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Drilling down into the numbers

Friday, Jun 17, 2011 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The war of statistics over Chicago teacher pay raises has begun in earnest. The administration points to these numbers

* 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.

* The union points to these facts

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.

* Private sector worker pay raises, from Aon Hewitt

Average raise last year for Chicago workers: 2.6%

Average raise last year for U.S. workers: 2.4%

Average raise for Chicago workers this year: 2.8%*

Average raise for U.S. workers this year: 2.9%*

CPS teachers expected raise this year: 4% (rejected by school board)

* Projected

* Good points

The Board of Education simply has no more rabbits to pull from its budget hat.

We say that cautiously, knowing that CPS said much the same last year as it tried to persuade teachers to forgo their raise. And then, voila, CPS managed to fill its deficit without increasing class size or scaling back programs significantly.

But the big fixes available in the Great Recession years — including $364 million in extra federal dollars, $160 million in bond restructuring and $400 million in delayed pension payments — are gone.

* Here’s what comes next

The union has already notified the board that it wants to reopen the section of the contract regarding salaries, something it has the right to do. That could lead to compromise solutions or to reopening the entire agreement for negotiations. […]

If the board and union reopen negotiations and those talks stall, the new state legislation dictates that the two enter a fact-finding process with a third-party arbitrator. Then 75 percent of the voting union membership would be required to authorize a strike.

The angrier teachers become, the easier it’s gonna be to reach that 75 percent threshold. And comments like these probably aren’t helping

Chicago public school students “got the shaft” under a union contract that ensured labor peace and guaranteed teachers annual 4 percent raises, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday.

Leaking stories like this one probably won’t help, either

A strike may be looming if Chicago teachers’ salaries aren’t increased, but it reportedly is not deterring Chicago Teachers Union chief Karen Lewis from going on a planned vacation. Hawaii?

To wit: Liz Brown, a CTU spokeswoman tells Sneed: “She [Lewis] has a private life and all of us need to take a vacation some time.” Although it was unclear when Lewis was actually leaving on vacation, word is she had scheduled it for this weekend.

Buckshot: Sneed hears Lewis sent new schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard an ultimatum demanding negotiations on teacher salaries Wednesday night. “If Brizard wanted to meet with her for a cup of coffee immediately, it might be difficult if she’s in Hawaii,” said a source.

* Some history

In 1966, a starting salary of $5,500 was the equivalent of $38,358 in 2011 dollars. By 1972, the starting salary of $9,570 was $51,739 in 2011 dollars—the highest of the nation’s ten largest cities. His successor, Robert Healey, asked for a ten percent raise the next year, which the board’s chief negotiator called “insane”; they settled for a presumably less insane 6.3 percent raise to $10,000, or $50,892. How did a 6.3 percent increase turn into a drop in current dollars? That’s what happens when you adjust to the wild inflation of the 1970s. Accordingly, the CTU came back the next year and asked for a 12 percent raise to compensate. […]

By 1976, CPS faced a budget deficit of $70.8 million ($281 million in 2001 dollars); teachers were then making $11,000 ($43,683) to $22,600 ($89,750), and the school board passed an 8.5 percent salary cut.

1978: teachers were making $11,900 ($41,243) to $24,800 ($85,950), the latter for a teacher with a doctorate and 15 years of experience. […]

1985: the minimum salary was $15,471 ($33,647) for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree. The maximum salary, for a teacher with a doctorate and 15 years experience, was $32,883 ($71,515). The average was $26,296 ($57,189). […]

1993: the minimum was $27,241 ($42,599); the maximum was $48,467 ($75,790); the article made a point to note that the starting salary for CPS was relatively high, while the maximum salary was relatively low. In other words, the pay range for Chicago Public Schools, compared to nearby regional districts, was narrow.

2000: the minimum was $35,000 ($49,928); the average was $48,879 ($64,140).

2003: the minimum salary was $34,538 ($42,415); the maximum was $61,451 ($75,466).

* Related…

* Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s labor problems go beyond teachers

* School’s Out in Chicago, But Labor Struggles Are Just Starting

* Hinz: CPS budget hole both worse and better than it looks. Who will pay?

