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« In Cairo, "Protesters" Scale Wall of US Embassy, Tear Down US Flags | Main | Surprise: CTU Head Karen Lewis Rallied the Occupy Crowds »
September 11, 2012

Charles Lane: "I cannot describe the moral repugnance" of the Chicago Teachers Strike

Whose schools? Their schools, they chant.

Keep the following numbers in mind for the next time a public-sector union official starts lecturing you about social justice.

In Chicago, 85 percent of the roughly 400,000 public school students are either African American or Latino. A similar percentage receives free or reduced-price meals, which means these students live at or near the poverty line: $27,214 for a family of three, in a typical case.

Chicago teachers go on strike after talks with district officials fail: Tens of thousands of Chicago teachers and support staff went on strike Monday for the first time since 1987. The strike comes after school district officials and the Chicago Teachers Union did not reach an agreement over teachers’ contracts.

The average public-school teacher in Chicago earned almost triple that amount — $76,000 per year, according to the school district. In contract negotiations this year, Chicago Public Schools offered an average total pay increase of 16 percent over four years.


[L]et’s just say events in Chicago illustrate rather dramatically the contradictions between public-sector unionism and the efficient delivery of vital public services.

A very good post from a Green Room-er at Hot Air, which includes this video from the Illinois Policy Institute.

Whose schools? Yours, right?

"We will not rest/Teachers know best"? They do?

"No more teachers/no more books/until we get the money Rahm took"?

For the children, remember.

Evan Coyne Mahoney did a good video for Reason the other day:

Charles Lane suggests that the reason for this strike is motivated, largely, by a power play. Apparently Karen Lewis got elected as head of the CTU promising to fight-fight-fight. And so she's calling a strike, to let people know these are "her schools."

Here she is in action, talking up smoking pot at a conference which includes children:

What Are They Striking Over? Not pay. They're specifically striking in opposition to 1, strict evaluations of their performance and 2, shockingly, their demand that bad teachers, previously laid off for poor performance, be rehired.

Let me note this very obvious but underappreciated fact: The most loyal troopers for any union are the worst performing at their actual jobs. And the union, in return, is most loyal to them.

Think about it: People who are doing their jobs well do not need the union as much, if at all. They might be pro-union, but at the end of the day, people who are good at their jobs know two things:

1. It is unlikely they will be fired or laid off. Well, in a normal economy it's unlikely. Even in this economy, it's less likely.

2. Even if they were, for some reason, fired or laid off, they would have a reasonable expectation of finding new employment after a short time of unemployment. Again, with the caveat: In a normal economy.

So, who really, really needs the union to fight like hell for bad workers? The bad workers do, of course.

And who then provides the unions with their most fervent shock troops? The bad workers-- because they are under small illusion about their employability without a union fighting to keep them in their jobs, despite their incompetence.

This is why the unions are so against evaluations and performance review -- while there are good teachers in the union, the good teachers are not the real clients of the union.

The real clients of the union are the bad teachers.

Consider performance-based pay. Now, in any group, one third of the people will get more money. One third will neither get less nor get more. One third will, in a regime in which pay is based on performance, get less.

So, in any union, there should not really be a firm opinion on merit-based pay. There is no overwhelming majority against it, nor for it. It breaks pretty evenly into pro/neutral/anti.

And yet the teachers unions are always stridently against merit-based pay. Why? Because their real clients are the bottom-feeders, the most marginal of workers.

The higher-performers know they really don't need the union -- and the union knows they know that.

Their dedicated shock troops, their most fervent street-beaters, are those who know that without a union, they wouldn't have a job, period.

I look at these videos of angry, spit-foaming chanters in the street and I don't hear their stupid rhymes. I hear one thing: I'm hanging by a thread and I know it.

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posted by Ace at 03:14 PM

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