Those Lazy Teachers in Chicago…

11 Sep

Thank goodness I have seen bits of the media coverage of the teacher’s strike in Chicago.  The media (shows like The Today Show, or what I call Fox News Lite) have taught me why it is important to vilify these glorified babysitters and why we should take the Paul Ryan and  Scott Walker approach to labor.

Let’s be honest, these teachers only work 10 months out of the year.  So what if they have to teach in over enrolled classes.  So what if they only earn on average 1/7th of the salary of the administrators.  So what if they have no school supplies and often pay for them out of their own pockets.  So what if they have to take on additional duties, thus working far more than 8 hours a day. So what if during their “time off” in the summer they have to take classes to keep their credentials.  So what if they are suddenly required to teach to tests that have no bearing on their teaching skills but are promoted and retained based on those tests. So what if they pay more in taxes than the 5% of the wealthiest of Americans. So what if they now have to parent as well as teach and then are criticized for not doing enough.

They are just labor.  What happened to the good old days when schools and companies ran easily and cheaply?  What happened to the days when we could just send children into factories and coal mines, or send immigrant women into hostile working conditions and they died in a fire? Those there the good old days. Good for Mayor Rahm Emanuel for taking us backwards in time and bullying these teachers into submission (You know, I loved him when he played Uncle Joe Stalin — he was very convincing).

Really? Really? What happened to our country? When did this dramatic shift occur that we no longer value labor? When did we start to vilify people who make little money? When will this perspective shift again, for these people like Rahm Emanuel and Scott Walker are on the wrong side of history.

I stand with the Teachers in Chicago! Ask me why if you want a lesson in history, economics, and social justice.

16 Responses to “Those Lazy Teachers in Chicago…”

  1. prideinmadness September 11, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    I’m only with my kids 15 hours a week from September to June but they are hard work! Teachers and other childcare providers TEACH OUR CHILDREN! They learn everything: academics, athletics, health, social skills and more!

    We’re actually held to high standards then most parents! Parents at my work don’t like it if they see me on my cell phone, see me sitting for to long, not talking to the kids enough and basically they don’t like it when I act like them :p

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 11, 2012 at 7:14 am #

      Teachers do some of the most important work possible and yet somehow they are exceedingly undervalued in American Culture.

      • prideinmadness September 11, 2012 at 7:23 am #

        Have you seen the movie Waiting for Superman? It doesn’t always show teachers in the best light but it gives a great look at the issues in American education. Pretty sure Canada should come out with one also….

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 11, 2012 at 7:25 am #

        I will put it on my Netflix queue. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. nevercontrary September 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Teaching is in a desperate time my friend. Everyday I wake up wondering why I do it, and I have only come up with at one time I loved it. I keep hoping that love will come back, but how can it when it is being hammered to death. Posting about it today actually.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

      I fear too many Americans do not realize how dedicated our teachers are and what they have to endure.

      • nevercontrary September 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

        As well, as the new mentality of its your job so just do it or quit. If we all quit who will teach your kids?

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

        Yes, sadly America is demonstrating how we value education and how we value labor.

  3. Rich McIntyre September 12, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    I don’t know if I can agree with your thoughts on this issue Michael. A few quick searches bring some of your assertions into a much different light.

    To your first point of over enrolled classes, according to the information shown of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) website the Student to Teacher Ratio in Elementary Schools is 20 to 1 and in Secondary Schools it is 24 to 1.

    As far as salaries are concerned the CPS site reports the annual teacher’s salary to be $74,849.00. I’ve seen slightly different numbers reported in some news stories, for example ABC reports the number to be $71,236.00. Either way their average salary is significantly ahead of the Median US Household Income of $50,000.00, again that is Household Income. With this in mind turning down an offered 16% increase seems just as ludicrous to me as offering it is. A 16% increase would bring the reported average salary up to $86,000.00. As with many other US Households I am sure a number of teachers in Chicago are in 2 income households therefore pushing their Household Income even further ahead of the US average.

