Updated! Why Chicago Teachers Are Striking Despite an Offered 16 percent Raise Over Four Years

Update: Read this story about how the 45,000 kids in Chicago's charter schools are still going to school even as their counterparts in traditional public schools are cooling their heels as teachers strike.

As Reason 24/7 notes, Chicago's teachers are on strike. This, despite what seems like a pretty plum offer from city officials:

Chicago offered teachers raises of 3 percent this year and another 2 percent annually for the following three years, amounting to an average raise of 16 percent over the duration of the proposed contract, School Board President David Vitale said.

"This is not a small contribution we're making at a time when our financial situation is very challenging," he said.

The school district, like many cities and states across the country, is facing a financial crisis with a projected budget deficit of $3 billion over the next three years and a crushing burden of pensions promised to retiring teachers.

So what's the sticking point? In exchange for the salary increase, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others are insisting that standardized test scores play some role in evaluating teachers and that school principals be given more power to run their schools the way they want to. Teachers say they don't have enough control over their students' socioeconomic situations to be judged on what they teach kids. Responds a union official:

"Evaluate us on what we do, not the lives of our children we do not control," [union head Karen] Lewis said in announcing the strike.

More here.

Come on. Nobody - even Rahm Emanuel, a man about as heartwarming as a bloody stool - is suggesting that teahers be held accountable for poverty, crime, you name it. But it certainly can't be that complicated to come up with a way of benchmarking student progress that takes into account the effect of specific teachers. One of the most ridiculous claims emanating from teachers unions is the persistent idea that teaching abilities can't be quantified in any meaningful way as it relates to merit. Somehow, every other profession on the planet - including teaching at the college level - finds ways to assess and reward good performance.

Then again, all discussions about the K-12 system need to at least consider the notion that educating kids is the lowest priority of what we called "The Machine" in this recent Reason TV video:

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  • Marshall Gill||

    Because they lack human souls?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    The discussion of a lack of soul always reminds me of the SNL sketch with John Goodman as a football referee being interviewed after a game.

    "So, where most people have a soul, what do you have? Is it a void, or like a black hole, or what?"

  • ubercynic||

    Ah, the good old days, when SNL was actually funny.

  • John||

    Teachers say they don't have enough control over their students' socioeconomic situations to be judged on what they teach kids.

    Isn't that, when coming out of the mouth of a Libertarian or a conservative, what liberals would call a "dog whistle"?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Moreover, it's total bullshit. Charters in Harlem have matched suburban academic achievement.

  • Kwanzaa Cake||

    But it is a very interesting, albeit unintentional, admission that teachers can't much influence student performance in light of more important factors like family situation. So if the teachers are right about this, then all the money we have been dumping into education is a waste -- teacher quality just does not matter all that much.

  • Question of Auban||

    Exactly, and if a teacher can have no impact on a student's test results why need they have college degrees? If results are entirely dependent upon socio-economic status why waste their time in school at all? Just asking – if we follow this line of thinking to its logical conclusion teachers are worthless. Are these teachers admitting to being completely worthless?

  • John Thacker||

    Yes, of course. But all the "dog whistle" stuff starts with the assumption that, whatever they claim, libertarians and conservatives are secretly racist.

  • PapayaSF||

    So they want to be judged on what they do, and not on the results of what they do? The perfect lefty job: to be judged on your intentions and not your results.

    Also note that the parents and grandparents and great-grandparents of these kids probably all went to public schools. Are public schools really entirely blameless for this situation? If education is not getting people out of poverty, what's it doing?

  • sarcasmic||

    as heartwarming as a bloody stool

    I can't tell if you mean a bloody shit or a bloody seat, since neither is very heartwarming.

  • ||

    He's talking about poop. Disgusting bloody poop.

  • sarcasmic||

    Couldn't he mean a bloody bar stool?

    You walk into a bar, looking for a place to sit and have a drink, and all there is is a lone stool, covered in blood.

    Not very heartwarming, is it?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Oh, come on! It's a bloody barstool with a HEART OF GOLD!

  • R C Dean||

    Wouldn't it depend on whose blood it is?

  • ||

    I guess not. But keep in mind he's talking about the current mayor of Chicago.

  • Entropy Void||

    Then he MUST be referring to something full of shit.

  • ubercynic||

    I always wondered where the euphemism "stool" came from. Whenever I hear it, I always think of a cartoon from National Lampoon (couldn't find it online, sorry) which shows a guy in a doctor's office, sitting on about a two foot long straight, rigid turd sticking out of his butt, and the doctor says "Your stool is too firm".

