October 23, 2019

Chicago Teachers’ Strike and Warren’s Education Plan

“Striking Chicago teachers are preparing for an extended walkout and trying to increase public pressure on Mayor Lori Lightfoot, with a downtown march set for Wednesday.” AP News

On Monday, Elizabeth Warren released a plan for public school education. The plan would increase federal education funding, attempt to remedy racial disparities and segregated schools, end federal funding for charter schools, and ban for-profit charter schools. Medium

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports both the teachers’ strike and Warren’s education plan.

“More Chicagoans support the teachers’ strike (49 percent) than disapprove of it (38 percent)... polling [also] shows that parents with children who attend the city’s public schools are more supportive of the strike than other residents… And recent teachers’ strikes in major cities like Los Angeles have shown that educators can use their collective bargaining power to secure smaller class sizes, more nurses, more counselors, and a host of other social services for students. These broad demands are part of a growing movement, led by teachers and labor unions, focused more on social justice issues affecting their communities than simply pay. It’s known as ‘bargaining for the common good’… teachers are feeling confident that they can get what they want, and they have reason to.”
Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox

“Critics on the school board and in mainstream media have responded with the common refrain that Chicago is broke and can’t afford such demands. But Chicago is awash in wealth – enough for Lightfoot to approve the giveaway of $1.3bn [over 23 years] in public money to luxury real estate firm Sterling Bay for the mega-development project Lincoln Yards. CTU has long argued that the way to pay for their demands is clear: end these corporate giveaways and tax the rich.”
Miles Kampf-Lassin and Micah Uetricht, The Guardian

Some argue that “although Lightfoot likes to point out she’s ‘not Rahm,’ she’s actually retained the same chief contract negotiator as Rahm and many mayors before him… According to members of the union’s negotiating team, [his] style is to try to force victory for his side by holding back on serious settlement options till the very last minute. His strategy, repeated over many contracts, is to force a narrowing of the subjects that will get addressed by the educators, and then, with hours to go to a strike deadline, suddenly make a ‘take it or leave it,’ offer…

“Perhaps the most important lesson Chicago’s educators have taught us is that to build a country where policy makers favor the supermajority rather than the 1 percent means a return to massive, supermajority strikes. It is only through such strikes that we can rebuild the solidarity desperately needed among workers—and between workers and the broader society. Strikes are to democracy what water is to life: not a distraction or a disturbance but the foundation.”
Jane McAlevey, The Nation

Regarding Warren’s plan, “our current school funding system is one where states and local communities provide the lion’s share of funding, with the federal government chipping in only about 10 percent of the money. The other 90% of school funding is overly reliant on property taxes, where communities with wealthy households with higher property values end up with more revenue for schools. This often leaves poor neighborhoods with poor schools… [Warren] importantly shows how linking school funding to property values continues the effects of racist housing policies, like redlining, making students of color disproportionately likely to attend under-funded schools… Warren would funnel an additional $450 billion into low-income schools over the next 10 years. She also committed to improve the funding formula to ensure the money goes to the students and schools with the most need and requiring states to chip in more and adopt progressive formulas.”
Wesley Whistle, Forbes

“The crux of Warren’s new plan is a commitment to expand federal funding of public K-12 education. But the plan also recognizes that the federal government ultimately controls a very small portion of the overall funding going to schools… Warren is trying to turn the federal money into a carrot to get states to invest more of their own money; states that adopt progressive funding formulas and keep their promises for allocating money consistently would get the additional [federal] money.”
Ella Nilsen, Vox

Critics note that “Just saying teacher salaries should increase is a sound bite for applause and social media reactions, but sorely misses how deeply felt and broadly damaging the teacher pay problem is. American teachers are making 4.5% less than they were 10 years ago and have seen a $30 decrease in weekly pay compared to the $124 raise given to other American college graduates… As a Democrat in 2019-20, you are not immune to teacher criticism and must be more specific when addressing the biggest ‘structural change’ needed in education, teacher pay.”
Zak Ringelstein, Forbes

From the Right

The right is critical of both the teachers’ strike and Warren’s education plan.

The right is critical of both the teachers’ strike and Warren’s education plan.

“More and more, the Chicago Teachers Union’s decision to strike appears to be a power play intended to establish dominance over a new mayor. The union backed Lightfoot’s opponent Toni Preckwinkle for mayor of Chicago, donating nearly $300,000 to her campaign in 2019. But Lightfoot won, throwing the union’s plans into turmoil… union demands don’t stop at the school district level. The union’s offer also dictates what legislative efforts the school district should support, and it mandates that the school district ‘ensure’ the city uses certain funds for affordable housing units.”
Mailee Smith, Washington Examiner

“As Chicago teachers marched into Week Two of their strike Monday, Chicago Teachers Union leaders pursued their strategy of moving the goal posts. One indicator: Contract demands that started with pay now include rent control… Rent control policy has no place in a teacher contract negotiation. Nor does affordability of housing. Nor does presidential politics. But in the spaghetti-throwing exercise CTU has employed for months, issues that fall outside the parameters of a labor agreement keep getting tossed at the wall.”
Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune

“Despite the common narrative that teachers are underpaid, this is clearly not the case in Chicago. According to USA Today, ‘Chicago teachers on average earn nearly $79,000, and even a second-year teacher earns nearly $54,000.’ Imagine that, earning well over 150% of the national median personal income in just your second year out of school. Those aren’t exactly starvation wages, especially for a job that only takes up 10 months out of the year. Oh, and the president of the national teachers' union, Randi Weingarten? She makes nearly $600,000 in annual salary. The Chicago Teachers Union’s greed is even more apparent when you consider that they’ve rejected the district’s offer of a 16% raise over five years, demanding even more.”
Brad Polumbo, Washington Examiner

“The mayor has offered more than taxpayers can afford. But the CTU wants even more control, dictating the wholesale hiring of additional staff. It’s all about wresting control of the public schools from the mayor’s office. Lightfoot, a woman of integrity, a liberal Democrat, now finds herself being mugged by the hard-left reality of the new political Chicago… The CTU wants concessions on lower class sizes, and more nurses and librarians and social workers. But is CTU volunteering to slash the pay raise that’s been offered, and will the union support closing all but empty schools?…

“When I talk about union political muscle, I’m not talking about the private sector unions, like carpenters, electricians, plumbers and so on. When private sector unions negotiate contracts with business, they sit across the table from management, which represents shareholders. Eventually, they come to a fair exchange. But who represents the true shareholders here? Pushing back against the public worker unions is not in the Democratic Party’s interest… For taxpayers, it’s a one-way street.”
John Kass, Chicago Tribune

Regarding Warren’s plan, “Harvard University professor Thomas Kane found that amid the empirical progress made by charter schools in Massachusetts just over one year, ‘the oversubscribed charter schools in the Boston area are closing one half of the Black-White achievement gap in math and roughly one fifth of the Black-White achievement gap in English’... [but] Warren wants those schools to go out of business. Those charter schools have given low-income children opportunities for success their parents never would be able to afford and drawn middle-class families back to public education and communities they once fled. Warren’s plan takes us backward.”
Jeanne Allen, Washington Examiner

“One recent study by Mathematica Policy Research found that students enrolled in certain charter schools were 12.9 percent more likely to go to college. A similar study found that they’re likely to make more money… The highly-touted Success Academy charter system is just one example of this phenomenon… they account for an astounding 20 of the top 30 highest-performing schools in the New York public education system. Yes, like all good schools they demand a lot from parents and students, but the dividends speak for themselves… providing families with options which allow them to escape failing schools improves education for those who need it most.”
Robert Doar, American Enterprise Institute

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.