Chicago teachers' strike enters seventh day

With President Trump scheduled to visit Chicago Monday, teachers and students both may have a lot of free time on their hands to protest in front of the landmark Trump Tower along the Chicago River as a fundraiser lunch is held inside. 

Schoolchildren in Chicago are missing their seventh day of class today, with teachers demanding a 15% raise over three years, well above the official rate of inflation.  Chicago teachers already are among the highest paid among large urban districts.  A host of other issues, including a reduction in class size (hence, more dues-paying union members), also are in contention.

The union is saying some progress has been made.  Via the Chicago Tribune:

The Chicago Teachers Union struck a notably more optimistic chord late Thursday on the sixth school day of its strike, with Chief of Staff Jennifer Johnson saying "today was a good day" in negotiations with progress and "substantive discussion."

It's "absolutely our hope" to be back in the classroom on Monday, Johnson said, adding "we'll see where we are tomorrow but we are making progress."

But:

... the CTU has made plans for rally and public shows of solidarity Friday and Saturday, which Johnson said was about showing the union's resolve is still strong.

Chicago public radio station WBEZ, meanwhile, looks for where the money could come from to pat for the teachers' demands and finds that coming up with the scratch raises a lot of issues:

Often, the CTU leadership will say the school district has a $1 billion more to spend.

They say this because the school district has been getting more money from the state since it overhauled its education funding formula in 2017.

Are they right? Does the school district actually have an extra $1 billion to spend?

It is not as if CPS has an extra $1 billion to spend this year as compared to last year.

Over the past three years, the school district has been bringing in a few hundred million more dollars in revenue — both from the state and from increased property taxes.

This year, the operating budget, which is the budget for salaries and classroom costs, is about $260 million more than last year's budget. This includes money from surplusing special taxing districts, which the mayor just announced on Wednesday she planned to do again.

The expectation is that these amounts will grow over time. The CTU leadership have said they want to make sure additional money goes into the classroom and not just to pay down debt.

But the school district says, despite this extra money, it can barely pay for all its expenses after years of huge deficits. From 2013 through 2017, the school district was running annual deficits that were almost $1 billion.

And huge debt and massive pension bills are weighing down the school district's finances. The district has $8.4 billion in long-term debt and $450 million in short-term debt. It plans to spend more than $700 million to pay down debt this year.

Also, this year, the school district must contribute $854 million for pensions with new money from the state, a new property tax and from CPS' operating budget.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said she does not want to raise taxes, which were hiked under her predecessor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to loud complaints from hard pressed homeowners.  Illinois is now in a debt and pension trap, with those obligations eating up funds that should go to pay for state and local services.  Piling on more debt to meet the teachers' demands would only accelerate the process.

I have no idea whether or not the strike can be settled soon.  But there is no easy way out for either side.

I have given up on one-size-fits-all public schools, many of which have become indoctrination centers for the Left.  As far as I am concerned, the solution is vouchers for parents to choose a school appropriate to their children's needs.  That avoids the threat of system-wide strikes entirely, along with many other problems with our failing public education system that produces worse results as funding increases.

Graphic credit: Chicago Public Schools.

With President Trump scheduled to visit Chicago Monday, teachers and students both may have a lot of free time on their hands to protest in front of the landmark Trump Tower along the Chicago River as a fundraiser lunch is held inside. 

Schoolchildren in Chicago are missing their seventh day of class today, with teachers demanding a 15% raise over three years, well above the official rate of inflation.  Chicago teachers already are among the highest paid among large urban districts.  A host of other issues, including a reduction in class size (hence, more dues-paying union members), also are in contention.

The union is saying some progress has been made.  Via the Chicago Tribune:

The Chicago Teachers Union struck a notably more optimistic chord late Thursday on the sixth school day of its strike, with Chief of Staff Jennifer Johnson saying "today was a good day" in negotiations with progress and "substantive discussion."

It's "absolutely our hope" to be back in the classroom on Monday, Johnson said, adding "we'll see where we are tomorrow but we are making progress."

But:

... the CTU has made plans for rally and public shows of solidarity Friday and Saturday, which Johnson said was about showing the union's resolve is still strong.

Chicago public radio station WBEZ, meanwhile, looks for where the money could come from to pat for the teachers' demands and finds that coming up with the scratch raises a lot of issues:

Often, the CTU leadership will say the school district has a $1 billion more to spend.

They say this because the school district has been getting more money from the state since it overhauled its education funding formula in 2017.

Are they right? Does the school district actually have an extra $1 billion to spend?

It is not as if CPS has an extra $1 billion to spend this year as compared to last year.

Over the past three years, the school district has been bringing in a few hundred million more dollars in revenue — both from the state and from increased property taxes.

This year, the operating budget, which is the budget for salaries and classroom costs, is about $260 million more than last year's budget. This includes money from surplusing special taxing districts, which the mayor just announced on Wednesday she planned to do again.

The expectation is that these amounts will grow over time. The CTU leadership have said they want to make sure additional money goes into the classroom and not just to pay down debt.

But the school district says, despite this extra money, it can barely pay for all its expenses after years of huge deficits. From 2013 through 2017, the school district was running annual deficits that were almost $1 billion.

And huge debt and massive pension bills are weighing down the school district's finances. The district has $8.4 billion in long-term debt and $450 million in short-term debt. It plans to spend more than $700 million to pay down debt this year.

Also, this year, the school district must contribute $854 million for pensions with new money from the state, a new property tax and from CPS' operating budget.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said she does not want to raise taxes, which were hiked under her predecessor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to loud complaints from hard pressed homeowners.  Illinois is now in a debt and pension trap, with those obligations eating up funds that should go to pay for state and local services.  Piling on more debt to meet the teachers' demands would only accelerate the process.

I have no idea whether or not the strike can be settled soon.  But there is no easy way out for either side.

I have given up on one-size-fits-all public schools, many of which have become indoctrination centers for the Left.  As far as I am concerned, the solution is vouchers for parents to choose a school appropriate to their children's needs.  That avoids the threat of system-wide strikes entirely, along with many other problems with our failing public education system that produces worse results as funding increases.

Graphic credit: Chicago Public Schools.