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Education Government The Almighty Buck Politics

Chicago Teachers Rip 'Big Money Interest Groups' 404

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
theodp writes "The striking Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is holding a massive 'Wisconsin-style rally' Saturday as ongoing negotiations try to bring an end to the strike that has put education on hold for 350,000 of the city's schoolchildren. 'The 30,000 teachers, school social workers, clerks, vision and hearing testers, school nurses, teaching assistants, counselors, and other school professionals of the Chicago Teachers Union are standing strong to defend public education from test pushers, privatizers, and a national onslaught of big money interest groups trying to push education back to the days before teachers had unions,' explains the CTU web site. 'Around the country and even the world, our fight is recognized as the front line of resistance to the corporate education agenda.' Some are calling the strike — which has by most accounts centered on salary schedules (CPS salary dataset), teacher performance evaluations, grievance procedures, and which teachers get dibs on new jobs — a push-back to education reform that has possible Presidential election implications. The big winners in the school strike, Bloomberg reports, are the city's largely non-union 100+ charter schools, which remained open throughout the strike. Charter school enrollment swelled to 52,000 students this fall as parents worried by strike rumors sought refuge in schools like those run by the Noble Charter Network, which enjoys the deep-pocket support of many wealthy 'investors.'"
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Chicago Teachers Rip 'Big Money Interest Groups'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:20AM (#41351477)

    Of course they do. They hate the competition.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nerdfest (867930)

      Here in Canada they'r one of the biggest. The part about this that really irritates me is that they've been getting annual raises about four times the rate of inflation and threatened to strike during a huge budget shortfall at the first mention of pay freezes. A completely classless move. There are very large numbers of people waiting to get into teaching, yet the pay keeps going up. What ever happened to supply and demand? If there's that big a supply, the rate of pay increase (if any) should be at or bel

      • by vlm (69642) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:56AM (#41351713)

        getting annual raises about four times the rate of inflation

        Check your numbers. If the real inflation rate was as low as their request, then gasoline would be about $1.50, a day at the hospital would be about $750, a loaf of bread would still be 50 cents, higher ed tuition would still be about $1000/semester....

        There are very large numbers of people waiting to get into teaching

        For kindergarten teachers in my sorta-rich suburb, yeah the competition for teaching jobs is incredibly intense. For ghetto areas like big cities, where you need to wear a bullet proof vest, often there's racial hiring quotas, there are serious issues getting enough staffing. Its very much like the demand for police officers in different locales... oddly enough the nice places have 10 applicants per position, and the bad places have 10 positions per good applicant...

        • by ildon (413912)

          Nerdfest is talking about Canadian teachers, not Chicago teachers.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There are very large numbers of people waiting to get into teaching, yet the pay keeps going up. What ever happened to supply and demand?

        Well, the better question is why does the Ontario government keep subsidizing the training of enormous numbers of teachers in taxpayer-supported universities, when there is an enormous existing surplus of teachers.

        Perhaps 1 in 10 teachers graduating today from an Ontario university will be able to get a full-time teaching job after graduating.

        • by Nerdfest (867930)

          The Ontario premier's wife is a teacher, and over the past eight years he's seemed to have little to no interest in doing anything but hiring more teachers and giving them large raises. Our teachers are already paid far more than in the US. When the budget shortfall became an obvious problem (although anyone with a clue could see it coming), did he start talking about freezing teacher salaries? No, he started talking about reducing *doctor* salaries.

      • by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @12:55PM (#41353549)
        either that or you're one of their shills (possible, but apologies if you're not since people hate being accused of that).

        The rich learned long ago that the best way to stay in power and keep all the money was to pit groups of people against each other. Traditionally this is done with racial or cultural boundaries. Black/white, Christian/Islam, etc, etc. But since they've been globalizing the economy to take advantage of all that cheap labor they've got a problem. They're having a hard time keeping us segregated, and keeping a single large voting block they can count on. The "Southern Strategy" is breaking down.

        So they're sicking you on public employees. They don't really have it that good, it's just that after 30 years of lower wages and longer work hours their lives look like heaven. That's the trap. You're too busy asking, why do those guys have food, shelter and health care? to ask "Hey, why don't I have those things?".
      • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @01:48PM (#41353977)
        There are wonderful teachers who avoid teaching because of sentiments like this. I'm sorry, I'm not interested in entering a toxic work culture where I am demonized by the press, politicians, and parents. Where people on the outside lust over taking away my job security, and where my salary is a race to the bottom of supply and demand. Listen, if you want to restrict pay raises for public school teachers, great, go for it. Divide the country even further along class lines and support private charter schools without the salary restrictions, who snap up the most passionate, brilliant instructors.

