The Chicago school board is currently battling a budget deficit that's almost touching $1 billion, and is currently embroiled in arduous contract talks with the Chicago Teachers Union after the district cancelled a scheduled 4 percent raise for teachers because of a lack of funding.
And now, after a city-imposed plan to lengthen the elementary school day by 90 minutes next year, the Chicago Teachers Union has asked for a huge 30 percent pay rise for teachers over the next two years in the recent round of collective bargaining negotiations.
Most school districts around the state and nation have been granting raises in the 1-2 percent range, if they grant them at all. In thousands of districts teachers have accepted pay freezes to help save enough money to meet student needs, writes Public School Spending.
However, the union is at risk of alienating the public as the average salaries of teachers is not just competitive, but favorable. According to the recent Education Action Group documentary, "A Tale of Two Missions," the average salary for Chicago teachers is already $74,000 — which is roughly $25,000 more than the median household income of all Chicago residents.
Public School Spending sums up the problem with the union's demand:
"If the school board agreed to grant the 30 percent raise, there would be even fewer resources left to spend on students."
The school budget is already at emergency status, putting young teachers and student programs at risk of being cut.
"Schools exist first and foremost for the children of the community. In tough times, their needs must be met before any adult employee should get any type of salary increase.
"Like spoiled children, the union leaders want what they want, and they want it now. And they don't care if they have to step on children to get it."
Kyle Olson, CEO of Education Action Group, said:
"If Karen Lewis and the CTU were committed to the education of the children of Chicago, they would cooperate with efforts to control costs and save as much money as possible to spend on students during the current economic downturn.
"But as we've seen so many times before, teachers unions exist only for the benefit of adults, not students. While everyone else is working to help solve the school district's budget crisis, Lewis and the CTU are trying to make it much worse."