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Chicago Teachers On Strike

Teachers strike in Chicago puts reform, resistance, respect and big politics in the spotlight.

Public school teachers cheer as they march on streets surrounding the Chicago Public Schools district headquarters on the first day of strike action over teachers' contracts on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 in Chicago. For the first time in a quarter century, Chicago teachers walked out of the classroom Monday, taking a bitter contract dispute over evaluations and job security to the streets of the nation's third-largest city — and to a national audience — less than a week after most schools opened for fall. (AP

Public school teachers cheer as they march on streets surrounding the Chicago Public Schools district headquarters on the first day of strike action over teachers’ contracts on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 in Chicago. For the first time in a quarter century, Chicago teachers walked out of the classroom Monday, taking a bitter contract dispute over evaluations and job security to the streets of the nation’s third-largest city — and to a national audience — less than a week after most schools opened for fall. (AP)

The country’s got an education crisis, and Chicago’s got a teachers strike.  Talk about an epicenter.  The President’s hometown.  His former chief of staff, the Mayor – Rahm Emanuel.  His education secretary, Arne Duncan, Chicago’s former school boss, now pushing reform nationally.

Rahm Emanuel wants reform.  Chicago teachers want respect.  And air conditioning.  And more computers.  And textbooks that arrive on time.  Now it’s all boiled over, in the middle of a presidential campaign.

This hour, On Point:  the Chicago teachers’ strike, the nation’s education.

-Tom Ashbrook


Joel Hood, reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

Steven Greenhouse, the labor and workplace reporter for The New York Times.

Laura Washington, columnist with the Chicago Sun Times.

Timothy Knowles, director of the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute .

From Tom’s Reading List

Chicago Tribune “Talks between Chicago’s school board and the city’s striking teachers failed to produce an agreement Monday, leaving more than 350,000 children locked out of the classroom for a second day.”

New York Times “The high-stakes strike by 26,000 public school teachers in Chicago is only the latest episode in which the nation’s teachers’ unions have been thrown on the defensive in the face of demands for far-reaching changes.”

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  • Fiscally_Responsible

    I don’t hear any Democrats screaming about an anti-union mayor in Chicago, even though the negotiations have been based upon the hard economics that Chicago is broke.  Perhaps that is because he is one of Pres. Obama’s former staffers and of the politically correct political party.  I bet if he was a Republican like Scott Walker, the Democrats would be going viral and conducting very vitriolic protests.  I wonder if the mayor is going to “put them back in chains”?

    • Ray in VT

      I bet if Rahm Emmanuel was a Republican like Scott Walker the issue would have been previously settled by ending the teachers’ collective bargaining rights first and negotiating second.

      • Gregg Smith

        We know that Rahm is not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.“We stand with the children and we stand with the families and the parents of Chicago because education reform, that’s a bipartisan issue. This does not have to divide the two parties. And so, we were going to ask, where does President Obama stand? Does he stand with his former Chief of Staff Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with the children and the parents, or does he stand with the union? -Paul Ryan

        • Yar

          Greg, is this your statement or Paul Ryan’s?
          Why do you see everything in black and white?  Strong unions can make our country strong.  You want to pick a bad guy and attack.  It is not that simple.  Last year, 714 babies were born in Kentucky addicted to drugs.  Mostly to prescription pills.  These are drugs that are manufactured and sold legally in the US. Who is at fault, the mother, the doctor, the manufacturer of the drugs?  Who ends up with these problems?  What will these 714 babies do to classrooms across Kentucky over the next 18 years?  It is much easier to assign blame than it is to solve real problems. Teaching is a hard job, at Toyota they don’t expect the assembly line worker to build a car out of defective parts.  Show some respect for the job teachers do, yes they need a union, and they need strong communities.  Most likely, you (Paul Ryan, or Gregg Smith) didn’t send your kids to public school.  Maybe, that is the problem!

          • Gregg Smith

            It is Paul Ryan.

          • Yar

             You agree with him?

          • Gregg Smith

            I think it’s out of control. Chicago teachers make good money, they just turned down a 16% pay hike. Forgive my numbers because they’re off the top of my head but it’s close. 1 in every 100 or so Lawyers get disbarred for incompetence. It’s relatively the same with doctors. But only 1 in 2500 teachers get fired. Many are overpaid and all are  unaccountable. I am not saying teachers in general are over paid and many are saints. I don’t dispute that. But that’s not what’s happening here.

          • Yar

            It is funny that you compare teachers with doctors and lawyers and then go on to say that many are overpaid.  Teaching is harder than those professions and for a lot less money.  It takes a few years of residency to make a good teacher, only you don’t get big bump in pay once you get experience.  I doubt your numbers,  and there are plenty of doctors who have killed patients and lawyers who done a bad job still with a practice.  That isn’t the point.  I hate fighting Brown Vs Board of education all over again. People will never fully fund the education of other people’s kids.  That is the result charter, private parochial and other than public education creates.  What would happen if each teacher had 3 vouchers to give to students in their class that they felt would be better served in a different educational setting?  I like the game of hearts, mainly because I can improve my hand.  What would happen if teachers had that ability?

          • BHA_in_Vermont

             Be careful what you ask for, the three students passed to you might be worse :)

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       There is a jump. Comparing Emmanuel saying it is a “strike of choice” to
      Walker ending collective bargaining for public employees?


  • Ray in VT

    This is not a comment directly on today’s topic, although it does touch on an aspect of education:  reading.  I would heartily suggest to On Point that you consider doing a show regarding the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week.  This year, it’s 30th, the week will be celebrated from September 30th-October 6th.

  • Yar

    I wish I was a labor organizer for the teachers, instead of marching the picket lines the teachers should set up classrooms, in the park, at the museum,  on the sidewalk, in the mall.  Show what teachers do, let children and parents come to class. Teachers should do what they know, teach. Use this time to build support for the profession of teaching.

    As a bottom line to end the strike, teachers should demand a duty free full hour lunch. It will be unpaid, but must also be without any supervision responsibilities. Teachers should be allowed to leave campus during their lunch. It is their time, no meetings, no responsibilities.  Return the job of teaching to a professional job, professionals get a hour long lunch break.  
    The Chicago school system just proved they can give teachers a lunch hour, because they currently have schools open now without teachers.  They are using cafeteria workers and custodial staff to supervise students.(Administrative staff can help as well.)  They want to extend the school day, fine, teachers can give them an hour but don’t expect teachers to do it without a lunch hour.  A lunch hour will do more for public school than any pay bonus or other incentives they can come up with.  This will become the model for the rest of the country. Teachers, what do you think?

    • Gary Trees

      Yes…Lunch…that will solve everything.

      • Yar

        I sense your sarcasm, but it might solve more than you think. If teachers could go eat at the local bodega, they might share their difficulties with a more experienced teacher. They have time to process how they are going to face the rest of the day and maybe even tomorrow. Time to reflect is worth more than you know. Why do professionals take a long lunch? They use it to build power. Why don’t they give teachers or prisoners much time to eat? The same reason, they will use it to build power. The bodega owner might even be more supportive of teachers when he sees them as his customers each day.

  • Gregg Smith

    I say fire all the teachers and bust the union.

    • Ray in VT

      Yes, then Chicago can join the race to the bottom.


      So, if you do that, then how exactly does that help the Chicago school kids this year, and next year, and the year after?  If you think that education is expensive, then try ignorance.  I believe in some reforms, but I believe in working with the teachers, not strong arming them, and I think that relying an student performance on standardized tests to measure teacher effectiveness is iffy at best.

      • Gregg Smith

        You hire new teachers (there are plenty).

        • Ray in VT

          Maybe Chicago could lure some in, seeing as how states have been laying off thousands these past few years.

          There’s always the young ones. There are plenty of kids right out of school.  Yeah, they don’t have any experience, but they’ll pick up some best practices and such after a few years.

          If that’s not good enough, then the parents could just move.

          • BHA_in_Vermont

             “If that’s not good enough, then the parents could just move.”

            You are kidding, right? The people LEAST able to “just move” are the low income people. Not making enough at the current job, no money to move somewhere to a non existent job.

          • Ray in VT

            No, that was a jab at Gregg, as he seems to often put out sentiments like “your job sucks, well just get a new one/pack up and move”.  I would much rather improve the system than merely try to hop over a town line or something to get my kids into another school.  Having said that, though, I think that my children’s school is doing a pretty good job, and I think that it’s pretty comparable with neighboring towns, although my wife would like to send the kids to the Essex schools where she in part went.

