Budget, Pensions, CTU – where is your head at right now?

September 12, 2016 at 2:31 pm 349 comments

Was talking with someone today about the CPS budget and potential CTU strike and whether people’s opinions on this matter have shifted at all over the past year.

On the one hand, I feel like Bernie helped drive some sympathy toward unions overall. He did for me, at least.

On the other hand, I think we’re all more acutely aware of the severe financial issues in CPS and the real impact of increased property taxes.   I was hit especially hard here (am still trying to fight it.)

To summarize, decades ago, CPS kicked the financial can down the road over and over, so to speak. To please the teachers (to make up for screwing them in other ways) the city promised a pension-pick up.  This made sense decades ago (kind of) but didn’t take into account inflation, teacher salaries, and longevity.

As a result, the pension burden has become massive.   It was promised.  Now we owe it.  But there’s not enough money.

This guy explains it very well:


Short of travelling through time and slapping silly the guys who got us into this mess, it’s difficult to find a way out that feels fair to everyone.

Now the teachers are threating to strike.   I’m unclear if it’s just for the pension or other elements of the contract too.

So what do you think? I know we’d rehashed this discussion every year.  But have your attitudes shifted at all?  Do you support the teachers and their strike?  If not, what is the solution?

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  • 1. Begoña  |  September 12, 2016 at 2:37 pm


  • 2. Tone  |  September 12, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    I think it is well past the time to bust public employee unions. They serve no purpose other than rob the taxpayers.

  • 3. ALJ  |  September 12, 2016 at 2:46 pm


  • 4. Learning CPS  |  September 12, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    I support teachers. CPS can do much better by them and our schools. I don’t support a strike.

    The link you posted explains clearly how we got into this situation, but
    ultimately the 7% pay cut isn’t exactly just a pay cut. It is a reduction in take home pay, but that 7% goes into the pension. Less take-home pay is highly unpleasant, but the money will go to their retirement, not just go away. And remember, CPS still will pay into the pension for the CPS contribution, just that teachers will pay what is expected from them in full. Like everyone else who still has a pension. I don’t think that is unreasonable, though I get the pinch it will have.

    Right now, I know people who fully support a strike and think it is necessary, some who are against it and don’t get what it will accomplish, and some who just seem exhausted by the whole thing. If it happens, drags on and we don’t really know or agree with the ‘victory’ CTU expects…or how it directly translates into anything better in the classrooms…I think public opinion will not favor the CTU for long.

  • 5. WY2  |  September 12, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Couple more strikes and I think we might be done with CPS. There are other options and I don’t feel like risking to have school close for couple weeks a moth or two before an AP test.

  • 6. ESS  |  September 12, 2016 at 3:38 pm


  • 7. CarolA  |  September 12, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    As a newly retired teacher, I think I speak for many of my currently employed former colleagues when I say nobody wants a strike. I think it’s absolutely necessary to take a new strike vote because teachers have come and gone since the last vote. I wish the last contract was put to vote with the masses rather than the committee. I think the outcome would have been very different. I can tell you that there is a very big lack of trust between CPS and it’s teachers. In my personal situation, which is quite complex and I prefer not to get into it, I was betrayed by my principal and CPS in my retirement year despite the fact of having continued Superior and Distinguished ratings for over 27 years. No one trusts anyone else and it has created an atmosphere of “if they do this, then we will do that” rather than constructive conversation. If just one other administrator had bothered to pick up the phone to talk with me, my situation would have been totally different. Something has to be done about the lack of trust.

  • 8. N_Mom  |  September 12, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    I am in favor of public unions, more now than before. Ive seen what their elimination has done for wages in the country and it isnt pretty.
    However I think the teachers need to give a little here regarding the pension. It can’t be all one-sided. The stubbornness about not giving up any part of the pension because it was promised decades ago isn’t fair either. Things change, for better or worse. For most of us in regards to pension and retirement, it has been for worse.

  • 9. majaramirez  |  September 12, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Maybe it’s not only because my child went through a CPS elementary school and is now in a great HS but also because I’m in one of the other big Chicago unions that I feel a lot of sympathy to the teachers.

    Or maybe it’s because I know that things changed because of what the City did, to raid the teachers’ pension with vague promises to pay it back later. Would any bank or hedge fund have tolerated that?

    We should not advocate robbing Peter to pay Paul. It wasn’t the teachers that did this to themselves, and somebody ought to find out where it started and let THOSE men rot in jail unless they pony up the millions owed and balance the budget – and quick!

    Without unions we will be back to the employer dictating the hours AND overtime we MUST work and NO compensation or else whatever THEY call fair. Unions have their faults but not like oligarchies!

  • 10. Tone  |  September 12, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Daley and the vast majority of aldermen of the last 30 years are definitely at fault, so is Madigan and his public union protection program. Should we make bets on how much lower enrollment is this years from last? I know 20 students from our school that left the system this year, mine included.

    We are simply tired of having our kids be pawns in CTUs never ending desire to not be accountable

  • 11. WY2  |  September 12, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    @ 9
    Charter schools don’t have unions and they are doing just fine …

  • 12. Lella  |  September 12, 2016 at 6:46 pm


  • 13. Learning CPS  |  September 12, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    @9 I agree with your frustration, but I would like to know what actual solution you would suggest to fix it. No one who made the decisions along the way that got us here – and there are many to point fingers at – will be going to jail and suddenly filling the money gap out of their own pockets. Even if that was a legitimate way to fix this it would take years to play out in court and wouldn’t help for a long time.

    CTU knew about the lack of pension payments from the city and the state, it wasn’t a secret that just came out in the last year or two. If teachers didn’t know, then their CTU leadership failed them as much as CPS and the city did. If they did know, then while it isn’t their fault, they’ve had a lot of years to make noise about it and push their union to do something before it got to this point.

    It is a really bad situation all around, and some of what it will take to fix it will hurt before it helps.

  • 14. Cheryl  |  September 12, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    @WY2: Chapter schools are doing poorly. They cherry pick their students and still do not have the results that should be higher than a public school. See this: https://troylaraviere.net/2016/05/09/drop-charter-reform-strategy-chicagos-public-school-students-outlearn-students-from-charters/

    @ everyone: You must remember that CPS teachers must live in the city proper. That means they pay all the property tax increases, fees, utility taxes, city sticker fee, even the proposed 30% tax on water & sewer hits a raw nerve.
    The 7% pick up was in leu of a pay raise. If they take away that pick up, they rightfully owe a 7% pay increase. CPS is not giving a generous pay increase. See this: http://www.ctunet.com/blog/faq-fight-for-a-fair-contract-ctu

    Take home pay is important – it has to pay mortgage/rent, food, transportation, and all those added fees and taxes on top of fees. Would you be able to survive with 7% less in your pay?

