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*** UPDATED x1 *** Some confusing strike numbers *** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012

* I think some people are confused over the proposed “16 percent pay hike” over four years for Chicago school teachers. The annual raises actually appear to be smaller than current raises. From the Sun-Times

Topping the list of wins is the hard-fought 16 percent raise secured by the union. This four-year raise includes “steps,” or pay for each additional year of experience, on top of a 2 or 3 percent annual cost-of-living raise. The step raises look to be smaller than in the previous contract but were not eliminated.

So, teachers with fewer years on the job won’t be getting a 16 percent raise. It appears to be an average.

* Meanwhile, the Illinois Policy Institute is either having trouble differentiating between “average” and “median” or it’s deliberately obfuscating the issue. For instance

CPS average salaries are at least 45 percent more than the average charter school salary in Chicago. CPS teachers earn more than $70,000 per year, while the average charter school teacher makes nearly $49,000. The charter school average falls in line with what a median Chicagoan with a bachelors degree earns - $48,866.

They’ve done this more than once.

As anyone even remotely familiar with statistics knows, comparing average to median is apples to oranges. It should never be done. But it is being done, repeatedly, by the alleged “think tank.”

Also, according to the same Census data referenced by the IL Policy Institute, the median wages for Chicagoans with graduate or professional degrees is $62,352. A whole lot of teachers have advanced degrees.

* And there’s been a lot of talk about the average Chicago Teachers salary. Reuters, however, has a different number

Chicago teachers make a mean [average] of $61,790 annually for a primary school teacher to $69,470 for high school, according to government figures, which is slightly lower than comparable urban district New York City but a bit higher than Los Angeles. Chicago spends $7,946 a year on instruction per student, which is in line with most school districts in Illinois but well below some of the wealthiest suburban Chicago districts.

*** UPDATE *** Ezra Klein looks at the numbers

As is often the case with stats like these, the median salary is below the mean: for the 2010-11 school year, the most recent year for which data is available, the median salary was $67,974, as opposed to the mean of $74,236 that year (as reported, pdf, by the Illinois State Board of Education). That mean is slightly different than the one reported by CPS because it relies on more recent ISBE data.

Some of that salary has to go to pension contributions. Teachers are required to contribute 9 percent of their salary to their pensions, and support personnel must contribute 8.5 percent, as opposed to 6.2 percent if they were part of the Social Security system. But the Chicago Public Schools system pays for 7 percent of the employee contribution. So the more relevant comparison is a 1.5 to 2 percent contribution for CPS employees compared to 6.2 percent for private sector workers paying Social Security tax. So the median after-pension income is $66,614 , which a private sector employee on Social Security would need to earn $71,017 a year to make. So a median of $71,017 (or a mean of $77,560) is the most relevant number for comparing Chicago public school teachers to other workers.[Emphasis added]

In other words, the median is $66.6K for Chicago school teachers, which would equal a private sector gross salary of $71K.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* In other numbers news, here are the full results for the poll published by the Sun-Times yesterday…

Q. Do you support or oppose the strike by the Chicago Teachers Union?
47% Support
39% Oppose
(Don’t Read) 14% Don’t Know

Q How good a job has Mayor Rahm Emanuel done in dealing with the Chicago Teachers Union?

6% Excellent
13% Good
32% Average
20% Below Average
21% Poor
(Don’t Read) 8% Don’t Know

Not great numbers for hizzoner.

Crosstabs are here.

* On to the live coverage. BlackBerry users click here. Everybody else can just watch..

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Shore - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:03 am:

    A lot of people who like Rahm have told me how horrible they think he’s handled this. No one I know likes karen lewis or the teachers union, but Rahm has come off horribly in this strike. Last week he was at the DNC partying like a rock star, making jokes on national tv, taking on super pac fundraising duties, then he comes home goes to a springsteen concert and world war 3 explodes. He tells the media sunday they have 2 small issues to handle, then yesterday npr says they have 6 out of 49 issues settled. The teachers seem more united and more dug in and people seem to be relating to them a lot more than the suits rahm is sending out.

