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Issue Analysis

7 Important Facts about the Chicago Teachers Union Strike

26,000 teachers went on strike in Chicago Monday, leaving 350,000 students stranded in a political battle they’re too young to understand. Here are seven things you should know about the city’s public school system and the union that controls it.

1. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are known for underachieving. In 2011, they had a dropout rate of 38 percent and graduated only 58 percent of their students. You’ll notice the numbers are even worse when you isolate for male students: 45 percent and 52 percent, respectively.

2. Test scores are nonetheless dismal for students who stay in the classroom. Approximately 79 percent of 8th graders in the CPS system are not proficient in reading, and another 80 percent are not proficient in mathematics.

3. Chicago is home to one of the shortest school years in the country: 170 days. When the city suggested at least adding a little time onto the average school day, teachers refused to work. CPS were forced hire 477 new teachers, and union members were able to keep their salaries.

4. Voters demanded accountability through legislation that would make it easier to fire teachers whose students weren’t succeeding in the classroom. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) recently referred to the evaluation process as “unacceptable,” admitting that nearly 30 percent of its members may be fired as result.

5. The CTU then tried to shift blame for the failing test scores onto things like “poverty” and “exposure to violence.” Yet only ten states rank worse than Illinois in terms of unemployment. With parents struggling to make ends meet, raising taxes and taking away students’ schools do nothing except exacerbate these conditions.

6. Compared to their fellow Chicagoans, union-connected teachers are practically sailing yachts to work and eating caviar at lunchtime. The city’s average teacher makes $74,839 per year (not including benefits), does not pay into Social Security, and receives a plentiful government worker pension upon retirement. (Teachers with 30+ years of employment had a final salary of $106,000.) And, despite public school teachers already making roughly 42 percent more than their counterparts in the private sector, the CTU still argued for a 30 percent pay increase.

7. President Obama has no comment on the strike. I have zero room for astonishment.

Marilyn Grainger

Teachers need to be held accountable for their teaching skills or lack of. Unions are way to powerful and this is a prime example. IL governor you need to get strong like WI and our Governor Walker.

Sue R

You know, I don't think Walker went as far as what Governor Quinn is. Is Walker sending elected School Board Members to school? I think if we do the math, Illinois teachers are taking a bigger hit because of the way their benefits will be handled too. It's not a huge percentage higher, but the fact that it doesn't make the media the way it did when Walker did it is really kind of scary.
I don't know what it is about Rahm Emanuel supporting something that gives it the slightest appearance of it being legitimate. Governor Quinn is a huge progressive too.
They are counting on you to react just the way you have. If it's against a union it must be all good. It's Rahm Emanuel folks. It's Illinois. They don't want you to see what Quinn is doing. Trust me, his actions are a whole lot stronger than Walkers. Read the bill.
They talk about how short the Chicago school day is. Who has mentioned to you that they want to make it a 7.5 hour school day? Who can say parenting facility?
Are you hearing the part about how the local neighborhood schools have been closed down and consolidated? Do you know Arne Duncan?
It's working on you. Do you really know anything about the charter schools in Chicago? Have you heard how they are turning a profit? The success level is manipulated. They kick out the bottom students.
What about those vouchers is it that you like? The state has to qualify the schools you know. Do you know that the state then gets their foot into that private school and establishes mandates? How private is it anymore?
What part about your tax money going to the local Muslim school tickles your fancy?
Tax credits make more sense, but tax credits don't let the government manipulate your choices. Tax credits give individuals the ability to make independent choices.
I just have to repeat. Think about who you are talking about here. There surely is a problem with the favorable relationship between government and unions, but come are on Rahm Emanuel, Arne Duncan and Governor Quinn's side?
Not me, I'm going to stand with our family, neighbors and friends who are the
Chicago teachers.

Jim Simpson

Who is going to stand up to the CTU? Not Obama! He is laying low putting getting re-elected ahead of the Students. He will continue to lead from behind.
Not the Mayor! Watch him cave in.
This union has proven they only care about selfish interest. These teachers who support the CTU should be ashamed of their greedy actions. I am sure there are good teachers in Chicago. Until they can get rid of the estimared 30% who should be fired the students interest will come last.