Heartland Institute Reacts to End of Chicago Teachers Union Strike

Published September 19, 2012

The seven-day-old Chicago Teachers Union strike ended Tuesday night, sending 350,000 students back to class this morning. The union’s 800 delegates voted to approve a double-digit salary increase over the next three years, including pay hikes based on experience and the attainment of advanced degrees. The new contract does not include measures to tie pay increases to performance or a stringent teacher-evaluation system pushed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The following statements from education policy experts at the Chicago-based Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at [email protected] and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/731-9364.

“It’s about time. The deal reached is not a winner for anyone on the other side of the table – parents, children, and taxpayers. The contract assumes Chicago Public Schools will discover a magic money tree to pay off its impending billions in existing pension payments, as well as hire more teachers and boost pay for existing ones. Look for the city to seek a state and federal bailout in the near future. Then we’ll all be paying for the union’s temper tantrum.

“It’s time for Chicago to start phasing out its antiquated, monopoly-run schools in favor of the cheaper, better-performing, and non-union charter schools.”

Joy Pullmann
Research Fellow, The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, School Reform News
[email protected]

“The contract isn’t great, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel probably gave away more than he needed to. The Chicago Public Schools remain on uncertain fiscal footing, with an estimated $1 billion deficit looming next year, and it’s unclear how exactly CPS will fund the teachers’ pay increases. But there at least two elements of the contract that hold good news for reformers.

“First, principals retain the absolute right to hire any teacher they see fit. Even with the mandate that CPS must re-hire 50 percent of laid-off teachers, principals can select from among the best and weed out the worst.

“Second, CPS can continue to expand charter schools unabated. About 50,000 Chicago students are enrolled in a charter, and those students perform consistently higher on the National Assessment of Educational Progress than their peers in traditional public school classrooms. Demand for charters will only increase in coming years, especially as CPS looks for innovative ways to save money.”

Ben Boychuk
Policy Advisor, Education Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“The end of the teachers’ strike closes another sad chapter in Chicago’s education history. The teachers fight accountability, hurting students, and the mayor signs off on another pay hike that is sure to increase taxes, destroy property value, and cause more productive citizens and business to flee Chicago.

“When will we simply end the right of public employees to strike against the public interest?”

Bruno Behrend
Senior Fellow, Education Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.