Monday the teachers from my old district return to work.
For me it is the official start of my fifth year of retirement.
The students who were in my first grade art classes will be in their last elementary grade before heading off to middle school.
My old local is now without a contract. The old one expired August 1. The last I heard they were still bargaining.
Chicago teachers have been without a contract for a year.
The unelected school board is demanding a pay cut.
A seven percent pay cut.
You will hear their public relations hacks and spinners call it something else.
They will say they are simply asking for teachers to pay their share of the pension contribution. They will say that teachers in Chicago have been getting a free ride.
It’s three-card monte and don’t fall for the scam.
First of all, the board pick-up of 7% towards the pension fund was part of a former compensation package. It was one part of what teachers receive as pay for doing what they do.
It’s not free money.
Let me also point out that the board didn’t pay the seven percent. They also didn’t pay what was their share of the pension contribution. That is why the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund is less than 60% funded.
One more thing.
I have worked for a paycheck at a lot different jobs before I taught. Factory jobs. Hard, dirty and sweaty jobs. Jobs that caused deep cuts to my hands. Jobs where I froze in the winter and took salt pills in the summer. Jobs where I worked 7AM to 3PM one week and 3PM to 11 PM the next week.
None were as hard as teaching.
None were as stressful and physically draining.
And I didn’t work for CPS and Rahm.
In the four years since I retired none of it has gotten easier.
I know because I follow this stuff.
As the 2016-2017 school year begins there will be a fight for the hearts and minds of the public over teacher contracts.
Maybe in my old district.
In other districts around the state.
School boards will try to spin it all different ways. They will call it “reforming the salary schedule.” They will call it “sharing the costs.” They will call it “ending the pension pick-up.”
In reality it will be a demand for a pay cut.
Don’t buy the hype.
Teachers deserve fairness and no pay cuts.