  • 15. WY2  |  September 12, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    I was talking about working conditions for teachers, not about academic results. The original statement was that without unions “we will be back to the employer dictating the hours AND overtime we MUST work and NO compensation or else whatever THEY call fair.” Somehow this does not happen at charter schools.

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  September 12, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    I believe charters have a very high turnover rate. Yes they can keep finding newbies to cycle through for 2 years. Not sure I’d call that a Success.

  • 17. harry potter  |  September 12, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    @WY2, yes, charter schools do dictate hours, they do dictate unpaid overtime (though, by default all schools do this in one form or another as its impossible to teach well without putting in a shit ton of overtime), and charter teachers are bound to whatever nonsense the charter demands. One charter school required its teachers to have their cell phones on until bedtime, on all weekend, and to take all calls from parents without fail unless it was between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. I think that might have been an UNO school, but I am forgetting now. Others require that staff are in front of children from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Some require staff to eat lunch with the kids. It does happen at charters and is part of the reason there is such a high turnover.

  • 18. Learning CPS  |  September 12, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    @ 14 Many of us have survived pay cuts, furlough days, significant increases in employee health premiums and so on that definitely result in less take home pay. No one is saying it will be easy, but also keep in mind that the CTU, as is it’s job, has protected the overall salary structure that gives teachers step and lane increases plus annual overall salary increases throughout the last decades when so many weren’t seeing any raises at all. Teacher’s have done much better than most when it comes to maintaining salary increases.


    I don’t begrudge teachers a dime they are paid, but I don’t see CTU showing any real willingness to look for a solution to this other than “do it our way”. I’m sure as CarolA says part of that is a lack of trust, and probably very warranted, but that doesn’t mean that the solution is to double down on something that needs to be changed.

  • 19. Cheryl  |  September 12, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Charter schools dictate the hours – 6 days a week and they pay piddles which is one of the reasons why they have a high turnover rate.
    Then there is the school who didn’t like the parents:

  • 20. WesLooMom  |  September 12, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    When the economy turned a few years ago (around 2008), many persons had to endure decreases in pay and benefits. I know persons who endured an indefinite freeze on their salaries. The notion that CTU should not have to give up anything, in light of the current financial crisis, seems out of line.

    I would not publicly oppose a strike, because CTU has a right to strike. But, I’m tired of hearing teachers complain about work conditions that are normal for many workers. I’m tired of hearing that “it’s all about the kids” when that’s not true. I’m tired of hearing that teachers don’t earn much money, when many teachers earn significantly more than many workers. I’m tired of a lot of things, including w/ CPS and our state government. My patience is wearing thin.

  • 21. Natalie  |  September 12, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    @20 yes it is about my kids. I work in conditions that are not acceptable for adults much less children. Last week it was 95 degrees in my classroom. That is with 30 middle school children sitting in a room. Our water fountains were found to have enough lead in them that it is being recommended that we don’t drink out of them. As I was in the girls restroom a piece of the ceiling fell on my head. We don’t have a librarian or a nurse full time (like most CPS schools). We won’t be able to offer sports for a 2nd year to our students. Yes, it is about my students, and it is also about the pay. I must live within the city limits which means that every single one of the tax hikes hits me just like the rest of the citizens of Chicago. Emmanuel and CPS both want to “fix” this problem without really looking at other avenues. The alderman have offered a real solution with TIF funding but it won’t happen because of the greed within City Hall. No, TIF funding will not fix the problem permanently but it’s a fair start. I don’t want to strike, it is dangerous for my kids to be out in the neighborhood my school is located in, but I also have to think of the family that I am raising and have in Chicago Public Schools.

  • 22. JillyA  |  September 12, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Natalie, unless I’m wrong — teachers can’t strike to get money for librabrian, bathrooms, air conditioning, etc. I wish it were possible, but that’s not allowable for CTU to strike for that. Striking won’t fix that. If it’s just a way to say f-you to city hall, just state it for what it is. I think the CTU hides muddies the argument which is part of what makes citizens lose sympathy for CTU.

  • 23. maman  |  September 13, 2016 at 5:53 am

    I stand with the teachers. If they vote to strike, our family will support them.

    I’m tired of the city making promises they don’t keep and participating in illegal practices. When Daley was mayor he turned over city workers’ pension money to his nephew to “handle.” http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/the-watchdogs-pension-funds-lost-millions-on-deals-with-daley-nephew-obama-pal/

    Chicago citizens, teachers, fire fighters, police officers should have to make up for that? Bullsh!t.

  • 24. Tone  |  September 13, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Yes, maman, you will pay dearly for the Daley years. Time for CTU to shut it and accept the fact that they will kill the city with outrageous demands. Who pays 2% to retirement and gets to live off of it for 30+ years all guaranteed?

  • 25. WY2  |  September 13, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Er… how is it possible at the same time to “stand with the teachers” and say that it’s bullshit that Chicago citizens have to make up for promises made by Daley administration?
    – Teachers demand that those promises be honored.
    – The only people who can possibly pay for it are those that live in Chicago.
    So either one or another, you can’t have it both ways – either cut teachers pensions, or pay for them out of your (and mine) own pocket.

    Who else do you think should pay? State? That would be all other town and cities that had nothing to do with Chicago politics and have their own money problems. Federal government? Why? What does it have to do with this mess?

  • 26. luveurope  |  September 13, 2016 at 9:08 am

    14 “You must remember that CPS teachers must live in the city proper” Yea, but many don’t. How about firing the ones who pretend to live in Chicago before talking strike?

  • 27. CPSmom  |  September 13, 2016 at 9:59 am

    My children have been in CPS for over 10 years, and I am fully supportive of the teachers and wish they didn’t have to experience any reductions in take-home pay and benefits, but the financial reality is that something has to change. There simply isn’t enough money to continue this way.

    I don’t know any private company that offers a 7 percent pension/401K payout for employees. In the private sector, over the last 10 years, employees have faced massive layoffs, reductions in pay and benefits, and salary freezes. I can’t support a teachers’ strike. There needs to be some flexibility and willingness to compromise on the part of the teachers’ union.

  • 28. ChicagoDad  |  September 13, 2016 at 10:13 am

    One thing that teachers and their supporters conveniently believe is that the contracts were somehow negotiated for the good of society and therefore should never be questioned. However the agreements between politicians and public sector unions are often (and especially in Chicago) rife with corruption. Why shouldn’t they be questioned?
    FDR, probably the greatest democrat, was stridently anti public sector union, for the reason below.
    When a PRIVATE sector union negotiates with the owners of the company, the owners have an incentive to play hardball, since the money will come out of their own pockets.
    But when a PUBLIC sector union negotiates with a politician, none of the money comes from his or her own pocket, but rather from the pockets of current and future taxpayers, who do not have a seat at the negotiating table. The politician has little incentive to play hardball–in fact, he or she has an incentive to give away the store, since it ensures a solid bloc of votes. By the time the bills come due, the politician is long out of office, leaving the future taxpayers the bill. This is the corruption that is inherent in public sector unions.

