Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's Not About The Money - Or The Kids

From my buddy, Frank Corbett.  Some days it's just easier to share someone else's work - especially when it's better than anything you have in mind...

And by the way - before anyone takes offense and thinks we're picking on teachers and/or wanting them to be underpaid or not receive benefits, that's not the case.  As Frank says in his second paragraph, teachers are very necessary and deserve to be well paid.  But statistics in Chicago indicate money is not the problem.

FIRE ALL THE CHICAGO TEACHERS ON STRIKE- Got your attention yet? I'm sure you are immediately convinced that I am a heartless conservative, and not sensitive to the financial needs and the plight of the Chicago Teachers Federation. Well, you're half right...and before you judge me, remember that I teach part time, and know full well the challenges teachers face. Money...especially in Chicago, is NOT one of them.

Yes, I was a good student, too. Thanks to the commitment of my teachers, I know how to research, write, perform complex calculations and complete a report. So, let's get back to the basics, and read on.

The Chicago school system is the 3rd largest in the country, with over 350,000 students enrolled from Pre-K through 12th grade. Chicago school teachers are also the third highest paid in the nation, with an average salary as reported by the school board of $67,974 per year...or let me rephrase...per SCHOOL year! Under the contract, the payments are divided over 52 weeks, so teachers continue to receive a check during the summer vacation.

One of the key sticking points is the increase in the school day. So what is the City of Chicago doing to their teachers? Are they demanding a 9 hour day, no weekends off, and a reduction in pay? No. Believe it or not, the proposal gives the teachers a 3% raise the first year, 2% the second and another 2% the third, with a contingency that if the contract is upheld for a 4th year, the teachers would get an ADDITIONAL 3% (per CNN). Also, the school days would increase. How much? Elementary students would be increased to a 7 hour school day, and high school students to 7 1/2 hour day. The teachers are demanding a pay increase, for being forced to work LESS THAN AN 8 HOUR DAY!

Let's get to the math.

Teachers work a total of two 18 week semesters. This is a total of 36 five day weeks. Removing the vacation days and holidays brings this down to a 31 week average.

Average pay per work week in Chicago under current contract: $2,192.71

Average work week under proposed contract: K-8 (35 hrs.) 9-12 (37.5 hrs.)

Average rate per hour under current contract: K-8 (73.09) 9-12 (62.65)

Average raise for first year per teacher (proposed) - $2,039.22
...year two increase... $1,400.26
...third year increase... $1,428.27
...and fourth year increase... $2,185.25

The new total AVERAGE salary? $75,027-, or $2,420.23 PER WORK WEEK!

The last item that is a sticking point is performance evaluations of teachers. The federation wants it removed, as according to them, the teachers cannot be held responsible for how well the students learn! Really???

In every other aspect of private business, people get a raise when they earn it, and you have to be willing to accept a competitive wage in order to get a position. Further, you are expected to excel in your position in order to keep your job.

If the teachers of Chicago were producing some fantastic student scores, at least equal to their pay, I could see the benefit of keeping such instructors and compensating them to a reasonable level, equal to their achievements...but that is not the case. Here are the other statistics, as reported by the board of regents.


-Educational progress math score 282.42 or 32nd place in the nation.
-Educational progress reading score 264.51 or 29th place in the nation.
-Average daily attendance indicates 5.8% daily absenteeism ( 21st place)
-Drop-out rate from high school level 6.27%
-Graduation placement nationally- 32nd place

Translation-if you were to give the Chicago School System a letter grade, it would be a C minus, just above a D, and yet they continue to chant and rave that "We're doing it for our students, because they deserve the best!"

Yes, they do...and that is NOT you! Currently, students parents are dealing with their kids home while they are going to work, paying daycare, and sending kids to summer camps that have opened up for the fall...a move that interestingly enough was budgeted for by the camps last spring...hmmm...

$69.15 per hour, health insurance that covers cosmetic surgery including breast implants, birth control pills, prescription coverage and dental, paid snow days, paid sick AND personal leave days, all holidays, weekends and summers off, paid maternity leave, supplies allowance, and collective bargaining, and a 75% pay scale pension. Yeah...it's all about the kids...

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