        That is a foul harvest to reap.
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:47AM (#41351643)

      Unions have a lot of money and political pull too.

      In many ways they have more political pull per dollar. Because the Unions in the US need just as much reform as the business system does.

      Why am I paying out of my paycheck to something that will use for political campaigning for a party I may or may not believe in.
      That money should be used to pay for a small staff of legal experts, and for operations. The rest of the money should be held to pay for strikers pay during a strike.

      • by geoskd (321194) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:42AM (#41352439)

        Why am I paying out of my paycheck to something that will use for political campaigning for a party I may or may not believe in.

        You need to investigate your Beck Rights [unionrefund.org]. You are probably due a fairly sizable pile of money, and if you make enough of a public spectacle about it could potentially cripple your local chapter. Depending on how good or bad your local is, this could potentially help improve conditions, or it could make things worse. Make sure you fully understand the consequences before taking this approach. If you simply press the issue yourself, you probably will have a court battle ahead of you (you will win, this has been to the supreme court already). If you go about to all of your like-minded co-workers, you can expect a fair amount of backlash from the union.

        -=Geoskd

    • by The Second Horseman (121958) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:03AM (#41352607)

      Yup. Competition from essentially unaccountable charter schools or private schools getting public money with little or no oversight, and under a variety of guises able to reject students with physical, mental or behavioral issues. There have been studies showing that the "new school effect" is what may account for any short-term gains in charters, and that renovating and relaunching public schools could have the same effect. Charter and private schools aren't expected to act like social service agencies, dealing with all sorts of damaged kids. The regular public schools are. And recent studies about the effects of stress on neurological development pretty much shows that these kids are being wired to fail by their environments. Poverty, home problems, crime, etc. are the actual problems.

      The motivated parents who move their kids to a new school? Those kids probably have less stress than the kids who have parents who are having more problems and aren't focusing on them. Charter/private with vouchers will lead to tons of kids being left behind.

      Please understand - the for-profits, consulting companies, etc. have NO interest in actually fixing education. Education is one of the few places where there's a lot of public money, it's staying public, and it's largely going to middle-class employees. The entire point of the reform - from the standpoint of these companies - is to siphon off a ton of that money. Their profit margin will be built by lowering wages - leading to lower-quality teachers over time - and eventually making the whole thing even worse.

      I halfway expect to see some of these for-profit companies running juvenile detention facilities soon as well. They make money either way if they do.

    • because education is too important to run like a business, with profits maximized. I buy a lot of crap that I know isn't very good because I don't make a tonne of money. I don't want my kid to get a Ramen Education while Mitt Romney's kids are the only ones eating steak.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:22AM (#41351487)

    and say they want a 30% increase over 2. They are already some of the best paid urban teachers in the whole country. Insane.

    http://reason.com/reasontv/2012/09/15/the-deep-logic-of-the-chicago-teachers-s [reason.com]

    Don't want to be held accountable, even opposing Obama's merit-based suggestions in favor of tenure, etc.

    I'll say what I always said: it's about the children, alright, about using the children.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TyFoN (12980)

      Yes, it is insane to pay those who are teaching the children well.
      Much more sane to pay lobbyists a few million a year to make sure the teachers have no say in legislation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They do a LOUSY job.

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

      • by jhoegl (638955) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:40AM (#41351589)
        Meh, 16% is more than private sector raises. If they dont want that they can go to the job hunting line.
        It is really about evaluation and them not wanting to be evaluated so they can keep their job of not doing shit.
        This comes from the son of a Teacher, and family members who are teachers/went to college for teaching.
        And this comes from them as well.
        • by TyFoN (12980)

          Of course you need to evaluate them too. I'm not sure how it is in the US as I don't live there, but are the salaries equal in the private and public schools? If not there is no point in evaluating the teachers in the public schools as all the good teachers will have drained to the private schools with higher salaries.
          Having equal salaries in the public schools makes sure you don't get the worst teachers by default.

