Clearly these demands are beyond reasonable, but even more shocking is that CTU does not want pay increases or tenure related in any way to teacher evaluations based on student outcomes. When most Americans receive a raise, it is based upon what the employee needed to accomplish over a period of time and whether or not they met those goals. CPS wants to create an evaluation system that is tied in part to student improvement, measured at the beginning and end of the year. Sounds reasonable – if your students do well, you get rewarded; if your students don’t do well, you are not rewarded. But that just won’t work for CTU, even though their whole purpose is to teach students.
Yet, CTU argues that it is fighting for the teachers and for the students. CTU also argues that they are simply fighting for what these teachers deserve. But do they really deserve these enormous pay increases, especially if they aren’t in some way tied to evaluations based on student performance? Well let’s look at the facts. According to the Illinois Policy Institute, Chicago teachers earn the most among the 10 largest public school districts in the country. They also earn more than private school teachers in Chicago, who average $50,000 a year. Additionally, CPS has the shortest school year among the ten largest districts and the shortest school day, at just less than 6 hours.
But maybe these teachers are doing a really great job, so despite these facts they do deserve everything they are demanding? The answer to that is a definite “No.” According to the U.S. Department of Education, 82% of 4th graders and 79% of 8th graders were not proficient in reading. Their students can’t read, but the teachers want more money without increasing school days!
There is no doubt that teaching isn’t easy, and in an inner-city district like Chicago it is undoubtedly tough. But while these teachers are demanding more for themselves they are failing at their jobs and, as a result, hurting the students. The strike in Chicago highlights the problems with the public education system in this country, most important of which is that the needs of the students are not coming first.
Right now it’s about the adults, not the kids. It’s time we started putting the students first, otherwise the system will continue to fail and in the process continue to hurt the very children it is meant to serve. The good news is that CPS is headed in the right direction by including student performance as a large piece of teacher evaluations, but obviously there is a lot more work to do.