            I think that for many people the promise of school choice is a false one, as that choice is highly limited by geography and availability of transportation.  My town had choice when I was growing up, because we didn’t have a high school, but my only real option was the school 8 or so miles away because my parents wouldn’t have been able to get me to any of the other regional options.

          • Gregg Smith

            I never said what you quoted me as saying. And I’m not being flip. Fire the teachers.

          • Ray in VT

            I can recall a number of times when you have suggested just such a thing.  The one time that I can remember specifically was during the show on exploited labor on July 10th, when they were discussing the allegations being made at some of the shrimp factories in Louisiana when you said:

            “I wouldn’t work at a place like the fish factory, they should quit.”

            Do you dispute that?  Now, without going back through months of comments to find other examples, which I do not have the time to do, I will leave it at that.

            Now, I am also not suggesting that you are being flip with your suggestion.  You very well may be quite honest about holding that opinion.  I just think that that position is both unrealistic and would ultimately be worse than unproductive.

          • Gregg Smith

            I dispute your projection and restating my comment which was making the point you are free to work where you want unless you are illegal. That topic was about illegals who were trapped in bad jobs because of their status. It was a different dynamic entirely with no relation to the Chicago strike.

          • Ray in VT

            I will grant you that the two topics are dissimilar, although the discussion regarding the shrimp workers explicity stated that they were largely foreign workers who were here on legal visas.

            I will, however, stand by the comment that I was making (in a joking manner I must add) regarding what seems, at least to me, to be a somewhat flippant stance that you sometimes take regarding the problems that either callers or posters present.  Like, and again I am roughly paraphrasing, “it’s just a little drought, don’t worry about it” or, “hey I lost all my stuff in a fire, and I ended up fine”.  Stuff like that.  Also, as regards the fire that you have mentioned at least once, I’m sorry for your loss.  My house burned when I was an infant, and my mom and I were lucky to make it out alive.  We were fine in the end, but we lost most of our things, and we were very glad to have the support of our friends and our community.  Hopefully you had that as well.

            I can take your point that the sky isn’t falling, but there are a lot of people who are really hurting, and some of them have ended up in those situations through no fault of their own, and your comments sometimes strike me as callous.  That may certainly not be your intention, and I don’t think that it is, but text allows for no inflection and such.

      • Mouse_2012

        What you fail to realize “The race to the bottom” is what Republicans and or Blue Dog Democrats want. By allowing such it allows them to privatize school systems(among other government programs) in the name of saving X or Y or Z for itself. The worst things get the better it is for the Republicans it’s “the shock doctrine”. This also allows Republicans to give government tax dollars to religious schools and subsidies the children who alreadly go and pay.

    • jefe68

      Yeah that will work. Talk about bad management.
      Here’s an idea, try thinking a little before posting and using your brain instead of demonizing the teachers.
      do you really know what is going on in Chicago or are you just rehashing the regressive talking points you hear on Fox.

      Here in Boston the same thing is going on. The teachers are not on strike, yet, but the mayor has not been very forthcoming in negotiating in good faith and in that lies the rub of what’s going on in Chicago. For them to get to the point of striking means that things became pretty bad on the negotiating front on both sides.

      I suspect you don’t give a hoot, as this is just a one more show to throw some mud and make some right wing statements, such as “I say fire all the teachers and bust the union.” Which is were you are coming from, a place of intolerance and mendacity.

      • Gregg Smith

        You’re right, I hate teachers and hate little kids even more.

    • nlpnt

      Why not bust up the districts? Instead of a citywide system, have as many school districts as necessary for each to contain 3-5 elementary, 1-2 middle and one high school, all independent of each other, all controlled by parent-volunteer school boards and with NO, ZERO mayoral control. 

      Fold corporate-run charters back into the above system –  if you think teachers’ unions are a monster, the last thing you should want is to replace it with a school-industrial complex – and let smaller, one-off nonprofit charters exist but shut the door to new ones.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Missing from the reading list:

    Charter school lobbyists gave the mayor $12M (almost $10m more than the total of any candidate Emanuel faced).

    Then Emanuel announced his big education idea: A longer Chicago school day, which the teacher supported. (It was a short school day compared to all other big districts.)

    But that whole “ram it down their throats” thing? Emanual asked for 20 percent more work. And he had canceled a previously negotiated 4 percent cost-of-living raise, and said “teachers don’t care” wahwahwah.

    Just curious if I can get my mortgage relabeled as a public school teacher’s contract, so I can cancel it at will and wait for the mainstream media to cover “both sides of the story”.

    • Mouse_2012

      Are you saying that that Emanuel was paid by lobbyist to promote Charter schools?

      The guy is a hack(Obama hack in this case) but since he has a D instead of a R the DNC will trend lightly on this one.

  • StilllHere

    Bad teachers are not interested in accountability, the union is protecting them.

    16% raise over 4 years regardless of merit is not enough for them.  The average teacher makes $76K for 9 months of work.  

    The kids are suffering.

    Rahm is not running from a fight that Democrats should have had long ago.  Hopefully, he will be able to open more union-free charter schools.  

    Why is Obama silent? He doesn’t care about our kids!

    • jefe68

      You don’t care one iota for the “kids” of Chicago.
      This is just another chance to use any situation to forward your regressive ideology.

      • Mouse_2012


    • adks12020

      It isn’t the President’s place to take part in a city dispute.  He is the head of the executive branch of the federal government.

      Also, who are you to say that these are “bad teachers”.  I find it hard to believe that all the teachers on the picket lines are bad teachers. I’m sure many of them are excellent at their jobs.

    • stillin

      I have taught 19 years in NYS. which requires a master’s degree to teach ( 16,000 loan for that one) and I make about 30,000 after taxes. I am tired of hearing about teachers being bashed….come in and do it if you think it is such an overpaid, over entitled position. For real.

      • adks12020

        I’m curious where you work that you only make 30,000 after taxes in New York with 19 years of experience.  I live in upstate New York; my mother is a teacher and I have several friends that are teachers. Even the teachers with only a few years of experience make more than 30K after taxes. One of my friends had a starting salary of 39K a couple years ago right out of college and that was in a very rural district with very little money.  I grew up in a rural district and know for a fact that most teachers with near 20 years experience were earning $65k+…some, depending on the extracirriculars they were involved with earned up to $90-100K.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=591341408 Virginia Burnett

          wow!  Tell us what county you’re in, adks, it might be time for us to move!  stillin’s experience sounds right to me based on the salaries of some of our smaller districts here in St. Lawrence county.   It is a miracle that some of our districts have teachers at all.

          • adks12020

            Well the recent grad I was talking about was in Clinton County (not exactly full of rich folks).  Pretty sure it was Plattsburgh but it may have been the consolidated district up near Champlain..although I will give you that I’m 30 so that was prior to 2008…I think it as 2007; I’m sure that is different now. I grew up in Washington County (again…primarily rural) and not loaded with cash. Actually in my hometown I’d bet the wages of teachers with 15+ years experience are easily in the upper 25% of all people and it often causes furstration for a lot of taxpayers.  I don’t think there are any teachers in my hometown that earn under 40K after a year or two. My graduating class in 2000 was 85 people…now I think they are around 120…so a pretty small school.

            I live in Albany now and I know a couple of teachers that are younger than me and earn over 40K.  Obviously the tax base is much larger in Albany’s suburbs than up in St. Lawrence county though.

        • stillin

          I tried to write back and it won’t go…but here you go, I make 1300 every two weeks take home. I have taught 19 years in the NYS Public Schools. I don’t know where your friends teach and I won’t divulge information over internet if it has anything to do with work. Two teachers up here, northern NY, make 100,000. I can only tell you what I make and I say this because I am tired of hearing how much money teachers make. Maybe in other areas, not here. Maybe if they run 5 clubs, prom, yearbook etc. I only teach my content area as I find that is all I have the time for. I do not have any investments or money that goes for that. That’s it. Subject: [on-point] Re: Chicago Teachers On Strike

        • jefe68

          Take home pay of 30K is about 45K a year in salary before taxes and other deductions.
          Sounds about right to me. 65K is what senior teachers make and that’s after 20 years or more likely 25.

          39K after taxes and other deductions would be about 27K.

          The 90 to 100K is very rare in the teaching profession as most leave after 15 years.

          • Gregg Smith

            The average salary of Chicago teachers is $76K.

          • stillin

            People, be VERY CAREFUL about reading these “salary” numbers…often they include everything from dental to health insurance but the actual PAY is not 76,000. Most teaching positions start off very, very low and after say 20 years if you haven’t burnt out yet, you may make 50, tops. 

