The Strike Is Not About Teacher's Pay

The Chicago Sun Times published this:
Chicago Public Schools starting salaries are among the highest in the region... But the annual increases for teachers in CPS are much smaller than the annual increases in many suburban districts. For example, a teacher with a master’s degree, 30 additional credit hours, and ten years of experience, can expect to earn $87,513 in Evanston this year; last year, in Oak Park, a teacher would have made $88,978. In Chicago this year, the same teacher will earn $75,711 — about $12,000 a year less than in districts to which he or she could walk or take public transportation from a home in Chicago. Over the course of a career, that difference amounts to over a quarter of a million dollars.
Except that average household income in those cities is far higher than Chicago's:

Chicago - $45,700
Evanston - $67,700 (48% more)
Oak Park - $70,600 (65% more)

If the citizens of those areas were to pay the same percentage as Chicagoan's then the respective salaries would be roughly (using the numbers quoted which I find slightly inaccurate):

Evanston - $112,000
Oak Park - $125,000

By that measure Chicago is actually doing quite well. If you figured in benefits it'd be even more lopsided. The strike is not about salaries. 70% of CPS's (2012) budget is spent on employees:

Textbooks - $74 million
Construction - $391 million
Teacher's Medical - $348 million
Teacher's Salaries - $2,085 million
Total Employee Salary and Benefits - $3,584 million
Total Budget - $5,110

... and 1.4% on textbooks. I know this may come off as anti-teachers or whatever but the real target here is the author of the offending article and the newspaper that printed it. It's bad journalism.

CPS vs Chicago - 2012 Edition

I've written a little about this before. This article doesn't address the social issues or milieu of other complexities the situation entails. The Chicago Teacher's Union asked for a 19% raise as compensation for an extended school day, and as of Sunday night they rejected a 16% raise over four years. I know there are other issues at stake, I just want to figure out what this means monetarily for Chicago.

Chicago's budget this year (2012) is $8.2 billion while CPS's is $5.2 billion (2013 proposed), so over 63% of Chicago's expenditures goes to CPS. That's $1920 per resident (2.71 million people in the city). Of that $5.2 billion, $2.7 billion goes to teachers and support personnel salaries; $3.6 billion if you include benefits. The 19% raise comes out to $510 million a year in additional salary, $190 extra per Chicago resident, or an increase of over 6% to the City of Chicago's spending. If Chicago's budget doesn't change that would mean the remaining roughly 37% of expenditures would go down to about 31%. Other items on the budget would need to be reduced by about 16 or 17% to pay for this.

I'm not saying that each resident will have to literally pay that bill themselves. I'm using that measuring stick t bring it to a human scale.

What does all this mean (this is where the opinion part starts)? It means there's no way the city can be fiscally responsible and actually give the CTU what it wants. At the same time how can you ask the teachers to work a longer day without more pay? It's like asking them to admit they've been overpaid for years. The point is, I don't see either side walking away from this unscathed. It's another example of Americans wanting lots of services but being unwilling to pay the necessary taxes.

Here are the sources, I recommend the first one, it's the most interesting:

CPS 2012 Proposed Budget Overview

City of Chicago Proposed 2012 Budget Overview

CPS 2013 Budget Press Release