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    ALT CAPTION: "They call me MISTAH BOY!"

  • John||

    "They call me Mr. Tibbs" is one of the great lines in Hollywood history. Sidney Poitier was pretty much one of the coolest people who ever lived. He even had the cool name. Denzel Washington isn't fit to shine Poitier's shoes.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    A black man shining shoes = teh RAAACIST!!

    Also, I disagree that Mr. W. isn't up to Mr. P's level. I agree Poitier is great, but I think Washington is equally great, and probably broader in ability. From "The Preacher's Wife" to "Training Day" to "Man on Fire" to "Inside Man" to "American Gangster" - the man has some chops, and can definitely ACT. He's good.

  • John||

    Oh Washington can act. But he is not as cool as Poitier.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Indeed. And he dropped of school at 12 or 13.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He's not quite dead yet.

  • Entropy Void||

    Too damn bad, as he has now turned into one of the most 'tarded libtard leftard 'tarded retards there ever was.

  • Mike M.||

    Yeah, I've pretty much had it with public school teachers and their "F.U., drop dead" attitude. Eventually almost everyone else will feel about the same way.

  • John||

    Jacques Barazon said about 15 years ago now in his book "From Dawn to Decadence" that eventually the public would grow tired of public education and kill it altogether. Like nearly everything else Barazon says, it is probably right. This cannot go on forever.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Chicago teachers have the highest average salary of any city at $76,000 a year before benefits. The average family in the city only earns $47,000 a year."

    http://www.nationalreview.com/.....-john-fund

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Holy FUCK that's a good wage! Course, you gotta work in Chicago Public Schools, so I guess hazard pay is appropriate.

  • John||

    The average administrator salary is $120,000.

    http://www.cps.edu/about_cps/a.....facts.aspx

    People like Tony and other liberals are stealing from poor people to pay off school administrators.

  • Skyhawk||

    And, don't forget that teaching is a part-time, seasonal job.

    Teachers work 7 hours per day, for 175 days per year.

    As compared to 8-10 hours per day for 245 days per year for the average city worker.

    So, the average Chicago teacher makes $76,000 working part time, while the average Chicago worker makes $47,000 for a full time job.

    Public unions have no shame. It's no wonder towns and cities around the US are going bankrupt.

  • KDN||

    Teachers work 7 hours per day, for 175 days per year.

    While your broader point is correct, this is largely not. Teachers do put in a full day's work when they're working (and then some in a lot of cases). Their problem is they want you to ignore the two months' vacation and the pot of gold at the end of their careers when evaluating their compensation.

  • Mr. Soul||

    the real story here is that striking is the best thing that can happen for the students. Its the compulsory aspect of education that is directly responsible for its sorry state. If you cant opt out, it cant be good.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    One of the most ridiculous claims emanating from teachers unions is the persistent idea that teaching abilities can't be quantified in any meaningful way as it relates to merit.

    If teaching abilities can't be measured then how can teaching inabilities be measured? And if teaching inabilities can't be measured, why do we need certified teachers with $75K salaries and nice benefits?

  • Ron||

    Don't use Logic with these people it only confuses them.

  • John Thacker||

    Chicago offered teachers raises of 3 percent this year and another 2 percent annually for the following three years, amounting to an average raise of 16 percent over the duration of the proposed contract, School Board President David Vitale said.

    So, 1.03 * 1.02 * 1.02 * 1.02 = 1.093. I'm assuming that the remaining 7.7% of the raises has to do with all the teachers also getting raises from additional service time (plus, say, certification bonuses or so forth)? The raises listed there must be raises to the base values.

    Kind of like how federal workers have had their Cost of Living Adjustments frozen, but have continued to be eligible for step raises.

  • WillyWill||

    Or perhaps the writer of this article needs to go sit in on a basic math class...

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided to send his three children to the University of Chicago Lab Schools rather than put them in the financially strapped Chicago Public Schools he’s trying desperately to reform."

    "The University of Chicago Lab School is an elite, diverse and costly school that has long educated the children of Chicago’s rich, famous and clout-heavy. Annual tuition at the Hyde Park school ranges from $21,876 for grades 1-4 to $23,676 for grades 5-8 and $24,870 for high school students."