          If the salaries are equal then my statement is moot of course, but if not I'd much rather pay

          • by vlm (69642)

            but are the salaries equal in the private and public schools? If not there is no point in evaluating the teachers in the public schools as all the good teachers will have drained to the private schools with higher salaries.

            My sister in law would be LOL at this time. Its the other way around... The primary private school competitor is a nun, willing to teach for free. You'll make more money at McDonalds than as catholic school teacher. They are the minor leagues for the public schools who recruit from them.

            The "cream of the crop" at private (usually religious) schools vs "not so good" at public schools is the average parental quality. The kids are about the same (other than having been raised better, on average, by the pri

          • by kidgenius (704962) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:13AM (#41351819)
            Private schools tend to pay quite poorly in comparison to public schools. That's because most of the private schools are church-based. They charge students a tuition, but they don't make back enough in tuition to cover costs 100%. Couple that with the church not being able to kick in a ton extra, and the pay is about 50-80% of the public school rate.
        • Also, If I'm reading the various articles about this correctly, That's just the raise in base pay. The teachers also get increases based on time in. So, a 5-year teacher's pay might go up 7% from one year to the next, but the actual teacher with 5 years in will get a bigger increase in pay - the next year, they'll be a 6-year teacher...

        • You can't evaluate against a national average or even a state average. Why ? Because some school are in more difficult area with less funding and over worked teacher. Why should they be compared against a teacher in a high d nice area with lot of funding and no problem kid ? The evaluation would have to be done locally agaisnt the other average teacher and combined on the state and it get horribly complicated : was the teacher badly noted because of some kids that year , a criminal in shorts ? Was the next
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How much is "well?" This argument seems to work no matter how much teachers are paid. My guess is that if teachers were paid a million dollars a year, and were asking for an increase, anyone opposed would be accused of being against good pay for teachers. As the GP said, Chicago teachers are already some of the best paid in the country. 30% is huge. Student outcomes have not increased by 30% over the past two years, so why should teacher pay be increased by that much over the next 2?

      • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:48AM (#41351647)

        Yes, it is insane to pay those who are teaching the children well.
        Much more sane to pay lobbyists a few million a year to make sure the teachers have no say in legislation.

        How do you know a teacher is underpaid and overworked? Don't worry, they'll tell you.

        Idk how it is your area, but in my state, property owners pay for the bulk of the funding of the schools. My parents have their own house and a rental house, and to pay the property and much larger school tax bill on the rental property alone, they need to collect slightly over 3 months rent a year before they see a penny of revenue. It is not unusual for the school to demand and be handed 10-12 increases in budget each year. Just sustainable over the long term...

        Our teachers get paid more than they do, starting at around $40k and going up as much as $120, depending on tenure and degrees - the attainment of higher ones past bachelor's, which once hired, is also paid for. They get a pension after 20-25 years. They get the caddilac of health plans for their entire families. They get a host of sick and vacation days during the year, those days roll over into the next year and so on, and any left over at the end of their career are paid out in full. They have the summers off (mostly) and often attend a conference somewhere which is usually a 1-2 hour a day work excuse in order to go someplace nice paid for by the taxpayer. Oh, and unheard of job security. There's nothing quite so cushy in the private sector for low level employees.

        The professors in the local community college, in the same county, get much less than the HS teachers do.

        HOWEVER, I realize this is mostly taking place in the richer suburbs of America and is not everyplace. I'll grant that. But even with all that, our kids aren't doing extraordinary.

        In the words of Comptroller General David M. Walker, Healthcare and Education is where America spends way more than 1st world country, often 2x as much, for worse results and with no outcome testing of any type.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcWrdM-a_Uo [youtube.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DarkOx (621550)

        Except that public school teachers most places are paid well. Its largely private school teachers that work for next to nothing. If you take the typical public schools teach salary and divide it out to a per month number over 9 not 12 because they don't work summers, most of them are compensated better than they would be in another field with the same credentials.

        This dispute is not really even about 'compensation' per say, its about the accountability and the tenure system. Essentially this abo

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nationally, teacher salaries and benefits cost over $500 billion annually. Imagine reducing teacher staffing by 10%, or teacher compensation by 10%, or an equivalent combination. That would free up $50 billion annually for Gates, Broad, Walton, Pearson, etc. Education reform is all about getting this money, period. McSchools are on the way and they will be standardized, popular, and highly profitable - just like the restaurants. Enjoy your future McLearnin', Americans!