  2. - reformedformerlibertarian - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:22 am:

    It’s really depressing to watch groups like the Illinois Policy Institute play tug-of-war with no concern for honesty.

  3. - geronimo - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:25 am:

    Rahm is handling this very very poorly. His digs just alienate even more teachers and the people who support them. When I read an article in the Trib this morning about a teacher whose biggest concern is the learning environment in 100 degree classrooms, how dare Rahm say they’re not worried about students? And the textbooks that arrive 6 weeks into the year!

    Those figures mentioned………those aren’t the only figures manipulated to make taxpayers think teachers (and other public employees ) are making outrageous amounts of money. The average pension figures also have been twisted so that what a few make is projected onto every pensioner. I think smart people will look into this and think for themselves. Sensationalistic news always sells but it’s just that…….sensationalism.

  4. - Fed up - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:25 am:

    Rahm picked this fight he went to Springfield and passed laws to have a longer school day ( I agree with) without even asking for teachers imput ( bad idea ) then tried to make a strike impossible by making 75% threshold. His team was caught on tape gloating. He treated the teachers like garbage. He eleimanated a contractual 4% raise last year then tried to break the union by going school to school to get longer school day a year earlier. Karen Lewis is many things not many of them good but apparently she is also the person willing to stand up to a bully

  5. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:29 am:

    WolframAlpha has the cost per student at $11726 ( Anyone know what accounts for the discrepancy?

  6. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:31 am:

    ===Anyone know what accounts for the discrepancy? ===

    That could be total costs, including administration. The above number is instructional costs.

  7. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:32 am:

    I think one way for CPS to help move the negotiations toward a more rapid conclusion is to put the residency requirement for teachers on the table. Their salaries will go much further if they don’t have to pay Chicago’s cost-of-living.

    As for the apples-to-oranges comparison between public school salaries and charter school salaries, there are other problems.

    Chicago teachers average nearly 14 years of experience and 63% have advanced degrees, but charter school teachers tend to be much less experienced and fewer have advanced degrees…as soon as they get enough experience, they are recruited by suburban school districts where they make a lot more money and — guess what? — earn union benefits.

    Charter schools are predominantly elementary schools. Guess what? Elementary school teachers make a lot less than high school teachers.

    Because charter schools provide little in the way of learning for kids with severe disabilities, most kids with special education needs end up in traditional public schools. Guess what? Special education teachers make more money.

  8. - Ready To Get Out - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:33 am:

    The teachers need a “non-partisan institute” to slant the figures to their side? To balance out the IPI? But that would be dishonest!

  9. - geronimo - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:35 am:

    And guess what else? Special Education students cost more money to educate! Other costs that ring up the bell are security detail, metal detectors, all the professionals who deal with truancy and behavior issues. It’s a miracle it doesn’t cost more!

  10. - Money Walks - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:40 am:

    In terms of IPI’s comparison on wages; it seems to me they are making an argument for charter schools. So, the comparison should and does take the average salaries of CPS and charter schools (both of which have employees with advanced degrees).

    The median income of a person in Chicago with a degree seems to be an aside to create the setting in the City with the readily available census data. I don’t think anyone has the resources to compute the average salary of a resident of Chicago that has at least a Bachelor’s degree on a whim…not even IPI.

  11. - Steve Bartin - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:48 am:


    Thanks for the statistics reminder. The media confuses and abuses the mean and median all the time. How often to we hear over the years ‘average bonus at Goldman Sachs was xxxx dollars’ when the outliers can often have a huge impact on the mean. It would be nice if the media stuck to median numbers and the standard deviation. But… I know that’s not going to happen.

  12. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    Holy Cow Becky, stay off Twitter!

  13. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:50 am:

    It is to the advantage of both sides to put out misleading data on salaries and costs during a strike. And make no mistake — Illinois Policy Institute is as partisan as any union or management team.

  14. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    All costs are higher..

    per IIRC report card Chicago instructional costs 7,946, operational expenditures 13,078

    As a comparison a small upscale elementary school in tony Libertyville
    Instructional Expenditure Per Pupil, $5,941, Operational Expenditure Per Pupil

    Lots of other schools spend a lot less than Chicago.

