Here’s the New York Times Editorial Board’s take on the Chicago teachers’ strike, which it deems “unnecessary” because the two sides were close, Chicago teachers are well-paid already (average salaries are about $75K per year), and the union’s main beef is tying student growth to teacher evaluations, which half the states in the country do already.
If the union has legitimate suggestions for how to improve the fairness and accuracy of the evaluation system, in particular, it needs to bring them forward in a way that does not involve holding the city hostage.
Another big sticking point has to do with the treatment of teachers who are laid off from schools that are closed or consolidated. The city rightly wants principals to determine which teachers are hired at a given school. The union wants a recall system that gives laid-off teachers priority in rehiring. The national trend, however, is going the other way, with systems increasingly giving principals a stronger voice in determining the makeup of the schools’ staff members.
What stands out about this strike, however, is that the differences between the two sides were not particularly vast, which means that this strike was unnecessary. Moreover, Ms. Lewis [CTU President], who seems to be basking in the power of having shut down the school system, seems more inclined toward damaging the mayor politically than in getting this matter resolved. If the strike goes on for much longer, the union could pay a dear price in terms of public opinion.