Teachers have been striking in front of the Chicago Public Schools headquarters and various school throughout the city for two days now over a new teacher evaluation system that would make students’ standardized test scores count for 40 percent of the evaluation. At ‘blame’ for the change in policy is Chicago mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who has called the strike, “totally unnecessary.”
Despite being offered at 16 percent raise over four years by the city, teachers are refusing to end the strike until they receive a 35 percent raise and jobs for fellow teachers who have been laid off during the city’s budget crunch.
Yahoo! News’ Liz Goodwin lays out the situation pretty well here, explaining how the strikes leads back to reforms enacted by Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Likewise, she points out that the the reforms Emanuel is pushing in Chicago are different than those of former DC school Chancellor Michelle Rhee because they do not include raises for teachers whose students perform well. And even Rhee’s reforms ended up costing both her and her boss, DC mayor Adrian Fenty their jobs despite the fact that their reforms lead to higher graduation rates and better scores on national assessment tests.
The video shows how outlandish the teachers’ raise requests are given that the average salary of a public school teacher is much higher than the average person living in Chicago (or anywhere else for that matter). According to reports on the issue, the mean salary of a teacher in Chicago is $71,200. However the Chicago Public Schools website suggests an even higher average salary amount of $74,839 for teachers.
The Romney campaign has taken Emanuel’s side in the strike. However, the Obama administration has tried to stay out of limelight, allowing the local government to handle the situation. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney merely stating that “Our principal concern is for the students and his principal concern is for the students and families who are affected by the situation and we hope that both sides are able to come together to settle this quickly and in the best interest of Chicago’s students.”
The city had agreed to six of the teachers’ 49 demands, but strikers say that’s not good enough. At the end of day two of the strike, the two sides don’t seem to be anywhere near reaching a deal.
Update: United States Education Secretary Arne Duncan issued the following vague statement early Tuesday evening:
“I hope that the parties will come together to settle this quickly and get our kids back in the classroom. I’m confident that both sides have the best interests of the students at heart, and that they can collaborate at the bargaining table – as teachers and school districts have done all over the country – to reach a solution that puts kids first.”