      I'm not a teacher, I have kids in publi

      • Absolutely. Public/private partnerships set up to funnel tax payer money to charter schools staffed by McTeachers. I WAS a teacher; what a shitty job. I think public/private partnerships were called fascism back in the day.
    • by UPZ (947916) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:41AM (#41351601)
      Teaching inner city kids is no easy job. I say this as someone who volunteers in inner city schools. These teachers need to be paid adequately. However, unions may not be the best PR that teachers need right now, especially with their long track record of protecting the incompetent ones.
    • by LordLucless (582312) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:51AM (#41351679)

      A 16% increase over 4 years works out to be 4% a year, which just happens to be a little lower than the average inflation rate over the last 4 years (yes, it's lower than that at the moment). Which means, in terms of spending power, its just maintaining the status quo.

      As for "merit-based" performance metrics, they don't measure the teacher's performance; they measure the students. What that will mean is that teachers will be competing to teach the students more likely to meet the metrics. The good teachers will get those postitions, and the teachers who don't make the cut will be relegated to the difficult students. So the students who get the worst teachers, will be:
      * Poor students, who don't have access to tutors or other extra curricular methods of learning
      * Students with disinterested parents (parental involvements is one the major predictors for academic achievement)
      * Students in classes of disruptive people
      And the teachers who teach them will be stuck in a position of no advancement, because their students are consistently out-performed by other demographics.

      • A 16% increase over 4 years works out to be 4% a year, which just happens to be a little lower than the average inflation rate over the last 4 years

        Try again, bubeleh. The average inflation over the last four years, according to the Departmen of Labor's CPI, has been somewhere around 2.5%. The last year in which inflation topped 4% was 1991.

        • by vlm (69642) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:53AM (#41352079)

          The average inflation over the last four years, according to the Departmen of Labor's CPI, has been somewhere around 2.5%

          He's talking about real world inflation, like how much the cost of living has increased, commodity prices that are relevant to the median person, etc. Price of food, price of gasoline, price of real estate/rent, price of sickcare insurance, etc.

          You're talking about the completely imaginary govt figure which is a statement of how much the govt has decided to increase CPI indexed transfer payments, social security, .mil pay and pensions, federal pay, etc. What the govt's willing to provide as a pay raise has no interaction what so ever with "how much stuff costs". There's a thing veneer of respectability where they exclude everything not fitting the message. So, yes, the average iphone cost plus maybe the average cost of a cedar 10 foot 2x4 maybe has only gone up 2.5%, but it doesn't "mean anything" in the real world other than SS checks and .mil paychecks are going to be 2.5% higher. What it really means is the politicians think they'll lose too many votes if they only paid out 2.4% more, but they wouldn't get enough extra votes if they paid out 2.6% more to make it worth it compared to other pork barrel expenses.

          It would be very much like if instead of arbitrary payraises at work, people we given imaginary cooked books to base their raises. Just admit its arbitrary and mostly made up.

      • by vlm (69642)

        What that will mean is that teachers will be competing to teach the students more likely to meet the metrics. The good teachers will get those postitions,

        There is a leveling effect. The definition of "good" will of course be "hotties" "brownnosers" "groupthinkers". Generally speaking people who are not good teachers or good role models. The bottom half of the barrel due to competition won't even be getting jobs. So its not so much that the bad kids will be stuck with the 2 out of 10s, they'll be stuck with the 6 out of 10s. The long term effect of low quality teachers teaching the good parent's kids and better than average quality teachers teaching the

      • by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:07AM (#41352203)

        I don't know how the Chicago district proposes to measure "teacher performance" but it is possible to measure actual teacher performance. Chicago is a big system over which most teachers' actual performance can be measured:

        Compare last year's test scores of the kids who are in each teacher's class with the end-of-term test scores of those same kids to measure their progress. Now compare the progress scores of that class of kids to the average progress of other kids in the district who had similar scores at the end of the previous term. In this way, you remove (to first order) the differences between particular groups of kids. What's left is attributable to other factors, such as performance of the teacher, the classroom, administration, time of day at which the class is taught (yes, I think this makes a difference), etc.

        Each teacher teaches several groups of students. A system like this can do a lot of good. They get real, meaningful feedback, probably for the first time ever. It's likely that some teachers will get a great progress score on one class and a bad score on another class. And they may sometimes be very much surprised by the rating. Because they only see how hard or easy it is to teach a class of this kind or that kind of students, not whether it can be done better.