      • Brandstad

        You should have tought in Chicago! They get paid 75K on average + Benefits!

        • stillin

          I went to the Chicago Art Insititute ( which was CRAZY good ) for teachers one summer…my daughter’s best friend is from Chi town, maybe I’ll check it out…I am still teaching as I am STILLIN.
          Subject: [on-point] Re: Chicago Teachers On Strike

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Oh, and since this show won’t have an AEI hack on one side and a genuine Chicago teacher or union representative Clint Eastwood’s empty chair on the other side, it’s already shaping up as more informative than the morning news on NPR.

  • Coastghost

    We’ll see how “On Point” manages the discussion. NPR has dropped the ball twice in the past twenty-four hours already. On Monday’s “ATC” in the 4:00 pm ET hour, Audie Cornish failed to elicit from an editor of Education Week the salient fact that CPS has been operating with budget deficits worth hundreds of millions of (taxpaid) dollars for decades: in the early 1990s the CPS operated with a budget deficit of c. $250 million, today the CPS operates (?) with a budget deficit of some figure between $650 million and $700 million. Highly illustrative figures, but only when they are cited. NPR’s “Morning Edition” failed freshly again this morning to cite these alarming figures. From all other accounts (NPR can’t be trusted to report EVERYthing, after all), Springfield sits inside a moat deeeeeeeeep with red ink. Arne Duncan did such a swell job managing the CPS as CEO from 2001 to 2009, he was promoted to US Education Secretary (wonder what kinds of deficits he manages in his current position . . . .)

    • adks12020

      FYI- I’ve heard the deficit numbers cited several times in the past few days from a number of news outlets, including NPR.

      • Coastghost

        I’ve read them in online reports. I have not heard them cited yet in any NPR reporting, and I’ve been listening for them in top-of-hour newscasts, ATC, ME, et cetera. –Now Tom Ashbrook and WBUR producers get their chance!

  • Mouse_2012

    Good for them, standing up to the likes of Rahm Emanuel

  • Mouse_2012

    Odd Onpoint wouldn’t have on a representative for the Chicago teacher union.

    • adks12020

      Hopefully they are working on a solution to the dispute; I think that’s more important than taking the time to go on a radio show based in Boston.

      • Mouse_2012

        Hopefully your right. But if there noone representing the CTU on the show than you give rise for others to mischaracterize the dispute which itself could be unhelpful. This also would misinform the listeners as well

      • Mouse_2012

        Also Boston’s TU are having a dispute with the Mayor(2years running) so what’s happening in Chicago maybe a interest to both sides in the Boston dispute.

  • Mouse_2012

    Don’t worry with the guest line up your concern will be mention if not by the guest but by the callers. Most likely over and over again.

  • Mouse_2012

    Someone also addressed your concern on the ombudsman thread as well

  • hennorama

    For the sake of the students, let’s hope this strike gets resolved very soon.

    Completely off topic – while watching the replay of the Sept. 11th attacks and aftermath I get the same feeling in the pit of my stomach that I got 11 years ago.

    Here’s to all firefighters, police officers, EMTs, other first responders and all military service members and veterans.  And those amazingly brave civilians on United Flight 93, as well.

    • Mouse_2012

      I 2nd your comment about the first responders on 9/11

  • Brandstad

    Don’t worry, no Union would strike right now without knowing what they are doing.  What they are doing is playing the puppets and giving Obama a way to show leadership since we havn’t seen much yet in his presidency. 

    Obama will solve the problem and everyone will chear!

    • Mouse_2012

      twit twit twit

    • jefe68

      Except this is a local issue in which a president has no busniess in getting involved in.

      I wonder, speaking of schooling did you not get a good education? Or is your complete lack of being able to parse the issues at hand, on any given subject, the result of years of the calcification of the gray matter due to listening to right wing dogma.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CD4MCV6JTB2YKWFG76VMKSA4QI SharonG

    Please, please Tom!  THe nation does not have an education crisis!  It is a manufactured crisis to create a situation so that privatizers can step in andn “solve” the problem!   Yes, inner cities suffer from the lack of funds and all the problems that come with poverty – but the “solution” is not to close schools and put in charters.

  • Michiganjf

    The right has been demonizing teachers for three years now, when the stock market crash was the thing that put so many state pensions in jeopardy.

    Who, of value, will go into the teaching profession once the rabid right robs teaching of its last ounce of respect and decency?

    Who, of value, will teach America’s youth when the teaching profession finally pays little better than a Walmart job, with far more stress and headaches?

    Demonize teachers and you screw America’s youth!

    Yes, this particular battle is being engaged by Rahm Emanuel, but it’s been the right which has brought teaching down to its lowest point in American history.

    Great job, Republicans!

    • http://twitter.com/TongoRad TongoRad

      False narrative. Corporate education “reform” has been a bi-partisan affair from the get-go. Obama’s “Race To The Top” is known by teachers as No Child Left Behind On Steroids.

  • Mouse_2012

    The Times calls it “a dispute over wages, job security and teacher evaluations.” That isn’t false, but that framing makes it seem like teachers are looking to protect a narrow set of interests. If you read the union’s side of the story, you know they are stressing a different set of issues–from class size to charter expansion to enhanced social services in the schools.


    When it’s time to talk specifics, the Times goes right to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office:
    Late Sunday, Mr. Emanuel told reporters that school district officials had presented a strong offer to the union, including what some officials described as what would amount to a 16 percent raise for many teachers over four years–and that only two minor issues remained. “This is totally unnecessary, it’s avoidable and our kids do not deserve this,” Mr. Emanuel said, describing the decision as “a strike of choice.” Well, that could be his offer, according to “some officials”–and maybe it would “amount to” such a raise for “many teachers.” Or it could be something else. Some union officials claim Emanuel canceled a previously negotiated pay increase. In any event, part of Emanuel’s plan is to lengthen the school day by 20 percent; does this mean that teachers are being asked to work longer for less money?

  • Mouse_2012

    The Times goes on:
    Negotiations have taken place behind closed doors since November, concerning wages and benefits, whether laid-off teachers should be considered for new openings, extra pay for those with more experience and higher degrees, and evaluations. District officials said the teachers’ average pay is $76,000 a year.
    When you see references to “evaluations,” you should know this is about tying teacher evaluations–and hence a teacher’s job–to student performance on tests. There is considerable controversy over the validity of various testing/evaluation schemes.
    And does that salary figure represent a teacher’s wages, or salary plus benefits like health care and retirement? I haven’t a clue, but a CBS reporter a href=”http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/06/12/how-much-do-chicago-public-school-teachers-make/”>found that the union pegs the average salary at about $5,000 less than what the school district claims.

  • Yar

    Tom, the 16 percent raise could be a decoy.  If teachers can be fired for no reason, what’s to keep the board from firing all the expensive teachers and replacing them with new hires?  I would reject that offer as would you.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Elementary, my dear Yar!

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    Based on the discussion that just took place on the program (average teachers’ salaries of $70+K per year, Mayor Daley giving into the unions to get labor peace), that the union has far too much power.  Time to crack down on the union dogs.

    • Shag_Wevera

      There is my third prediction.  Teachers are lazy and overpaid:  CHECK! 

      All three predictions met, and I haven’t even made it half way through the comment section.

      Conservative views are selfish bordering on evil.

    • jefe68

      How nice and civil. I think the Mitt Romney’s of the world have to much power and we should stop the corporatization of our nation.

  • Mouse_2012

    It’s the goal of Republicans to demonize teachers and allow(force) the public school system to fail. It’s the only way they can get enough people on board to privatize the school system.

    • TinaWrites

      And I fear that many of those privatized schools will become privatized school systems, like corporate franchises, and that their purpose will be to propagandize rather than to educate curious minds.  

    • jefe68

      That’s their goal for everything except the military.
      If you look at the Ryan budget plan, which Mitt Romney has endorsed, then he’s not endorsed, then he has…
      Anyway if you look into the way Ryan has cleverly written this document it’s clear that education funding will be all but a thing of the past as will almost everything else from food inspection to air traffic control. 

      There is a good reason that the Romney/Ryan team is not being so forthright on the details of their budget plans.
      Because if the American people knew the reality of it they would send these two packing.

    • Steve__T

      The Dem are at the root of this problem. Mainly because Big Money wants to take over and they’ll let them.

    • http://twitter.com/TongoRad TongoRad

      If you think the Democrats are opposed to school privatization, you are sadly mistaken.

