A recent study of Chicago politics proved that math is hard.
In the midst of a tense and hilarious stand off between Chicago politicians and Chicago Public School teachers, fighting over pay increases from money that simply does not exist in the
C ity State, Mayor Emanuel announced that the city’s schools will open earlier than ever before and stay open later in the day for children, including announcing the hiring of 477 more teachers. Apparently, Emanuel is pursuing the “If it is broke, just keep doing it for longer and throwing more people at the problem” approach to educational reform.
This development comes amid heated rhetoric on both sides of the debate. The Chicago Teachers’ Union flabbergasted the city with their insistence on a 30% pay raise. Surprisingly, they did not accept the counter offer of 2%. A strike that would paralyze the already paraplegic CPS system seems imminent.
Before you get fired up about how overworked and under-appreciated teachers are, Chicago teachers earn on average $74,000 a year. Changes a few things, huh?
Important side note: if you haven’t looked outside, the economy sucks. Need proof? Ask your boss for a 30% raise. 0% of other professions can pull this card.
The union bases their demands on many aspects, notably including the lengthening of the school day from 7 to 7.5 hours. Of course they did not think to ask for a 7.14% raise, the actual increase in the day’s length, because if they learned math in a Chicago school, that would seem impossible. Easier to just round up to the nearest absurd number.
So Mayor Emanuel, facing crisis, kicked out the Teachers’ Union’s moral pulpit and announced that the city would simply hire new teachers to adjust for the length discrepancy. Rahm, who has already said that the 30% raise is “not connected to reality,” will probably use this move to side step the demands. The hiring of nearly 500 new teachers would add another $50 million to the CPS’s $667 million dollar deficit. When questioned about if the city could afford this addition, Emanuel replied “We can’t afford not to.” Apparently math isn’t anyone’s strong suit.
The real issue lies in both sides supposed solutions for the real problem of massively failing urban schools that have recently raised their graduation rates to 60.6%. Congrats, CTU, you are earning a D-. Obviously the teachers are not asking for merit pay on this one.
So implicitly, there must be an aspect to these teachers’ demands that were they to be given this 30% raise, they will do better. (They almost couldn’t do worse). They cannot seriously expect such a substantial raise for another half an hour. At its heart, then, the CTU’s stance is “put the money in the bag and maybe we’ll teach little Jimmy how to read.”
On the other end, the city thinks that the reason students are doing so poorly in such a bad school district is because they’re not in it long enough. When 39.4% students are failing out of a high school district, the benchmark for competence in our society and a pretty darn easy feat, I have a feeling that an extra art class isn’t going to turn it all around.
While anything is better than letting the kids out in the streets of Chicago, where math is being taught with murders in the hundreds to a terrified city, Chicago Public Schools are in the need of top-to-bottom, wholesale reform, not some slap it together the night before science project demonstrating the shortsightedness of politicians in an insolvent city.
And I hate to spoil the ending before it slaps Emanuel and the CTU in the face, but none of this will come to any real, long term fruition because there is the whole matter of the massive deficit (come on now, negatives aren’t that hard!) Whatever programs are won now in the short term, whatever raises tacked on to Chicago’s already inflated Teacher salaries, will surely be slashed whenever a mayor with any fiscal sense is elected or someone mails Emanuel an abacus. Until then, the city will be too busy scoring political points and filling the quick sand pits of the teacher’s pensions before they start considering how they will actually teach.