On September 10, the Chicago Teacher’s Union went on strike leaving 400,000 students in the citywide school system out of class. This was the city’s first strike in a quarter of a century.
The teachers were striking over an evaluation that the teachers deemed to be unfair. They also were fighting for a significant raise in the first year of a new contract because of a longer school day. A Chicago Public Schools spokesperson said that they offered the teachers a 16 percent increase over four years, as well as “step increases for performance,” according to Time Magazine. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) also aimed to recall teachers when new job openings rise.
Another issue that the CTU rose was their dissatisfaction with the work conditions. According to Time Magazine, Chicago teachers teach in large classrooms that ration to about 25.1 students per teacher in high schools. According to the CTU, the amount of students in a classroom at a time usually goes over the limit. The last issue that the CTU addressed was Emanuel’s lack to repair underperforming schools, one of the main reasons as to why this strike occurred.
According to an article in he New York Times, last Tuesday, the Chicago Teachers Union agreed to end the strike. At a private meeting 800 union delegates voted to end the strike after students missed one week of school. Under the contract, it was decided that there would be an annual raise for teachers, the school day would be lengthened, and the teachers will be evaluated with test scores. The Chicago School system will also lead laid-off teachers to job openings.
The block of the teacher’s strike is considered to end the fight over pay, working conditions and job security. According to the New York Times, the city said that the case would not be dropped entirely.
As serious as the education crisis is in this country, we can’t skimp on paying teachers what they deserve. If you don’t create enough financial reasons for people to become an instructor, then you’ll end up with the bottom of the barrel. There is an obvious correlation between how much a job pays and how good the talent pool is for that particular occupation. It is simple: If you want good teachers then you have to make it worth their while.
The other hot topic that was being debated during this strike was regarding merit based pay. While it sounds good in theory, it would create too many problems and the cons would outweigh the pros. If you start paying teachers more based on their students’ performance you’ll run into some serious ethical dilemmas. Some teachers will sacrifice education for the sake of their students’ test scores.
Instead of teaching the subject matter, it will become a priority to prepare students for the test even if means you end up teaching simple memorization. There will no longer be a need for a student to understand a concept as long as they can fill out a multiple-choice reciting basic definitions that were rammed into their head since the first day of school.
The Chicago Teachers Union stood up for what they believe in and as a result they were able to side-step this sudden urge to transcend incentive-based pay into our education system. The sacrifice that the students made by missing the first couple of weeks of school will be more than made up for in the future when school systems don’t turn into competitions between fellow instructors for a bigger paycheck.