Chicago’s Teaching Moment & ‘A Strike of Choice’

A friend sent me links to the two subscriber-only Wall Street Journal articles with the above headlines—here are excerpts from each:

According to the union’s own figures, the average Chicago public school teacher makes $71,000 a year in salary, and that’s before pensions and benefits generally worth $15,000 or more a year. Senior teachers make much more. That’s not a bad deal compared to the median household income of $47,000 for a Chicago worker in the private economy.


There’s a case for no raise considering that Chicago’s schools are among the worst in the country, with a graduation rate around 55%. A 2006 study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research found that for every 100 Chicago public high school freshmen, only six get four-year college degrees. Among African-American and Hispanic boys, the number is three of 100.

What’s really unacceptable here is the fact that despite having among the highest paid teachers in the country, only 56% of Chicago Public School students graduate high school. Last school year only 31% of Chicago high school students met or exceeded Illinois state academic standards. And despite the district’s $700 million budget deficit, Chicago teachers unions still demanded a 30% raise.

City officials have sent more than 20 proposals to the union in the past week. But apparently none have been good enough. “I believe this is avoidable because this is a strike of choice,” Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference last night.