  • 29. TIF $$$  |  September 13, 2016 at 10:22 am

    I’m all for using the TIF money but just not right now. We will need that later. Remember the current Budget for this school year is counting on 200 million from the state later in the school year **if** the state legislature reforms state employee pensions by January. Well…ummm that happens to be when the stopgap budget ends. I don’t have high hopes cps will get the 200 million. Therefore, let’s use the TIF funds for that rainy day or there will be mud year cuts like last year…

  • 30. Chris  |  September 13, 2016 at 11:30 am

    “what the City did, to raid the teachers’ pension with vague promises to pay it back”

    1. That is D.A.L.E.Y. not “the City”. Richard Michael Daley. Who had not the guts to raise taxes enough, or cut spending, or risk a strike from *any* city workers, because he thought that he might not get re-elected (or his various relatives on the payroll might get upset). RICH DALEY put us in this spot.

    2. It was not a “raid”; it was a series of “holidays” taken so that the tough decisions about the CPS budget could be kicked down the road. RICH DALEY took a (basically) fully funded pension, and drove it into the ditch, because he was unwilling (or not capable) to make tough decisions about CPS’s future.

    3. There are no “vague promises”; the law and the IL constitution require the pension payments to be made. The pension fund is (supposed to be) there to ensure that future benefits are funded in a more level, sustainable fashion.

    ALSO: it most assuredly is NOT public employee unions that brought all of the great worker protections that exist today–it was unions at private employers, mostly involving factory workers and tradesmen. So, wherever you stand on unions, qua unions, give credit where it is due—and that is definitely not teachers unions and AFSCME.

  • 31. Tone  |  September 13, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Chris is generally right, but Daley had a willing City Council as well.

  • 32. Tone  |  September 13, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Why do teachers get step and lane increases and a general pay increase? Seems absolutely out of market for any profession to get two pay increases/year.

  • 33. ChicagoDad  |  September 13, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Tone, that’s an example of the inherent corruption in the public sector union contract negotiation process. See 28 above. Chris is right—great strides have been made for US workers from private sector unions, not public sector unions.

    Don’t you just love it when you see in a window “Proud Union Home” as if a member of the United Auto Workers lives there, when actually it’s just a member of CTU or some other public sector worker!

  • 34. Chris  |  September 13, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    “Daley had a willing City Council as well”

    Can you imagine the s***storm if the Council had attempted to subvert Richie’s authority by passing a tax hike?

    And, anyway, the Council doesn’t get a vote on the CPS budget, so they couldn’t even attempt to say ‘Nope’, except as an interested observer. They certainly *could* (and should) have done something more on the city-side of the issue.

  • 35. Kenwood Parent  |  September 13, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Let me guess… Tone and Chris are men. Chicago Dad, quite obviously.

  • 36. Tone  |  September 13, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    ChicagoDad, oh I completely agree. And Chris, you are correct, but the City Council is certainly to blame for city worker pension underfunding, which is actually much worse than CTU pension underfunding.

  • 37. Tone  |  September 13, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    The citizens of Chicago need to wake up and not put up with the union/politician cabal that is destroying the City. People will leave en masse if taxes continue to rise and we literally get nothing for it. Time for the public unions to be stopped, shut down, busted.

  • 38. mom2  |  September 13, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Since it is my understanding that the state supreme court has said we cannot change what was promised, what exactly are our options if we would go broke giving what was promised? First, I would assume we could change the promise for any future employees. Is that correct? If so, why aren’t we doing that? What was promised is so much more than us regular non-union, non public sector people could ever hope for. Second, must we declare bankruptcy in order to make changes to what was promised? Would it be CPS or the city that would have to do that? Is the other option to change our state constitution? The only other option I see is for CTU to finally wake up and realize that they must make concessions. I don’t see that happening.
    Just trying to figure out how to get out of the mess without causing everyone to move to another city or state. I was feeling better about the quality of school choices at CPS, but the financial issues are the other huge issue that isn’t going away, isn’t improving and causing all sorts of stress.

  • 39. Arts at Decatur  |  September 13, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    @ 38 As far as I know, changing the IL constitution is a non-starter. The people that would have to change it are the same people who benefit from pensions. Don’t see it happening. It was stupid to let it get in the constitution in the first place, but I imagine it will be almost impossible to get it out.

    Bankruptcy doesn’t erase the constitutionally-promised pension obligation and can bring in a whole other host of issues.

    Long-term, there probably will be changes to the pension or retirement options for new teachers, but you can’t just arbitrarily change that because it is those very new teachers who are paying into the system that support the retired and retiring teachers and everyone else who is currently promised something because they are already in the system and you can’t reduce their benefit promises. Less money going in then being drawn. I think we’d at least need to get to a break even or surplus situation before that could truly start to shift things.

    CTU doesn’t want to make concessions, so it might be a big fight before they do but they will need to concede something.

  • 40. Learning CPS  |  September 13, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    And…39 is really me. Darn computer remembering a name I used in reference to a specific post question at some point. Not trying to be deceptive in my opinions!

  • 41. Tone  |  September 13, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Municipal Bankruptcy is probably the answer, if it was allowed. We need a change in Illinois law to allow it though. But if allowed, CPS would and should file for bankrupcty protection (not the City of Chicago). The pensioners would likely take a haircut as they did in Detroit, where pensions were also constitutionally protected.

  • 42. Tone  |  September 13, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    In the meantime, CPS should eliminate pensions for all future employees. There is no reason for pension to exist. No one gets them in the private sector and teachers jobs while obviously important don’t warrant such a benefit.

  • 43. mom2  |  September 13, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    @39 – I thought that Detroit declared bankruptcy and they no longer gave the same amount for pensions after that. I don’t know the details but I thought people were saying that teachers ended up with much less than they would have if they had just agreed to the contracts offered. Am I mistaken? I know I’m just a clueless mom, but I’m trying to learn.

  • 44. @14 Cheryl  |  September 13, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    @14. Cheryl..1/2 right in saying CPS teachers must live in Chicago.

    Not all CTU members are required to live in Chicago and pay any city property taxes, let alone pay for a property tax increase in Chicago or for city stickers.

    Many CTU members are ‘grandfathered-in’ with the old CPS residency Policy (members can live anywhere they please if hired before November 20, 1996) and many CTU members receive ‘renewable’ residency waivers (if hired as non-Chicago residents and work in a ‘need’ area).

