Robert Winner


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School Union Strikes

Chicago is facing school union strikes. The school year is only in the first month and the union want to hold the schools hostage and put over 400,000 kids on the street and out of school.

That the unions and teachers signed contracts one month ago at the start of the school year appears to be of little concern.

What does this teach kids about contracts and obligations. Who suffers from this type of action ... the kids.

Should contract breaking be honored. Have unions overstepped their bounds and are they causing harm.

Students will miss preparation for high stakes testing and fail to meet objectives, mastery, and requirements for graduation if this becomes long term.

Where is the good faith and the concern for the students.

Does this present a real problem or just a bump in the road.

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    Sep 13 2012: what determines the wage of a teacher? on the free market, market forces do. teachers compete, and people choose. but when the state provides education, the wage is arbitrary. it is determined by the aggressiveness of teachers and budget conditions. for example if it is easy for the state to borrow, it tends to rise wages and run bigger deficits. if the money markets are tight, the state tries to cut back on expenses, and the game of chicken starts.

    does the union play well? surely. in the game of chicken, you have to be aggressive, careless and reckless. does the state play well? surely. they have to do exactly that, they have to fool people, and pretend to meet the impossible expectations of them (eat the cake and have it too).

    does the people play well? not so much.
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      Sep 13 2012: In most states there is a state ranking assigned (i.e. GS-9). For that rank the pay spread is perhaps 30,000 to 40,250. The schools offers 31,000 the teachers says 35,000 they meet where the budget allows.

      Part of the problem would be if the school runs at the top end of the budget all of the time then when money, like now, dries up you are in a bind. The union does not care about those problems. If education was a priority then this would have all been discussed during the summer. Again not the unions problem. If they make everythings as hard on as many people as possible then the talks are in their favor.

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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    Sep 13 2012:
    1)First strike in 25 years
    2)"The Chicago School Board took back a scheduled four per cent pay raise for teachers last year, citing budget problems." Al Jazeera
    3)"What does this teach kids about contracts and obligations." That the school board doesn't honor them.
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      Sep 13 2012: Al Jazeera??,0,4057997.story

      "To pay for those raises, which could cost the cash-starved district $320 million over four years, other expenses would have to be cut. The money-saving tactics could include closing schools and shifting public school students to charters that mostly hire lower-paid, nonunion workers..."
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        Sep 13 2012: Yes Al Jazeera. If you want unbiased coverage of a news story you go to a network that has no investment in the arguement. The independant witness is the most reliable.
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          Sep 13 2012: But they are getting their stuff from the Tribune! And only reporting that which supports their anti-American paradigm. They are not unbiased.

          It's not like they are in Chicago talking to teachers or anything. They are not witnessing anything.
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        Sep 13 2012: The BBC coverage is the same are they anti-American? How about DWTV?
        The Al Jazeera coverage actually references Reuters as the source.
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          Sep 13 2012: You have to understand how news is done. Look at this article in the Trib and where the writer and the story are from.

          Wow not one single mention of pay except as someones opinion. Reuters and Associated Press provide many news stories around the world to many different newspapers etc. But to my knowledge there is no newspaper called the Associated Press. I am not sure about Reuters.

          No BBC and DWTV may not be as anti American as Al Jazeera but you have to shop your news understanding each bias. Just like here in the states we have to know that FOX news is rabidly conservative and NBC is liberal. And always, always question the source. Reuters is conservative. More neutral than most but it still has a bias.

          Even independent witnesses are biased.
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        Sep 13 2012: I do always question the source, to the point where i find domestic news coverage unreliable. There is little point watching coverage of any US news by any US agency as they all have a bias.
        I apply the same rule to Australian news. I watch PBS for that.
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          Sep 14 2012: Why is it that news people are so interested in selling us a product that we cannot even believe them? It makes me crazy that to get balanced news coverage, you need to get 4 or 5 different news sources and figure out that reality is somewhere in the middle. Frustrating.

          I think there is a market for people who would like real news. They might even pay for it.
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    Sep 13 2012: From the press coverage in Australia (PBS) it seems that it was the schools who decided not to honor the signed contract by reneging on a pay rise. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if teachers have it so good, why is there a shortage of teaching staff? Why do schools have to take pretty much whoever applies. It's because it takes a special talent to be able to stand in a room full of 13 yearold kids and cop endless abuse from them and their parents and not quit. There's plenty of jobs in teaching if anyone wants to take advantage of the cushy conditions.
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      Sep 13 2012: Peter, As this has developed it seems it is over the teachers evaluations. As part of the Core Curriculum the feds have put in place a high percentage of the teachers evaluation is to be based on the student testing results. This will directly impact pay raises, and even employment of teachers.

