Rahm Emanuel and the city of Chicago have plenty on their plates these days. We’ve already discussed at length the skyrocketing murder and violent crime rates plaguing the Windy City, their attempts at bringing gang leaders to bay and the constraints they face in making improvements due to their cratering budget situation. They’re already raising taxes to cover the financial shortfall and they’ve had to cut back on services as part of the package. So you can imagine how thrilled both the government executives and the citizens must be to hear that the teachers union has picked this time to go back out on strike again if their latest list of demands isn’t met. (Daily Caller)
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) put the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) on notice that if a deal isn’t reached, it will strike Oct. 11.
“Should there be no agreement between the Union and the Board of Education by October 11, we will begin our third strike since 2012,” the union wrote on its Facebook page. The CTU is protesting proposed pay cuts, staffing cuts and cuts to some services.
CTU President Karen Lewis and Vice President Jesse Sharkey specifically highlighted proposed cuts to special education programs and librarians in a strategic effort to win over public support at a press conference Wednesday,
It’s true that CPS has had to make some cutbacks in recent years, including a reduced number of staff, social workers and nurses. That’s not optimal, but they have to deal with the financial realities facing the city. Now the teachers not only want those cuts to come to a halt, but they are bucking against the plan to have them contribute a bit more out of their paychecks to cover their pension plans. This is the traditional bugaboo of public school systems in many states, as bloated pension plans swallow state and municipal coffers to the point where the system begins to collapse upon itself. Asking the teachers to pay in for their own retirement (the same way private sector workers must do if they’re fortunate enough to have a retirement plan at all) hardly seems draconian, but there you have it.
On top of the bare financial questions, however, is the question of social responsibility. Chicago is in crisis right now and a large part of the problem centers around the gangs who already provide far too much temptation for at risk teenagers. Is this really the time to suddenly shut down the schools and potentially unleash tens of thousands of kids out on the streets during the work day? That just sounds like a formula for disaster.
Even if the teachers are unhappy with the contract situation or the plan for paying for their generous pension plans, it seems that they could work with the rest of the city to avoid causing even more problems in the middle of a crisis. The parents who pay the school taxes and are ultimately responsible for the welfare of the children should step up and let the teachers union know that this sort of short sighted, selfish behavior is unacceptable.