Where I Agree With the Teachers

On the fourth day of the teachers’ strike, protesters targeted school board member Penny Pritzker, whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain.

At 3:30 p.m., thousands of demonstrators dressed in red gathered outside the Hyatt Regency Chicago, at 151 E. Wacker Dr., protesting the $5.2 million in TIF money the city provided for a new Hyatt hotel in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Around 4 p.m., they began marching south on Michigan Avenue toward the South Loop.

Protesters said the TIF money spent on the Hyatt in Hyde Park would have been better used to improve schools in the neighborhood, and avoid budget cuts that have hurt the local schools.

via CBS Chicago.

Indeed, the TIF system in broken and the law needs to be repealed in Springfield.  Of that there can be no argument.

But let’s look at this for just a second…

$5.2 million for the new Hyatt.  26,000 CPS teachers.

That’s $200 per teacher.  That would be an average salary increase of 0.000026% for each teacher FOR ONE YEAR.

And that my friends is why unions suck.  They will keep the kids on the street fighting over mice nuts.  For all their fancy “for the children” rhetoric it’s really about draining every last nickel from the taxpayer.


Inner City Kids and a Catholic School

God Bless John Kass:

When Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis led her members out on strike this week, she said real school would be closed.

“Negotiations have been intense but productive,” she said. “However, we have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike. Real school will not be open (Monday).”

Real school? You mean that public system where four of 10 students don’t graduate?

Since real school wasn’t open, I was compelled to visit an unreal school.A South Side school where 100 percent of the students graduate, and 100 percent are accepted to college. A Roman Catholic all-boys school that draws from poor and working-class neighborhoods, a school where there are no cops or metal detectors, no gang recruitment, no fear.

An unreal school that is mostly black, but with a smattering of whites and Latinos, and where every student who sees a stranger in the halls goes up to the newcomer, introduces himself, shakes his hand, looks him in the eye and calls him Mister.

via Chicago Tribune.

It is unethical and criminal that our children are forced into failing schools when they have the real opportunity to have an excellent education.  Vouchers would make real Obama’s rhetoric of every child having a fair chance.

Kass exposes the reality of the situation:  this has nothing to due with educating children… it’s about politics.

For shame.


How to Help Black Kids Graduate? Vouchers!

Since CTU is out on strike, this appears to be timely.

Educational choice is the civil rights movement of our generation.

Then look at a breathtaking new study from researchers at the Brookings Institution and Harvard University. Brookings fellow Matthew M. Chingos and Harvard government professor Paul E. Peterson tracked 1,363 New York elementary school students who, starting in 1997, had received vouchers worth up to $1,400 a year through a New York City scholarship fund. Those students had their choice of any private school, religious or secular, in New York.

Result: African-American students who had used the vouchers were 24 percent more likely to attend college, and more than twice as likely to attend selective four-year colleges, as their peers who had not won the voucher lottery in a random draw. The hard numbers: 45 percent of the African-American students with vouchers graduated and attended college. That’s compared to 36 percent of otherwise similar students who hadn’t received the vouchers.

Those vouchers didn’t give a similar boost to white or Hispanic students, but did help African-Americans close the customary graduation gap between black and Hispanic students, the researchers reported.

via Chicago Tribune.

Poor kids on the South and West sides of the city are stuck in failing schools and Rahm, Obama, and the rest of the Democratic cabal aren’t going to do a damn thing about it.

Teachers’ Unions vs. Children

When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.
— Albert Shanker, former president of the United Federation of Teachers

I wrote about this before, how the truth is that CTU, WEAC, and all other teacher’s unions have a fiduciary duty to the union members.  The union cannot do anything which would advance the interests of non-members (i.e. children) to the detriment of the members (i.e. teachers.)

This is a very simple legal principle that most educated people easily understand.

Of course there’s the greater philosophical discussion that should take place as to whether of not unions of government employees are to anyone’s benefit.

The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.
— F.D. Roosevelt, in 1937 to the National Federation of Federal Employees

The idea being that when private sector employees collectively bargain they can overplay their hand only to their own detriment as well and to the detriment of their employer.  Another company will be the beneficiary of the higher wages (and cost of goods/services) of the first.  This is not true in government where there is no competition.

Anyone seeking more and more from the public coffers should be considered with extreme skepticism.

U.S. Department of Education: 79% of Chicago 8th Graders Not Proficient in Reading

Seventy-nine percent of the 8th graders in the Chicago Public Schools are not grade-level proficient in reading, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and 80 percent are not grade-level proficient in math.

via CNS News.

Very… very… sad.

Teachers make over $60/hour.  Get awesome benefits.  Not getting the job done.  On strike demanding more money.

Chicago Teachers Union: It’s About Children Greed

According to the Chicago Tribune key issues separating Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union:

SALARIES AND BENEFITS. The district offered 16 percent increase over four years and “modified step increases that both reward experience and provide better incentives for mid-career teachers.” The union said it’s closer on pay but is still concerned about rising health care costs and other benefits. Teachers sought a substantial raise in the contract’s first year because of the longer day and want to keep raises for experience.