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/e.....-fall.html

  • John||

    I bet the average per pupil expenditure is $12,611 per student. Something tells me they get something less than half the education the rich parents at the Lab school are getting.

    http://www.cps.edu/about_cps/a.....facts.aspx

  • T o n y||

    Rating teachers on student performance is fraught with problems and is not like the types of evaluations done in other professions. Teachers should be applauded for taking on tougher students--students who will perform less well--not punished for it. This fad has got to go. There are lots of ways schools should be reformed but scapegoating teachers and slapping pointless on-size-fits-all tests on students reek of the laziness of politicians who want to look like they're doing something useful.

  • John||

    Expecting teachers to teach black students anything is expecting a lot isn't it? It is not like black people are of equal intelligence to whites or anything. Right Tony?

  • T o n y||

    I'm not sure what point you're trying to make by bringing up skin color.

    I just think that teachers shouldn't be punished for taking on students who require extra effort. And they shouldn't be held responsible for the entire spectrum of problems associated with socioeconomic differences.

  • Ed||

    Even poorly performing students show improvement if taught well. Maybe not as much improvement as better students, but certainly they improve when taught well.

  • Proprietist||

    Exactly - relative improvement is measurable even if students and schools aren't apples-to-apples. Underachieving inner-city schools should not necessarily be expected to match wealthy suburban schools, but test scores overall are legitimate grounds for measuring whether an underacheiving school is moving towards average or moving away from it.

  • victor||

    John, what you said only implies what you yourself think.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    So, take the tougher students, get applauded, point to your tougher students when people wonder why the students seem not to be learning. What could go wrong?

    If a teacher can't show me why he is doing a better job, why should be get more money?

  • Proprietist||

    Why not move the problem kids and the mentally deficient to alternative classrooms (with different grading curves for the teachers) from the normal students? Then you can grade the normal students' teachers based on relative improvements on test scores. It's really not that hard.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    But... but... mainstreaming...

  • UneasyRider||

    If better teaching results in better test scores, then I would think that the lowest performing students would be low hanging fruit. If properly implemented, using improvement in standardized test scores as a ruler could encourage good teachers to teach bad students.

  • ||

    I'd agree that politicians probably aren't the best people to be fixing a problem, whatever it is.

  • John C. Randolph||

    ...and here comes Tony to provide excuses for incompetence. Can't have teachers evaluated on their performance, that wouldn't be FAIR, right?

    -jcr

  • John Thacker||

    Well, he's right that centralized performance ratings are no cure for incompetence in a governmental monopoly. Just look at other state employees as well; there have been plenty of centralized rating systems tried in all areas of government, not just teaching.

    Tony's simply arguing for the superiority and flexibility of school choice, which avoids the one size fits all mentality.

  • T o n y||

    How does "school choice" account for different learning styles and abilities of students? Parents are supposed to know these things ahead of time?

    There's a long list of reforms that can be made to public schooling, but slapping an antigovernment ideology on the effort is likely to be unhelpful.

  • John Thacker||

    Parents are supposed to know these things ahead of time?

    Are administrators? And if parents see that a school isn't serving their kid well, shouldn't they have the ability to seek out something different?

    Centralized one size fits all schooling is what I'm arguing against. I included charter schools as an option. Without any form of choice, you tend to get one type of school, with one kind of service and learning style.

    Different in different places, of course. In some places, people who understand science are forced to subsidize anti-science classes but pay full rides if they want their own kids to learn evolution. In many places, parents who don't want their kids to be taught to the test are forced to pay full rides while subsidizing the other model. I suppose you can argue that people should just buy a house in a different neighborhood if they want a different kind of school, but I see no reason to bundle the two things.

    School choice is about a diversity of learning styles.

    Your one size fits all government ideology is unhelpful.

  • DarrenM||

    ...shouldn't they have the ability to seek out something different?

    Of course not. Parents and students need to learn to take it and like it.

  • John Thacker||

    Rating teachers on student performance is fraught with problems and is not like the types of evaluations done in other professions.

    Absolutely agree on teacher ratings and one size fits all tests. What it should be, you're arguing, is like other professions, where people are free to take their kids to other schools if the school isn't performing well. After all, not all students learn the same way.

    Very persuasive argument in favor of charter schools, vouchers, and other forms of school choice, Tony. Much more effective than trying to centralize teacher and student evaluations in the hands of the bureaucracy, the way that most of your fellow progressives wish to do it.

  • T o n y||

    We have an outdated and broken model for education in this country. How to reform it is an entirely separate conversation from whether vouchers and other privatization schemes are a good idea, which are peddled without any evidence that they improve outcomes.