  • Jason Vicente

    I’ve been married to two teachers (one, Susan, who died in 2008). My sister, a Dartmouth grad, also teaches in public school. Susan had taught in Elmsford, NY for 15 years when we moved to Connecticut. She sought work locally to find out that the school districts preferred hiring teachers just out of school because they could pay them less.  She was told “Why should I pay you $60,000 a year when I can pay a new graduate $30,000 to do the same job?” This indicates to me that experience and a proven track record means little to nothing in this country. Public school systems want the cheapest, not the best, teachers tax dollars can buy. Neither my current wife nor my sister would encourage children to aspire to teach in this country. They feel the profession is much maligned and disrespected not to mentioned poorly compensated compared to other professions.  Is it any wonder that our education system is amongst the worst of the industrial nations?

    • Steve_the_Repoman

      If you are willing to relocate to the Middle East or China there are many well paying teaching opportunities.

      An adventure of several years can pay for a decade in the US.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       ” Public school systems want the cheapest, not the best, teachers tax dollars can buy.”

      You “answered” your comment with the end of this statement. No one wants to pay taxes, certainly not more than they are paying now.  The only way they can get a decent student/teacher ratio is to have cheap (as you point out, new) teachers.

      The salary is only part of it. There is the rest of their compensation. I’m sure it is different all over the place but you have health insurance, retirement, etc. One certainly needs to look at those as well. And see how they compare to the local private sector jobs. Are the teachers paying as much of their health insurance as “private sector job” workers? Is their retirement plan better / worse?

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    16% salary increase over 4 years sounds amazing!

    I checked the Chicago Public School website. Not being from Chicago, I was surprised to find that the VAST majority of students are non white:
    African-American: 41.6%

    Latino: 44.1%
    White: 8.8%

    Asian/Pacific Islander: 3.4%

    Native American: 0.4%

    I’ve only been to Chicago once (3 years ago) but I don’t recall
    noticing such a large majority of “ethnic minority” people on the street. Am I just blind?


    Students from low-income families: 87%

    Wow, that has to be some tough situation.

    • TinaWrites

      This is why Tavis Smiley and Cornel West have been so upset with President Obama.  They want him to have a major initiative towards eliminating poverty.  I cannot stand what I hear inside my own head if I try to imagine what the Ayn Randians say about this situation.  

    • hennorama

      The racial/ethnic makeup of the Chicago PSD shouldn’t be surprising, as it is similar to the largest public school systems nationwide.  68 of the 100 largest public school districts, and 23 of the largest 25, have a majority of non-white students.  On average, these 100 schools have over 70% non-white students.

      On average, over 50% of students in these 100 public school districts are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (which is a typical measure of “low-income families”).

      As you said, a tough situation.

  • William

    The high dropout rate would have to reflect on the parents rather than the teachers. 

    • Ray in VT

      I think that that is definitely a part of it.  If a student isn’t being taught at home to value education, and they aren’t being compelled by their parents follow through on their school work, then it is going to be vastly harder for any teacher to achieve good outcomes for that student.

      • BHA_in_Vermont

         Agreed but not every parent is in a position to recognize this or do anything about it. I am convinced that one of the reasons more well off kids do better in school is because:
        Their parents very likely have college degrees.

        Not only does this usually generate an easier life, it means they value education AND can help their kids. How well does a kid struggling with Algebra do if the parent can only do
        basic math? There is only so much “teacher time” and there may or may
        not be tutors available, free or otherwise. A paid tutor is likely
        out of the budget for the 87% of low income students in the Chicago
        Public school system.

        Lots of single parent families. Lots of people working 2 or 3 part time jobs just to eat. They can’t necessarily be around all evening pushing the kids to do home work. They might not be around or ABLE to help them with their homework. The kids might be working more hours at a part time job than ‘the average’ high school kid. And they might be doing it so they can have clothes. Not the “next fad that mom and dad won’t buy” clothes but clothes their parent(s) can’t afford to buy.

        • Steve__T

          You make very creditable points. I base my thoughts on my own single parent, the things that I have experienced is the change of education on a whole. My mother was a country girl who walked 3 miles to school, and did home chores and homework from school, and got her high school diploma. That would be equivalent in today’s terms as a 2nd year of collage. She taught me to read write do math, Iron my own clothes, sew them, and cook when she couldn’t, and I still had to do my homework. Last I looked we all have 24 hrs in a day it’s what you do with it that makes a difference. We have to hold parents accountable for their children if not Who?

          Surely not someone who is with them  and 35 others for a limited time.

    • J__o__h__n

      Parents of dropouts should lose their tax credit for that child. 

      • Call_Me_Missouri

        And their ability to keep them on their insurance.

        • http://profiles.google.com/utahowl June Taylor

          Since a huge percentage of dropouts are children from parents who (a) have no health insurance and (b) have very low incomes…just how effective would your incentives be, J_o_h_n and Call_Me_Missouri?

    • Steve__T

       We don’t agree on much but that statement hit the ball out of the park. In most cases it’s the parents expecting some one else to take care of what they have not done at home.

    • Call_Me_Missouri

      It needs to reflect on several things the Parents definitely being a big part of it.  Essentially uneducated single moms who teach their daughters that if you don’t have a Man or a Baby that you’re worthless, are probably not going to be helping their daughters with algebra, chemistry, biology, history, or English homework.  There is no doubt about that.

      But to suggest that the School Systems, that in their attempt to be accommodating to parents, have become undisciplined and distracting environments to teach in, is not also a part of the problem would be wrong.  

      And to suggest that there aren’t bad teachers out there would also be wrong.

      It’s a complex problem…  There’s a whole lot of responsibility to spread around.

  • Call_Me_Missouri

    As liberal as I am…  I don’t think there is any room for unions and collective bargaining when your employer is the tax payer.

    I think public sector workers should have to live in the same world as the tax payer they serve so they can understand how the real world operates.

    I think the Mayor should have the right to extend the school day without negotiating with them about it.  $70,000 for 3/4ths of a year of work is a terrific salary, and asking them to work for the money is asking them to do what the people who pay their salaries do.

    • http://www.facebook.com/stewsburntmonkey David Stewart

      Why do you think being in a union means you don’t live in the real world?  I dare say teachers live much more in the world than most others do.

      You say the public sector works should have to live in the same world as the tax payers, they do.  You are asking that they be disallowed from unionizing, which is something that private sector workers may do.
      You would be fine with your boss deciding that despite your contract, you have to work many more hours a week?

      You suggest, wrongly that teachers only work 3/4 of a year.  Most teachers put in far more than the 2,000 hours of a typical work year.  I think it is also pretty appalling to suggest teachers don’t currently work for their wages.

      • BHA_in_Vermont

         “Most teachers put in far more than the 2,000 hours of a typical work year.”

        I know my mother did and she taught 1st and 2nd grade. Not exactly the “lots of homework to grade every night” grades.

        There are those teachers that pull out the same old stuff year after year. Recycle the same old tests every other session (easy “A” there for anyone who has that figured out). And there are those that prepare every year as if it were their first.

    • http://profiles.google.com/utahowl June Taylor

      If teaching is such a terrific job, why do over half of new teachers quit within 4 years of first hire?  Could it be that it’s really a quite difficult job?  Right now we have a corporate-reform type in charge of a school district in Salt Lake County, and he’s doing his best to intimidate out experienced teachers.  Because they get paid more? Because he can boss less experienced teachers more easily? since I know some of these experienced teachers, I can testify that some are quite good. This “Reform Movement” is ill-conceived and there is enough evidence now to demonstrate that 1)Private charter schools do no better on average than their neighboring public schools; (2) All schools, under the Reform Paradigm, are being pushed into getting rid of difficult and special-ed students; (3) the Reform Movement is not bringing Curriculum Standards to schools – only Teacher-evaluation standards; and (4) the teacher-evaluation test movement has zero validation – and if you don’t validate a test, you have no right to expect it will measure what you want to measure.

  • Call_Me_Missouri

    Unions are suffering credibility issues because they routinely protect bad employees that should be fired.  To make matters worse employers, especially government employers, refuse to fight with the Unions when they should insist on firing bad employees which leaves everyone stuck with bad employees that get shuffled around and around and around, but they never go away and everyone wishes they would leave.  

    If Unions were more discriminant about the employees they protect from being fired they would do themselves a big service when it comes to credibility.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       I agree. My step-father was the “shop-steward” for his local at the Post Office. One guy SHOULD have been fired, more than once, and my step-father agreed. He would have loved to see this guy gone. But his job was to protect the job of all union employees no matter how much they deserved to see the outside of the door.

