Anybody Sensing a Trend Here?

Chicago teachers go on strike, for being sick of Rahm’s bullshit generally, and also for being screwed out of limits on class sizes and length of the school day and promised wage increases:

Key disputed issues in the talks were teacher cost of living raises, additional pay for experience, job security in the face of annual school closures and staff shakeups, and a new teacher evaluation process that ties teacher ratings in part to student test score growth.

“Evaluate us on what we do, not on the lives of our children we do not control,” Lewis said Sunday, denouncing the online process by which teacher evaluators were being trained.

CTU officials contend that CPS’ offer of raises over the next four years does not fairly compensate them for the 4 percent raise they lost this past school year and the longer and “harder” school year they will face this school year, with the introduction of a tougher new curriculum.

The union also has pushed for improved working conditions, such as smaller class sizes, more libraries, air-conditioned schools, and more social workers and counselors to address the increasing needs of students surrounded by violence — all big-ticket items. CPS officials contend they are seeking a “fair” contract, with raises for teachers, but are limited by funding and the threat of a $1 billion deficit at the end of this school year.

THOSE MONSTERS.

The local press just cannot believe the effrontery:

They are mainly stuck on two issues: teacher recall and teacher evaluations. Emanuel said teachers cannot strike over either issue by law. They’re also still fixated on issues that cannot be resolved at the bargaining table, such as financial resources for schools and wraparound social service supports for students.

They are right to fight for these issues — but they are not ones that warrant keeping 350,000 students out of the classroom.

Well, how the hell else is anybody going to pay any attention? For as long as I have been alive these have been issues in public schools, especially those in poor/city districts, and for as long as I have been alive the only response of those in power has been to basically shrug, continue making cuts, and whine about overpaid teachers on TV.

I’m sorry, I can’t find it in my heart to have much sympathy for people whose entire argument is “other people’s lives suck, so you should stop resisting the suck in your own life and just lean into it:

Average teacher pay in Chicago is already at $71,000 without benefits, while the average Chicagoan makes only $30,203 and the unemployment rate in the city is nearly 11 percent.

Liberals are the communists here? Somehow it always seems to be the wingnuts who are arguing that everybody’s pay needs to be dragged down to the same level, which is usually Charles-Dickens-poor, before anybody can ask please sir may I have some more.

If somebody else has it worse off, the answer isn’t to shut up until things get precisely that bad for you, too. The answer is to pull that other person up as well, by doing things like teaching them well, and fairly, in a school with air conditioning for 106-degree days, and textbooks that no longer mention the looming threat of war with the Soviet Union.

A.

8 thoughts on “Anybody Sensing a Trend Here?

  1. Dorothy says:

    “They are mainly stuck on two issues: teacher recall and teacher evaluations. Emanuel said teachers cannot strike over either issue by law. They’re also still fixated on issues that cannot be resolved at the bargaining table, such as financial resources for schools and wraparound social service supports for students.”
    So they are “fixated” on issues trying to making life better for their students, but that’s not in any way what the strike is about…it’s the greedy teachers!
    Got it.

  2. Dorothy says:

    Oh, lookee here, from the comments at the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/education/with-no-contract-deal-by-deadline-in-chicago-teachers-will-strike.html?hp):
    “What this article doesn’t tell you is that legally, in Illinois, they can only strike over wages and benefits as they are not allowed to strike over class size, pedagogical issues, etc. This strike is really over these other items and pay is the ‘issue’ they are putting forward. It is actually the one thing they basically agree on. Kids in Chicago do not get recess, most don’t have music, art, etc. This is what the teachers want to fix and ‘pay’ is the excuse to get it. State Bill 7, put us in this mess.”
    That sounds a whole lot like the collective bargaining bill they slammed through in Wisconsin. I’m guessing union-busters learned early on that public employees get no sympathy for pay disputes, so they made sure that unions couldn’t strike about anything else.
    And when teachers are striking over work conditions, they are also striking for improved conditions for the kids. We can’t let that narrative get out–that would get the unions way too much sympathy.
    Blerg.