    Research shows that individual attention is one of the important factors in student success. Applying faulty premises about the virtues of market choice to a service that is meant to be provided universally has nothing to do with reforming education.

  • Rhino||

    Meant to be provided universally? says who? you? Who provides this "universal" service? The Government? Says who? You? Who pays? The rich? Everyone regardless of need or utilization? Says who? you?

  • T o n y||

    Says the norms of modern civilization. Social Darwinism does not make for a market that possesses the virtues you guys claim it does.

  • John Thacker||

    And the reality of government schools where parents pay tuition through their expensive mortgages doesn't make for the "universality" that possesses the virtues you claim it does.

  • Sevo||

    T o n y| 9.10.12 @ 11:14AM |#
    "We have an outdated and broken model for education in this country. How to reform it is an entirely separate conversation from whether vouchers and other privatization schemes are a good idea, which are peddled without any evidence that they improve outcomes."
    Bullshit, shithead. One more steaming pile from you.

    "Research shows that individual attention is one of the important factors in student success. Applying faulty premises about the virtues of market choice to a service that is meant to be provided universally has nothing to do with reforming education."
    Are you truly *that* stupid, shithead? Allowing people to choose where their kids get an education has nothing to do with it?
    OK, shithead, question: Do you consciously lie and hope no one figures it out? Or are you just one of the dumbest shits ever to walk the earth?

  • ||

    Do you consciously lie and hope no one figures it out? Or are you just one of the dumbest shits ever to walk the earth?

    False dilemma. The answer is simply "yes".

  • John Thacker||

    Research shows that individual attention is one of the important factors in student success.

    Sure. Which is more likely to lead to individual attention, a situation where the parent and child have no choice, or one where they can threaten to go elsewhere if the school is serving them poorly? School choice *is* universal. It's just not one size fits all. And it's much less tied to income than bundling good schools with expensive neighborhoods.

    Evidence is universal that school choice improves individual attention and student and parental satisfaction. It's true that the evidence is somewhat weaker (though most studies positive) on test scores-- but you're the one arguing that test scores aren't a perfect measure.

    Most studies show that charter and voucher schools for poor kids improve test scores significantly, but they do less of a job with wealthy suburban kids. That's because, as you might expect, wealthy suburban parents often go looking for charter schools that specifically don't teach to the test, instead offering a holistic critical thinking approach that those parents want, but many of their peers in the neighborhood do not.

  • John Thacker||

    Tony, it's amazing how you run back to evidence from those "pointless on-size-fits-all tests on students" to argue against school choice and say it has no effect. I assume that it's because if you measured against individual attention, self-esteem, and parental and student satisfaction-- all things that in other contexts you say are more important-- then the case would be obvious and overwhelming in favor of school choice.

    Instead, by focusing on those test scores, you can say that the record is mixed, largely because of wealthy parents who want schools that don't teach to the test and are willing to sacrifice a couple points on those "pointless on-size-fits-all tests" for the critical thinking and individual attention you say is important.

  • MJGreen||

    So they should be rewarded for trying, regardless of results. This whole "everyone's a winner!" attitude has now worked its way up to the teachers themselves.

  • Adam330||

    Of course there are problems in designing a proper evaluation, but that doesn't mean you scrap it completely. Virtually no professional is in absolute control of their outcomes. The best doctors still see patients die. The best lawyers lose cases. The best businessmen make bad investments. Guess what? All of them get evaluated (and often paid) based on their results, sometimes with adjustments to take into account factors outside their control.

    The issue here is that teachers want to be free of all accountability, with the only "evaluation" being some other teacher watching their class once a year and writing down "excellent." Standardized tests aren't perfect, but they're a valuable objective tool that should be part of any teacher evaluation system.

  • ||

    Tony said:
    "...scapegoating teachers and slapping pointless on-size-fits-all tests on students reek of the laziness of politicians who want to look like they're doing something useful."

    And, this is in contract to the otherwise great job they do enriching all our lives?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I remember my public schoolin days, when several teachers of mine came and went in a year. Every one that I can remember deserved it.

  • Rhino||

    It's not unfare. You just have to look at it the right way. If you take a bunch of people with high score and maintain them, that's not as difficult as taking a bunch of kids with low score and raising them. If you don't even measure, you will never see the teachers with poor students that never get better and the teachers with good students that slip downward. By the way, this is how management is evaluated everywhere. If your employees perform poorly, you are the one who looks bad to your boss.

