Hurting the Kids

Though the final contract has not yet been hammered out, here are just some of the things the Chicago Teachers Union have won with their seven-day strike [pdf]:

  • Almost 600 new art, music, and gym teachers
  • Guaranteed textbooks in the first day of class
  • $1.5 million for new special education teachers
  • $.5 million for reductions in class size
  • More than twice as much money for classroom supplies

No question: they’re hurting the kids.


  1. debmeier September 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm | #

    The part that hurts most that we didn’t succeed in eliminating have to do with how we judge teachers, failing schools, and what happens to those who foolishly (?) teach at a high-risk school if it’s closed!

    But we’re just at the beginning of the fight–and thank goodness those issues were all raised, finally put out there, even if in the end compromises had to be made. It has inspired me to look upon tomorrow with more hope.

    • Charlie Post September 19, 2012 at 7:01 am | #

      The CTU was able to push back the percentage of teacher evaluations based to the limit set by the Illinois State Legislature. Not complete, but a clear victory… like any successful strike under capitalism.

  2. Frank Moraes September 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm | #

    I’m not sure that I completely understand it, but it looks like a pretty good deal. I agree with debmeier about the testing issue. I don’t get that the city doesn’t understand that testing teachers in high-risk schools the same as others won’t further encourage good teachers from working in high-risk schools. Or maybe they understand all too well. I hope I’m just being cynical.

    I know how negotiation works, but even still, the original offer was terrible. Of course, I already knew that Rahm Emanuel was something denoted by a word I won’t use here.

    • Phil Perspective September 18, 2012 at 11:16 pm | #

      Considering they were taking on a “Democratic” mayor, it was a good first step. Especially since teacher strikes, of any kind of strike, is probably the diciest. It’s the first step in a long battle.

  3. wrickman1 September 19, 2012 at 12:46 am | #

    Money spent on charter schools is money taken from schools with leaky roofs, broken air conditioners, no art or music teachers, no PE, no libraries, and other essential stuff. They cherry pick their students and screw the poor , the black, the apathetic — Obama and Rham Manuel, Chicago Mayor, have bought into this scam; don;t join them. Support all unions for a better America. Rich and snooty tell and believe lies about unions. Please do not join them. The last thing a union would do is to prevent the firing of a really good teacher, — These myths come from union-haters. I had to go to college to learn these things. My son being a union member, including a 4-year apprenticeship, for 30 years, confirmed my beliefs. Europe is 82% unionized, and they do far better than we do in pay and benefits. And they have had free medical care for a hundred+ years. Yea! USA, USA!
    And we are so blessed, so worthy, so deserving, so screwed, so dumb..

    • EU October 10, 2012 at 3:40 pm | #

      You have got to be kidding about teachers in Europe faring better and getting great benefits: the “free” healthcare comes at a cost of about 1/4 of the salary and if one needs to see a doctor, you end up having to pay yourself as the “free” healthcare requires waiting months, if not years for an appointment, while many drugs and procedures are exempt from coverage anyway. Everything you need for work you have to get yourself, and nothing is exempt from taxes, the VAT, which in Europe is in the twenty percent range, and none of that is deductible from your income tax (supplies, your continued education, nothing). Perhaps Luxembourg is where teachers are treated better, judging from statistics – but I don’t personally know anyone from there. In most countries, especially those outside the “old” EU, things are looking very bleak. We live in fear of pay cuts – or at least freezes, school closures, job insecurity, local governments responsible for paying for education being on the brink of bankruptcy in many places. Nothing to envy, or look up to, really.

  4. Aliothemage September 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm | #

    And who will pay for that? People like me who don’t give a fuck about give some education to my future enemies in the marketplace. But I’m forced to do so by people with gun called the government. Let’s the leftists have their way into transforming the land of freedom in the new Greece

    • Donald Pruden, Jr. a/k/a The Enemy Combatant September 19, 2012 at 7:10 pm | #

      “And who will pay for that ? People like me who don’t give a fuck about give some education to my future enemies in the marketplace.”

      I must admit to being somewhat unable to parse the intended meaning of that second sentence because its poor syntax suggests that one or two words may be missing to fully articulate the author’s idea clearly. If these missing words were included (and I could, like the reader, guess what those words could be and into what part of the sentence they belong) and included in the right place, I could likely understand the point.

      However, given the context, what we are left with suggests that Aliothemage may be a jokester: no sane person would suggest that public taxation for public education is the forcible paying by said public to educate the very people with whom one must then fight for future jobs, and that therein lay its fundamental unfairness to taxpayers. That one’s paying taxes to educate kids is the funding of their competitive advantage over oneself in the marketplace for future employment. And as if those kids’ parents were not also those very same taxpayers.