* Teachers Union to Negotiate School Board’s Rescinding of Pay Raises

* Rahm Emanuel defends decision to cancel 4 percent teacher raises

* Tribune Editorial: This is no time for the ‘S’ word

* Brown: Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s efforts seemingly seamless so far

* Oops! Rahm Emanuel sends wrong student to bill-signing

* Downgrade for Cook Co. bond rating


  1. - Skeeter - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 11:33 am:

    That’s great to hear!
    Since pay is directly related to performance (as some dog told me) Chicago schools can be expected to outperform schools in the other 9 large cities.

  2. - wordslinger - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 11:40 am:

    The recent reform package passed overwhelmingly by bipartisan votes in both chambers.

    If I were the CTU, I’d be very cautious about saber-rattling about a strike. The chaos of kids out of school is a very powerful image, but not necessarily in the CTUs favor.

    It’s not out of the question that there are votes for a law to ban teacher strikes, as exists in other states.

  3. - CircularFiringSquad - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 11:42 am:

    Let’s see if this gets by the Censorship Committee

    Happy Birthday Wasan! Hope you get that new hot rod from that tightwad.

    As we lose consciousness we are seeing an image of KL in a 2 piece in HI ——OMGGGGGGGGGG
    have a great weekend!

  4. - lakeview - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 11:48 am:

    Heh. I just got a postcard promoting the Catholic elementary schools, offering to set me up with parents in my neighborhood to answer any questions I may have and encouraging me to consider it. The diocese will be the only winner in this debacle.

  5. - JimF - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 11:57 am:

    The conflicting numbers cited by CPS and the Teachers Union remind me of the quote:

    There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

    Not saying anyone is lying but given enough numbers one can prove anything. I don’t know that either comparison really proves anything.

  6. - Wensicia - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 11:58 am:

    Lewis had already stuck her foot in her mouth with the slavery comment. Was Emanuel correct to come back with comments like students “got the shaft” were left “on the side of the road”? More or less saying the problems in education are the teachers’ fault due to past contractual agreements? His contempt for the profession cannot be clearer. This, now, is war.

    By the way, his use of children as weapons in this discussion isn’t any better than the union’s use of the threat to shut down schools, hurting these same children. Keep talking, Mayor, you’ll force the negative option.

  7. - Anonymous - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 11:58 am:

    There is obviously some posturing on both sides here, to be expected, but the math is unclear. How can Lewis’s claims be reconciled with the Board’s? It looks like part of it is explained by the Board’s using average numbers and range across all teachers, while CTU is focusing on high school teachers only. But, even the high school teachers would presumably fall inside the range the Board identified? And this claim does not seem to add up:”“People tell me, `Oh, I thought I would get a raise and it’s only 20 bucks,’” Lewis said.”
    That would be a 0.1 percent increase on the minimum teacher salary.

  8. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 12:03 pm:

    Anonymous, she’s talking weekly or bi-weekly there.

  9. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 12:04 pm:

    It IS true that the starting salary for teachers in Houston, TX is only $44,987.

    It is also true that when you adjust for cost-of-living, Chicago teachers would have to start out at $57,051 to be equal in pay.

    That is, if you believe Money Magazine.

  10. - Frank - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 12:19 pm:

    The Sneed leak is the most tell-tail sign of how personal this is getting, even more so than the “kids got shafted” line. Karen Lewis isn’t allowed to go on vacation this summer?

    The teachers “caved” on school reform, which created a lot of internal problems for Lewis among her membership. Now they’re get their raises canceled and there’s not much she can do about it.

    The Chicago Teacher’s Union has a lot of factions and internal bickering. Lewis is going to have to appease the more strident members by tuning up the rhetoric or they’ll toss her out. And at the same time, Rahm appears to delight in kicking dirt in Lewis’ face while she’s down.

    A strike is all but inevitable.

  11. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 12:23 pm:

    @JimF -

    You’re right about statistics. I think the question you have to ask yourself when deciding who to make your comparison to is who are we competing with/who do we want to be like?

    We could decide, as CPS has, that we want to be like New York City schools.