    The CPS Residency Policy lists the following subject areas as a need area: Special Education Teachers, Mathematics Teachers, Science Teachers, Librarians, Guidance Counselors, School Nurses, Reading Teachers, Bilingual Teachers, Physical Education Teachers, School Psychologists, Speech Pathologists, ROTC, Sign Language Interpreters, Occupational & Physical Therapists, Health Service Nurses, World Language (Exclusively: Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Latin, Farsi) and those areas related to the STEM educational curriculum.

  • 45. cpsobsessed  |  September 13, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    @Tone- keep in mind that teachers don’t get social security as the rest of us do. There does need to be something on place fid retirement.
    My issue has typically been how generous the pension retirement is compared to Social Security. While being a teacher might suck in many ways, the (theoretical) expected retirement provides a very noteworthy benefit.

  • 46. Danaidh  |  September 13, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    CPSO–Thanks for posting the Will Caskey piece, which too neatly offers a reason why the 1979 financial crisis led to CPS offering its teachers a pension pickup. What it completely fails to explain, however, is why two-thirds of the school districts in Illinois offer a pension pickup. Surely, Chicago’s financial crisis cannot explain that. Remember that Chicago is not unique in this matter. It is the norm in school districts across this state to pay a pension pickup on behalf of the teachers.

    WestLooMom @20: The Great Recession ended in June 2009. That was seven years ago and, granted, while the economy’s growth has been somewhat anemic, there has been growth for the last seven years. You’re just plain wrong when you say teachers haven’t given up anything. In 2011 after winning the mayoral election, Rahm’s hand-picked Board of Ed–as it’s first official act–rescinded a 4% raise that had been negotiated as part of an existing contract. In 2015-16 there were no raises of any kind, including the step increases or lane advances for post-baccalaureate education. Furlough days meant we actually earned less money than the year before. Deductions for health insurance have increased, as has the fees and deductibles for those who dare use it. In short, teachers have sacrificed plenty and don’t see why they should have to sacrifice further.

  • 47. Learning CPS  |  September 13, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    @ mom2 – The pension benefit cut for Detroit wasn’t automatic under bankruptcy though. The bankruptcy court was involved in making all those decisions and it takes some time. No guarantee a court would make the same decision here.

    And honestly, while I think CTU has to give up the pension pick up, and for the future the pension structure needs to change (and I say that as a spouse of a county worker about to be vested in that pension – for whatever good it may do us by the time we retire as we fully expect it to change somehow, someway), sticking it to already retired teachers and other retired union workers isn’t really fair either – and that is basically a lot of what happened in Detroit. Yes, the benefits will be less going forward there but many people already retired, living on what they expected, suddenly had a lot less.

    Also while I agree the pension system needs to change, we’re in this pickle because the pension fund was underfunded for years. There are actually cities and states who have kept their pensions funded and aren’t having financial crisis because of it. Pensions alone aren’t the issue – how they’ve been handled here is.

  • 48. WesLooMom  |  September 14, 2016 at 1:08 am

    @46 – The Great Recession ended a few years ago, but many worker concessions stayed in place long after June 2009. While there have been improvements in the economy, not everyone has returned to their pre-recession lives. Not everyone is doing well.

    CTU’s “no, no, no” response to everything is not playing well in some circles.

  • 49. mom2  |  September 14, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Thanks to those that are trying to explain how we got here. I know that Daley and his city counsel are mostly to blame (not Rahm as some people claim). But, I’m trying to move forward and talk about how we fix things now – not why it happened. It happened and now we need a solution that doesn’t cause all teachers to leave and doesn’t cause all citizens of the city that can afford to leave to move out. What is the answer?

  • 50. luveurope  |  September 14, 2016 at 10:16 am

    49 For starters eliminate pensions for new hires, They no longer exist in the real world for most people.

  • 51. Learning CPS  |  September 14, 2016 at 10:43 am

    @ mom2 – There is no one answer and I actually think that some of what has already happened is part of the solution: the property tax increase for CPS funding, the efforts in Springfield that have allowed for more state funding, CPS actually trying to rein in the budget with cuts and no longer able to take a pension holiday …none of these are perfect solutions, some really hurt and may not be popular but they are pieces to the puzzle.

    Dropping the pension pick up is another piece. CTU will fight tooth and nail to avoid it, but I feel fairly confident it will eventually go away. Not sure how, but I expect CPS will win that battle at some point.

    It is going to be a slow crawl to a better place and there will need to be lots of answers, some painful, some easier to digest. Some teachers will leave, some already have or retired earlier than maybe they had planned…I don’t see any way around that. All the teachers won’t leave and Chicago won’t have a mass exodus of population. We will get through this.

    What I don’t see as an answer, however, is a strike this fall.

  • 52. cpsobsessed  |  September 14, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    @luveurope – eliminating for new hires seems like an obvious solution. I can’t believe that has endured this long.

  • 53. cpsobsessed  |  September 14, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    To clarify, not “solution” but “step in the right direction”

  • 54. Tone  |  September 14, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Social Security benefits can and have been changed over the years. It happens often. In fact, my parents received a 0% increase in their SSI check. How about retired teachers?

  • 55. Tone  |  September 14, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Correct, it would not be automatic that pensions would be cut in bankruptcy, but they will be as they are a huge part of the problem. Now if Mr. Madigan would only allow municipal bankruptcy. CPS needs it.

  • 56. Tone  |  September 14, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Pensions endure because we have system of promising benefits for votes. Talk to Madigan, he’s an expert.

  • 57. Tone  |  September 14, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Public employees have no need for unions. It is time that we do away with them. The unions promise votes and the politicians promise goodies. Everyone else gets the bill.

  • 58. mom2  |  September 14, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    @Tone – I appreciate your perspective but I’m hoping we can all discuss real ways to fix our issues here. Personally, I’m not in favor of public unions because of what I’ve seen lately with CTU and their unwillingness to see that they have been getting so much more than the tax payers that pay them, etc. I’m also a life long democrat but cannot stand what Daley did and what Mike Madigan continues to do. However, I don’t see things changing here unless Madigan retires and all my fellow democrats decide that Bruce Rauner is right and we need more people that think like him for our state. They can vote for Democrats on the federal level but we have to make a drastic change on the state level. Do you see people doing that? I don’t. So, what do we do?

  • 59. Tone  |  September 14, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    mom2, we sound very similar. I will continue to vote for most democrats at the national level, but Illinois is rotten to the core. Rauner is really the first statewide elected politician to acknowledge this. We need to get rid of the public employee unions, to do that, we need state and local level republicans.

