We live in a self-entitled society and no sector is more self-entitled than those who work for the Government, supported by taxpayers with guaranteed salaries and pensions. Their sense of self-entitlement is worse than that of the lumbering herd of overweight middle class houseswives who drive around in their gas-guzzling, over-sized SUVs, running up credit card debt and chatting on their cellphone the second they get into their car... - Dave in Denver, 9/10/12Teachers in Chicago went on strike today over demands for a 19% pay raise and refusal to accept a teacher evaluation system which would hold teachers accountable for performance. The first thing that needs to be pointed out is the obvious: Illinois is running neck and neck with California over status as the most bankrupt State. Illinois operates in a deficit on a daily basis and, even if teacher pay hikes were warranted, can not afford it.
But here's some numbers that will shock you: The average teacher pay in Chicago is $71,000, not including benefits. The average Chicagoan makes $30,203 and the city's unemployment as measured by the Government is 11%. I don't think the teachers will get any support outside of their own kind for higher pay, especially when you factor in the fact that teacher pensions are guaranteed by the taxpayers and they are eligible for retirement benefits after 20 years of service. And don't forget that teaching is a 10 month endeavor, at least for the ones that care about the product they produce - the rest of them coast along at the end of the summer until they have to walk into the classroom.
In hearing from teachers I know who are hard-working and care about their classroom performance, the tenure system needs to be completely overhauled. Teachers should be required to demonstrate competence and good performance. I know a few teachers who rarely use up their full allotted time off during the school year and feel compelled to make up the for laziness and incompetence around them. On the other hand, I personally know a teacher who takes more than her allotted personal time and sick leave days, exploiting the willingness of the school principal to look the other way. I know this dynamic is pretty common in the school systems in Colorado, I can only imagine how bad it is in the major cities like Chicago, L.A. and NYC.
This is the kind of crud that needs to be weeded out the teachers union and the system for hiring and retaining teachers. The fact that teachers can feel entitled to big pay raises, while their private sector peers are struggling is beyond absurd. Compensating teachers based on tenure is the recipe for poor results. The education system in the United States ranks 14th, 25th and 17th globally in reading, math and science respectively, according the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). Given the level of pay and benefits for teachers in this country, that fact is just appalling.
And this problem is not just with teachers, although it hits home the hardest because the teachers in our public school system spend almost as much time with our kids from age of 5-18 as do parents. But every category of Government employee demands a much higher level of pay than is given in the private sector. How many private sector jobs have guaranteed pay and benefits? (note: I'm talking about pay for rank and file, not Wall St. or upper management, but that's another issue). I do not know of any. And a lot of large-company 401k plans are comprised of a high degree of corporate stock. No guarantee there either. Teacher pensions are essentially deferred cash payments guaranteed by the Taxpayers.
I don't know when and how Government employees in general assumed the mantel of self-entitlement, but the salary and benefit packages given to public servants is another "bubble" in our economic/political system that is contributing to the overall collapse our country. It starts with Congress with things like Congressmen having their own healthcare plan, thereby avoiding the highly disastrous Obamacare. And it continues with teachers demanding more pay when States can't afford it under any circumstances and with refusal to implement pay for performance compensation plans in lieu of pay for tenure.
It makes me sad to see the Chicago teachers exhibit this high degree of self-entitlement with their contract demands. But it speaks volumes about the degree to which our system has deteriorated and is in a state of collapse...