They are outside my window at work. Across the street from my building. It’s hard to talk on the phone because of the banging on drums, the yelling, car horns, the loudspeakers, the chanting and the noise. It’s difficult to get from point A to point B because the demonstrators in their red shirts have locked arms and forced streets to be closed. Public transportation is disrupted. There is a sense of entitlement that it’s okay to interrupt everyone else’s day. And they are oblivious to the 350,000 Chicago school children and their parents who suffer.
Chicago teachers are the highest paid in the nation (see http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/06/12/how-much-do-chicago-public-school-teachers-make ) and they work among the shortest hours in the world. Elementary school teachers have 5-3/4 hour days and work 170 days a year (both stats are less than the national average). While at the mountaintop of compensation and the basement of hours worked, they want more. And less. Chicago teachers are on strike. They are demanding a 16% increase in pay (how many private sector workers get this?) and push back on the need for more school hours and teacher accountability. The unions want to control the schools. Hiring. Firing. Expectations. Oppose charter schools. Oppose magnet schools. No performance standards (as is found in every other occupation). More money. Less work. Protection of the worst teachers. And it’s all for “the children.” Right.
We spend the most money on public school education and we get dismal results. Our children are losing. Every day, they are falling behind the rest of the world. We desperately need to educate our children. We need great teachers. Yet the Chicago Teacher’s Union is blocking the door. Maybe an “Arab spring” on dealing with teachers unions is what it will take.