  • pforeman||

    Are you saying that those in other professions aren't judged regularly on taking on tougher tasks?

    I recall earlier in my career being thrown into an audit engagement without having any knowledge of the industry or the company. I was also tasked to run the engagement, even though I had never run an engagement let alone one that size. I also recall getting evaluated after it had concluded and not getting any slack because it was a "tough task".

    Teachers bitch and moan that they aren't paid as professionals, but then they don't have any interest in being treated as such. Professionals are held accountable for their actions and are rewarded or disciplined for those actions.

  • ||

    Teachers bitch and moan that they aren't paid as professionals

    Which is ironic since $76k/year plus platinum-coated benefits beats the shit out of the money you will make in just about any professional field outside of VP-level Wall Street or physician.

  • ||

    Oh sure, now "once size fits all" doesn't work for Tony. Isn't that, like, the main issue with draconian and coercive government laws and regualtions? The one size fits all idiocy?

  • Question of Auban||

    Rating auto mechanics on car performance is fraught with problems and is not like the types of evaluations done in other professions. Auto mechanics should be applauded for taking on older cars that are in disrepair -- cars that will perform less well--not punished for it. This fad has got to go. There are lots of ways auto repair shops should be reformed but scapegoating auto mechanics and slapping pointless on-size-fits-all tests on automobiles reek of the laziness of politicians who want to look like they're doing something useful.

  • ||

    As a parent of a CPS child (and two other kids who I anticipate will also be CPS soon), I have lots of problems with the teachers union but the testing is actually the one area where I agree with them. Nick says "it certainly can't be that complicated to come up with a way of benchmarking student progress that takes into account the effect of specific teachers." This simplistic view fails to take into account two issues. First, while it might be possible, why should anybody (be they teachers or parents) have faith that the school board will actually implement such a test? I'm not confident that the school board can put on matching socks, let alone implement a test to account for all sorts of uncontrolled variables that go into standardized test scores. Second, and of greater concern to me as a parent, my oldest finished kindergarten last year and they were ALREADY teaching to standardized tests. I can only imagine how much worse it would be if teachers' jobs were dependent on the test scores. I want the teachers to focus on teaching my kid what they think is best for my kid, not what my kid needs to know to pass some bullshit standardized test. Like pretty much all libertarians, I'm skeptical as hell of union leadership, but in this case I actually think their concerns align with the best interest of the students.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I want the teachers to focus on teaching my kid what they think is best for my kid...

    For the love of Zod, why?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "I want the teachers to focus on teaching my kid what they think is best for my kid"

    Yeah, I'd rather teachers focus on teaching my kid what - I - think is best for my kid.

  • Killazontherun||

    I'm against testing too to the extent I'm against the existence of public schools. These striking teachers in their excuse for striking are making my argument against the existence public schools for me. It doesn't matter if it is not the teacher's fault, or not. If we can't judge their performance by outcomes than they are worthless and shouldn't be earning a dime. Nobody is owed a job, especially one where they don't make an accountable difference.

  • ||

    In a perfect world, I would be against public schools too. However, as long as I'm already paying for them via my property tax dollars, and the local Catholic schools are no better, I'm going to send my kids to public school. And so long as teachers exist and have to be evaluated in some fashion, I would rather have their jobs evaluated by the local administration than uniformly by standardized testing.

  • Adam330||

    That would be a good approach so long as the local administration is held accountable for results (and has the power to hire, get rid of, or adjust the pay for teachers depending on how they meet their evaluation standards).

    If you don't do that, then you'll just end up with a worthless evaluation system and unmotivated teachers.

  • ||

    IOW, Who watches the watchmen? You can defer accountability up the chain indefinitely, but at some point, you're either getting value or you aren't, right?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    In regards to "teaching to the test":

    1) Don't let the teachers know what the test is beforehand and they won't do that.

    2) If they are teaching to the test and not teaching your kid something useful, you should have a problem with what is on the test, not the existence of the test itself.

  • ||

    Number 1 is an excellent point. You can teach how to do algebra and read comprehensively without teaching to specific question sets a student would see on the test. I have said more and more lately that students would do well to have a critical thinking course, where LSAT type questions are used as practice.

  • Invisible Finger||

    I'm not confident that the school board can put on matching socks,

    Yes, and this is the same teacher's union who delayed their announcemment so that all ONE of the 10pm newscasts could carry the presser live while all TWO of the 9pm newscasts had to wait and wait and wait...