    Just sayin’

  15. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 11:00 am:

    Saturday night Emanuel’s people were making it sound like they were close to a deal. How’d they get it so wrong?

  16. - Money Walks - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 11:02 am:

    –The teachers need a “non-partisan institute” to slant the figures to their side? To balance out the IPI? But that would be dishonest!–

    Please see the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Or better yet look at who contributes heavily to them (hint: IFT).

  17. - geronimo - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 11:04 am:

    Costs is Chicago should be expected to be higher. If you have a school where a huge population of students basically have a teacher (and teachers for arts, music, PE), it’s different when you have a huge population that requires an entire staff of professionals in addition to the teachers. Psychologists, social workers, nurses, nurses aides, occupational and physical therapists, truancy officers—–who did I forget?—all add to the bill. Look at the staff for any given school, anywhere. You might be surprised to see that teachers actually make up the smaller percentage of employees that serve students. Education seems to be an incidental…..

  18. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 11:16 am:

    ==Saturday night Emanuel’s people were making it sound like they were close to a deal. How’d they get it so wrong?==

    Their idea of close to a deal is the teachers should’ve given in to their proposals.

  19. - Roger Ramjet - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 11:30 am:

    == I think one way for CPS to help move the negotiations toward a more rapid conclusion is to put the residency requirement for teachers on the table.==

    Holy Toledo….if the teachers get that, the cops and everyone else will want it, and it’ll be last out of Chicago turn off the lights.

  20. - Ready To Get Out - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 11:32 am:

    Thanks “Money Walks.” Knew there had to be someone out there. And I’m sure there are more on each side, just not as prolific as the mentioned “institutes/centers.”

  21. - Adam Smith - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 11:33 am:

    Lots of quibbling about the median, average, mean compensation for Chicago teachers. They make more than most people is the bottom line and even more when factoring in the work hours.

    Teachers are important and many are devoted and great, but let’s get back on point here. Chicago’s schools are still sub-par and need more accountability at all levels.

    Everyone go back to those crosstabs and look at a very important figure. The African American community opposes the strike. The demographic most burdened with bad schools and most desperate for improvement want to see the teachers put the students first.

    Also, with respect to the proportion of both overall population and the CPS student census the African American sample size in this poll is woefully low.

  22. - dave - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 11:46 am:

    ** The African American community opposes the strike. **

    Not really… they are essentially split. The MOE on the sub-samples is huge, and a 5 point gap is WELL within the MOE.

  23. - OneMan - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 11:53 am:

    Plutocrat03, comparing a K-8 to a k-12 district is a bit misleading. High school programs are more expensive in material and facility costs by their very nature (vocational ed, more technology use, class variety, security issues, counseling, etc)

  24. - "Median" not the issue. - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 12:00 pm:

    Although they do bring in median. It is an irrellivant complaint about the article and analysis. The real issue is the discrepancy between the average charter school teachers salary and the average CPS teachers salary. Lets focus on the real issue. I love to discredit the media as much as the next guy but comparison to the median chicagoan with a bachelors is not the issue.

    CPS teachers make 45% more than charter school teachers. And which schools are providing better results?

  25. - Carlos S. - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 12:08 pm:

    ===Some of that salary has to go to pension contributions. Teachers are required to contribute 9 percent of their salary to their pensions, and support personnel must contribute 8.5 percent, as opposed to 6.2 percent if they were part of the Social Security system. But the Chicago Public Schools system pays for 7 percent of the employee contribution. So the more relevant comparison is a 1.5 to 2 percent contribution for CPS employees compared to 6.2 percent for private sector workers paying Social Security tax. So the median after-pension income is $66,614 , which a private sector employee on Social Security would need to earn $71,017 a year to make. So a median of $71,017 (or a mean of $77,560) is the most relevant number for comparing Chicago public school teachers to other workers.[Emphasis added]===

    Why is Klein looking at the differences in contribution? The net present value of the benefit is much, much larger for teachers. They get lots more money and they get it earlier than SS provides. If that were added to their current compensation, it would show six-figure incomes for both the median and the mean.

