The smartest parents in Chicago right now are those whose kids attend charter schools, private schools, or parochial schools. Those institutions don’t employ Chicago’s unionized public-school teachers, who went out on strike this morning for the first time in 25 years.
The coverage of the strike has obscured some basic facts. The money has continued to pour into Chicago’s failing public schools in recent years. Chicago teachers have the highest average salary of any city at $76,000 a year before benefits. The average family in the city only earns $47,000 a year. Yet the teachers rejected a 16 percent salary increase over four years at a time when most families are not getting any raises or are looking for work.
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.