Update: Strike Day – Chicago teachers union and the school district are getting closer to reaching a deal that will end the 4 day strike. Despite some optimism however, schools will be closed for a fifth day on Friday. Both sides are optimistic they will resolve the strike and get the 350,000 students back to school on Monday.
Chicago teachers have voted to Strike on September 10, should a deal fail to be reached on a new contract. Teachers are demanding increased wages, job security and a new system of teacher evaluations. According to Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, Chicago is in grave danger of being downgraded by Moody’s due to an already staggering 83 billion dollar budget shortfall. This is due in large part to under funded pensions. No one should expect the teachers union to care about this, but there is a harsh reality. Should Moody’s downgrade Chicago, borrowing money will become more expensive and the debt crisis will simply grow worse. At some point, finances must be brought in line. What cities like Chicago are attempting to do in order to avoid facing harsh realities is create large Ponzi schemes. Paying with other people’s money and worrying about the future at a later date. All the while, the debt grows larger. Let’s examine the most pressing issues. First, why do teachers believe they are entitled to “job security”. Why should incompetent teachers have any more job security than incompetent employees in the private sector? It’s flawed thinking and an issue that should be dealt with. Our children should not suffer because it’s impossible to fire an incompetent teacher. Second, teachers now make livable wages. A teacher on maximum in Chicago can earn over $90,000 for nine months work. Third, pensions are threatening the entire economy not just in Chicago but across entire country. Governments can not afford to pay for people to retire at 55 or 60 with three-quarters or more of their working salaries. The math simply does not add up. So the solutions are either, increase the retirement age, cut the pensions, or increase the contributions teachers pay in to them. There are no other answers. But the real problem lies with Chicago’s unions. It’s a city with a history of corruption at every level. The teachers union is very powerful because of its share numbers and no one has been willing to stand up to it. But if nothing is done, Chicago will undoubtedly face bankruptcy. The line in the sand must be drawn by Rahm Emanuel. He is the leader of that city and must lead. Otherwise the only ones who will suffer, are the children.