      Now this WAS 35 years ago and maybe the P.O. union has changed. I hope so. No one who’s behavior suggests they should be fired should be kept on if a valid inquiry finds otherwise. 

      The original purpose of unions was to protect the workers from unscrupulous employers. It evolved into an “US vs THEM” where both sides try to get the better of the other.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Prediction of someone saying we don’t need unions anymore:  CHECK!

      • Call_Me_Missouri

        I didn’t say we don’t need unions.

        I said Unions need to stop defending incompetents in order to retain their credibility.

        • Shag_Wevera

          I’ll settle for “unions are bad”.

    • hennorama

      Problem employees exist in all organizations, and not all organizations act quickly in getting rid of them.

      In the case of public teachers’ unions, these dismissal procedures need to comply with various Federal, state and local laws, in order to protect various rights of teachers.  Teachers in every state must be certified by the state, and this certification can be revoked for cause, often so-called “just” cause.

      Most states grant tenure to public school teachers after a set probationary period.  Grant of tenure may be automatic, or may require local school board action.  Tenure provides significant protections to the teacher, such as automatic contract renewal and dismissal only “for cause”.

      Tenure adds a level of complexity to the ability of public school districts to dismiss problem teachers.  Union contracts may contain additional protections, but your argument in this case would mostly be about tenure.

      • Call_Me_Missouri

        Problem employees PERSIST in union shops in ways that employees in non-union shops cannot.  I’m just saying that people who were on the verge of being fired with plenty of cause were not let go of because the union stepped in and no one wants to argue with their union over one person.  They would rather suffer with that person, pass them around to torture other departments then go to court to get rid of them, which is about what it takes.

        I also do not support Tenure.  No one should have that kind of Job Security.

        • hennorama

          You may be right that problem employees persist in “union shops.”  I don’t know.
          Since this topic was about a public school system, I limited the scope of my comments to public teacher unions and public school teachers.
          One important point – and what I think is a common misconception about tenure in this discussion – tenure for K-12 teachers does not guarantee that they cannot be dismissed, but rather that they can only be dismissed “for cause.”
          This differs significantly from academic tenure in higher education, which is a virtual lifetime guarantee against dismissal for senior academics.  This protection evolved in order to encourage academic freedom and is somewhat similar to the concept of judicial lifetime appointments.

        • http://twitter.com/TongoRad TongoRad

          You are confused about tenure. In the public school, primary-secondary context, it does not mean “job security” but due process.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Accountability to standardized metrics with non-standardized, uncontrollable students and ever increasingly more disengaged parents is insane. Consider the a case of two unique classes of students. One filled with fast track highly motivated students, the other with aspiring anarchists. Give them to the same teacher and what will the results be?

    Now how do you compare the results of a teacher assigned the most difficult collection of students in an inner city school with the results of a teacher in a school in an affluent area far from the center of economic devastation? Not only does the later teacher have much better odds, every hour of every day that teacher is in a far more inspiring and motivating atmosphere.

  • Coastghost

    So education “professionals” can devise measurement and assessment for students: BUT NO ONE ON EARTH can devise a credible measurement and assessment device for educators? Bring me more strings for my violin, please, these are already past frayed!

    • Shag_Wevera

      Prediction of evaluating teachers by performance of negleted children:  CHECK!

      • Coastghost

        You are not “reading”, you are “reading into” (are YOU a public school graduate?): my comment decries the lack of ANY common standards for evaluating teacher performance. As a former public school teacher, I know that standards exist, yet they are commonly not applied, and student performance is not the single criterion I would ever cite or have ever cited. Teacher certification occurs commonly, I have seen, for candidates who are themselves often poorly educated, yet state departments of education certify all manner and number of ill-prepared, ill-educated teachers year in year out, decade upon decade. Chicago seems to have its share, too, if 99% get sterling assessments, per Mr. Knowles.

        • Shag_Wevera

          Yes, I’m a public school graduate.  What you describe with your response happens in many fields.   

  • TinaWrites

    Virtually no one has made a big enough point regarding how much the Digital Revolution has cost, including how expensive it is to get and upgrade computer equipment within the schools.  I assume that a lot of money that would have gone to the teachers  and all other educational needs now goes to trying to keep up with all the advances in the digital world; yet, even there, schools are probably woefully behind. 

    That said, the rest is easy to think about:  we spend far too much money on the military, and too much of that is for the armaments dealers who make fortunes and have political power.  We need the federal government to protect its own citizens by empowering them to empower themselves thru spending on education at all levels and in all subjects.  We need schools filled with the tools of learning including upgraded computer equipment; fantastic music and art, dance, and theater; literature, science, math, technology; and probably two full teachers in each classroom in addition to the teachers aides who are already there.  The school year needs to be about one month longer for all students, but schools need to be open in the summer for students who need to catch up or who want to learn more.  There needs to be full-day kindergarten, and day care could be provided within the school buildings, starting at very early ages.

    All this is possible if we stop spending money on an inflated military.  Our young people in the military could be defending our country by being trained to be teachers aides or start their full teacher training within the military.  Others in the military could use their skills to help upgrade our own school infrastructures.  Rebuild inner city schools in America!

    The testing mania is obscene, unimaginative, and a wasteful use of the school years.  And, sadly, the inclusion of the scores of the kids with disabilities in the total schoolwide scores is unrealistic.  I understand how it looked like the kids would be truly included, but the varied and many disabilities represented mean that the total score is skewed by the inclusion of these scores.  The kids needing resources should be included in all other matters; their scores just should not be included in with the total.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dennis-Kerr/100000416431738 Dennis Kerr

    I am less concerned for the teachers than for the children.

    And, the teachers are correct.

    The “reform movement” is creating a huge problem that will have to also be reformed later:

    Evaluating teachers by test scores does not REALLY harm the teachers that much – even though it does harm – but the real damage is to the children.

    It reduces the child to a statistic.

    And, as a metaphor, it reduces a child to a pre-existing condition.  And that means like an insurance company risks paying an unfair price for a pre-existing health condition, a teacher will pay an unfair price for the pre-existing educational condition.

    If a teacher can’t follow her heart, and reach out to children who are difficult to teach, without throwing her career away, then you can’t call the reform movement anything, but evil.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Summing it up, the beatings will continue until moral improves. You get what you pay for. This is a broken system screaming for repair.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dennis-Kerr/100000416431738 Dennis Kerr

       Unions so far are on the correct side of children on almost every count.

      Unions want smaller class sizes for ALL children, not just rich neighborhoods.  The “reform movement” wants flexibility to have whatever size they want within their lower budget.

      Unions want due process to protect the good teachers and get rid of the bad teachers.  The “reform movement” wants to have an ARBITRARY measurement and turn a difficult child into a pre-exisiting condition to be avoided.

      Unions want respect from the system, and that translates into more respect from the students.  You can’t tell me there is not any natural variation of teacher skill in Japan, Korea, and Finland. 

      Unions want living wages.  If we make teachers take a vow of poverty just because they work for the tax-payer, I don’t know how to argue that it really helps that tax-payer’s community.

      Unions want safe and comfortable buildings.  The reform movement wants “flexibility” to cheat on things like air-conditioning and asbestos removal.

      In our time, the reform movement is the exact thing that needs to be reformed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dennis-Kerr/100000416431738 Dennis Kerr

    Unions don’t protect bad teachers.  They protect due process.  You and I live in right to work states.  I have suffered from jealous supervisors and co-workers, and I have been treated unfairly.  You can’t tell me that you have not seen others being treated poorly in missouri the same way.

  • Call_Me_Missouri


    You may think that Chicago has more problems than iPhones in school but do not think that the 100 distractions don’t effect the work environment of teachers and student performance.We need to go back to a much more discipline oriented school zone.  No more from-home electronic devices in school, no more eating or drinking in class, no more vending machines, no more work-study half days that takes away from learning time.  It’s time to get back to being in school to learn without distractions.

    The stuff these teachers put up with is ridiculous and unnecessary and parents shouldn’t allow their kids to be a part of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

    This is hilarious.  So if the Teacher’s Union thinks Rahm Emmanuel is bad, what do they expect from his competitors in the GOP?  It’s like a sheep choosing between the wolf and the lion.

    As a conservative, I am doing cartwheels laughing while checking out the back and forth between the two.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dennis-Kerr/100000416431738 Dennis Kerr

      Mr. Cogswell Jr,

      As you laugh, teachers AND students suffer from the “reform movement”.

      The reform movement is specifically harming children because they make it a career-killing prospect for a teacher to help poor and difficult to teach children.