    The union wants compulsory education, so they have to put up with school board evaluation. If they don't like it, they should try the free-market approach.

    I want the teachers to focus on teaching my kid what they think is best for my kid,

    WTF? You want some random stranger who thinks his shit doesn't stink to teach your kid what he/she thinks is best? You are better off asking said stranger to teach them the 3 R's, the rest is opinionated bullshit that is a waste of everyone's time and money. These stupid pieces of shit can't even figure out how to operate a goddamned TV.

  • Killazontherun||

    My kid is turning two in a few days. I'm not exaggerating in the least when I tell you that I waited later in life to have him so I could afford to keep him away from the creeps who run the public schools system.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Same here. Then it turns out that the private schools I can reasonably afford are essentially somewhat less leftist and move at a slightly faster pace, but still infested with brain dead administration and cliques of idiocy.

  • ||

    ^^^ Ding! Ding! Ding! My only affordable alternative to public school is the Catholic school system, which is the last to hire teachers because all the good ones want to bolt for the better-paying public schools.

  • Killazontherun||

    I know my where my kid is going for the first six years. It has ranked number one academic achievement in the state several time over the previous two decades. I've known where I would be sending him since I myself was in high school and I was impressed by my peers who went to that school.

  • Killazontherun||

    They are the kind of people who would never forget the plural form on the word 'time' above like little ol' publicly educated me.

  • Killazontherun||

    Yeah, there are others. A bad copy and paste rewrite where I missed the changes in formations, and left a few words dangling. I'm eating lunch and typing at the same time.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    This outfit will hook you up for about $6,000 a year if religion doesn't scare you:

    http://www.tccschool.com/tuition.cfm

    Strange how schools that are performing well aren't afraid to compare themselves to other schools:

    http://www.tccschool.com/testing.cfm

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Religion doesn't scare me, but I've started homeschooling them.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Think of religion class as like a english literature class. No harm in that. What's the difference from reading the Odyssey, and answering questions the way the teacher likes?

  • Killazontherun||

    The school I'm sending my kid in four years is a secular private school, but the best high school is a Catholic school. If I send him there later on, I would consider the religion classes basic cultural literacy.

  • Marshall Gill||

    My kid is turning two in a few days

    Home school. Start tomorrow. Your child is at the age when they are like sponges. Don't waste the next two years because other children do not attend school.

    Of course, if you do this, you will not be able to send them to public school or possibly even private school when they turn 4 or 5 because they will be so much ahead of the other children their age. My son will be starting college in a year or two and he just turned 11.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    This.

    My kids started kindergarten at a private school and have the two highest scores ever on their entrance test. They could read and do math while the rest of the class was learning letter and colors. I feel like I wasted a few years of their lives.

    They are 11 and 12 and I'll be driving them to college classes within a couple of years. They still need more work on writing to be able to really hang in a college class.

  • ||

    The two of you are truly exemplary parents. I hope to have your resolve if ever I settle down and expel a few kids (I'm only 25 now, so plenty of time, and plenty of non-child related debt to incur between then and now).

  • Sevo||

    T o n y| 9.10.12 @ 10:38AM |#
    "Rating teachers on student performance is fraught with problems..."

    Yea, shithead. Like we might find half the teachers should be fired. Those sorts of problems, you idiot.

  • sarcasmic||

    This amounts to treating symptoms while ignoring the cause.

    Tie the money to the kid and allow parents to choose which school their child attends, and the individual schools will figure out real quick which teachers are good and which ones suck. All they need is an incentive.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    ^this

    The parents need to be able to move their kid (with $$$) to wherever they want. That will incentivise a whole lotta improvement right quick.

  • Adam330||

    Well they also need the ability to do something about it. Right now, public schools can't fire or change the compensation of bad teachers, or hire good ones and increase their compensation. You can incentivize all you want, but any school stuck in that straightjacket is going to improve.

  • Ron||

    I attended schools from the mid 60's to the early 80's, kindergarten through University. Every class I ever took had test involved and most test if not all were informally taken from a standardized test, they were based on what the teachers were taught were appropriate methods of testing. When it comes to most subjects pre-university there is no reason to not use a standardized test since spelling, history,science, math and english do not change from state to state.Considering 2+2 always equals 4.
    Standardized testing is not the problem. BTW the rest of the world that we are always comparing ourselves to uses standardized testing and it doesn't seam to harm them one bit.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Fire them all, and bring in a new group of people to babysit our children while we are at work.