        Such a system also should identify top performers by category. Mr. X does a fantastic job with top performers but totally fails teaching slow kids. Mrs. Y does a poor job challenging the really bright kids but is good at helping slow kids catch up. They're both stand-out teachers in particular areas. So have Mr. X help teach other teachers how to work with top performing students and have Mrs. Y teach other teachers how to help the slowest students, deal with troublemakers and motivate slackers. Assign the students that are hard to teach to a group of teachers headed by Mrs. Y. Move the faster students to another group headed by Mr. X.

        That at least can work in core subjects like math, science, reading and history, and any subjects where what is being taught is specific facts or skills. But some subjects are hard to evaluate in an objective way. How do you judge the merit the art that students produce? The quality of their music? The validity of their debating points? There's still a lot we don't know how to and maybe can't ever be really measured in education.

      • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:31AM (#41352841)

        A 16% increase over 4 years works out to be 4% a year, which just happens to be a little lower than the average inflation rate over the last 4 years (yes, it's lower than that at the moment). Which means, in terms of spending power, its just maintaining the status quo.

        Meanwhile, for the people actually paying for the teachers, median household income is down 7% in the last 10 years. [usatoday.com]

        As for "merit-based" performance metrics, they don't measure the teacher's performance; they measure the students.

        "I'm a good teacher, but my work doesn't really do the students any good. Give me a huge raise."

        So the students who get the worst teachers, will be:
        * Poor students, who don't have access to tutors or other extra curricular methods of learning

        The students get such a great education from their government teachers, they need to hire tutors.

        * Students with disinterested parents (parental involvements is one the major predictors for academic achievement)
        * Students in classes of disruptive people

        Obviously, you acknowledge these things are a problem. But rather than solve the problem, you want to make sure it doesn't affect teacher paychecks.

        Nevermind the students. The purpose of a government school is to maximize payroll.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:55AM (#41351705)

      merit-based suggestions

      In other words, the plan where teachers who work in tough environments where students have not decided whether they want to graduate from high school or become criminals are punished. "Merit based" evaluations of teachers are not all they are cracked up to be; teachers cannot magically affect improvement if parents and cultures are not working with them. There is also the question of what basis is used for evaluations -- do you really think scores on tests show how well teachers are doing in their classrooms?

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      They are already some of the best paid urban teachers

      Why the need for the "urban" qualifier?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:27AM (#41351507)

    "U.S. Department of Education: 79% of Chicago 8th Graders Not Proficient in Reading." Teacher evaluations are a must. It is time to get rid of the ineffective teachers that are protected by unions.

    • by vlm (69642)

      "U.S. Department of Education: 79% of Chicago 8th Graders Not Proficient in Reading." Teacher evaluations are a must. It is time to get rid of the ineffective teachers that are protected by unions.

      Because parents culture and value system has much more of an influence than anything the teachers could ever do, I assume its a given that you already support taking kids away from their parents if the test results are poor, so the logical next step of optimizing a minor impact area does make sense. Setting up an orphanage system / military discipline dorm for kids with bad test scores would be expensive, but probably fairly effective.

      Remember, never optimize the small stuff first. In this non-IT non-CS e

    • Teacher evaluations are a must

      What do you plan to base those evaluations on? How do you hope to ensure that the evaluations do not favor teachers who work in "safe" schools in middle class areas, where the students are being pushed by their parents to get high test scores and go to college, over teachers in "tough" schools where the parents are not so worried about education and where the students dream of becoming master criminals?

    • by buddyglass (925859) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:13AM (#41351821)

      I'd be all for evaluation if I thought it would be done right. I lack that confidence. If you just look at how a given teacher's students perform then that's not fair to the teacher, since he has no control over those students' educational experience prior to arriving in his classroom. The only objective way to evaluate individual teachers' performance would be to test students every year and measure the delta between each teacher's students over the course of the year that teacher had them. If a given teacher has 5 classes of 25 students each, and those 125 students scored, on average, at the 30th percentile at the beginning of the year, but at the 35th percentile at the end of the year, then maybe we say that teacher did a good job despite his students scoring well below the state-wide average.

      There are problems with testing students so frequently though:

      1. It's expensive.
      2. It cannibalizes classroom time.
      3. It encourages teachers to try to game the system by teaching to the test or teaching "test-taking skills" instead of their actual subject matter.
      4. It encourages teachers (and principals) to allow (or assist) their students to cheat.
      5. It's not necessarily applicable to all types of teacher. How are you going to objectively measure the effectiveness of an art teacher?

