Chicago teachers threaten to strike for a decent contract.

Via Drudge – It’s official.  Chicago Public School Teachers walk off the job.  The last time these teachers went on strike was 25 years ago.  This leaves 400,000 kids home at school when they should be learning.  The average teachers salary for Chicago is $76,000 – this doesn’t include benefits.  This makes it the highest average teachers’ salary in the nation.

The Chicago Sun Times reports on the offer by the school board that was turned down. (Details here)

The school board’s last offer included a three percent raise the first year and two percent raises the next three years — a slight increase from an earlier offer of two percent raises in each of the next four years.

The package, which would cost $400 million, keeps increases for experience and credentials with some modifications.

Vitale said the contract amounted to a 16 percent raise over four years for the average teacher when factoring other increases. And the raises could not be rescinded for lack of funds — which is what happened this past school year, angering teachers and helping to set the stage for Monday’s strike.

The simple fact is this the union teachers are bleeding Chicago dry says John Fund writing for National Review (and that doesn’t even include the extra police needed with 400,000 kids not being in school):

The city is being bled dry by the exorbitant benefits packages negotiated by previous elected officials. Teachers pay only 3 percent of their health-care costs and out of every new dollar set aside for public education in Illinois in the last five years, a full 71 cents has gone to teacher retirement costs.

But beyond the dollars, the fact is that Chicago schools need a fundamental shakeup — which of course the union is resisting. It is calling for changes in the teacher-evaluation system it just negotiated by making student performance less important.

Small wonder. Just 15 percent of fourth graders are proficient in reading and only 56 percent of students who enter their freshman year of high school wind up graduating.

The showdown in Chicago will be a test of just how much clout the public-employee unions wield at a time when the budget pressures they’ve created threaten to break the budgets of America’s major cities.

I’ve said before that public school teacher’s unions are anathema to education reform, and this provides another example of why.

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