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.Beyond that, where is the money they do want going to come from?
The city is being bled dry by the exorbitant benefits packages negotiated by previous elected officials. Teachers pay only 3 percent of their health-care costs and out of every new dollar set aside for public education in Illinois in the last five years, a full 71 cents has gone to teacher retirement costs.
Regardless of where Chicago teachers currently rank in salary, Civic Federation president Laurenence Msall said there’s one big roadblock to a big raise for teachers.So, there you go. Good luck with that strike, guys...
“It’s math. It’s not really politics, as much as it gets caught up in politics. The financial situation of the Chicago Public Schools is dire. The situation of the State of Illinois – that provides significant funding to the Chicago Public Schools – is dire,” he said. “The property tax payers in Chicago are beleaguered. They’re seeing a drop in their property values, and to be asking them to pay increased property taxes, so we can fund increased salaries for employees is something that’s gonna be a very tough political sell.”
Msall said there’ simply not enough money to support a significant pay hike for the teachers.
“The only way that they will find money to increase some teachers’ salary, is we’re going to have to reduce the number of teachers, and the number of employees in Chicago Public Schools,” Msall said. “There just is no other way to get around it.”