This is insane.  There is no one in the private sector who’s planning on seeing a 16% increase in their income over the next four years.  Plus these people make tons of money already!

A Chicago Public Schools spokesperson said average pay for teachers, without benefits, is $76,000.

via CBS Chicago.

The average family in the city only earns $47,000 a year.  Considering a regular school term of 40 weeks, at 6.25 hours per day…. The way I figure that’s $76,000.00 / (6.25 * 200)  = $60.80 / hour.  Plus they get benefits — excellent benefits.

So what we have is a group of people who on average make over $60/hour — the highest paid teachers in the nation — and are complaining about it.

Next issue:

JOB SECURITY. The union has pushed for a system to recall teachers who have been laid off when new openings occur. This has become important because of rumors the district plans to close up to 100 schools in coming years. The district says teachers displaced by school closings will be eligible for a job at new schools if there is a vacancy — or may elect to take a three-month severance.

I got some news for the CTU:  CPS is dying.   For the second year in a row, CPS is taking the maximum possible increase to property taxes permitted by law.  Further, Chicago is shrinking and here.

There is no job security when you’re product is crappy & overpriced.  People do not want to live in a place where they’re taxed to death to fund under-performing public schools.  At CPS just 15 percent of fourth graders are proficient in reading and only 56 percent of students who enter their freshman year of high school wind up graduating.  If you want job security you need to excel at what you do… not completely suck at it.

Next Issue:

TEACHER EVALUATIONS. The union wants to lower how much student performance contributes to evaluations. CPS has said the new evaluation system, created in collaboration with teachers, was negotiated and settled in March under state law.

I happen to know a few people who are tight with a couple of principals in the CPS system.  The first things they will tell you is that it is impossible to get rid of a bad teacher.  Everyone knows this.  So to improve schools CPS and CTU sat down and came up with a system to evaluate teachers back in March.  Now, CTU has decided that it doesn’t like the system it already agreed to.

Not only is the Teachers’ Union is specifically fighting to keep bad teachers in the classroom but it breaking a promise it already made.

– – –

The only possible explanation for all this is that CTU cares very very little about education.  There is no talk about reducing class sizes, getting new blackboards, reimbursement for further education, or improving safety in the schools.  Nope.  It’s all about money & clout.  Money & clout.  Protecting their own at all costs.

CTU is nothing but a bunch of bullies.  Rahm should treat them as such.

CPS To Raise Property Taxes The Maximum

For the second year in a row, Chicago Public School officials under Mayor Rahm Emanuel will raise property taxes for schools to the maximum allowed by law, yielding the cash-strapped system $41 million.

The 1.5 percent increase should cost the average homeowner $28 a year, school officials said Wednesday.

via Chicago Sun-Times.

Well isn’t this interesting.  We’ll see if CPS teachers, a/k/a the CTU, want to strike this year.  I suppose homeowners won’t be getting their second installment of their tax bills until after the election (it always works that way.)  So they won’t see just how much money goes to CTU CPS from their outrageous property taxes unless the strike goes into November.  … Dare to dream.

Illinois lags in science, tech, engineering, math grads

Bad News:

Illinois is producing fewer graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math than the national average, according to the June release of the Illinois Innovation Index. …

According to the Illinois Innovation Index, the number of STEM degrees granted to Illinois graduates hit a high-water mark of 20,248 in 2003 before dropping through 2007. The number rose by nearly 5 percent between 2009 and 2010, the most recent year for which data are available. But the 2010 number, 18,400, is well below the 2003 peak. Furthermore, STEM degrees represented 11 percent of all 2010 Illinois degrees, lower than the national average of 14 percent.

via Chicago Tribune.com.

This is a problem.

Illinois generally and Chicago specifically cannot grow out of debt without high tech jobs. Our manufacturing businesses are dying and the city’s not helping. We live in a global economy and on the manufacturing front Chicago’s losing.

Tech is the future. If you don’t have tech, you’re future’s not very bright. It’s really just that simple.

CTU looks like it’s going to strike CPS because teachers making $80,000+ for 189 days of work say it’s not enough. I’d be happy to give the teachers more money… when Illinois’ in first place nationally for math and science scores.


CPS’s Safe Haven Funding Slashed

With money tight,Chicago Public Schools’summer Safe Haven program will be scaled back and serve fewer students.Last year, the district used $975,000 in federal stimulus funds for Safe Haven, which encompassed 100 churches working with 5,000 students on issues including conflict resolution and anger management, as well as reading programs, tutoring and arts.

via Chicago Tribune.

That’s 100 churches getting nearly 10,000 each to do what exactly?

Like nearly all government programs Safe Haven was doomed from the start.  It was a “spread some money around” plan that had no measure of success or failure.  Nearly a million bucks was doled out to politically connected reverends who held a few meetings, played a little basketball, and then sent the children back into the mean streets.  No one knows where the money really went.  But it’s safe to say that Safe Haven did little to curb violence.