Chicago Teachers strike for More Compensation and Less Accountability

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 15th, 2012

Week in Review

The Chicago teachers went on strike.  And you can boil down what they want into 5 things.  With teacher evaluations and compensation probably being the most contentious (see Chicago Teachers Go on Strike: 5 Things They’re Fighting For by Madison Gray posted 9/10/2012 on Time NewsFeed).

Teachers are striking over an evaluation that union leaders say is not fair. The teachers union is seeking to downplay the weight of how well students perform in the outcome of their biennial evaluations. The evaluation system, CPS says, was created in collaboration with teachers and agreed upon in March…

Teachers wanted a significant raise in the first year of a new contract because of a longer school day proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. CPS says it offered them a 16% increase over four years, plus “step increases” for performance and to give incentives for more experienced teachers. The teachers themselves wanted to keep the former system of granting raises based on experience. The average salary for a Chicago public school teacher is $76,000, according to the district.

That average salary excludes health care and pension benefits.  According to Heritage, that comes to about 51% of their salary.  Or an additional $38,760 in compensation.  So the average Chicago teacher compensation is about $114,760.  Which appears pretty generous.  Especially when considering the median household income in Chicago is $46,350.  And the ‘pension’ added on top of that is typically 4% in 401(k) contributions adding another $1,854 in compensation.  While retirees have to wait until they’re 65 or so to live on their 40(k) savings it’s not quite the same for the Chicago teacher (see Chicago Teachers’ Retirement Benefits Are Extravagant by Jason Richwine posted 9/13/2012 on The Foundry).

A Chicago teacher who retired in 2011 after 30 or more years of service time could expect an annual pension payment of $77,496. For context, the average Social Security benefit—which requires a much higher employee contribution into the system—would likely be in the range of $25,000 to $30,000 per year for a worker with a similar salary history…

Chicago teachers also enjoy a benefit that is rare in the private sector—retiree health coverage, which allows teachers who retire (often in their 50s) to maintain their health insurance until Medicare kicks in at 65.

And, of course, this generous compensation comes with having their summers off.  With holidays and breaks a teacher only works about 9 months out of the year.  Doing the math that’s 8 hours a day for 5 days a week for 9 months comes to about 1,548 working hours.  Which is less than the definition of a part-time job of 30 hours a week or less.  Running these numbers the maximum number of hours a part-time worker can work before we consider them a full-time worker is 1,560 hours.  Or about 12 hours more than a teacher works in a year.  So current teacher pay and benefits are pretty generous for a part-time job.  There are many people working full time that don’t get anywhere near these kind of numbers.

For this kind of money you’d think that the Chicago Public School system is producing some of the best high school graduates in the nation.  But with a graduation rate of 40% that can’t be true.  So the people of Chicago are paying about the highest cost in public school education to see 60% of their children drop out of high school.  Perhaps this is the reason why they want to drop teacher evaluations.  For I know if I was only 40% good in my job I wouldn’t have a job any more.  Which would really smart for these teachers.  For they will find no part-time jobs that compensate as generously as their teaching jobs.  Which clearly answers the question why teachers have to purchase teaching supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets.  For the teachers don’t leave much money in the district to pay for things like teaching supplies.

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