      Seriously, are we to believe that Aliothemage (who we may suspect is a full grown, already educated, and — we hope — already employed adult) is actually worried about fighting with grade-school age kids for future jobs? Is he (or she) really saying that his (or her) “future enemies in the marketplace” – presumably for scarce jobs – are today’s schoolchildren?

      Are we being “pranked” here?

    • David Kaib September 19, 2012 at 8:27 pm | #

      If it makes you feel any better, someone who thinks of school children as “my future enemies in the marketplace” is probably already working from a pretty significant deficit in terms of employability.

      Most Americans thankfully think that public education is part of being the land of the free, not just now but through out our history.

      Also, the new Greece is cutting public services, which seems to be your position.

      (I wish Donald was right, but I think this is serious.)

      • Donald Pruden, Jr. a/k/a The Enemy Combatant September 24, 2012 at 11:22 am | #

        I understand your point — that Aliothemage may indeed by serious –but I would ask of him/her: did YOU go to public school, Aliothemage, and do you now feel that the taxpayers who funded YOUR education were in fact subsidizing THEIR “future enemies in the marketplace”? Was the US “the land of freedom” when you were sitting in your ninth grade class in your local public school, your education paid for by others, and did it then suddenly — inexplicably — become “more like Greece” when you (we suspect) became an adult and entered the ranks of American Taxpayers, subsidizing the education of other peoples’ children (these “enemies” of yours)?

        David, I hear ya — but with these questions, I still suspect a put-on.

    • Gepap September 20, 2012 at 11:42 am | #

      Greece, you mean the birthplace of the “Western tradition” and Democracy? What horrors!

      I guess you would prefer for these kids to become the child soldiers for a local warlord instead of kowtowing to some evil “government”. That would do wonders for this market you speak of.

  5. P September 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm | #

    It’s pretty easy to simply list those things that support your argument and say they’re not hurting the kids. 7 days out of school. It wasn’t about what they were asking it was that they WALKED OUT on their students. I would ask this – if they didn’t have a job that allowed them to walk off their job without being fired……would they have? If they had to all re-apply for their job bc it was NOT guaranteed (as is the case with non-union employees) – would they have walked off? If they are THAT good at their job – why do they need the union?

    So while you are listing the positive gains about the issues for the school itself….list what they received personally – talk about the tenure, talk about the pensions, talk about the salary increase, talk about the lack of accountability, and please talk about how it affects the Chicago people since next year will likely result in school closings bc the CPS system is broke and running a $1billion deficit.

    But school closings bc we need to pay the teachers their ridiculous pensions don’t affect our kids, right? Wrong.

    And lastly – please stop bashing Rahm. Why? For the first time – some politician stood up and fought for something he promised – knowing that going against the union is basic suicide for re-election – he did it anyway.

    • dshamz September 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm | #

      Well, if they were scared shitless that they would have been fired the instant they tried to defend themselves against austerity, then maybe they wouldn’t have gone on strike, true. But of course, this is precisely the point of union-busting – to remove workers’ rights to strike and bargain collectively so that they can be easily divided and smashed. No doubt, it’s harder to organize when you have no rights. It’s lot easier to lower the standard of living for most working people if they’re too scared or disorganized to fight back.

      And if the gains made by the teachers are used as an excuse to enact school closures, then those school closures should surely be fought against too, right? Surely school closures don’t simply happen automatically. They’re political decisions and can be resisted politically.

      The point is that it’s not simply a ‘teacher pensions’ vs ‘good schools’ question. We can have both. It just takes a little thinking outside the ideological prison of capitalist social relations.

    • Blinkenlights der Gutenberg October 2, 2012 at 7:43 am | #

      If you were *sure* you were going to lose, would you ever stand up for anything, ever? Obviously not.

      And your point is… presumably… that’s the world you want. Teachers in total submissive surrender. A boot, stamping on a human face — forever.

  6. Cay Borduin September 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm | #

    I just got home from a rehearsal for the fall musical at my son’s high school in Oregon. Three young male teachers working their butts off to create memories that will last a life-time for 55-odd teen actors and crew. Yep, teachers are lazy.

  7. Sam Holloway September 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm | #

    Mass, institutionalized slavery can’t work without having at least a few Sambos and Quimbos here and there among the enslaved. I’m guessing at least 40% of the U.S. population is somewhere in the Sambo and Quimbo range.

    (…and for the love of literature, please tell me I’m not the only one here who’s read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe.)

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