  • 60. DPA  |  September 14, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    I disagree that public unions are not needed. Whenver you have a finite pool of money (ie taxes) there will be pressure on the employees to cut their pay. Especially on teachers who are asked to “take one for the kids.” Let’s be honest, if there were no union, teachers would be getting a pretty bad, deal, I can bet on that. What do charter teachers get? Pay that works if you’re in your 20’s but not a decent salary for the long term unless you decide to be a charter school administrator (where all the $$ goes.)

  • 61. WY2  |  September 14, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    My kids went to a charter K-8 school. There were few teachers in their 20s over the years, but most of them are in their 40s and 50s. somebody mentioned that teachers don’t stay for long in charters. Can’t say anything about ALL charters, in this particular school they do stay: 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers are still there, 4 to 8 years after my kids were in their classes. My youngest is still at that school, so I have seen staff lists for the past 9 years. One or two teachers do leave every year, mostly those that are in their 20s and pregnant with their first child. The typical scenario goes like this: graduate from college, work as a TA for a year or two, start working at charter, get married, get pregnant, move to suburbs, quit the job and stay home with the baby for at least a year.
    But most of the teachers that were 40+ when I first met them are still teaching there today .

  • 62. cpsobsessed  |  September 14, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    @WY2 – interesting. I’d be curious to know what the career path of those teachers in their 40’s was like. I have a cousin who moved into teaching in her 40’s and has been in charters for a long time. (Another city.) I’ll have to ask her why she’s chosen that over public.

    I guess I agree with DPA in that unions are needed for public teaching employees, but I feel that the union has take then power and distorted it at time, using the power of the strike, to push for more than the rest of the city citizens might feel is fair.

  • 63. mom2  |  September 15, 2016 at 8:54 am

    I’m not sure that the issue is that the city citizens don’t think what they get is fair as much as that we cannot afford it. If we had tons of money to pass out, even though it is so much more than I could ever dream of being offered, I think I’d be fine with it being given to the teachers. What they do for our kids is wonderful. But when we don’t have the money and when the citizens are already getting so much less and then they are being asked to give more, well, then “fair” becomes a factor.

  • 64. parent  |  September 15, 2016 at 9:09 am

    So… teachers like Natlalie (@21) complain about overcrowded classrooms, ceilings that are falling apart, lead in the water, no sports, and not having a full time nurse or librarian.

    How does she expect ANY of those things to be fixed or funded if CTU insists on spending every dime of CPS funds on their pensions?

    All a strike does is ensure that the teachers don’t have to pay their share into the pension. A strike does NOT fix any of those other problems, which won’t even be on the table. In fact, by refusing to compromise on the pensions, teachers make it harder (even impossible) for CPS to address those other important issues (which actually affect the students).

  • 65. ChicagoDad  |  September 15, 2016 at 9:36 am

    @60 and 62—-disagree. If there were no CTU, I don’t see why teacher salaries would be low.Like any other profession, they simply would be whatever the free market set them to be. I think you should give taxpayers more credit than you give them.
    Say for example public teacher salaries were set at the same level as private teacher salaries. If the work were really so much more difficult, teachers would leave the public schools and work for private schools or leave the profession. Then taxpayers would realize they were paying the teachers too little and raise their offer (and raise taxes if necessary to do so). No need for union/political corruption, which raises teacher salaries, pensions and benefits FAR ABOVE what they should be.

  • 66. cpsobsessed  |  September 15, 2016 at 10:07 am

    @65 – that may be true but those kinds of market forces can take years/decades to work themselves out, much as with the law school debacle now. Law schools appear to still be turning out too many grads with $100K debt who can’t get jobs.

    How long would it take for a school district to realize that we’re getting lower quality or less experienced teachers? and that test scores look lower as a result? It’s virtually impossible to prove.

    Also, all 33,000 CPS teachers can’t take jobs in privates to work out the free market factors. This is one thing I’ve learned about the charter school effect. The free market/choice that should work in theory doesn’t really apply when you have a market like a school system that has a fixed number of “customers” and still pays all the bills.

  • 67. Tone  |  September 15, 2016 at 10:08 am

    ChicagoDad and parent have stated exactly why CTU needs to be defeated. We have a political system where public employees promise to vote for candidates that promise the goodies and the taxpayers are left with the bill. Teachers will be compensated as appropriate without a union.

    There is a very simple fact that CTU seems to want to obscure. There is no money. CPS is insolvent. It nearly defaulted a few months ago. There will never be enough money for the pensions without reducing the quality of education. Classroom sizes will have to balloon, as teachers pay 2% toward their very generous pensions and CPS (the taxpayers) pays 16%.

  • 68. ChicagoDad  |  September 15, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Then how do you get rid of the inevitable problems in public sector contract negotiations (see post 28)?

  • 69. Tone  |  September 15, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Why do teachers get step and lane increases AND annual raises?

  • 70. ChicagoDad  |  September 15, 2016 at 10:17 am

    My 68 was directed at 66

  • 71. cpsobsessed  |  September 15, 2016 at 10:36 am

    @70: I don’t know… that’s the million dollar question. How to bust the union tactics without actually busting the good parts of the union.

    Conversely, they have extraordinary power over use because of their power to strike.

    I honestly don’t know the answer. Personally, I think some compromises on the part of the CTU would go a long way in building sympathy towards the union.

    Overall, it causes me angst.

  • 72. ChicagoDad  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:05 pm


    What are, exactly, the good parts, of the CTU? What injustices did they right? what working conditions did they overcome? Are taxpayers forcing them to work in deplorable conditions and paying them only a pittance? Hardly.

    Remember, this is NOT a private sector union, where there is an evil group of capitalists on the other side, trying to keep the workers down. This is not a coal miners union, or Sally Field in Norma Rae, or any of the unions sung about by Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger. Not even close.

  • 73. Chris  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    ” It is the norm in school districts across this state to pay a pension pickup on behalf of the teachers.”

    Easy to do when the State pays for the district’s share.

    CPS–notoriously–doesn’t get that treatment from the state.

  • 74. Chris  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    @ Learning CPS: “we’re in this pickle because the pension fund was underfunded for years”

    CTPF was fully (ie, 90%) funded as recently as 1999. Richie Daley destroyed CPS’s budget for *decades* to avoid making hard choices.

  • 75. Chris  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    @mom2: “the issue is that the city citizens don’t think what they get is fair as much as that we cannot afford it”

    Funding system is broken in IL. Too many districts do well under current set up PLUS CPS too likely to be most advantaged (simply bc 20% of students) to get enough support for change, where there will *inevitably* be winners and losers, at least in a relative sense.

