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September 12, 2012


"Today’s teachers, though they earn less than other college-educated workers,"

..is just not true, at least in Chicago. Ezra Klein calculated the comparitive salary of a Chicago teacher is $71,017 which is much higher then the Census data for college graduates in Chicago which is around $48,000.


Thank you, Dana. Was waiting for a piece from you on this strike, and you delivered a great analysis of the history behind teaching and public education in Chicago.

PRoales, nationally, American teachers earn 69 percent of other college-educated workers


I don't know what would be worse, being evaluated by peers consumed by politics and greed, or adminstrators who know little about teaching. Yes, teachers must be evaluated, but why not ask and include students directly for their take?

There are many problems with any teacher evaulation system that includes student test scores or "opinions".
1.) The number one predictor of future academic success is the socioeconomic status of the student. Many studies give this a range of 25-50% of student achievement. Should teachers be evaluated on this?
2.) Incompetent school leadership. Here in Ohio where I live, the city of Cleveland has had its schools forcibly taken over by the state on several occasions. Most principals that do not do their jobs well are just moved to another school or placed in the administration building. Administrators want teacher evaluation so badly, are they willing to have their job publically scrutinized as well with real data? If their teachers "fail", then didn't they also fail? Should they be fired?
3.) Going along with item #2, many principals are being brought in from the outside WITHOUT any education background. My own principal was an educated man (biomedical engineering undergrad and MBA), but not an *educator*. The district did this even though many teachers in the district had principal licenses.
4.) I have taught children that have purposefully "tanked" the state tests. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. If they get upset at a teacher that actually makes them work, they could very well take it out on the teacher by purposefully failing the tests.
5.) Tests can only measure what they are designed to measure. If it has already been proven (and it has) that most state standardized tests have little reliability when it comes to measuring what it is supposed to measure, namely student achievement, what makes anyone think that it can measure the teaching done any better?

A teacher evaluation *team* made up of "master educators" is the only viable solution here.

And to the person who posted above about teacher salaries compared to "college graduates" in Chicago, make sure you're comparing apples to apples. Average teacher salaries should be compared to other "masters-degree-required" fields, not just undergraduate degrees. And even quoting "average" salaries isn't quite fair, as public employees face layoffs (the lowest-paid are let go), the average goes up because those remaining have more education and years of service.

"Haley’s successful lawsuit against Chicago’s leading corporations, and her decision to ally the Chicago Teachers’ Federation with the blue-collar AFL-CIO, established teacher unionism as a potent force in American urban politics, and earned her the ire of the conservative elite."

There wasn't an AFL-CIO back then; there wasn't even a CIO. The Chicago Teachers did support Fitzpatrick, of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

They could not have been part of the AFL-CIO in 1897. There was no AFL-CIO in 1897.

CPScdeveloped an evaluation process that includes peer reviews, classroom observation, student performance, socioeconomic factors as they applet to schools and student reviews. This was developed with the help of 2,300 cps teachers. Details can be found here. I am frustrated that so any people are not educated about this process and assume that the teacher evaluations are soley based on test scores. It was a simple google search to find this information. I implore you to research the issues at hand versus listening to the retoric from special interest groups http://www.cps.edu/Pages/reachstudents.aspx

PRoales's data is off; a large percentage of CPS teachers have masters' degrees or even doctorates. Part of that, of course, is due to the compensation system at CPS which currently (but possibly not in the next contract) rewards further education with pay raises. Thus, comparing CPS's median salary with the data for all college graduates is in error; CPS is highly likely to employ more people with education beyond a bachelor's degree than is typical in Chicago as a whole.

There's a fascinating article from the Sun Times about teacher pay in the Chicagoland area, which, as should be obvious, has more impact on what CPS pays its teachers than comparing it to other big-city districts, as it's competing for local teaching talent. http://www.suntimes.com/14298715-460/blue-collar-suburbs-offer-blue-chip-teacher-pay.html The numbers that follow include pension contributions. CPS shows up at #16 in Illinois for beginning pay with a bachelor's degree at $50,577 (all the others in the top 20 are also in the Chicagoland area) but falls to #167 at $95,887. What does that mean as part of this debate? I don't know. But it does give me, at least, a better understanding of teacher compensation in the area.

What's the top teacher salary in Illinois? Starting out, you'd want to work at District 220 in Burbank at $55,091; not that distant from CPS, but still a nice bump. Sticking around at 220 wouldn't be a bad idea; their pay scale tops out at $132,942. But the top pay is at District 156 in McHenry, where an experienced and highly educated teacher can make up to $184,387; almost twice as much as CPS's top salary of $95,887.

Are CPS teachers underpaid? Do they deserve pay raises? That's based on your opinion.

Here's mine: teaching is a very demanding profession that is increasingly reviled in the media as being a waste of tax dollars. CPS teachers deal with an enormous district that is extremely non-responsive to teacher concerns and ideas. The likelihood of an individual teacher impressing his or her boss is high; of impressing the person who makes decisions about pay? Impossible. The steps system may seem strange to someone employed in a private business, but it isn't dissimilar to compensation systems used by large businesses, where people's jobs are payed at a certain grade, and over the years people work to move up in grades with each promotion. Teachers do not typically have opportunities for promotion; they are rewarded with raises for a certain number of years of experience, with the assumption being that if the teacher wasn't a good teacher, they'd be fired! CPS's principals have the ability to hire and fire, and they're certainly close enough to their employees to evaluate their work.

CPS does not fairly distribute resources to its schools; it, like many other Chicago institutions, does things "the Chicago way" based on clout, politics, and power. Schools on the South Side are, according to several teachers I've talked to, absolutely terrible. There is no soap in the bathrooms, no toilet paper. The stalls don't have doors. The roofs leak. These schools have been neglected for years, and it shows. They could have the best teachers in the world but it wouldn't help much. The students feel like they're treated like trash, and they're right. Class sizes of 41 or more certainly don't help teachers deal with the significant poverty their students live with daily. Schools on the North Side are, generally speaking, in reasonable repair but often lack the amenities considered necessary in schools in the suburbs, like computer labs and libraries, language classes and AP courses.

The REACH assessment evaluation process seems reasonable. Unfortunately, neither CPS nor the CTU has publicly disclosed much information about the disagreement over teacher performance evaluations.

The city has increasingly let struggling schools fall further and further into disrepair until they can reasonably make a case for the school to be closed and reopened as a charter school, run by politically connected millionaires and staffed by non-union teachers who, typically, weren't able to get a job at a unionized school.

The district's teachers have been paying attention to the Mayor's disdain for their efforts and his connections to the administrators of charter schools, and they see where things are headed if they don't stand up for themselves. The strike isn't primarily about compensation; it's about demanding that the district listen to its teachers with respect and supply its students with the necessities of a good education.

Your reflexive repetition of management memes such as "the knowledge economy" (when surely you must know that the large majority of current and projected future jobs require little or no training) and "worker flexibility" (more accurately translated as at-will employment with no due process rights) demonstrates how you are a member in good standing of the media echo chamber on education.

Your historical overview is marred by the ed deform talking points at the end, and reveals the received opinion that governs your writing, in service of the hostile takeover of the schools.

Your historical overview is marred by the ed deform talking points at the end, and reveals the received opinion that governs your writing, in service of the hostile takeover of the schools.

The media echo chamber on education.

The REACH assessment evaluation process seems reasonable.

That governs your writing, in service of the hostile takeover of the schools.

I am frustrated that so any people are not educated about this process.

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