      I don’t want to scapegoat anyone.  Ask your favorite politician to address this problem.

      Is it a conservative value to reduce a difficult child to pre-existing condition to be avoided?

      If not, then maybe the reform movement is making conservatives look like bad people.  I don’t think you want that to happen as a conservative.

      If a difficult child is born in a low property value neighborhood — I can’t explain how it helps that child to punish a teacher for that.

    • StilllHere

      There are no conservatives in Chicago, no GOP.
      This is a fight within the Democrat party.
      Old school union thugs versus reality-based ideologues. 

  • Coastghost

    So the answer is almost “no”: in this hour’s show, Laura Washington made one passing reference to the CPS operating deficit (she cited an overall figure of modest billions, if I heard her correctly). (I take it these are ANNUAL operating deficits? And these are operating deficits that have been maintained at one level or higher for over twenty years!) –And Springfield is already broke. –And Chicago doesn’t have cash to spare. –And the schools are not just “inefficient”, they’re almost totally dysfunctional! Yet the CPS is worth keeping afloat with a present operating deficit of c. $700 million (or more, to quote Ms. Washington)? Where does credibility find a place to stand in such a circumstance?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dennis-Kerr/100000416431738 Dennis Kerr

        I think you have identified the main problem.  Conservatives can compromise only on emergency situations like CPS.  If a difficult child is born in a low-property-value neighborhood, they can’t get any concern until it is an emergency.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=591341408 Virginia Burnett

    2 things:  Graduation rates are deceptive:  In NYS you are not counted as a graduate from your school for statistical purposes if you do not graduate with your “cohort.”  If you graduate early or take an extra year, your success does not count for your school because you did not graduate “on time”  A 60% rate does not mean that 40 % of kids are not graduating at all – it might mean that some graduate early and probably means that many need extra time and support to reach that graduation goal.

    Evaluations:  NYS’s new evaluation structures are going to be a nightmare.  I’m sure Chicago’s teacher’s want to avoid that.  

    For instance:  My husband is a teacher in an 8-1-1 program for grades 9-12 in upstate NY where most of his students are mainstreamed.  He provides remedial support for all core curriculum for all 4 grades and occasional crisis management but does very little original content presentation with his students.  Under this year’s new evaluation  structure, his evaluation will be strongly based on his students’ test scores on material that he did not present to them.  However, these students will not count toward the presenting teachers’ evaluations.  This sort of evaluation system will not really measure how effective he is with his students because they don’t allow districts to fully account for learning disabilities.  (ie: they do not measure the progress of a student over time – they just take a snapshot of student test scores at one moment.  A teacher can literally work miracles in his or her classroom in a year but still have at-risk students who come in far below the national average on a standardized test.  Instead of being recognized with the student for achievement, they are penalized for having a classroom that includes disabled students.

    Chicago teachers should continue to fight this trend in their area.  I’m behind them 100%.  They know all about the realities in their students’ lives and they know what they need to help their students be successful.  

  • duffdance

    I have taught dancing at my own studio & in public schools for over 30 years. Blaming teachers for students’ failures is like blaming farmers for a drought. A culture of non-learners has taken hold. Children want to get a prize or trophy for every activity. Nowadays, parents send their children to classes & tell them to “have fun”. They do not tell them to behave, listen to the teacher or work hard. What students of 30 years ago learned in one month now takes 2&1/2 months. What makes a student successful is good attendance & parents who listen to their child’s complaints but tell them to work hard regardless of whether they “like” the teacher or what other kids in class are doing. We all have to stop telling kids they are “awesome” for doing things that in the past would simply have been expected.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dennis-Kerr/100000416431738 Dennis Kerr

       Shhh…. that metaphor is to be avoided.  Blaming farmers for the drought is right up the alley of those who deny that pollution causes problems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharon.oneill.963871 Sharon O’Neill

    Please be aware: When teachers are
    evaluated by test scores one problem is that the scores attributed to them are usually from the year before.

    How can we “weed out” the less adequate teachers if the
    assessments are inaccurate????

    So,  In the first place, change the evaluation
    system so that teachers are only expected to improve the students put in front
    of them each year!  In the second place, isn’t
    it possible that the reform movement’s
    read goal is to build a base line in order to change Education into a lucrative new source of industry?

    Diane Ravitch may be right when she says that the reform movement
    which Rahm Emanuel & education secretary, Arne Duncan, are espousing
    for the nation is actually just the pavement on  the road to the Corporatization of American Education.

    I am writing from the Providence, RI. The city whose Mayor fired 2,000 teachers
    without cause.  The city which closed 6
    schools; including the only middle school in the city which made AYP, despite
    the eventually dissent of the all appointed Board of Ed.  (The president later quit in protest to the
    Mayors Power-mongering.) The city which spent tens of millions of dollars
    refurbishing other schools sometimes just to appease wealthy parents who wanted
     to create & control an alternative
    to expensive private schools.

    Additionally, RI qualified for Race to
    the Top only to find out that NOT ONE Penny can be used directly for  the kids!!!!!

    All that money is being used only for “Professional Development “
    actually a  new evaluation system for the
    teachers: a thinly veiled method for removing the experienced  teachers who pensions are owed to them but
    will inconvenience the city-budgets of America.  

    • Call_Me_Missouri

      About testing, there need to be multiple tests done per year.  At least three…  one at the beginning of the year, one at the middle of the year, and one at the end of the year.

      Otherwise how do you know that progress is being made or has been made?  How do you adjust mid-stream?

  • Shag_Wevera

    I have just arrived and am about to scroll through and read the comments.  Before I do, I’m going to bet someone has referred to teachers as overpayed and lazy.  Someone will also have said that we don’t need unions anymore.  Someone will have suggested teachers should be judged on how successful they are by the test scores of neglected inner city kids.

    Time to scroll down and see if I’m right!

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Haha, I have the same thought. Before looking, I bet that the gang that thinks it’s an abomination for any worker to have a pension and not be a slave to the latest corporate scheme will be howling about the horrible behavior of the teachers. I mean, they should work hours for free and have their pay based on being able to make kids with no parents score high on the latest corporate standardized tests, right?

    • Brandstad

      Isn’t it horrible that good teachers get paid more than bad teachers?  That is what the Chicago teachers are fighting for is equal pay for the best and the worst amongst them! LOL

    • harverdphd

       Well…they are…and they should be…

      Thanks for framing the discussion

  • Shag_Wevera

    1.  We are the richest, most powerful nation the world has ever seen.  We can overcome anything because Americans are exceptional.

    2.  We are broke and can’t pay teachers another thin dime.  All urban schools are failing and should be privatized.

    Which is it, my conservative friends!? 

    • Coastghost

      The correct answer is 3. Public education has become a system of political patronage that hires enough poorly trained personnel to compromise individual schools and entire local districts while evading credible measures of accountability, both of which yield poor student performance and lack of public confidence in public schools given their demonstrated dysfunctionalities.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      1a. We are the richest, most powerful nation the world has ever seen.  We can overcome anything that keeps all that wealth from flowing to the top, because Americans are exceptional.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       The students should excel on their own because they are “Exceptional Americans”. It is their RIGHT and their DESTINY!  ;)

      The concept of “convert the public schools to private schools” just galls me. Not your representation but the whole “private schools are better than public schools” thing.

      My daughters go/went to public schools. They score well above average on standardized tests and the college entrance tests. One is a classic “I MUST BE PERFECT” overachiever and the other one … well we have to kick her butt to do what she is capable of doing. And yes, they DID make the good decision to choose parents who care about education, WILL kick their butts if necessary AND have the time and knowledge to help them with their schoolwork.

      We have a young friend, now in 6th grade. She is above average intelligence and has no learning disabilities. She has always been in private school and is 2 years behind the public school kids in math. She started to learn fractions last year and reducing them? New concept introduced at the end of the last school year. Her mother had no idea the public schools were way ahead until we told her because she had no reference point. She certainly is capable of helping her daughter IF the girl had been given the same work but was struggling.

      Saying the public schools are “way ahead” is really unfair, the private school is “way behind”. The situation won’t improve, she is going to the same school this year. The 6th grade teacher will not be surprised at her math level, it is what will be expected. She’ll be suffering when she gets to high school and most of the kids have already been through Algebra I and she is ready for pre-algebra.

      This girl is clearly NOT getting a “better” education at a private school. 

