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Education Wed Mar 25 2009

The Board of Education Votes for More of Your Money

On the agenda for today's Chicago Board of Education Meeting was a resolution to double the pay for the members of the Board.

According to Parents United for Responsible Education:

Board member payments would go from the current $1,000 per month to $2,000. The Board president's payment will go from $1,600 to $3,000/month.

This means that the yearly cost of paying Board members will go from $91,200 to $180,000. It's is important to note that the members of the Board of Education are all extremely wealthy members of the business community who meet once a month and rubber-stamp every initiative coming from the fifth floor.

These appointees of Mayor Daley claim that the schools are "failing" and that merit pay schemes like the Chicago Tap program (unveiled in collusion with the Marilyn Stewart-led Chicago Teachers Union) will bring about positive change in Chicago. This group sets forth the policies of these "failing" schools and insist that they are "meritorious" enough to warrant 100% pay raises.

Although members of the Board represent organizations like Banco Popular and LaSalle Bank, their practices are akin to the bailout-bonus frenzy of AIG. The City is hemorrhaging money, and these part-time Board members are cutting off the tourniquet.

Let's put this into perspective. According to the salary schedule listed in the Chicago Teachers Union contract, a first year teacher with a bachelor's degree will make $46,761 with pension.

This means that about four more teachers can be hired for the year. Looking again at the contract, on average, class sizes are "advised" to have no more than 28 students. Hiring four more teachers would allow 112 students to have class sizes as advised by the contract. Of course, since the passing of the Amendatory Act of 1995, which gave the Mayor of Chicago control over the CPS (and the ability to appoint the Board of Education) class sizes are not grievable, and thus these numbers are "advised."

Of course, the CPS does need a Board of Education. It cannot be cut entirely. However, these positions should not be patronage jobs for the rich. The city schools are constantly compared to their suburban counterparts. Until an equitable funding formula is devised to level the playing field, there are other things that can be done to make city schools more like suburban schools. One of those things is to repeal the Amendatory Act and have a school Board comprised of community members elected to these positions.

This would be a great civics lesson for our students.

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