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Chicago teachers need a signal boost….



via Fred Klonsky @

Far-right activists as well as even a few mainstream journalists have made wild claims about how much Chicago’s teachers earn. Nightline’s Terry Moran even claimed that the Chicago Teachers Union is doing “much damage” to the profession by striking, and then went on to say that teachers in the city earn an average of $74,000.

That just isn’t true. To fact check this claim, I went to the best source available to the public: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS has data from May 2011 for the Chicago metropolitan area that breaks down the average salary for teachers. Across the profession, teachers in the area were earning an average salary of $56,720. Keep in mind that a median salary would probably be a more accurate picture of what teachers actually earn (veteran teacher salaries will be dragging the number upwards) but that this number is not available. The number is also dragged upward because a number of university staff are included in this calculation (they earn more than public school teachers). We spoke with a BLS official earlier today to confirm the veracity of these numbers.

If you look at the different subsets of teachers, some earn as little an average salary as $44,480 (foreign language teachers). Also keep in mind that the cost of food and living is well above the U.S. average in Chicago.

The only way Chicago’s teachers and students will win this struggle is by not letting misinformation turn the tide of public opinion. Use the Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit buttons on this page to spread the word. (Thanks to labor journalist Doug Henwood for pointing us in the right direction to look for these figures.)

Well, and two things:

starting teachers earn much LESS than the average, of course, and also, the strike’s not just about wage. It’s not SPECIFICALLY about wages at all — it’s primarily about the unfair assessment standards as well as longterm conditions for both teachers and students.

A couple teachers were talking to someone else on the train with me the other day. One of them had 48 four and five year olds in a class with no air conditioning. Seriously?

The deal they were offered — and are now not even being given time to consider before the Mayor’s office is threatening an injunction and declaring this strike “illegal” — includes a lot of not-ideal situations, including 120 school closures in the next year. Schools are being privatized and kids are being redistricted at an ALARMING rate. So before Emanuel goes all righteous on how “kids are being used as pawns” and telling all his staffers to repeat the phrase, while the city PAYS FOR COMMERCIALS that make the teachers look evil and kids look helpless, he needs to consider that pulling kids out of supposedly low-performing schools — which in many cases, despite test scores are actually reducing the dropout rate and increasing the college acceptance rate of their kids — and shoving them into another one half a neighborhood away can lead to HORRIFIC violence and dropouts, and that the private and charter schools that retain the right to kick a kid out when their GPA drops are only increasing the problem.

And you know, the encroaching threat of privatizing all of CPS, as well as not teaching kids anything but largely irrelevant standardized tests, IS something we should be fighting. It IS important. And while yes, kids may have to stay in school longer, and it’s taxing to families that may rely on school lunches, a couple weeks of this has the potential to actually change a kid’s life or entire school career.

Or it would, if our mayor hadn’t just dubbed himself a union buster. Congratulations, Mayor Emanuel, you’ve just put yourself on the creepy side of the history books.

Exactly. EXACTLY. Some schools teach year round, including summer courses, and with no a/c, kids aren’t going to be paying attention. Chicago is not temperate in mid-summer. It isn’t. I can tolerate but I’m neither very young nor very old and I have constant access to fresh water and can hide in shaded rooms to keep cool. Charter schools are a HUGE problem because their scores LOOK great on the surface - because they get rid of kids who aren’t ‘performing’. It’s like how my university kicked anyone who dropped below a 2.0 for a semester out, even if they might have pulled their grades up in a year. Of course they had a high graduation rate - people who might not have graduated on time were often made to leave. It’s bullshit and it places values on standardized tests and money, not education.

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