    Either way you slice it at $70+ thousand a year the teachers are doing OK especially when you consider if they stay on until retirement they will receive 75% of their average salary from the 4 highest consecutive years of their last 10 years of service. They currently contribute 9.4% of their salary towards retirement. Additionally when they do retire they do not have to pay any Illinois State Income Tax on this retirement income. If a teacher rises to the Vice Principal or Principal level they will be earning well in excess of $100,000.00. Principals, who are still union members, are earning as much as $154,921.00. At this level at retirement they will be earning in excess of $110,000.00 which again is tax free in the state of Illinois and twice the Median US Household Income.

    By going into negations asking for something as absurd as a 30% pay increase all the teachers are doing is making people/taxpayers angry.

    On February 17, 2012 CNN reported that only 21% of Chicago 8th graders tested at grade level proficiency for something as basic as reading. This article went on to report that according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests the reading and math scores of Chicago’s 8th graders ranked below both the national and Illinois average, and for this the teachers have asked for a 30% increase???? As the famous Chicagoan Milton Friedman said “government agencies resemble economic black holes where increased inputs lead to declining outputs”.

    The political force necessary to push someone like Rahm Emanuel to oppose a voting block and lobbying group as large as a public sector union is justifiably enormous. Situations like this strike only serve to increase the public’s lack of support for public sector unions.

    I am all for treating teachers and all public sector employees fairly but in this case I feel the CTU and its members are acting irresponsibly. With a Chicago area unemployment rate of 8.9%, well above the national average, just how does the CTU think the people of Chicago can afford or would even support such outrageous demands as a 30% or even a 16% salary increase?

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 12, 2012 at 8:24 am #


      I’m curious as to where you got your sources. I have searched many sources and have no specifics as to the exact nature of the negotiations. You mention: “By going into negations asking for something as absurd as a 30% pay increase all the teachers are doing is making people/taxpayers angry.” What I saw was what amounted to a 30% increase over the course of three years, but none of this is confirmed and part of that increase may be health insurance.

      I would also encourage people to take into account the cost of living in different cities and I am always wary of judging teacher’s salaries when we don’t seem to judge banker’s salaries, CEO’s salaries, or sports stars salaries in the same manner.

      • Rich McIntyre September 12, 2012 at 9:18 am #

        The 30% was over the 3 years of the contract and it was wages. As I mentioned it was in the same CNN February 17th article that outlined the results of the reading and math tests. I guess I could go back and find the link if you like but just Google Chicago teachers demand 30% wage increase and you’ll find numerous links.

        To be clear I believe that teachers should be well compensated and in my opinion in Chicago they are especially when compared to the median US HH income. Cost of living in Chicago is 14% higher than the National Average, an average salary of nearly $75k should cover that

        I don’t see how comparing teachers salaries to sports stars and bankers etc is a meaningful comparison. By the way a bank VP isn’t very highly paid,14.htm. a Principal in Chicago making $150k is making more then most bank VP’s

        Again I think a teacher is someone we should hold in high regard, we trust our children with them but let’s not lose sight of the fact that in the case of Chicago’s teachers they are making a good living compared to the rest of us $75k Vs $50k avg US HH Income

    • penguinlad September 12, 2012 at 11:57 am #

      Sorry, Rich, I have to disagree with you here. I can’t find any reliable news source that uses the 30% raise number. The school board acknowledges a 16% over four years offer, but everything else is speculation and “reliable source” gossip. Even Time magazine, which is highly critical of the union doesn’t feel comfortable repeating the hypothetical 30%. (Yes, I Googled many terms to research this.)

      I can’t find a link to the Feb. 17 CNN story you reference, but the most recent CNN story about the specific terms of the strike also avoids any percentages and makes it clear that the disagreement is partly wages but mostly benefits. The most frequently used salary figure I can find is just over $74,000. That’s an AVERAGE salary and doesn’t paint a full picture of compensation nor provide context with other public sector jobs in Chicago.

      The union itself is clearly focused on ten points, not just funding and compensation. They are also interested in improving student performance, but improving school quality and class size is critical and those are two of the big points in the strike. Improving test scores depends largely on improving schools, not just punishing teachers. The absurd linkage of retention and promotion to tests that have no relationship to teaching performance is a reasonable objection.