    But NYC schools have a dismal 59% graduation rate.

    CTU is suggesting that we want our schools to be more like Wheaton, Naperville, Highland Park and Kennilworth.

    I tend to agree with the CTU on this point not just because I’m a parent.

    I think when it comes to competing for the best teachers, our real competition is the Chicago suburbs. Illinoisans tend to stay in Illinois. Midwesterners tend to stay in the Midwest. Very few people, I think, are asking themselves “Do I want to teach in NYC, LA, Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix or Chicago.”

    Just as important, if not more so, is that we are competing with the suburbs for homeowners. The downtown area is one of the fastest growing largely because young professional couples are choosing to make it home. Many, however, choose to relocate to the suburbs later to raise their families.

    If we can get on a level playing field with the ‘burbs in terms of our schools, we will blow them away in attracting professional families, boosting our housing market and retail sectors.

  12. - Downstate Illinois - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 12:35 pm:

    If Chicago teachers go on strike they would be even bigger idiots than the rest of the world gives them credit. They have little public support as it, hence the recent passage of the education reform bill. Even their Democratic allies are distancing themselves.

  13. - aaronsinger - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 12:56 pm:

    YDD, that sounds nice, but suburbs also have more money than CPS, and a *much* different demographic in their student body than suburban districts do. Teaching in the inner city will never be the same as teaching in the suburbs.

    On an unrelated note, I find it curious that with a $750 million budget shortfall, CPS sees the need to cut a 4% raise for teachers, while the city budget for charter schools isn’t going down a penny.

    Yes, the economic climate isn’t good and sacrifices need to be made, by schools districts, by administration, and by teacher’s themselves. But that doesn’t proclude those in charge from taking advantage of the situation to advance their own agenda, and Emanuel is continuing the Daley charge for charter schools.

  14. - lakeview - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 1:10 pm:

    I agree with Downstate. Chicago’s schools have made a lot of progress in the last 20 years, but the result is fragile. If there’s a strike, the most vulnerable students will be left even further behind, and that parents with the most options will pull their kids out. These are also the parents doing so much fundraising and working on the LSCs.

    There may be enough waste in the system to cover raises, I don’t know. But as long as Karen Lewis considers taxpayers to be slaveowners, she’s not going to find any sympathy from them.

  15. - Cook County Commoner - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 1:19 pm:

    Maybe it’s time to sell off the CPS to a private operator, if such is allowed by the state constitution or laws. Like privatizing street repair. The dysfunctionality in all large, urban public school systems appears beyond repair. The dismal statistics have been coming out for years. The average kids who don’t luck out and get in a magnet or some other decent school are financially doomed. Drastic surgery performed by one, fresh, empowered leadership body is necessary. That means getting the politicians and their union contributors out as far as possible. Let a private, non-denominational operator take over. Could it be any worse for the poor wretches trapped in the worst of the worst?

  16. - JimF - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 1:22 pm:

    YDD and aaronsinger, I agree $$ may make all the difference in attracting the new star kid just graduating from Iowa or Nebraska. And, it is much more difficult to teach in many inner city schools than it is in the city. But, the biggest problem I have seen as a retired suburban educator and lifetime Chicago resident is the horrible situation with school principals in CPS. I know of several excellent teachers who taught in CPS and were not driven out by $$ but were driven out when the Principal who was doing a great job and was moving the school forward took a suburban job with a 25% payrise and the Principal who replaced them was a real loser.

    To me, that is where improvements in CPS begin, and so far end, with the difficulty hiring and retaining top quality principals.

  17. - JimF - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 1:27 pm:

    “sell off CPS to a private entity”?? Are you serious, have you seen the Parking Meter and Skyway fiasco’s.

    I do agree, radical surgery is necessary.

    I’d suggest breaking CPS into 20 small districts with taxes to follow students and free transfer of students across the system.

  18. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 1:48 pm:

    It’s clear that CPS can’t afford the raises and as Emanuel has pointed out, it’s actually in the contract that the board has to determine whether or not the raises can be afforded each year. However, that’s no reason to demagogue teachers, which some people are doing. Emanuel, in my mind, isn’t dissing the teachers, but his rhetoric certainly isn’t helping. A big step towards a better CPS would be a reorganizing of its administrative black holes (see Chicago Reader story).