  • 76. Chris  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    “complain about overcrowded classrooms, ceilings that are falling apart, lead in the water”

    And the CTU complains about CPS having money for capital projects, but not for teachers’ raises. Oh, the irony.

  • 77. Tone  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    And that’s two raises/year for the poor teachers.

  • 78. Chris  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    “Teachers will be compensated as appropriate without a union.”

    ONLY if you seriously modify licensing/requirements of an Ed degree. Have to have a broader pool of employees, and not have a (semi) captive audience of Ed School grads.

  • 79. CLB  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Caskey gets one point wrong. The 7% pick-up has nothing to do with the high unfunded liability. The pickup is solely a distributional question — whether teachers pay it from their take-home pay, or whether the board provides it. As someone notes above, pension pick-ups are common through out the state.

    The pick-up first occurred in a 1981 contract settlement. It was originally a one-year deal. In lieu of any raise and rather than teachers paying 9% of their salary into their pension, CPS paid 7% and teachers paid the remaining 2% of their salary. The reason CPS did this was that under the School Finance Authority rules CPS had to have a budget that was balanced three years out. If CPS gave raises in 1981, the 1983 budget would have been in deficit because the the raised salary would be the baseline for the 1982 and 1983 budgets. So, to get around the three-year no-deficit rule, CPS decided to pick-up 7% in 1981 and claimed that it did not need to include the 7% pick-up in the 1982 and 1983 projections because it was only doing it for a year. No one believed it would be for one year because reversing it would amount to a 7% cut in take-home pay. But the SFA bought it for 1981.

    In 1982, CPS tried the same gimmick; “we’re only picking up 7% for 1982, but won’t for 1983 and 1984.” This time, the SFA said “no” and refused to accept the CPS budget. Mayor Byrne twisted arms and the SFA backed off. After that, the pension pick-up was never seriously questioned again.

    Now CPS wants to reverse it, but again faces the problem that any reversal without off-setting wage increases becomes a net pay cut.

  • 80. Chris  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    ” and CPS (the taxpayers) pays 16%”

    Plus 20% of the “district share” of pensions for every other teacher in the state.

  • 81. Chris  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    “As someone notes above, pension pick-ups are common through out the state.”

    Again: easy to do if the district’s share w/o the pick-up would be 0%, with no obligation to contribute to deficit reduction, either.

  • 82. Learning CPS  |  September 15, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    @74 – Yes. It is now 2016, so it has been underfunded as a result of those decisions for probably 10-15 years. That’s my point. You go back to 1999, undo what happened since and we would probably not be in this situation…or if we were the pension wouldn’t be the focal point of the conversation.

  • 83. Mom also  |  September 15, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Im not sure where you get your facts, but my husband whom is a teacher didn’t have a raise for quite some years. Actually he suffered a cut last year.

  • 84. Chris  |  September 15, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    “underfunded as a result of those decisions for probably 10-15 years”

    And, for the first 10 years of that, CTU basically just ignored that, bc Richie Daley was giving them what they asked for. Started changing when Lewis won in ’10.

    Failure of leadership from Daley, and a failure of leadership from the CTU.

  • 85. mom2  |  September 15, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Can we please stay focused on what we do now not focusing on how we got here? It doesn’t matter at this point. We need to fix things.

  • 86. Learning CPS  |  September 15, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    @ 84 Yes, we agree on this. CTU didn’t do anything to stop it. Daley made choices that kicked the can and created problems down the road…but not for him. Others didn’t stop any of this. Not sure if you keep calling my statements out because you think I see it differently, but I don’t.

    mom2 is right though, how we got here can’t be changed, what we need to do going forward is the question. One change is that the pension pick up needs to go….or the state should cover the pick up like they do for other districts. It can’t stay as it is.

    What else do you propose at this point?

  • 87. Tone  |  September 15, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    mom2, municipal bankruptcy would be the best solution for CPS.

  • 88. Tone  |  September 15, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    The state should also have all school districts bear responsibility for their pensions with the ability to file for bankruptcy protection of course.

  • 89. mom2  |  September 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    @87 – how do we make that possible? What steps would citizens have to take?

  • 90. WY2  |  September 15, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    What exactly is the point of school district filing for bankruptcy?

    When we are talking about private company negotiating with workers union, there is an understanding, that if the union demands and gets too much, the company might go bankrupt and not only the workers will loose what was promised to them for the future, but they will loose their current jobs as well because the factory will close. If it was the main job creator in the town, this will not be such a good thing and union members know that.

    With schools, or any public union for that matter, this is not the case – bankruptcy or not, you can’t just close all the schools and start new ones two states over. Students stay where they are no matter what, which means that schools stay, which in term means that teachers will always have where to work.

  • 91. Tone  |  September 15, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Bankruptcy allows for an orderly reorganization of debt. It doesn’t mean all schools would close, though I’m sure some would as they should.

    The simple truth is, CPS is insolvent. It can’t pays is obligations. Bankruptcy would allow it reorganize.

    mom2, honestly, we have to start voting for Republicans at the local and state level in Illinois. Otherwise, Madigan will continue to control the state with the strong support of the public unions.

  • 92. State Employee  |  September 15, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    The state won’t be able to help because they are struggling to pay the state employee pensions although ours is not as underfunded as the teacher’s pension fund. I think all school districts should pick up their own contributions instead of the state. The pension thing is a mess. I’ve been paying my 8% share though!

  • 93. harry potter  |  September 15, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Do police officers and fire fighters and other city workers pay into their pension fund? If so, how much? How does that compare to what city teachers pay or don’t? How much does the city kick in for those other city employees?

  • 94. Mia L.  |  September 16, 2016 at 8:13 am

    The pay scale for police officers and firefighters is very different than for teachers. PO have huge growth after the first year. Overtime is a big part of their pay. Teachers pay scale is no where near this.

  • 95. Learning CPS  |  September 16, 2016 at 8:40 am

    @92 Here’s some info on city pensions. Most city workers are contributing 8-9% out of their checks (different pensions have slightly different amounts) and only CTU has a pension pick up. Cook County employees pay 8.5% out of their checks for their pension.


    @94 – The pension contribution is not determined by how much the employee makes – the lowest paid teacher or city worker or police officer has to pay the same contribution as the highest paid. Whether the salary for different city jobs is higher or lower shouldn’t have any relevance into the pension contribution and isn’t the reason for the pick up for CTU vs other city jobs.

  • 96. parent  |  September 16, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Here’s the DNA info article about CPS teacher pay and the possible strike. It doesn’t sound like the pension pick up would amount to a big take home pay loss, as CTU has been suggesting:


    The proposed pay raise and “modest” new health care benefits “more than offset the gradual phaseout of the pension pickup,” Bittner wrote.

