Who Is In It For The Kids, Teachers’ Unions Or Charter Schools?
In an impassioned address to the media, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis stated the reasons the teachers’ union would begin striking. In her statement, Lewis attempted to frame the argument in terms of improving education and doing what is right for kids. While some of the requests of the union are reasonable, like having textbooks at the beginning of school, other demands are downright egregious.
Teachers in Chicago public schools currently make about $71,000 or $76,000, depending on who you ask. In a time of budget shortfall, the union rejected 16 percent in raises over the next four years. The union is also fighting against a teacher evaluation tool that they say relies too heavily on student test scores. Essentially, the union wants more money and more job protection for their teachers without accountability for actually teaching kids.
While Karen Lewis and other union officials can posture as if they are in this for the kids, the truth is, the union is in this for the teachers. The late national union leader Albert Shanker was quoted as saying, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.” In his farewell address to the National Education Association (NEA), Bob Chanin said the NEA is such an effective advocate because they have power, not because they care about children (watch the video). Though these two are not currently representing Chicago, you can be sure the sentiments are not far off.
The CTU president closed her remarks with this: “Schools, real schools, will not open tomorrow.” This statement is downright obnoxious. Maybe her definition of a “real school” is a bit different than mine, but Chicago charter schools and private schools are open today. That is right; while teachers in the Chicago Teachers Union are busy striking, charter school teachers are busy teaching and their students are busy learning. I would say the people actually educating kids are the ones in it for the kids.