  3. MichaelF says:

    Average teacher pay in Chicago is already at $71,000 without benefits, while the average Chicagoan makes only $30,203 and the unemployment rate in the city is nearly 11 percent
    That race-to-the-bottom stuff makes me grind my teeth — aside from the statistical, um, artistry (average isn’t median, etc.), maybe Chicago teachers make as much as they do because they’ve EARNED it. Becoming qualified and certified — and then actually stepping into the classroom and doing the work — isn’t easy. Add in having to deal with Rahm, who’s never met a liberal constituency he hasn’t tried to fuck over, and…
    That said, I hope the Teacher’s Union knows what they’re doing. When I was in a union in the early 90s (Communication Workers of America) I dreaded the possibility of striking, because management would have easily broken the union and hired scabs. Then again, the job I had didn’t require the sort of skills you need to teach in a large public school system…

  4. MapleStreet says:

    RE the statistics as used in politics all the time, they don’t say if it is mean, median, or other average. Usually it is the mean which is usually the worst possible as it is highly succeptible to being distorted by outliers. Plus it is clear that it doesn’t look at averages for people with comparable level of skills, comporable education, nor comporable work.
    I highly reccommend a book I read in early high school (like 8th grade), if you can still find it. “How to Lie With Statistics.” Takes a very non-mathematical, non-jargon, common examples of looking for misuse of statistics in everyday life. As the book starts off in the early pages, the crooks already know this, you need it to protect yourself.

  5. SnarkyPam says:

    Also, when they talk about teachers’ average salaries compared to the average in a city/state, they need to compare the teachers to the average for comparable college-educated professionals. If they count other, dissimilar, non-professional jobs in the city/state average, OF COURSE teachers’ salaries will be higher. Teachers are educated and accredited and have to do ongoing training (very often not paid for by their employer) and continuing education coursework, and that is NOT the case for a cashier at McDonalds or a janitor at the store on the corner. Compare apples to apples–not to oranges!

  6. Interrobang says:

    We’re looking at similar issues here in Ontario, with the governing Liberal party looking to pass a bill that’ll make it illegal for teachers to strike, and the CRAPs jumping right the hell on that bandwagon. It’s basically the same thing, or an entire Pamplona worth of bullshit.
    I haven’t got the foggiest idea who ought to get my vote next time around, but I may have to just hold my nose and vote for the Liberals again…

  7. MapleStreet says:

    Couldn’t agree more on the problems of decrepit schools, the race to the bottom imposed on groups which can’t defend themselves (especially in terms of using laws specifically aimed at excluding a group from seeking remedies), and basically daring the situation to move to a point where childhood education is crippled (an example of negative consequences, but hey, they don’t hurt me so I dare you…).
    However, I find the public education system to be a difficult example. I went K to 12 in a public school system of a major Metropolitan area in the SE. My mother worked for the same system but in another school. I had teachers that knew their stuff and went the extra yard to teach. Despite the sacrosanct image of teachers in the public mind, I also had teachers that it was obvious, even to me as an elementary student, who didn’t have an idea of what they were trying to teach and, in retrospect, probably didn’t have the background/smarts/inclination/desire to learn any better.
    Historically in the Western World (intentionally said to avoid Greece and Asia), the roots of the modern school trace back both to Church schools (teaching by church hierarchy such as nuns and brothers) and one-room school houses where the teacher was typically an unmarried school marm (thus in dire need of a job). Teaching was limited to the essential skills of living in a world of an unskilled labor force. The slogan of the 3Rs continued well into the 20th century.
    Even in the late 20th century (and even to today) pay was low which had the duel effect of detering the “best” from entering teaching and also led people to counsel the best against going into teaching. Those entering the field were lmost exclusively female.
    Of course, the requirements for teachers increase from being able to talk to college degrees to Masters – of course, with the bozos in charge not seeing a need to increase compensation and change the nature of workplace interactions accordingly. The curriculum increasingly added matter that was more difficult. High Schools now commonly teach things that were 1st year college when I was in school. The curriculumn is held hostage to the bozos that form curriculum on their whims (be it removing the liberal arts from schools while ignoring data showing that the arts increase academic performance, back to the 3Rs, school is to teach only what is needed to become a factory worker, creationism, NCLB, …)
    In the outside world it became common to base pay raises on performance (and my experience with teachers leads me to believe that there needs to be a performance component of evalutation). Industrially, it is fairly easy to measure performance. But the use of high-stakes testing has lead to widespread cheating and teaching to the test. Add to this the essentially impossible task of measuring teacher performance in isolation from student preparedness, attitudes of students and parents, etc.
    While I say there needs to be evaluation, the NCLB easy solution is fatally flawed. I don’t know how to actually do that evaluation. And the Chicago situation seems to shout that it is the city govt using the need for evaluation as a smoke screen for making all sorts of other draconian measures which choke education to death.

  8. MapleStreet says:

    Snarky, my engineering college around 30 years ago ran a survey of parking on campus by noting the parking lots throughout the 24 hour cycle. They released their study showing that the commuter lots were NOT overcrowded as they were only 50% (or around there) used. This was like throwing out red meat as the engineering students quickly figured out that no one was commuiting in for classes at 2 AM.

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