by Matt Lacy –
Despite being the highest paid teachers in the nation, over 90 percent of Chicago’s teachers voted to go on strike over higher pay and other issues.
CBS Chicago reported that teachers in the city earn an average of $76,000 per year, putting it ahead of New York which pays its teachers an average of $73,751. Members of the Teachers Union rejected a 16 percent pay raise over four years and voted to go on strike.
Robert Bloch, an attorney for the Teachers Union said the salary is not high enough.
“When you’re looking at compensation, it’s not enough just to look at salary, because Chicago Public Schools teachers have to pay more for their insurance, and they get less of a contribution from the employer for their pension than in other cities,” Bloch said.
The issue has caused problems for parents who find themselves struggling with childcare during the strike. Approximately 400,00 students are prevented from learning in the classroom while the strike is going on.
While the schools are closed for learning, officials said 140 schools will remain open between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. so students can eat breakfast and lunch. The move is seen as being particularly important as many of the students receive free meals.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who some critics have called “the Godfather,” said the strike was not necessary.
“This was not a strike I wanted. It was a strike of choice,” Emanuel said. “It’s unnecessary, it’s avoidable and it’s wrong.”
While the sides are close on negotiations over compensation, other sticking points include a new teacher evaluation system. The union says it relies too heavily on student test scores.
Emanuel said the opposition made no sense since the system was designed by teachers for teachers.
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