Anything More Chicago Teachers Can Get? How About a Clue.
Well, we are now into the second week of a unionized teacher strike in the country’s third-largest school district. As Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers Unions said, “Our members are not happy. They want to know if there is anything more they can get.” Anything more they can get? How about a clue.
As we wrote in last week’s blog post, student performance in the Chicago Public School (CPS) district doesn’t exactly give teachers a strong leg on which to stand. This is a district where 90% of Black, 80% of Hispanic, and 84% of low-income 8th grade students are not proficient in math. And the data is nearly the same for reading. Yet, the teachers are demanding an increase in pay and a minimal amount of student achievement data to be used in teacher evaluations.
As Lewis said, “They’re not happy with the agreement and would like it to be a lot better for us than it is." How about what’s best for students? How about having the achievement of your students impact your contract?
I would like to suggest that there is no time like the present to weed out underperforming teachers and to begin to compensate effective teachers at higher levels. I have a suspicion that the effective teachers would actually support this. Of course, the union would fight it to the death because they oppose differentiating teachers. But, as we have seen over the last few days, the union doesn’t represent all teachers, and teachers don’t always agree with the union.
Hopefully Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s actions will remind the union leadership and its members of the laws they are breaking. "This continued action by union leadership is illegal on two grounds," Emanuel said. "It is over issues that are deemed by state law to be non-strikable, and it endangers the health and safety of our children." From the actions in the last 24 hours, I think it is clear that the health and safety of the children is not foremost in the minds of those who wish to continue this strike. Let’s be honest, the education of a child (or lack thereof) directly impacts his or her health and safety for a lifetime—and you have read the dismal statistics above.
Bottom line: We have to get serious about what matters and get these kids, and effective teachers into the classroom. Enough is enough. The students of CPS can’t afford to lose another day of learning.