Is There a Problem Here? 25,000 Chicago Teachers on Strike
This morning I watched CNN. Well had it on in the background anyway.
One story the anchor kept coming back to was the Chicago school teachers strike. The anchor talked to a retired teacher in Chicago there at the pickets. (I believe current teachers aren’t allowed to do that because of the legal ramifications).
The thing that got to me was when the retired teacher stated that the teachers were on strike because they wanted higher wages and i’m paraphrasing here but “to show people how hard we work”.
Isn’t that a bit insulting to other people who work hard? As if suggesting that the job of a teacher is so hard that it should come with stress pay?
Additionally the speaker stated that the teachers had a problem with the evaluation method to determine which teachers were performing well and which weren’t. Which would of course help to decide who gets fired.
The problem is she said that the current process was “unfair to new teachers, older teachers, and even those in the middle of their careers”.
As someone who has not one but two high school public teacher parents, I’m somewhat familiar with these issues.
My parents weren’t always teachers, matter of fact they didn’t start teaching till they were in their fifties. My mom was a teachers assistant(para-pro) and my dad started subbing. They were both good at it and became full teachers.
Neither of them are union fans and are often very critical of many of their colleagues who are lazy, selfish and incompetent. They share this through the experiences of each of their respective school districts as well as other local districts, namely Detroit Public Schools.
However, they are also not exactly big fans of administration and school boards members.
Clearly both side has some role to play in matters and is equal to share in the blame.
My mom recently had to deal with a situation with her own district recently where the contract technically started several days after the semester and the district was trying to get away without paying employees for the first few days. Needless to say the issue didn’t go over well but it was indeed worked out.
That’s an example of an A+ slimeball move by administration.
However I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s the case in Chicago. I have no familiarity with the issue there and can’t legitimately say who’s more or less to blame. However I feel that in general, the larger the entity and the larger the union that are going to battle against one another that the situation is always going to be harsher.
When more people are involved, not only do more people have something to lose(which they will try to hold on to for dear life), but that the less personal the situation becomes, it then becomes a matter of checkmarks, dollars and cents, the bottom line.
The method of evaluating teachers probably is unfair in someway. It’s probably devoid of personality and understanding.
But with so many teachers employed, 25,000 according to news reports, the only method that can possibly be used has to simple, quick, and effective.
The best solution to preventing these problems from occurring lies in breaking up school districts into smaller independent districts. Make each school an integral part of the neighborhood it serves rather than one of many faceless buildings that can be replaced and interchanged without effect.
Let each community decide for itself what it wants from it’s schools and how committed they are to the idea. The school is there to serve the community, not the other way around.
Additionally if we want to avoid massive teacher strikes, perhaps we should throw out the union system completely.
What would be the effect of such a move? All the same teachers would still be the ones applying for jobs, it’s not like there would be a sudden influx of suddenly qualified teachers to decrease wages or opportunities. You’d still have the same number of teaching positions with the same number of available candidates.
What you would also have is teachers and administrators having to work closer together in order to best evaluate and understand who the best and worst teachers are.
Standard pay and benefit packages could be applied and since the most involved communities will want the best teachers pay will still remain competitive.
Best of all the system would remove the inherent flaw that exists currently. Instead of each side working toward it’s own agenda, concerned only with getting it’s benefits regardless of the overall picture. The new system would require each side to support the other lest it fail completely.
A bridge spanning a chasm cannot stand without supports, and the supports are equally useless without the spanning deck. Each side is equally important to the other but only if they work together, something the school systems and unions are far from understanding.
I found this today, apparently the CATO institute agrees with me, sort of.
While I was advocating for a breakup of both the Unions and School districts into smaller more personal entities, the folks are CATO are more inclined to offer greater private v public competition to keep the market honest.
Still the article on the matter here, offers greater detail on the issue than I have.