    As for Lewis, her rhetoric isn’t helping either. Her slavery comments the other day aren’t productive for anybody. Also, she should keep in her mind that when she talks about the extra Jacksons per pay check for teachers, a lot of people hear that and are thinking what kids in CPS are getting for that? Nothing is what comes to mind first. Also, she’s allowed to take a vacation. A close relative of mine was both a teacher and union organizer for decades, and I saw first hand how hard doing that kind of work is. Especially for a thing as big as CTU, Lewis is allowed some breathing room. The Hawaii thing is a non-issue, just something the media can use to help manufacture its storylines.

    Chicago Reader story

    Lewis’ slavery comments

  19. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 1:57 pm:

    @Jim -

    One of the biggest complaints I hear from current Chicago teachers is the poor quality of principals.

    Show me a great Chicago school, and I’ll show you a great principal.

    I was less flabberghasted by the Mayor’s comments than the CPS board president, who said there would be no personnel cuts in the CPS central bureaucracy.

    EVERY single principal in CPS makes more than $100K a year.

    Despite all of the talk of merit pay for teachers, I learned over the summer (thanks to great Sun-Times reporting), that CPS principals are paid not based on how their school performs, but the size of the school.

    It boggles my mind that we have a $600 million budget hole even after the teacher pay cuts, and yet cutting administrative salaries or eliminating administrative positions is completely off the table. Of course, they gave the supt. a $20K raise, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    @aaronsinger - the money problem needs to be addressed by the General Assembly, and I wish the Mayor had spent his political capital there. Maybe his Big Plan is to force through reforms and then ask for more dough.

    There is ABSOLUTELY no reason kids in Chicago can’t learn. Yes, we need to address the social problems that affect their classroom performance, but shouldn’t we be doing that anyway?

    If the rumors about the Mayor running for President are true, “I took Chicago’s public schools from worst to first” is a great platform.

  20. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 2:40 pm:

    I did not drill into the Aon Hewitt numbers, but I am fairly confident that the analysis was performed prior to the recent “bump in the road’” I do not believe the salary increases in the private sector will be met this year, and should be adjusted downward at least 0.1%, in which case the 4% mandatory increase stands out even more.

    Average full-time starting salary this year for college graduates is $50,034 per year, which includes engineers and business majors, who make significantly more than average.

  21. - Ahoy - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 2:46 pm:

    ==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.==

    That’s a $1,300 a year raise, it might not be great, but it’s not bad considering the economy and number of people without jobs.

  22. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 2:55 pm:


    We should also consider when the statement on pay was made. There are new taxes that are being deducted from paychecks, and the FICA deduction is scheduled to return to its original amount. We also need to question whether or not the amount the person was talking about was take-home or gross. Also, did union dues increase recently?

  23. - wishbone - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 4:13 pm:

    I will believe Rahm is serious about the budget when I see garbage truck crews drop to the one person used in the suburbs. Oh, and when Richie Daley loses his taxpayer paid SUV’s and armed bodyguards.

  24. - Bill - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 4:37 pm:

    Rahm could have tried to make a deal but he chose to come out swinging instead. He wanted a war and now he’s gonna get one. Some of the ways “the kids got the shaft” was by wasting millions of dollars on useless central office administrators, most of whom have never even seen a public school student, paying 50 lawyers six figure salaries while contracting out all their important legal work, using public school tax dollars to plant flowers and subsidize car dealers and other private businesses in affluent areas like LaSalle Street,etc.. Rahm may have bitten off a little more than he can chew this time. His media honeymoon will end quickly when a half a million school children are out walking the streets instead of being in school. The union has been around a lot longer than Rahm. They will still be there when he’s gone.

  25. - Responsa - Friday, Jun 17, 11 @ 5:10 pm:

    Perception matters. I suspect Bill is not correct that the average Chicagoan (whether or not they have children in CPS) will blame Rahm over the teachers union in the event there is a strike.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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