    CPS officials expect health care costs to rise 6 percent a year, but teachers would only pay an additional 1.5 percent toward health care premiums over the life of the contract, under the CPS proposal.

  • 97. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Was just about to post this! Here’s what it says about salary:

    The median salary for nearly 18,000 teachers employed by CPS as of June was $78,169, according to an analysis of CPS data. Teachers get a median of $27,564 in benefits, including pension payments and insurance.

    By state law, 9.4 percent of teachers’ yearly salaries has to be paid into their retirement fund. As of now, teachers put 2 percent of their salaries into their own pensions, while CPS “picks up” the other 7.4 percent.

  • 98. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    So does that mean the pension amount is *in addition to* the $78,169?

  • 99. WY2  |  September 16, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Yes, in addition.

    Looks similar to 401(k) company match – you put your money in that you take out of your pay and the company puts in matching contribution up to some fixed %. Company match is not considered your income until you start taking money out of the account.

  • 100. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    So that means that the median income (including pension) a teacher earns is $85,516. If they have to put 9.4 in a pension, that means $1542 comes out of their salary to go to the pension. and CPS adds $5804.

    Now CPS wants them to put in the whole $7347 (which means in essence taking a paycut of $5804 or 6.8%.

    (If my math is correct/. Not sure I totally understand this.)

    Is the assumption that if teachers make the full pickup that they’ll get the same type of pension benefits they get right now? (Whatever that may be.)

  • 101. Tone  |  September 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Yes, the pension benefits would not change. Only the amount the employee contributes is in question. Who contributes 2% of their salary to retirement and can live on it?

    CTU members.

  • 102. Tone  |  September 16, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    “Looks similar to 401(k) company match.”

    Except the taxpayers pay the 9% employer portion, 7% (of the 9%) of the employee portion AND guarantee the returns. If the pension fund doesn’t earn what it needs actuarially, guess who has to pay?

    The taxparers.

  • 103. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Well back in the day employees contributed nothing and got a livable pension. That’s just a rare situation these days.

  • 104. WY2  |  September 16, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Yep, defined benefits vs defined contributions.

    If a plan of this size is adequately funded, it does earn what it needs in the long run. It might fluctuate year-to-year, but on average these plans are where they need to be. I used to work at a consulting company that was dealing with private companies DB plans – never seen anything like this. Rules on return estimation are very conservative, so situations when plan makes more money than needed happen much more often than the other way around.

    But all this works only if plans are funded the way they should be. Which in this case did not happen for quite a few years.

  • 105. mom2  |  September 16, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    “So that means that the median income (including pension) a teacher earns is $85,516.” – So, that number doesn’t include healthcare that they also receive, correct? If you add the value of that, what do they actual earn?

  • 106. Me  |  September 16, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Omg! How can I stop getting these emails?
    I’m getting sick of reading the messages of these know it all!

  • 107. WY2  |  September 16, 2016 at 2:23 pm


    There is an “Unsubscribe from all follow-up comments” link at the bottom of each e-mail :)))

  • 108. parent  |  September 16, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    @97, But the article makes it sound like the contract ensures it they also get pay raises and would pay less toward health care — so there would not actually be a loss in take home pay (or not much anyway).

  • 109. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Well, I don’t think anyone typically counts health care cost as part of their salary for professionals. It’s just a given as an “extra.”

  • 110. mom2  |  September 16, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    I realize that it isn’t counted but many companies will tell you the true benefit you receive by coming to their organization by including the value of the health insurance provided (or what they pay for you to have it each year). I was just curious if people knew.

  • 111. Tone  |  September 16, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Back in the day? Times change. No one in the private sector gets these benefits, why must the taxpayers continue to pay for them?

  • 112. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    @mom2, yes potentially valid how much health insurance can cost based on employer and how good the coverage is. While we don’t quantify it, my son’s dad has health insurance that covers a lot more than mine but he pays less for it.

  • 113. nwmomof2  |  September 17, 2016 at 7:20 am

    From this article it does seem like, Chicago teachers are at least in line if not on the high end of other city districts across the country. I know I often hear “well I could go to New Trier and make more”- but my guessis that they are also in the top 10 – 20% of all school districts in state (but I have no actual idea). It is not reasonable to fight to be the highest paid always. I am also struck by this argument- there are some very talented and well trained teachers in CPS, but also many who would not be offered a position in these highest paid districts. The teachers I know in those districts do tend to have degrees from more prestigious institutions (you can argue whether that makes them a better teacher!) than some (not all) of the CPS teachers I know. There is also the reality of property taxes- which as much as folks think they are high here- they are no where near what they are in Evanston, Winnetka, etc, so we just don’t have the same funding base as those districts.

    I still continue to be struck by the argument around private sector. I am in non-profit admin (larger organization- not grassroots), have a masters, and have been in these roles over 20 years. My hours are certainly comprable to a highly engaged teacher, and far more than some of the less engaged ones. I am only now getting to the higher end of what teachers are paid, and do have less time off and much lower retirement benefits (and my portion of health care cost have gone up each year for years). I recognize that some high school science teachers that could transition to technical fields could make more,but for the most part I am just not seeing the private sector jobs that have significantly more pay/ better benefits for comprable education. I think when people say teachers have 4 months off a year that is an exageration, but my family members who teach do certainly have more time off than I do (probably a good true 8 – 10 weeks if you include the sick time, vacation days during the school year that they do get, holidays, spring and winter break, and summer where they are mostly not working). If you sum up all of those days for my industrty we would certainly not be more than 5 – 6 (and I also do occasionally end up doing some work during that time, just like many teachers).

    I don’t know the answers, but it strkes me that this is really about work conditions, and in the end we have a chicken and egg situation. The teachers (probably rightfully so) want to be highly compensated because the condiations are poor, but we cannot improve the conditions because finacially we cannot support the proposed levels of compensation. I would love to see give on things like residency requriements that seem to have less finacial impact so there is more “give and take”.

  • 114. Don Justice  |  September 17, 2016 at 7:34 am


    There’s a national teacher shortage looming again, and you are seeing other states recruiting in Chicago. Other states have resorted to unlicensed teachers in class rooms. Having been around plenty of first and second year teachers, those teachers tend to be pretty ineffective and need tons of support from veteran teachers to succeed. That only works if you have (1) veteran teachers willing to mentor, which means a lot more unpaid work for those teachers, and (2) veteran teachers that can mentor.

    Continue to make teaching unattractive, and you are going to start seeing the results hit the classrooms and poorer and poorer candidates accept the teaching role. And as soon as they can exit the field, they will.

    Cut take home pay, and people with talent who can exit the field will, and all you will be left with is the below average.

    Of course, perhaps that’s what we want as a society.