  26. - Carlos S. - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 12:15 pm:

    I don’t see that the IPI is confusing mean and median in this excerpt. First, they compare the respective means and then make the point the charter school mean is close to the CPS median. It’s marginal additional information without further expansion but it’s not wrong.

  27. - BFro - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 12:15 pm:

    ==In other words, the median is $66.6K for Chicago school teachers, which would equal a private sector gross salary of $71K.==

    Except that most private sector salaried employees work 12 months of the year, while most teachers do not.

  28. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 12:35 pm:

    Mean, median, average, who cares? The IPI is shamelessly trying to make teachers look greedy. Teachers make what they make. Education is expensive, but it’s also worth it if it works. The problem isn’t median or average salary, it’s whether students are learning enough and how we can improve.

    Chicago taxpayers will pay more for schools if they believe the schools are getting better. This divide and conquer mentality, and scapegoating teachers because they make a decent living, is deplorable.

  29. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 1:28 pm:

    Charter schools don’t educate the students who have parents that just don’t care. Because they require a parent to fill out an application, and some require contracts spelling out behavior requirements. Something the plain old neighborhood school can’t do. It just takes all students in the intake area. The gen neighborhood school also has to take any students that get counseled out of Charter schools or who decide that they do not want to pay the fees owed to the charter school or simply don’t want to live up to the charter school’s expectations (not sure how common either of these are).

    Most charter schools don’t take the harder cases of disabled students, though many do take mild LD and speech cases. CPS has been trying to deliver Special Ed on the cheap for years, so general classes can wind up with a 4 year spread in abilities of the students present. This results also in SPED students who should be given testing reprieves or allowances being tested as a regular student because if they had the allowance, they would need an IEP which would spell out minutes for which the district does not want to pay. And let’s not even get into the behaviorally disabled students who can ruin an entire class period.

  30. - Ahoy! - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 1:32 pm:

    –the median is $66.6K for Chicago school teachers–

    (In the best Church Lady Voice I can muster) So who do you think made the CPS teachers go on strike? Was it Satan? Hmm?

  31. - Irish - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 1:46 pm:

    Ironic that on the same day that there is a posting where the IPI takes shots at the “outrageous” pay scale of working middle class folks there is also a post showing that Illinois ranks 6th in CEO pay.

    And we are supposed trust these folks to suddenly get a social conscience and invest their money to get the economy back on track?

  32. - late to the party - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 2:54 pm:

    “Except that most private sector salaried employees work 12 months of the year, while most teachers do not.”

    Sounds like people in the private sector should stop whining and just become teachers. It’s so easy, you make SO much money and you only work 9 months a year! You’d think we’d have an over supply!

  33. - SO IL M - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 3:02 pm:

    On the first day of the strike I asked what the average hourly salary was for Chicago Teachers,to get a grasp of the differences in the salary versus those who do work 12 months. I found out that it is right around $40/hour.

    Given the cost of living, working conditions, and education requirements, this seems fair to me. And raises that keep up with the cost of living are not too much for them to ask for either. But thats just my opinion.

  34. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 3:15 pm:

    ==CPS teachers make 45% more than charter school teachers. And which schools are providing better results?==

    And which schools get to pick and choose the students that they allow in?

  35. - champaigndweller - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 3:37 pm:

    Even assuming that the teachers deserve a raise, where will the money come from? I understand property owners in Cook County are already complaining about the rate their property taxes have gone up over recent years.

  36. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 3:46 pm:

    @champaigndweller -

    Most likely, from all of the money that the TIF districts have been siphoning away from our public schools for years. To plant flowers.

  37. - Shemp - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 6:15 pm:

    TIF money is all “but for” incremental money. It’s not “siphoning” existing funds.

  38. - Anon - Wednesday, Sep 12, 12 @ 11:26 pm:

    I think that one needs to view Rahm’s numbers with the knowledge that Republicans like me will always give him bad grades because he is not doing enough to cut spending and eliminate bad union rules, not because we support the teachers union.

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