Columns / Discourse / September 19, 2012

Observing America: Chicago teachers’ strike: Knox students speak out

Teachers’ unions are the unions that you always want to support. Teachers educate our next generations and deserve to be fully endorsed. They are key for the success of America’s children. But are they infallible?

Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, believes that unions are right in striking. She accused Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard of not caring about children. I beg to differ.

There is a difference between endorsing the interest of a union and their employees. Endorsing the latest strike by the Chicago Teachers Union is in no way trying to improve the education of the 400,000 Chicago public school students of which around 85 percent live near or below the poverty line with a family income of $27,214.

This strike does a disservice to the students and their families. They want to address class sizes, job security and teacher evaluations, but the ones getting hurt are the students by missing school days and falling behind on their academic work. Even though the issues that teachers raise are valid, they should be handled by legislators and not by our educators.

The Chicago Teachers Union is definitely abusing the system. They are striking even though they were given a 16 percent increase in their wages for the next four years. To put the facts in context, Chicago teachers have an average salary of $76,000, while the average national salary for a teacher is $43,624. New York City nears Chicago with an average salary of $73,751. Chicago is ranked first in average teacher salary in the nation, and yet Chicago students come from a family income of $27,214.

Just a suggestion to the teachers: take a pay cut. Cut the salaries and spend the money that is necessary for classroom materials and school infrastructure. Everyone has to make sacrifices in today’s rough economic times. Remember that Chicago has a $635.7 million deficit. The issue about class sizes is important and should be addressed ,but so should the high salaries.

Mayor Emanuel shouldn’t have agreed to such fruitful salaries and pay raises. Chicago needs to allot public education funds differently. Instead of raising teacher salaries, improve the schools.

Also, improve the teachers. Put some oversight in place. When it comes to teacher evaluations, merit pay is a sound system. This is a topic that both Republicans like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, agree on. It makes sense to continuously evaluate teachers. Just take Knox, for example. We evaluate professors to try to get a student’s perspective and to determine whether the professor met or lacked standards. Tenure is often abused and doesn’t allow for much room to improve today’s teachers. A teacher’s job should depend on the success of today’s children. If students fail, then teachers should be held accountable. If a teacher is paid $76,000 a year, then I would expect the best from them.

The public deserves free and good education. Chicago today has the highest taxes in the nation. For this reason, public schools in Chicago should be the best in the country. The money should be there for Chicago students. Reform is much needed in our education system. This financial crisis gives us an opportunity to correct waste, fraud, and abuse in our government. This strike should put politics aside. They should put kids first.

Tags:  chicago debate discourse strike teachers

Bookmark and Share

Previous Post
Finding Knox: New students' first impressions
Next Post
Volleyball gets breakthrough win

Alex Uzarowicz
Alex Uzarowicz has been a weekly conservative political columnist for The Knox Student for three years. He also writes for The College Conservative. Alex will graduate in June 2013 with a degree in political science, after which he will head abroad to begin his Peace Corps service.

You might also like

1 Comment

Sep 20, 2012

If you think it’s bad now, just wait until a judge “orders” your local ad volorum taxes (millage rate)increased to pay for their solid-gold penson fund, which is spening one billion more a year more than it is taking in.

ex animo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Story
Finding Knox: New students' first impressions
Last week’s Pumphandle gave faculty, staff and upperclassmen a chance to meet the class of 2016 which features students...