    If needed, we can even give them a few weeks to get an Education degree online. They can do it during their extensive time off for teacher conferences, etc., or during the eighteen hours a day they aren't teaching students, or simply promise to do it next summer during their three-month annual vacation.

  • John||

    The average salary for a Chicago school teacher is $76,000 a year. How many smart, motivated people are out there who would do anything for a stable job a that salary? You could waive the certification requirement, fire every one of those lazy bastards, and massively improve the quality of the schools. What does Chicago have to lose? It is not like it can get any worse.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Is that salary counting the extra income from their summer jobs?

  • John||

    Nope.

  • Michael||

    Fire them all, and bring in a new group of people to babysit our children while we are at work.

    Quite sadly, if you listen to many of the parents that are expressing their support for the CTU right now, you'll immediately realize that babysitting is their primary expectation of the school system. Many of them probably don't know or care about their children's performance just as long as there is someone that'll keep them in custody for five days out of the week, and moreover, their contributions to the tax pool are so bare minimal that neither do they give a shit about how much these babysitters cost overall.

  • ||

    "teahers"

    Reason.com needs spell check on.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    You are the spell check.

  • ||

    I saw a brief clip of the president of the CTU on WGN last night discussing the "negotiations". The waves of filthy evil emanating from her melted my TV a little.

  • Jerry on the road||

    Socialist Europe has more school choice in public education.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Clearly, teachers hold a measure of accountability in their teaching efforts but from what I witnessed in my inner city schooling there is no way in hell teachers were miniature deities outfitted supernaturally to fill skulls with knowledge with utter precision.

    If I had to teach some of the kids I grew up with I would've headed for the exit if my professionalism was tied to their scores on a standardized test.

  • Sevo||

    Agile Cyborg| 9.10.12 @ 12:20PM |#
    ..."If I had to teach some of the kids I grew up with I would've headed for the exit if my professionalism was tied to their scores on a standardized test."

    In which case, you should have done exactly that.
    If you choose to be a teacher, you get to teach kids. All of them.

  • Pippers||

    This is easy to say, but the reality of the matter is that we would soon have a pool of kids no one will teach. If you're fine with Lord of the Flies, that's cool. But many are not.

  • wingnutx||

    Maybe it's an election stunt:

    A suspicious reader emails: “It MAY be ALL coincidental, but within the last couple of weeks, my cousin told me about a truly diabolical plan for election ‘optics.’ He is a Longshoreman in Texas. His union was considering going on strike for the sole purpose of allowing BHO to intervene and settle the labor dispute and look like either a uniter or maybe even tough on unions. So, when I saw that Rahm’s teachers went on strike in spite of a 16% pay raise offer, my mind went places that logic would never take it, but modern day politics do. Worth watching anyway. Also, to protect my cousin from retribution from union thugs, I suppose it would be best to avoid attribution here.”

  • Les||

    As long as arbitrary curricula and useless standardized tests form the backbone of public education, it doesn't matter what you judge the teachers on.

  • InfernalBear||

    These "teachers", the ones who refuse to be held to the same kind of standards as any other individual trying to keep their job... are these the same people handing out grades to students that determine how they measure up to preestablished standards?

  • ||

    what is so extreme about, for example, requiring a teacher who teaches physics to take some sort of physics standardized test himself so we can confirm that they actually understand the subject they are teaching?

    whatever it is, teacher's unions have fought such requirements

    what is so extreme about considering whether students improve or stay roughly the same or get worse (according to antonym finder, there is no antonym for "improve" in the english language. who knew?)?

    i WORK with civil servants, so i am very familiar with the civil service mentality. it all comes down to an attitude, a sense of entitlement - "hey, i have seniority and the union says you have to layoff the junior teacher first. period"

    it's hard to understand a civil servant mentality unless you have seen it from the inside or spent a lot of time with somebody who has it.

    and of course teacher's unions, like many unions, frequently end up defending the lowest common denominator. god knows, promoting policies that would improve the condition of STUDENTs is not on their agenda

  • Xiver||

    I'm amazed that no one has brought up tenure and the fact that its nearly impossible to fire bad teachers. The combination of tenure and public teachers unions insures that bad teachers keep collecting salaries even if they aren't teaching.

