The average salary for these people is $76,000/year, with Cadillac benefits, the impossibility of ever being fired, and four months of paid vacation.
They struck because they felt a 16% pay raise was not enough.
One of my exes, Jason, is a public school teacher here in Chicago. He teaches French and has been at it a few years now; he makes around $55,000 if I remember correctly. Probably more since that’s what he was earning when we were together and it’s been a few years.
This summer, Jason went on a weeklong trip to NYC, then to Hawaii for three weeks, and after that a Disney cruise somewhere in the Caribbean. Jason is not hurting for cash and enjoys having the entire summer off to do whatever he wants…along with a long winter break and a spring break too. The reason Jason became a public school teacher was because of the high salary, the amount of vacation time, and because the unions make it impossible to ever get fired.
According to Jason, he also doesn’t have to put all that many years in before he qualifies for a pension…where he will be paid his salary for the rest of his life, many years after he’s stopped teaching. He could conceivably retire and collect his full salary from the state of Illinois for another 30 years. I think they even continue to get raises with their pensions.
I’d love you to chime in on this, but I think we’re approaching (or have reached) a point where the American public is going to revolt against the public employee unions.
YOUR taxes are going to fund all the perks the public school teachers receive. Can we really afford all this…and better question: do these people really deserve all this?
I’ve had a few occasions to tour public schools here in Chicago. One project I worked on was to administer a survey on vegetables to middle schoolers, where I was part of a team that went into a half dozen schools a few years ago with all sorts of vegetables to see which ones the students were familiar with. Most could identify carrots and lettuce and tomatoes (confused though they were on whether they were vegetables or fruits), but broccoli, celery, and even some kinds of potatoes were alien to them. These were middle schoolers who didn’t know that french fries (which they did recognize) were made from potatoes. Almost all of the kids we interviewed were horribly behaved and the schools all had giant pictures of Che Gueverra, Malcolm X, Yassir Arafat, and even Idi Amin on the walls. This was right after Obama won the presidency, so one of the schools had started painting a weird mural of Obama in the hallway surrounded by kids with dead eyes who were grabbing at the light that was glowing around him.
This was what tax dollars were spent on here in Chicago.
I asked if these schools we went to were for kids with disciplinary problems, but I was told these were “some of the better public schools here”.
Jason routinely told me how bad the students were in public school and how there was no real expectation that most of them would learn much or amount to anything in life. The focus was just on getting them trained enough to pass the “proficiency tests”. The way he described this made it sound more like obedience school where animals are taught to respond to certain sounds and then perform tricks. That’s what the Chicago Public Schools do: keep these kids warm and fed during the day and teach them how to do a few tricks for “proficiency test” time.
If I had a child there is no doubt in my mind that I would homeschool him or her. Almost all of my friends with kids homeschool, except ones who make enough to afford Catholic school.
I’m not one of those people who join the “support the teachers and give them what they want!” chorus. I think public school teachers are greedy and have no concept of how lucky they have things, especially in a Depression like we’re in now. Yes, it’s unpleasant to deal with horribly behaved and often violent “students” all day…but $76,000 a year and four months of paid vacation sure seems to make up for whatever angst these kids cause them. In this Obamaconomy the job security of being a teacher and never having to worry about being fired should be prize enough for these people.
The only upside of having Rahm Emanuel as Mayor here in Chicago has been our shared belief that this caustic man would one day put on a good show and crack some skulls in the job. I actually think Chicago needs a caustic person to get things done in the Mayor’s Office. Mayor Daly was wonderful at this, but was still a very nice guy who people would get excited to meet in person. Rahm is sickly-looking and downright creepy but he was promoted to Chicagoans as having a real temper and the ability to explode on people who caused problems in the city.
Now’s his chance to prove he’s every bit the powder keg he’s supposed to be.
When a union strikes, I’ve always wanted to see a Mayor fire all of the union workers and replace them immediately. I think this is because I grew up in the 80s and can vaguely remember Ronald Reagan doing this to the lazy and greedy air traffic controllers. I was too young to watch the news regularly, but one day I remember my grandmother having Ted Koppel on and her cheering…and she told me that Reagan had fired all of the strikers.
The unions and “striking” always seemed like Communism to me. From an early age, I loved seeing elected officials call the strikers’ bluffs and bust the unions wide open.
Do you think we’re at the tipping point where these old wives’ tales of “teachers not earning much” and “teachers having to buy their own supplies” won’t fool the public anymore? Because I have firsthand experience with Chicago teachers and these people are not buying school supplies with their own money…they are taking weeks’ long trips to Hawaii and having the times of their lives. They have better compensation packages than anyone else I can think of here in Chicago.
Do you think this time, in this economy, that people will finally notice how much better off the public sector union members are than the rest of us?
© 2012, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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