    • harverdphd

       Both, actually…public education has broken the social contract to provide communities with success and prosperity…no pay without results

  • Cabanator

    Several callers today talked about teachers feeling like they are being blamed for poverty and society’s ills. None of them clearly expressed the real weight of the issue. My own experience teaching has shown that the biggest factor in determining a child’s success in school is whether or not that child comes to school ready to learn. In other words, is everything else in that child’s life taken care of, so that when she gets to school in the morning, she is well-rested, well-fed, and ready to learn? We keep focusing on teacher salaries and school resources, as if a few extra iPads are going to make the difference. They won’t. If a child gets home from school and has to spend the afternoon watching her siblings because her single-mother is working the double-shift and won’t be home until midnight, how does anyone expect that she’ll finish her homework, or even really care about her homework? When kids have so many other stressors affecting them outside of school, such as parents with drug issues, no food in the fridge, and danger in their neighborhoods, what goes on inside the classroom becomes the least of their worries. It’s no surprise that these kids have a hard time learning, or that teachers feel they can’t do enough to help these students. These wider issues are much harder to address, so instead we focus on test scores and the number of hours kids are in school. When will we look at the real problems? 

    • myblusky

      No truer words have been spoken.

      I met a guy who went from teaching in Chicago Public Schools to Oak Park and he said the difference was night and day. The kids in Oak Park almost didn’t need to be taught because their parents had been prepping them from day one (heck some of them probably started teaching their kids in utero). These kids are brought up with the expectation that they will learn and they will succeed. He said the kids in Chicago Public Schools were hungry, came from troubled homes and overall were just more challenging to teach.

      Impoverished kids start out with so many disadvantages against them. Sure you here the success stories – the “outliers”, but those are few and far between when compared to the kids who come from stable homes with parents that emphasize education. Kids in troubled homes are swimming upstream. I have lived in Oak Park and I have lived in Chicago. I have seen the difference for myself.

      Paying the teachers more or less isn’t going to cure a kid’s broken home and neither is more testing. I don’t know what the cure for the problem is.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Yep. Swimming upstream is a good metaphor. The righties have no understanding (or pretend) of the advantage that an upper-middle kid from a nice suburb has, let alone a romney type. Sure there are success stories from every group, and the right uses them to deny the reality that is is far less likely for the underprivileged to succeed. You have to be superman or woman to make it out of the worst environment, while just about anyone from the romney class can get into an elite school and a big-$ job. What could be a better example than a smiling mediocrity like W getting into elite schools, making big $ despite no business ability, and finally POTUS?

        Once the American approach was to level the playing field. The current TeaOP wants it even less level. Privatizing and corporatizing education and attacking teachers fits their agenda perfectly.

        • notafeminista

          More accurately the Left chooses to dismiss (or sometimes outright ignore)the successes of those who aren’t “upper middle class kids from nice suburbs” in order to throw more good money after bad.

          It begs the imagination —  to be told you cannot do well in school because your parent(s) are poor, or because you live in a certain neighborhood or because your skin isn’t the right color.  You can’t study for poverty, nor can you get a tutor for race.  There’s no way around those things.But let’s keep telling kids they fail because they’re not white and poor.   Why on earth would anyone promote that idea?  There is not much else on this earth that is so self-defeating.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            You’re so blinded by ideology that you have to parrot the Party Line even when nobody said what you’re bothered about. Nobody said poor kids can’t succeed, we said they have longer odds, which is true. A poor kid can succeed and a romney type can fail – it’s just a lot harder.

            You use the success stories as smoke to make it seem that class warfare isn’t doing any damage. It would be better to look at the odds and try to level the playing field.

          • notafeminista

            You dismiss the success stories out of hand altogether.  And the playing field isn’t level.  Even if everyone started from the same socioeconomic financial position, there would still be inequality.  Making everything “equal” leaves no room for merit.  Which I suspect would be just fine with you.

          • myblusky

             It would be just fine with me if everyone lived in a safe neighborhood, had health care and nutritious food to eat – so yes – if that’s what you mean then of course I’m for it. Apparently you would prefer people to not have those things and to have to climb their way out of a rat hole.

          • myblusky

            Yes – it is depressing and it is true. I didn’t make the rules for the human race – I just observe them and acknowledge them without any white liberal guilt. I grew up in an environment where education was coveted and a person was shunned for not doing well. Poor kids often grow up in places where physical strength and fast money are the holy grail. Poor white kids with turbulent lives who go to bed hungry have the same strikes against them. Anyone who can’t acknowledge the basic fact that a good nights sleep, good nutrition and a safe and stable environment are just as import to success as an IQ and social skills – are living in some TV movie of the week.

            If you want to think that kids living in dangerous environments have just as good of a chance as Johnnie Pennyloafers from the rich side of town with his well connected parents then you keep on living in that fairytale. At least then you don’t have to acknowledge the problem or do anything about it which must be comforting.

    • http://profiles.google.com/utahowl June Taylor

      Tom, I suggest you do a followup with Diane Ravitch on the 2006 edition of her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System.  She reviews the evidence available ( or not) on the performance of reform hypotheses such as:  Charter & voucher schools will perform better than public schools, & force the public school to improve; AND small high schools are better than large ones; etc.

  • marcbrown1

    It is a valid point that teachers have to deal with children from kindergarten to 12th grade who are a product of our delinquent society. I-phone distractions are but one of thousands. Certainly there are far, far worse distractions having to be dealt with on a daily basis (that is why we have police presence in schools nowadays)! Therefore, to equate metropolitan teachers with suburban teachers is totally invalid.  Hence, to judge them the same is insanity. Here, in Nashville, TN, we have the perfect example: SUBURBAN Williamson County teachers educate children from high-functioning homes and therefore have excellent results (data shows)!! However, INNER-CITY Metro Nashville School teachers educate children from majority poverty (plus or minus a few points), and therefore end up with many failing schools! INVOLVED FAMILIES Versus NON-INVOLVED FAMILIES is the REAL problem! Yes, teachers should be evaluated; but, no, they should not have evaluations be a huge portion of their ability to retain a teaching position.  Instead, there should be humongous emphasis placed upon PARENTS AND THEIR INVOLVEMENT in the education process.  Or, perhaps divide these huge school systems up into many, many MUCH SMALLER school systems where children and their families can be a CLOSER unit, where learning can actually take place. 

  • HarryNatick

     Two important points were missed in the discussion. These tow points might make for an interesting follow-up program:

    First, behind every non-performing teacher or sub-par school you will find an incompetent principal! If the problem is a non-performing teacher, the principal has an obligation to do something about the situation. Most are too scared or too distracted to act. When the problem is a sub-par school, then again people should be looking at the principal before dissing the whole staff. Think about all the managers you have had to work under, and how the good ones inspire everyone, but the bad ones just drag down an organization. The same thing happens in schools, but no one seems to notice or care. How about firing principals when the students tests don’t measure up? It’s at least worth a discussion.

    Point 2. Arguing about evaluations misses an important point: teaching is a dead-end job. A teacher gets hired right out of school, and spend the next 30 years in a classroom with children. There is no career ladder for teachers, and the likelihood of burnout is high. Finding a way to rejuvenate or eliminate these burnt-out teachers will help everyone.

    I was an elected member of a school committee (Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, MA) for 6 years. We had an “Externship” program where teachers could spend a year away in a business or industry. The school system help them find positions, but the employer paid while the teacher was thus employed. This cost the school system little. After the year, about 1/3 of the teachers returned, refreshed and re-motivated. The other 2/3 decided to stay in their new positions. It was a win-win proposition for everyone.

    • RolloMartins

      Great points.

  • http://profiles.google.com/utahowl June Taylor

    Finally! An actual positive idea – thanks!

    • harverdphd

       You’re welcome!

  • Steve__T

    Also not talked about are the deplorable conditions of the schools, no library’s walls crumbling hand rails on steps falling off. Thees are the things they are really fighting for.
    This was a reply But Disqus strikes again.

    • Brandstad

      Maybe if the teachers weren’t the most expensive in the nation, Chicago would have money to fix the schools….

      Just a thought!

      • TomK_in_Boston

        If your agenda is class warfare, the solution is always less for the American worker. 

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Funny how to the Brandstads of the world there is no greater incentive to the rich than “give them more” and no greater incentive to the working poor than “give them less.

          • Gregg Smith

            Chicago teachers average $76K, the  rest of the nation is about $50K. Rahm Emanuel is asking for the same things Scott Walker did… because it worked.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            If your agenda is class warfare, everyone making a middle class living is a target to be torn down.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=78500225 Andrea Bruesch

            Here is what I am thinking:  What is wrong with making 75k?  In the grand scheme of things that isn’t very much, and I would argue that if teachers did work a full 12 months then they should make closer to 100K.  Teachers are professionals and should be paid accordingly. They are educating our children.  There is no greater job that that, and in Chicago, 75K doesn’t get you very far with a family to support.  