      Another way to go would be to only evaluate principals and give them more leeway to hire/fire teachers they like and use whatever in-house evaluation methods they want. Test only at school level jumps, i.e. prior to elementary, between elementary and middle, between middle and high school, then after high school. You'd want to be sure to evaluate the principals using the average percentile change of students who went through all grades at the given school. If the set of 8th graders leaving a given middle school has an average percentile rank of 50, but that same set of students averaged in the 40th percentile before starting 6th grade, maybe you give that principal a good rating. The problem here, though, is that it encourages principals to try to get kids who appear likely to regress to leave their school.

      • Another way to go would be to only evaluate principals and give them more leeway to hire/fire teachers they like and use whatever in-house evaluation methods they want.

        And who is going to make that evaluation? How are they going to hire and fire?

        In essence, you want a free market in education in which parents evaluate schools and outcomes, successful principals win and schools grow, and bad ones get closed. Government has a function in such a market: it can keep schools small and the market free and effici

  • by salesgeek (263995) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:34AM (#41351545) Homepage

    ... Because that worked so well in Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, the result of the protests were:

    * The teacher's union being flat out broken. The state won.
    * A failed recall effort.
    * A complete loss of support from many parent for the teachers. Demanding more money when people are struggling is never a hit.

    • The recall is the first recall in history where the incumbent won. It's a surprising result, so as a strategy it wasn't a bad idea.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:38AM (#41351569)

    We need a good public school system. But I can tell you first hand that public schools aren't always best. I have kids in both public and private schools, and the private school is far better. That's one small local example, I know, but the notion that it's just big money or testing that has adversely impacted public schools is ridiculous. There are some valid points there - there should be no candy machines in lunchrooms and teaching to tests can be a problem. But tenure, a sense of entitlement, an overplayed seniority system, and general lack of accountability for unionized teachers is also a big problem. The main problem as I see it is that there is no incentive in *any* of the public school schemes I've seen to strive for excellence. Mediocrity is the high bar most teachers and schools attempt to reach, and if they even get that far they are doing well. If you do what's minimally necessary, you will get paid, you will advance, you will get summers off, and you will eventually get your nice pension at 55. Do *you* get summers off? Do *you* get to retire at 55? Do *you* get to keep your job if you just sorta, meh, show up and just do what you have to do? No way you will be a teacher at the private school I'm familiar with if you aren't trying to help your students be the best they can be. It's just like that.

    Of course public schools generally have a harder job than private schools. They have to deal with *all* the kids - including the dumb ones and the ones who parents have no concern for the quality of their kids education, for whatever reason. Parents who spend lots of money on private school generally don't do it capriciously - they care a *lot* about education and they put their money where their mouth is. So it's not completely fair to just blame lazy/stupid teachers (there are plenty of them for sure). Lazy stupid kids and their parents are equally to blame. Personally, I don't care about them. They should not be my problem or my kids problem. One way or another, public schools need to separate kids by ability and give motivated kids the chance they deserve. I know teachers and administrators who try to do that, but the system makes it very difficult.

    • by buddyglass (925859) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:58AM (#41351725)
      Without necessarily disagreeing with anything else you wrote...

      Do *you* get to keep your job if you just sorta, meh, show up and just do what you have to do?

      Actually, yes. In my experience most jobs are like that. You have to really suck to get fired. *Maybe* if you're just phoning it in you get to be first in line when there are layoffs. Maybe. But then only if your employer does a good job of identifying who's just phoning it in. Not all do.

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m0s3m8n (1335861) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:39AM (#41351583)
    I grew up in a northern Wisconsin city where the teachers stuck twice times in four years . It was NEVER about the children, always about pay. Chicago is a big Democratic city, you would think there would be no issue with the citizens WANTING to raise their own property taxes to support the schools. As for charter schools, they represent competition, so of course they are evil.
    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Funny)

      by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:48AM (#41351651) Homepage

      I grew up in a northern Wisconsin city where the teachers stuck twice times in four years .

      You don't say. . .

  • I'm with them on the complaint about test pushers. But privatization? Why should they care? Can't the union accept private school teachers as members and negotiate with private employers just like it negotiates with the City of Chicago? Other unions agitate for their members who're employed by private entities.

