle on.  And for those that we can, we truly work our butts off.  And yet, we do it.  And we don't get paid nearly what these teachers do, nor have the time off.  And we can't afford to strike with every little thing we disagree on.  We're lucky to have jobs.  Although we may not have these jobs for long if we have to take off of work to provide childcare for our children who now do not have school (and just returned from a 3 month summer break).  Or better yet, find it necessary to spend OUR hard-earned money (not even coming close to their teacher's salaries) to find a temporary childcare provider.  So that's 350,000 students PLUS their parents that are now finding themselves in an uncomfortable and unfair position. 

I believe in Unions, but this time it's gone too far.  In a society where students need "good" teachers more than ever, I'm starting to think that perhaps it's time to find new ones.  Perhaps ones that CAN help the students reach appropriate scores on standardized tests.  Heck, think of the amount of money the school system would save.  I mean, a teacher just starting out--who is fresh and committed and not yet burnt out could be a real influence to the students.  And they most likely wouldn't come anywhere NEAR the median salary that the tenured teachers are.   Something to think about.  I'd love to hear your comments. 

Here's a great story:  how much do teacher's make?

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