      This has been around before. It has inspired, teaching the test only, and academic cheating in many forms. No Child Left Behind had many problem also such as students achieving a 100% pass rate in 10 years. After 10 years the pass rate was up 60%. This is what you get when the feds enter the fray without a clue.

      Thanks for the answer. Bob.
  • Sep 8 2012: I am no lawyer, but it seems to me that the contracts should be negotiated before the beginning of the school year, extend throughout the school year, and have a firm no-strike clause that involves serious penalties for strikes.
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      Sep 8 2012: Barry, I am glad you are not a lawyer. A honest lawyer in Chicago would probally be shot by the union, politicians, or Al Capone's great grand kids. It is famous for all the wrong reasons.
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        Sep 12 2012: I wasn't going to say anything because some of us from Chicago don't want people to know what a great city it really is. One of the reasons for the union problem is that there is a real sense of fairness in Chicago and a real pride in keeping the fruits of your labor. To the point of digging your car out of snow. If you dig your car out of snow in most neighborhoods in Chicago, you get to keep the parking spot. People work hard and they play harder which is why so many sports are represented in Chicago. Probably the best part for me, it is a really beautiful place. There are trees everywhere and we love them. Most major cities could care less, just look at New York. But green is important in Chicago:)
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          Sep 12 2012: Linda, Your secret is safe with all 168,935 TED members.
  • Sep 8 2012: Your question: Does this present a real problem or just a bump in the road.

    My answer: Yes.

    I am bothered by bad ethics people show in their lives. Relating to one another as if nothing good was learned in life does not make good management or example for the kids.

    If a contract was signed, then did participants go into it with the intention of divorce?

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    Sep 7 2012: "Students will miss preparation for high stakes testing and fail to meet objectives, mastery, and requirements for graduation if this becomes long term."

    Don't worry... They were going to do that anyway... It's not like the teachers are helping.
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      Sep 7 2012: I really wish I had a argument to your reply.

      Sad isn't it.
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        Sep 7 2012: It really is, and not just how bad it is, but how long it's been bad. I'm a huge fan of teachers in general, I know it's an insanely hard job... but, in a world where most people are working for minimum wage and 10% of people are unemployed. If you make 50k a year, have a pension, and are willing to risk childrens education, for more money... You can go blank yourself.
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          Sep 12 2012: 50K? The median Chicago teacher is paid 62K for less than 1000 hours of classroom instruction . . . that $62 per hour plus unimaginably generous benefits. The mayor tried to get another 90 minutes added to the school day and the union said only if 500 laid-off union teachers were rehired first. The tab for that would be $50M . . . yes, thats $100,000 per teacher! Not bad for a job where you get 216 days off every year, and your graduates perform relatively poorly on every standardized test. Unions Rule!
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          Sep 12 2012: What he said. Also you should see their pension. The pension budget is higher than the cost of running the schools. So they are paying MORE to teachers who are not even working.
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    Sep 7 2012: It's the CPS. They haven't cared about students in decades. Is there some reason that now they should?

    I spent many years in northern Illinois. Back in my day, if your reading skills, math, spelling were substandard, all you had to say was "I'm a product of CPS" and everyone understood. (Unfortunately that has lately become an national standard.) It's the start of school and everyone in Chicago knows that means they will go to class sometime in October. It's an annual event. Part of the culture. They better hope they don't have any snow days or they could be in classes until next July
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      Sep 7 2012: I also went to school in Illinois. By CPS do you mean Child Protective Services.
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        Sep 7 2012: Too funny thanks for the smile:) It means Chicago Public Schools.
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          Sep 7 2012: Being an annual event does not make it a good thing.
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        Sep 7 2012: I wish I could help you Mr. Winner. You have to understand the culture in Chicago and how the town has dealt with labor unions over the last two centuries or so. (Remember Jimmy Hoffa?) There is an adversarial stance between the CPS and the CTU (Chicago Teachers Union) That predates even my birth. Things settled down around the middle of the 80s when they decentralized the schools and made them accountable to local school councils. But that does not mean that they are not willing to go to the mat over a 2% pay increase. That is way more important than students and it was that way when I was younger too.
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          Sep 7 2012: I went to school at Illinois State Normal and I understand about Chicago. It is a shame to be known worldwide as the home of curruption in unions / politics such as the Daily machine and the other claim to fame being the home of Al Capone.
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    Sep 7 2012: So what's the conflict here? Why are the teachers striking for?

    And you can also compare this situation to a divorce scenario. Teacher Unions and Schools = parents. Kids = kids. Teachers and school districts are fighting for who's at fault or who should pay up, etc. but in the end the real loser, regardless of who wins the divorce, is the kid.