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

Custom USB Flash Drive

I'm waiting for Autodesk Navisworks to download so I can complete an assignment... so I thought I'd kill some time by documenting what I did on my "day off."

I have all these really small pieces of scrap from all my wood working projects so I took a roughly 3" x 3" piece of 4/4 black walnut (that's roughly 3/4" thick) and made a USB flash drive enclosure out of it. I milled it out on the Bridgeport, band sawed the block in half (in retrospect I should have done this first so the grain fit together, next time), sanded for a tight fit, glued and clamped the wood pieces together, sanded, applied tung oil, wait, sand, repeat, steel wooled, and done.

This is the initial fit on the Bridgeport milling machine. This is one of my favorite machines in the shop. You could make a rocket almost exclusively with this machine if you were skilled enough.
Completed drive made of scrap black walnut, and just so this looks dumb in 2 years, the flash drive is USB 3.0 with 16 GB of memory.

Masters Thesis Project

I've been neglecting this blog because I'm in the middle of my masters thesis project (architecture at IIT). I've partnered up with seven other students to do a design build project -- first you design it, then you build it, and somewhere in between you raise money, go through zoning and permitting, encounter unimagineable problems, redesign the building a million times, did I mention fundraising?, and have 5.97 x 10^24 meetings.

Our project is located on the South Side of Chicago at 43rd and a few blocks west of State St. at a place called Eden Place Nature Center. We're building them a school that looks out over their prairie. Here's our website and a video I just completed:


Fall 2011 Studio Work

My studio project this semester took place at The Plant in Chicago. I described it a little bit in this post. It was nice to have an actual client this time around, and to top things off it's entirely conceivable that they may implement some of the ideas that our studio came up with - being as that they're in a seemingly perpetual state of demolition and construction.

This is my 3' x 4' board that's on display at the plant right now.
Plan view (Google Earth view).

This is a Sanborn (historical) map overlaid over my plan. The old non-existent  buildings inform the new layout along the old rail corridor.

Birdseye view looking west. The beer garden is in the center with hops to the left and greenhouses to the right.
Birdseye view from the south looking north.
This is the terraced seating area between the great lawn and vending area of the beer garden.

The beer garden with terracing.

Diagram of the greenhouses,
Section of the greenhouse.
The back of the greenhouses. That's a double height rolling door on the left.  The concrete is left exposed so it can be used for work (i.e. compost can be laid against the wall, sand or debris can be piled, etc.)




The hop garden/parking lot made from simple telephone poles and stainless wire rope. Everyone really liked this which is funny because of the sheer practicality. If they actually built this I wouldn't be too surprised.

This is the initial scheme for the drainage of the street and site. I reconfigured the idea  to be less complex and more effective.
In the final scheme water from the street flows into a recessed planting area with well drained soil while the run-off from the site flows through the gabions and into the same area. The recessed area can store some amount of water as it waits to percolate into the soil. In the event of a large storm excess water would flow into the sewage system as it already does.


The Plant - Architecture Installation

About two weeks ago I helped my studio professor, Mary Pat Mattson, setup an installation at The Plant. The Plant is a former pork processing plant on the edge of the Chicago Stockyards and served as the site for our project. The whole place is overbuilt - 2 1/2' thick columns, stainless steel, solid brick floors, and cork insulation throughout. Pretty cool.

We hung 3/32" stainless cable on 1/2" embedded anchors; to go with the overbuilt theme. The lower end is held in tension by a brick, there are more than a few laying around this place. Lighting is accomplished with simple clamp lights. I anchored some conduit to the ceiling with pipe clamps and tapcons for the lights to secure to.

I should have brought a bigger tripod and a note saying "yes it's a camera, please move along." I need to re-edit this too...


Pre-public arrival.

Jason talking to the documentary film maker. He's been following John Edel around for a few years and says he's going to make something in 20. Should be interesting. John is a really cool guy. He manages his pie in the sky thoughts with a down to earth attitude that's impossible not to admire.
Max.
Nice and blurry, just the way I like me. Photo Credit: Vija.

Walnut and Steel Coffee Table

I just finished making this walnut and steel coffee table for a friend. It cost $250 in material and measures 45" square and 18" high. This is my first attempt at building something with high-end materials that's more affordable and light weight. 

I didn't document the production process as well as I usually do, and many of these photos are from my camera phone. It's really hard to stop what you're doing and pick up a camera at every step but as a learning tool it's almost always worth it.

These are some quick sections trying to figure out the edge detail.
This is how the details were actually made using 4/4 walnut and 1 1/4" x 1/8" thick angle iron.
The boards are joined on the short edge with dominos with beech and glue then they're clamped. Those strips on top are the end grain glue-ups/solid strips that make up the underside edge.
Prior to oil.
After the first coat of oil.
Marking the bent corners with a scribe prior to cutting them on the bandsaw. I left thickness on the backside for the opposite flange.
The legs are bent, then welded on the backside of the miter.
This was my first time using a MIG - I learned on a stick / arc welder.
The frame uses 36' of 1 1/4" angle iron (it comes in lengths slightly longer than 20'). The legs and frame are four of the exact same pieces butt welded to one another near the corner. The cross member is needed as the walnut would be too thin to support a substantial load.
More walnut furniture in Crown Hall. Teak oil finish - about 6 coats taken to 320 grit and buffed out with #0000 steel wool. The top is 4/4 (3/4" walnut) with strips of 1 3/8" wide walnut on the underside with grain set perpendicular to the top boards to give the appearance that the table is actually made of boards going opposite directions. Not sure how I feel about that - it's kind of dishonest (in the Dieter Rams sense).
The typical rule for coffee tables is to make them 2/3's the length of the largest couch and the same height as the top of the seat cushion. In this case that makes the table 45" square and 18" high.
Corner detail.
I took some steel wool to the metal frame before rubbing some boiled linseed oil onto it. After about 15 minutes you wipe off the excess. This both protects the steel and makes it darker and leaves a sort of waxy feel to it. This is what farmers used to use to protect their tools from rust.
Here's a short video I made about how I made the one-piece leg-table top supports. It's sped up a bit in the middle of the clip to make it less boring. The 90 degree triangle is removed from the angle iron, then it is bent to 90 degrees, and welded on the backside. I've used the same process to make hundreds of pipe brackets in factories.