Friday the Chicago teacher’s union plans to do a walk out unless they are able to come to an agreement with the state on how to handle the budget shortfalls they are expected to face in the coming fiscal year. When dealing with things like these it can get extremely boring because I like facts, and facts means numbers… and GOD numbers are boring!! I have some basic figures I will share with you prior to my rant so you can understand what has fueled my latest incident of heart burn.
There is a budget shortfall that the state is trying to make up so CPS can keep their doors open and continue educating young minds to become useful members of society. Do not misunderstand me, I hate Chicago, it’s a terrible place. The great thing about Chicago is that it is commonly the perfect example of how liberal policies are terrible and never fix the actual problem, they just say “throw more money at it” and hope it will all work itself out.
Let’s get to the brass tax of the situation. How much we’ve got:
As of 2011 here are the base facts of expenditures for the CPS.
Total Revenue: $5,534,664,46 I wrote it out because I’m an asshole but as you can see it’s 5 billion dollars.
Net operating expenditures per pupil: $13,616
Ok. We see a $5 Billion dollar budget and 13K spent on each student per year. I would say that with 13K per year you should be able to achieve some pretty great things in the classroom and open students up to an incredible amount of opportunities and it sits a little above the average amount spent across the United States, so we can say that if everyone is spending roughly the same then we should see the same results, right?
Results aren’t something schools like, in fact, they loathe and detest them. The reason why I bring up results is because a study was released that found the average Freshman in Chicago had a 60% chance of graduating high school, that’s low in my opinion but that’s not the worst part, of those Freshman, 6 %would get a bachelors degree… No I didn’t forget a zero, that number gets cut in half if that Freshman is black or Hispanic, yeah 3%. Because of my wonderful education I can define failure and Chicago, you win at failing. Those are atrocious numbers.
Commonly we would then look at teacher’s pay. Underpaid teachers could result in poor performance and failing schools. Problem is the teachers in Chicago are 31% higher than the average putting their average salary at $74,839 which isn’t bad, given that I like to crunch the numbers I looked up the average cost of living in the expensive area of Chicago and calculated the cost of rent, utilities, food, transportation (standard sedan w/ collision and average fuel consumption) so the basics and the COL for the expensive area of Chicago would be roughly $34,000/year so they aren’t doing poorly in the area in fact they are $30,000 more than he average citizen of Chicago with a four year degree, granted you couldn’t pay me enough to live there.
One of the sticking points of this whole debacle isn’t the teacher’s salary or the poor performance of the schools, granted, asking for more money when you continually produce shitty results becomes a distressing issue. I get the idea that Chicago is a crap shoot and is surrounded by a culture of people who don’t see education as a priority and it’s probably rather distracting trying to go to school when you live in a neighborhood plagued with crime and illegal guns and constantly have Mayor Emanuel telling you the last thing you need is your second amendment right to defend yourself. The issue is the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU), teacher’s are wonderful people and they truly work tirelessly to try and secure a future for our country, I’m not going to blast them incessantly, but I will blast their power hungry wasteful union who would rather walk out Friday sending children into the most crime laden streets in America than actually act like adults at the bargaining table and use some basic arithmetic to realize you can’t grow money out of nothing and at some point your collective bargaining for more pay and more benefits with no results was going to end one of these days.
One of the factors that they are running into is the that half of the education budget from the state of Illinois to Chicago can only cover the pension program, a pension averaged at $77,496/year which using the average human lifespan totals $1.6 million per person. Those are big numbers, you promised employees those numbers and that’s a hell of a good pension plan, but if you don’t see that something has to change there (and they don’t) then you may need to go back to math class. The union is going to do the age old tactic of stomping it’s feet and screaming instead of trying to logically bargain and find a way to not completely break the backs of the taxpayer (because that’s who pays their salaries) and make due with promises they made to their employees. They won’t negotiate though, they have a terrific healthcare and pension plan and they want it to be better every year and they don’t care that they are bankrupting the school district and that at some point the state will have to seize control of the schools, they would rather burn the school to the ground than accept anything less than an increase in pay in a city that hasn’t seen positive economic growth in over a decade.
A fun summary of all these thoughts for you to put in your pocket for later. The Archdioceses of Chicago spends $7,000 per student, oh! also, The CTU probably could have invested some of the $10 million they’ve made in campaign contributions to help offset some of the shortfall in pensions and actually help the people they’re supposed to support as oppose to paying politicians more money.