    I'm also curious what would stop the city from hiring scabs. Parents would no doubt be unhappy with the decrease in teacher quality (since everybody would be brand new) but at least their kids wo

    • Can't the union accept private school teachers as members

      The problem is that the union currently represents people whose jobs are threatened by privatization; a deal would first need to be reached that allowed public school teachers to be transferred to charter schools and visa versa, or else the union would have members fighting against each other. One of the issues in this strike was the number of teachers who were fired when schools were closed; a while back, a tentative deal was reached where the city would give those same teachers first consideration for

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:00AM (#41351743)

    Ten posts in, and I already see the guy chomping on the high-salary-bit modded at +5. Before that becomes the focus of these posts, let me add something to reflect on.

    There is not only a very strong negative correlation between the percent of a school's low-socioeconomic-status students (measured by a school's free-and-reduced lunch rate) and test scores*, but there has proven to be causation as well. [aft.org] Now, urban Chicago has some of the highest poverty rates in the state of Illinois. Creating a system where half of a teacher's evaluation (and, ergo, the chance they keep their job) is based solely on test scores is simply setting up teachers to fail. Teachers know this; when they (or anyone else, for that matter) are put into a position where their evaluation likely will be poor, due to circumstances far beyond their control, resulting in dismissal from their job, it will negatively affect their performance in the classroom. Then, with high teacher turnaround, the quality of new hires will just suffer precipitously.

    This evaluation system was never meant or designed to improve teacher performance. It was designed to set schools up to fail. And Chicago Area Teachers have every right to stand up and stop it. Anyone who tries to complain about salaries is merely throwing a red herring into the discussion.

    * source: The Star Tribune [startribune.com]. It appears that, sadly, they removed the free-and-reduced lunch data from this year's test results. In previous years, I ran simple correlation calculations between a district's free-and-reduced lunch percentage, and the percentage of students who were proficient on the tests. The correlation coefficient was -.87 for math and -.92 for reading.

    • by Kohath (38547)

      It's not about salaries. That's why teachers are offering to take pay cuts, obviously.

  • Slashdot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305)

    I am really struggling to figure out how this posting/article fits with Slashdot at all.

  • Do your research (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Orp (6583) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @09:11AM (#41351803) Homepage

    First of all, WTF does this have to do with tech? This is one of the most inappropriate stories for a News for Nerds site.

    But, since we're all nerds, we do our homework, right?

    Anyone who wants to engage in an informed discussion about this issue should, at the very least, read the fact finder's report:

    http://www.ctunet.com/blog/text/FactFinderCOMPLETE.pdf [ctunet.com]

    Yes, it's 80 pages long and still requires a fair amount of context.

    I am so sick and tired of idiots blathering on about (a) lazy selfish goddammed overpaid teachers or (b) without unions we'd all be working 752 days a week in sweatshops.

    I'm in a union, been down this road before, it sucked ass. I still have a love/hate relationship with unions. But unlike binary data, things in the real world are rarely black and white.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      First of all, WTF does this have to do with tech? This is one of the most inappropriate stories for a News for Nerds site.

      Because nerds have no interest in education or politics, right? This site has been about more than tech news for a long time.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:21AM (#41352299)

    Right. Back to those terrible days when high school graduates could actually read and write.

  • Sad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @10:23AM (#41352309)
    I live in Madison (where the last big teacher protest happened) and am relatively close to Chicago. So I'm getting to hear and see all the news/adds relating to this nonsense. The teachers are getting a HUGE raise, and are only protesting because the schools want to be able to hire "Who they want" when filling positions that were previously made open by a layoff. The union wants them to be forced to hire the teacher they laid off. That's just fucking stupid. We've got charter schools here, and parents are desperate to get their kids into them, but there's not enough room. Every parent I know has their kid on a waiting list for a charter school. Even the democrats. So I'm a bit confused who these teachers think they'll get on their side.
  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:35AM (#41352883)
    I'm from Wisconsin so after reading "The striking Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is holding a massive 'Wisconsin-style rally' Saturday as ongoing negotiations try to bring an end to the strike" I feel I should mention that teachers going on strike is illegal in Wisconsin. It's actually against the law.
  • by hduff (570443) <hoytduff AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday September 16, 2012 @12:14PM (#41353197) Homepage Journal

    Like teacher's unions?

    I'm fine with that.

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