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Education Fri Jun 17 2011

CTU and School Board Butt Heads

"Lies, damn lies and statistics."

During tough debates both sides try to spin facts and statistics to fit their point of view and provide a stronger foundation to their own argument. The current fight between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago School Board is no different with the new school board president pointing out the following:

* Even without the four percent previously-negotiated raises, 75 percent of all teachers will get automatic raises of between 1 percent and 5 percent for adding another year of experience or for increasing their credentials.

* Based on base salary alone, the minimum CPS starting teachers salary of $50,577 is No. 1 among the nation's 10 largest cities. Its maximum salary, requiring a master's degree, of $87,673 is No. 2, behind New York City. Its average salary also is among the top one or two, Human Capital Officer Alicia Winckler told board members.

CTU responded with their own stats pushing their own side.

Lewis called some of Winckler's numbers "ridiculous'' and claimed the added pay for another year of experience or added credentials amount to. at most, $35 to $50 more in take home pay every two weeks over 26 pay periods. "People tell me, `Oh, I thought I would get a raise and it's only 20 bucks,'" Lewis said.

She also noted that across the state, CPS teacher pay is not that competitive. Lewis cited a May 31 Chicago Sun-Times report that found that CPS high school teachers average total compensation, with benefits, ranks No. 71 in the state. CPS elementary teachers came in No. 38.

CTU President Karen Lewis is vowing that the union will not stand for the denial of contractual obligated pay raises.

If unsuccessful, the negotiations -- initially only on the issue of pay -- could force a reopening of the entire CTU contract, or even lead to a strike, something unseen in Chicago since 1987.

Budget cuts and shortfalls are leading to serious problems for school districts across the country. Chicago is no different with an estimated $712 million gap and the response is the same. Blame the employees and not the revenue shortfalls.

Tough decisions will be made in the near future. Sadly, we probably already know the outcome - contracts broken, class sizes increases, schools closed and young students bear the brunt of the burden.

 
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