The public looks like they have the backs of the teachers. I have done some more research and it is clear to me that Chicago teachers are not bad off financially but they can't be bought off with an offer of a decent raise. This is encouraging but as teacher militancy is now a national movement, we have to wonder why there is zero, absolutely zero militancy in NYC even though we have plenty of reasons to fight for a better deal. Let's do a little comparing.
Right now according to Chalkbeat, Chicago teachers start out at a little over $56,000 a year and max out at $108,242 per year after only 14 years (NYC teachers do not get to maximum until after completing 22 years). Factor in the cost of living which is 42% lower in Chicago compared to NYC and Chicago public school teachers earn a decent living. Add to this that the city is offering the teachers 16% salary increases over five years. The starting salary, if they just say yes, will be $64,960 a year in Chicago by 2024. That would be higher than the $61,070 starting pay New York City teachers will earn when the current contract ends in 2022. We would need two years at 6% total in NYC to catch up with their starting salary. The last time the UFT achieved two consecutive annual 3% increases was a while ago. The Chicago teacher maximum salary would rise to $125,561 if the union accepts the city's offer. Remember, top salary only requires 14 years of service to reach. After 14 year in NYC, a teacher with a Masters +30 credits will make $104,145 in 2022. Strike or no strike, Chicago will really not need the lower cost of living to beat NYC at almost all of the levels.
Any way you slice it, Chicago teachers, where teachers insist on a militant union, are doing better in terms of salary than the passive NYC teachers and our "do little" union.
Let's now look at the class size issue, a major focus of the CTU strike. When we examine contractual class size limits, Chicago before the strike doesn't look bad compared to NYC. In NYC, the contract says 25 maximum in kindergarten, 32 in elementary schools, 33 in middle schools and 34 in high schools except required music and phys ed which are permitted to go to a maximum of 50. There are of course exceptions to these ridiculously high limits that are easy to use and if the Department of Education routinely violates the limits, the remedy is determined by arbitrators. Resolutions have included one less professional period for the teacher with an oversize class. I have no idea how that helps kids.
For Chicago, this class size information comes from Patch:
Chicago's class size cap is 28 students in kindergarten through fifth grades, and 31 students in middle and high school. If a K-2 class has 32 or more students, the district must provide an additional teacher assistant, a demand won in the last contract. A joint district-union panel reviews classes exceeding the caps and seeks ways to mitigate the crowding.
Except for kindergarten, their limits are lower than NYC and Chicago teachers are striking over these caps and other staffing issues (more librarians, social workers, nurses). They want it in writing in the contract. They are demanding lower class size maximums and strict enforcement. Wow! Watch Jennifer Johnson if you have Facebook.
I am not stating any of this to say that the CTU should be happy with what they are being offered so they should take the money and run. No, their union is doing right by their membership and their students. The rank and file is out on the picket lines and the streets rallying. I support them 100%. They will have better salaries, teaching conditions and learning conditions when this ends. I also hope they get a provision so if the district retaliates against them for striking by closing schools, they cannot fire the displaced teachers.
What about the teachers here in NYC? We complain anonymously on social media about how terrible conditions are and some foolish individuals are dropping their union altogether so they can save union dues. Judging by what I am seeing out of Chicago and around the rest of the nation, we would be doing much better if we demanded a better union, not an end to the union.
|Chicago average teacher salaries compared to other big cities from CBS Chicago. Notice the media spin against the teachers. I think their NYC figures are a little out of date but our salary schedule moves up very slowly so averages are low.|