Today, children enrolled in the Chicago Public Schools are learning to do without their teachers. The teachers are not in the schools today because they, as union members, decided to teach us all a lesson by not showing up to do their jobs. Instead of teaching, they chose today, April Fools Day, to stage what they ironically refer to as a Day of Action. Yes, this day, when they do not show up to do their jobs.
No doubt the teachers have legitimate grievances, but so do taxpayers. The teachers want the school district and the state government to bend heaven and earth to give them an agreeable contract. The school district is teetering on bankruptcy. Teachers’ unfunded pensions are an underlying cause. The teachers deserve pensions and rightly fault the politicians for failing to invest in and protect the pension funds, as obligated. But the funds that should be there simply aren’t.
Taxation is increasing to help cover ballooning pension obligations. Meanwhile, the school budget is being cut. Education in the present is being sacrificed to preserve the benefits of retired and retiring teachers. The teachers’ union doesn’t speak to this issue. Yet, to all appearances, Peter is being robbed in order to pay Paul. The teachers are going to squeeze Peter and everyone around him, hoping that enough money can miraculously be conjured to go around.
The Day of Action is a farce, because it does not solve the problem. It doesn’t bring antagonistic parties any closer to agreeing on what to do about a desperate lack of money. Instead it diminishes the public’s sympathy and respect for teachers and the difficult work they do. How not to behave: this is all Chicago teachers have taught on this April Fools.
Yes, I agree with you 100%, the teachers are being very foolish on this first day of April. You write a good essay: they are setting a horrid example to the students in more than one way. I even read today in a Tribune article on the strike a quote by Karen Lewis saying if a judge had/was going to issue and injunction against the strike that she would still “order” the strike to take place. What arrogance !………………….Thanks for writing this.
It’s sad that the union does not acknowledge the disastrous indebtedness weighing down every level of Illinois government. It makes the teachers seem very selfish. Everyone is bound to be unhappy with the financial deals that are struck, because there is no cheap and easy way to get the finances of the state, city, or CPS back on track. Their failure to roll up their sleeves and figure out how to save the CPS from bankruptcy disappoints and startles me: will they be happier when a court-appointed manager takes over and forces the union to make a lot of drastic concessions?
Thank you, Sam.
It is also surprising that the teachers and other unionized workers do not hold the union leadership accountable for the management of the pension funds. This fiduciary responsibility really rests with the union itself.
You’re right, Margie. This article provides a succinct summary of how bad decisions on the part of the union and CPS contributed to this onerous situation:
There is no guarantee that additional funds given to the district won’t be badly mismanaged, as they have in the past.