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Exactly. SOP for the class warriors is to stir up envy of anyone making a decent ordinary living, and defend the absurd incomes of the romney types. The healthy reaction would be, hey, why can’t there be more decent jobs for the average citizen, like there were before Reagan? 

      • RolloMartins

        And maybe if we paid teachers more we’d get better results (cf. Finland).

      • harverdphd

         Or hire good English teachers for Steve T

  • Brandstad

    These teachers should be ashamed of themselves. 

    News accounts show that only 40% of Chicago school teachers send their kids to public schools!

    Steve Jobs would never use a Blackberry!

  • RolloMartins

    Prouder is, in fact, a valid word choice. The caller should check before he openeth his mouth. (It is the comparative form.) 

  • Markus6

    This issue always reminds me that ideology trumps everything. Ideology for dems says unions are good; for repubs they’re bad. Liberals (dems) say they care about the poor, but they won’t let bad teachers be fired (not in any way that’s practical) and they won’t give poor people the ability to choose their schools through a voucher system (though I give Obama props for trying).

    The callousness of liberals to the people that they pretend to care about would astound me if I hadn’t learned long ago that the followers of Hannity and Matthews are the same – idealogy always wins.

    So, please save your comments of how much you care for someone who hasn’t see the damage lousy teachers have done.  

  • harverdphd

    I love this topic…it’s a liberal buttress…but there will be no change and teachers will continue to be laid off until we can have an adult discussion

  • http://www.facebook.com/NewtonsBob Bob Kavanagh

    How does 3%, 2%, 2% and 2% come to 16%? When i do the math I get 9.3%. Am I missing something?

  • GrueneJim

    Where do striking teachers get this delusional sense of self-entitlement? Does getting a government job create a false sense of self importance? The typical American worker makes far less and is held accountable for a year round work schedule and job performance standards. It is painfully obvious that Chicago’s Public Schools have all the money needed to maintain facilities and purchase educational materials. The money is being systematically looted by a city government and a union who have no sense of civic responsibility. This is a black eye for organized labor and an indictment of the public education “system”. How can the American people be so passive in the face of colossal corruption and incompetence? If the Chicago Public Schools were a business, they would be out of business.

  • SOteacher

    A couple of points…
    I’ve worked as a teacher in a school with high-risk students back in the 1990s.  If I had done that today, the school could have been closed according to NCLB law. If that happened, why should I have lost my job with the school district?  The school’s low performance had much to do with in being in the top meth-amphetamine production area in the state, high student mobility, and high poverty.  Aren’t these exactly the kinds of schools where leaders are trying to get experienced educators? How are you going to do that if such teachers are risking their livelihood?

    About school reform…
    No one seems to be looking at the areas of greatest need.  Teachers in America are not provided nearly enough planning time.  Most teachers I know have been to countless workshops and classes to learn and practice effective teaching strategies; but they rarely persist in them because the days after the workshop they plunge back into the impossible workload they were in before the class.  Teachers rarely get the planning and prep time to effectively put new knowledge into practice.  This seems so short-sighted by our school districts.  They should insist on adequate planning time, but my union has to negotiate for planning time, and they never get all that we need.

    Another “elephant in the room” is the failure of our legal and administrative systems to give our principals the means to impose order and appropriate behavior on disruptive students.  How much of Chicago’s 60% graduation rate can be traced to schools where there’s no little order and safety.  Do people realize how little a principal is allowed to do?  Most gain better behavior by effectively bluffing, but I don’t think that works in the tougher schools.  

    No amount of compensation can make up for unfair evaluation practices.  Besides, if a teacher is a bad fit in a given school, why not put them into a school that’s a better fit.  Not everyone is cut out for working at a high-risk school, but that doesn’t mean they can’t succeed at a different school.  I left my high-risk school after 5 years and eventually began teaching English Language Learners at a school that about in the middle in terms of SES. I’m very successful and feel like it’s a perfect fit.  I’ve been able to offer needy students so much, but that may never have happened had I worked in Chicago and if my first school had been closed because of low performance.

    If we hope to attract good people into the teaching profession, we need to stop attacking their professional associations.  If we want people to be committed to staying in the classroom and being there for students year-after-year, we should allow them to find where they are most effective and where they offer the most benefit to their students; not throw them away because they chose to work in a tough school.  I would go on strike too over that one!

  • Proeducators

    As a parent of two TN students, I see how riduculous it is to evaluate teachers on student test scores.  It seems most of the school work revolves around these tests, to the detriment of real learning.  My students scored high A’s on all of the tests but I don’t feel like they are getting a broad education.  TN teachers’ pay only accounts for around 25% of their pay.  It would be even more incentive for the teachers to “teach to the test” if 40% of their pay depended on the exam scores.  I wish all teachers in the country would revolt against this system like the Chicago teachers.  Make parents accountable and administrators!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshua.rowan Joshua Rowan

    If we tie teachers to test scores then we will see a flight of quality teachers from low-income neighborhoods. I am a teacher in a school with a large population of at-risk students (over 90%).  I run the recycling club, I tutor for free, I organize community events for my school, I’m the department head of my grade-level and if I continue the list of activities I do at school FOR FREE I will break this comment box.  I often receive decent test scores however, at-risk kids do test lower than kids who are not at-risk.  If I’m tied to test scores, the most logical move for me in terms of job security would be to move to a school where the kids are easier to teach. I wouldn’t be any better of a teacher, but my my test scores would say I was.

    There are teachers like me everywhere and I’m sure Chicago is filled with teachers who care about the children and not the test scores. 

    If teachers are tied to test scores it will be our nation’s poorest children who suffer as excellent teachers flee from communities where they no longer feel secure.  The test score crowd is not considering the long-term consequences of their ideas.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    In the big picture: the class warfare raging in America attacks everything that benefits the middle class, medicare and SS, unions, pensions…..and public education. Privatize it, corporatize it, bust the union, demonize any worker making a decent living. Nothing new here. The only puzzle is why there are so many non-oligarch sheep who drink the Kool-Aid.

  • Respectteachersplease

    Tom, your bias against the teachers seethed through your tone when anyone dared bring up the issue of poverty as affecting student performance. The reality is that if you are a child who has to pray that you don’t get shot on the way to school while you learn in a boiling hot or cold classroom with inadequate resources, then you might not be too enthusiastic about education either.  We must do something about the root problems in society and stop blaming the teachers for a community wide failure.  

    And please explain how high school teachers are somehow responsible for the graduation rates of students attending college?  You harped on that quite a bit.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/ROTZUT4L72AKPX5CE7VIOHT3LM Business Advisor

      I agree with you 100%.  He was clearly biased against teachers.

  • StilllHere

    It was clear from the discussion that teacher’s are afraid of accountability and desperately want to protect the bad teachers because of a recognition that many are sub-par.  I feel bad for the good teachers who care; they get paid less than they deserve and must be resentful of their peers who just skate along protected by their union.  

    Is NYC still paying $300 million a year to keep bad teachers in a rubber room away from children while they await discipline?

    • pac3772

      No, it’s not about good teacher vs. bad teachers at all.  It’s about how to evaluate teachers.  If an administrator doesn’t like a teacher all s/he has to do is load the classroom with under performing students and wa-la, the teacher looks as though they can’t teach.  Where is student responsibility?  One bad student can turn a class upside down – why is there no looking at that direction?  Clearly, if you think this is about protecting teachers, you are uninformed on the topic.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ROTZUT4L72AKPX5CE7VIOHT3LM Business Advisor

    One main problem has to do with a lesser quality raw material (students) from a bio-psycho-social perspective. One really bad student can taint the entire class and does. Uncontrollable students learn their power from parents who assure students that teachers have no power and that if the student feels threatened they issue a “law suit” scare. Anyone opining specific to teacher performance MUST spend an entire day in a classroom. Tom Ashcroft needs to spend a day in a classroom. Tom – call me and I’ll facilitate a day with a class with behavior problems.  We’ll see how well you do.  Mark Renkert, Mcsl, 802 318 4136.

  • http://www.lovemypetsupply.com/ Halloween dog costumes

    If an administrator doesn’t like a teacher all s/he has to do is load
    the classroom with under performing students and wa-la, the teacher
    looks as though they can’t teach.  Where is student responsibility?  One
    bad student can turn a class upside down – why is there no looking at
    that direction? 

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