The Chicago Teachers Union reached a landmark tentative agreement for a new contract with Chicago Public Schools. According to the teacher’s union, this historic agreement recognizes and values the voice and experience of Chicago educators, and turns the page and provides a new pathway for the union and its rank-and-file members to do right by students and families – so says the teachers union.
The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago public schools. So what did this new teacher’s agreement win? The agreement in the nation’s third-largest school district includes:
- Enforceable staffing increases 209 additional social worker positions, a social worker assigned to every school, a case manager assigned to every school, and 250 additional nursing positions by the end of the contract.
- Staffing Pipeline with $2.5 million in recruitment and training programs for clinicians, $2 million in tuition and licensure for nurses, increased investments in “grow your own” teacher pipeline programs, and 50 percent tuition reimbursement for English Language and bilingual endorsement programs.
- $35 million annually to reduce oversized, K-12 classrooms across the district, prioritizing schools serving the most vulnerable students.
- Sports Committee with an annual budget of $5 million (33 percent increase in annual funding) for increases to coaching stipends and new equipment/resources.
- January 2019 0.8 percent increase in health care contribution rate rescinded as of 7/1/19 – no plan changes to health insurance benefits and reductions in co-pays for mental health services and physical therapy.
- Bank of sick days earned after July 1, 2012, increased from 40 to 244 days.
- Development of special education Individual Education Plans (IEP) made solely by the IEP team – principals required to use substitutes or release time to provide adequate time for special education duties to the extent possible – common preparation periods with general education teachers where possible – special ed teachers last to be called to cover classes – $2.5 million annual funds to reduce workload.
- An expansion of discrimination protections for Chicago teachers on the basis of ethnicity, gender, pregnancy status, religion, immigration status, and genetic information – is still an issue or a way for folks to scam the system?.
- Makeup five days of canceled classes that resulted from the 11-day strike.
- 15% raise over the next three to five years – wow, even higher than the inflation rate.
Wow, what a package – of course, it is for the kids, not the teachers. Teacher pension contributions are out of sync with payouts. The average career teacher currently receives an annual pension of $73,350 and will receive a lifetime payout of over $2 million. Wow again, what a package – of course, it is for the kids, not the teachers.
So who is going to pay for all these “wow” payout packages? Well, Illinois is already 8th on the list of the worst taxed state in the US. What are people doing? They are voting with their feet – Illinois is the 2nd worst state in the US when it comes to losing people. One of the major reasons cited is high taxes. Illinois and specifically Chicago is in a virtuous negative feedback loop. The more they tax, the less tax they will receive because taxpayers leave. What does this do to the funding of Chicago city services?
Several funds in Chicago are already in danger of running out of money entirely. The firefighter’s pension fund, for example, is just 18% funded. Its assets only cover a little over three years of benefit payouts. The city’s police and municipal funds aren’t much better off, at just 25% funded. Without fresh contributions, both only have enough assets to cover about four years of benefits. The teachers fare a little better at 48% funding, perhaps giving them another year or two more.
Moody’s Investor Service recently released its 2018 calculations of state debt. Under the agency’s more realistic assumptions, Illinois owes over $241 billion in state pension debt – the most in the nation. Current retirees will most likely suffer from total collapse – their monthly pension checks could fail to arrive. We haven’t even discussed the quality of education these kids are getting nor the crime-ridden areas of Chicago. So what’s the problem?
It seems where ever there is a major city run by Democrats – it turns into a dirty toilet to flush the rats down the hole. Democrats pander to their voters by offering generous packages to voters and constituents, only to bankrupt their communities. In the short run, it feels good to give away freebies – with good intentions. But these good intentions are a road to the dark side. Of course, Democrats will blame Republicans for being heartless and don’t care about kids. But who really cares the most about kids?
When Chicago turns into another Detroit and the misery that it brings – just who really are the heartless? Democrats …