      • Rich McIntyre September 13, 2012 at 9:11 am #

        I would never refer to something that I read if in fact I did not read it, so below is the link, I simply googled Chicago Teachers Demand 30% wage increase

        Further to this here is 1 from the LA Times and 1 from CBS. I could have included many more but I stayed away from blogs especially the conservative one’s since they would draw unholy hell fire and brimstone lol,0,1235975.story

        To again validate what I said in my post, why I feel the need to do so I don’t know, here is a link to the Chicago School Broad site that shows the Average Salary to be just as I said $74,839.00. I assume the people who are writing the checks know the numbers better than anyone else. If you want to really dig into the teachers salary numbers on this page linked below you can click on the Employee Position Roster and see what each individual teacher makes.

        You are correct the number is an “average” meaning some more and some less. So let’s examine the numbers. The Washington Post had a great little graph that came from the National Council on Teachers Quality (I know you want the link) that shows the starting salary in Chicago is $49,159 Vs $40,115 in the 50 largest other districts. It also shows the top rate for a teacher being $92,227 Vs $77,531, guess that is how you get to an average number of $74,839

        Having negotiated a number of employment contracts I will tell you it is and always will be about the money. I’ll bet if the average parent in Chicago knew these numbers they would have a fit and justifiably so.

        Further more I’ll bet you if the city offered to bring back or higher more teachers in exchange for lowering the average salary or this contracts increase the rank and file would vote that puppy down as quick as a wink. So much for solidarity!!

        The Chicago teachers work one of the shortest school days in the country, are extremely well paid and have a retirement package that would make your Congressman blush. They also have a reading proficiency level that is a disgrace. By the way I don’t blame the teachers entirely for this. I believe many parents today shouldn’t be allowed to have a pet much less a child.

        I’ll end this long winded rant by saying I guess you can tell I’m not a big fan of unions, I think their need, in most cases, has come and gone. I’ve been a member and have had a Shop Stewart tell me I was working too fast and making my co-workers look bad?? Later in my life I negotiated a contract with the United Steel Workers. In this case we had a difference of 5 cents an hour. Well I would not budge after a long drawn out debate and the union would not agree to a secret ballot, I was told by some of the members they were threatened with physical harm if they raised their hand to accept our offer…raise your hand we’ll break your arm!! Finally they did agree to a secret ballot and the offer was accepted on the first ballot. I had calls made to my wife saying “we know where your kids go to school” and other such nonsense.

        Michael, thanks for letting me join the discussion. I really enjoyed meeting you and you know I love Lori to pieces. On the important stuff we agree so I’ll refrain from posting any other comments.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 13, 2012 at 9:16 am #


        Please do not refrain from commenting! Honestly, I really do appreciate people’s willingness to at least have a dialogue. Regardless if we agree or disagree, your perspective is needed to make for a richer conversation and I value your opinion. I don’t have to agree to value your thoughts!

        As a post script: I am very grateful that you help take good care of my mom, as I know she treasures your friendship.

  4. Jay September 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Speaking of sourcing, what’s your documentation for the rhetorical question, “So what if they only earn on average 1/7th of the salary of the administrators?”

    So you’re asserting that the average salary for an administrator in the Chicago Public School District is over $350,000 a year? If true, that strikes me as an argument that the administrators’ compensation is excessive, more than that the teachers are working for peanuts.

    I’m a fan of teachers, and of unions. But that doesn’t mean that teachers or unions should get 100% of what they want in any given labor negotiation. Its called collective bargaining–not collective “I get everything I want”.

    It also doesn’t strike me as fair or reasonable to characterize Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a bully. An offer of a 16% raise over 3 three years for a workforce that’s currently earning an average of $74,000 a year is hardly worthy of such vitriolic condemnation, in my opinion.

  5. Jay September 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Please pardon my bad math: 7 times $74,000 is $518,000. Which is indeed above $350,000, but my phrasing implied an average closer to $350,000 than to over half a million bucks.

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