  • ||

    the new yorker, yea... i know, had a really good article on this a ways back. it specifically referenced NY public schools of course, and their "rubber rooms" where teachers being investigated are held in limbo literally for years. they can't be fired, but they can't teach, so they go to these rooms and sit there for 8 hrs a day, then go home.

    yea, i'm a subscriber. call me a masochist.

    i found the article online

    "It takes between two and five years for cases to be heard by an arbitrator"

    Read more http://www.newyorker.com/repor.....z265sW95cW

    and before the inevitable (falsely analogous) comparisons are made to LEO's, the stats are compelling. a substantial # of LEO's (on a %age basis) are fired for misconduct. NOT true of teachers.

    often, they are fired within 6 months of the incident of misconduct coming to light. in the case of teachers, they can wait 2-3 yrs JUST for the arbitrator to take the case.

    completely DISanalogous

    compare the %age of teachers fired for misconduct in NYC vs. cops in NYPD. the process is much more streamlined for cops, and the protections are not nearly as robust.

    it's actually a good "compare and contrast". we fire a much higher percentage of cops, the process is much quicker, etc.

  • ||

    "The Albany Times Union looked at what was going on outside New York City and discovered some shocking data: Of 132,000 teachers, only 32 were fired for any reason between 2006 and 2011. "

    for the math challenged, that is ONE teacher out of 4,000 fired in a 5 yr period.

    think about that.

  • WWNGD?||

    Do you want to know how much New York State teachers (or other government employees) make? Look under payrolls:
    http://goo.gl/uxiYc

  • ||

    wow. that's comprehensive and it;s like crack for a data nerd like me

    spanx

  • WWNGD?||

    Gib em dir monies! it 4 da chilldrens!

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Maybe someone can explain something to me. I understand that a student with a bad home life might come into a classroom at a disadvantage. Fine. But, why should that mean that marginal learning is somehow or another unfair? I mean, if a teacher is taking a 5th grader with a 2nd grade knowledge base and bringing them up to a 4th grade knowledge base, that's easily a better performance than a teacher taking a 5th grader with a 4.5th grade knowlege base and bringing them up to a 5th grade knowledge base. It isn't the absolute level of performance that one would measure, but the relative improvement. That seems like it takes the entire matter to one of a level playing field.

  • Question of Auban||

    I agree - but the union thugs do not want their members to be held accountable for any type of performance at all. Most labor unions see their job as protecting the lowest of the low of their members even if they do not admit it. Having actual performance enter the picture is a threat to that. I am not a huge fan of “teaching to the test” but it sure as hell beats not teaching at all. And in many of these schools kids are not being taught anything but indoctrination garbage. There is another “problem” such evaluations have for the DemoPublican Party. If students actually learn something useful they are less likely to be dependent upon government.

  • ubercynic||

    Y'all have got to disabuse yourselves of the notion that public education is a dismal failure. It is, in fact, a brilliant success - at its true objectives, which have nothing to do with education (in the proper meaning of the word) and everything to do with indoctrination, control, and producing masses of compliant human livestock.

  • victor||

    exactly

  • Sevo||

    "which have nothing to do with education (in the proper meaning of the word) and everything to do with indoctrination, control, and producing masses of compliant human livestock."
    And distributing taxpayer money to largely worthless 'workers'.
    But, hey, it buys the votes!

  • ubercynic||

    But, hey, it buys the votes!

    True enough, but that's just gravy. The scam was well established long before "educators" votes were worth buying.

  • matoko_chan||

    The Chicago Public Schools in March unveiled an evaluation system (pdf) in which standardized testing makes up 40 percent of the rubric, a percent that increases by 5 percent every year thereafter (45 percent in year two, 50 percent in year three, etc.), which was designed by panels that included teachers, principals, and teachers’ union officials (including the president). The system goes above and beyond the state requirement that testing make up 20-40 percent of teacher evaluations. The teachers’ unions are resisting this system, calling it too punitive.

    More standardized testing isnt going to help. Merit pay is just No Child Left Behind for teachers. How long do we let the failed policies of the Bush administration destroy our world rank in science and math?
    The rest of the world doesnt take Americas test.

  • matoko_chan||

    10 years ago America was 3rd in science and 4th in math. Today we are 25th and 30th.
    10 years ago the Bush Admin imposed NCLB on american schools.
    NCLB states that all american students shall be above average. That is statistically impossible.
    So merit pay based on MORE standardized testing is simply going to exacerbate the problem.
    The teachers arent objecting to merit pay-- they are objecting to merit pay BASED ON STANDARDIZED TESTS.

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