Let's be clear about this: a teacher in Chicago can have a doctorate and 30 years of experience, but will never earn six-figures. Would Jonah Edelman, who never taught a day in his life, find that salary acceptable? And he's a piker:
In any case, this isn't about money, no matter how much Fox News may imply the contrary:
Emanuel has proposed that, instead of the rescinded 4 percent pay increase, teachers see a 16 percent pay increase over the next four years. The unions say they’re close to agreement on pay, though they still think higher raises are necessary to make up for rising health costs. The two sides have also already worked out a deal under which additional teachers are hired to implement Emanuel’s longer school day. [emphasis mine]The notion that teachers are overpaid in Chicago or anywhere is else is ridiculous. The notion that the union is leading a strike to gain outrageous salaries is equally ridiculous. No, this strike is about whether our kids are going to become test-taking machines or not.
The Chicago Public Schools in March unveiled an evaluation system (pdf) in which standardized testing makes up 40 percent of the rubric, a percent that increases by 5 percent every year thereafter (45 percent in year two, 50 percent in year three, etc.), which was designed by panels that included teachers, principals, and teachers’ union officials (including the president). The system goes above and beyond the state requirement that testing make up 20-40 percent of teacher evaluations. The teachers’ unions are resisting this system, calling it too punitive.Teachers teach the test when the test tests teachers. It's really that simple. Is anyone prepared to argue that what America needs right now are more children who have only learned to fill in the correct bubble on a Scantron sheet?
Yes, the Chicago teachers are standing up for themselves, but they are also standing up for their students. What Rahm Emanuel wants is detrimental to kids, but he's willing to push it if that means he can have a constantly churning workforce of younger, lower-paid teachers. Doing otherwise would mean turning to the Pritzkers and the Crownes and the Broads and the Gateses and the Waltons and the Bloombergs and demanding they start paying their fair share of taxes to fund our schools.
Can't have that, can we?
Here's what I think of having a rich curriculum, kiddos!
ADDING: As Reality-Based Educator points out in the comments, this piece is from Ezra Klein's blog, but he didn't write it: Dylan Matthews has the byline. Sorry about that.