    As to the canard that other workers have seen their pay cut, those workers need to stand up for themselves and fight that. You see corporate profits and exec pay and bonuses booming. They are not passing that pay down to workers because the workers won’t fight. The workers are scared and won’t take risks. And people are foolish enough to fill positions despite poor working conditions and low pay. Companies are also trying to make as many positions as possible unskilled so they can churn through workers and not worry about training costs. The fact that other workers are suckers is not a reason that teachers should be, too. Don’t be a lemming.

  • 115. MOM7373  |  September 17, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    114-There is not a teacher shortage in the Midwest. I have two nieces in college who college counselors recommend them to stay out of teaching due to lack of jobs. Both counselors said if they are willing to move to the Southwest especially Vegas than there are great opportunities but the birthrate in the Midwest is down, which is driving down the demand for teachers. Good colleges are being realistic to students and as a result the number of people pursuing education degrees are down. Who wants to get a degree they can’t use especially since an education degree is not as transferable as other degrees?
    Just think, how many fewer students are enrolled in CPS from the last year. I think it was over 4000. That number is driving force behind the layoffs and future layoffs.
    Don I work in a company, which is moving 200 good jobs to India. I wish I worked in a field like teaching that can’t be outsourced but that’s the reality I am in. The more I fight the more likely my job goes overseas.

  • 116. Don Justice  |  September 18, 2016 at 6:51 am

    “The more I fight the more likely my job goes overseas.”

    Then organize other workers who have been outsourced or are worried about being outsourced. Shame those companies into not doing it. Organize a boycott of their products and services. If you don’t fight, you can’t win. If you don’t take risks, you can’t win.

  • 118. MOM7373  |  September 18, 2016 at 9:28 am

    116- Those articles are all nationwide, in NPR article they even mention a surplus in some states. Do you have anything local? The counselors said there is jobs in the southwest but the pay is worse and my nieces don’t want to move. Has CPS had any trouble recruiting? What about the catholic schools that pay so much less?

    Don the private sector has been fighting since the 80’s. The reality is in the private sector the worker has little power but the consumer is king. Consumer likes cheaper items. My father would organize on the behalf of the UAW and he so hated dropping me off at school and seeing all the Hondas in the teacher lot. Now the powers that be are going after public unions.

  • 119. cpsobsessed  |  September 18, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    @Don, I have pondered this question a lot in the past few years (why don’t private workers strike/band together etc) as we’ve discussed the union on here and all us private business employees keep saying “well we’ve all lost pensions and raises and we work a ton of hours.” It’s kind of absurd, especially knowing what CEOs and other top executives earn these days.

    Based on how unions have worked in the past, it seems like it works most effectively when it’s a cross-company effort. I assume if one company’s workers decided to strike for say, less hours, the company could just fire them and there’d like a long line of applicants to fill those spaces.

    I guess the downside to the company would be having a bunch of untrained workers to take over the company.

    I think the closest I’ve seen to employees gaining some power over management is with the site Glassdoor where people can put up anonymous ratings and reviews of the places they’ve worked, including salary info. I assume if a company gets negative reviews over and over they might actually look to make a change.

    I know there was a case this past year of some interns “striking” to demand a different dress code or something and the company just sacked them all immediately.

  • 120. harry potter  |  September 18, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Re: the teacher shortage. It is a regional thing. The Chicago suburbs and the city generally don’t have a shortage right now. It is also a specialization issue. Anyone who has a special education degree or is fluent enough to speak Spanish or another popular language can get a job anywhere in the United States, including Chicago. These areas always have more openings than people who want to fill them. Just as a point of reference, my district has about 3000 applicants for every elementary gen. ed. opening. We have about 15 applicants for bilingual positions and sped positions. Some years it is less than 5 qualified applicants. If one wants to teach, these are the places where there are jobs. And if you speak Spanish AND have a sped degree, some suburban districts will negotiate with you over pay or offer you a bonus outside the typical salary schedule. Mine does.

  • 121. Cheryl  |  September 18, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Everyone wants CPS to declare bankruptcy. Everyone want CPS teachers to take a pay cut.
    No one here has mentioned that maybe CPS needs a forensic audit to find out where our millions of tax dollars are going.
    $10 Million for furniture – because the old stuff didn’t fit in the new office.
    $20 Million for training that was more a waste of time since those who were doing the ‘training’ knew nothing about urban schools.

    Before you ask teachers to take a pay cut (I don’t hear anyone saying that firemen, police, or sanitation workers should take a pay cut), before you demand that CPS and/or City of Chicago declares bankruptcy – DEMAND a Forensic Audit !! Find out exactly where is all our tax money going !!!

  • 122. ChicagoDad  |  September 18, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    @121. An audit of CPS and indeed all city departments should be done, since there is likely corruption everywhere.

    But by the same token, public sector union members should also take pay cuts since they are overpaid, due to the inescapable corruption that exists in the public sector union negotiating process. See post 28.

  • 123. Chris  |  September 19, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    “I don’t hear anyone saying that firemen, police, or sanitation workers should take a pay cut”

    Ok: I think that CPD, CFD and Streets and San employees are, on the whole, too richly compensated (when one counts all benefits, OT, etc) for the current fiscal state of Chicago.

    So, now you’ve heard it.

    As to the ‘forensic audit’: less than 10% of the budget is something other than salaries/benefits, or charter school funding (which, in turn, is mostly salaries/benefits). Yes, $400m is *still* a lot of money, but a quarter of it is for busing, and that number covers food, utilities, office supplies, equipment purchases, etc etc etc.

    Is there probably some amount of “waste fraud and abuse” in there? Sure, almost certainly there is. Is it enough to cover the cost of hiring an accounting firm? Perhaps, but hardly a sure thing. Is it enough to fund the $157m cost of the Pension Pickup? NOT A CHANCE.

  • 124. Chris  |  September 19, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    “how we got here can’t be changed, what we need to do going forward is the question.”

    It’s true that we can’t change the past, but CTU’s position is (mostly) that Rahm is trying to screw the teachers over, while the reality is that CTU stood by (basically) silently while Daley created the problem by not funding the CTPF, not attempting to force the state to live up to their ‘agreement’ about state contributions to CTPF, and by giving the CTU (what now look like “unaffordable”) raises to buy labor peace.

    Reminding the CTU that they had a significant hand in the current predicament is, imo, important. “It’s not our fault that Daley didn’t fund the CTPF” is a cop out, that should be called out. Lewis/Sharkey might well say that it was the prior leadership that failed, and you can’t hold that against the current teachers, but so could Chicago taxpayers–but our *only* way to opt out (of paying to fill the funding chasm Daley gave us) is to move out of the city.

  • 125. cpsobsessed  |  September 19, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Well one could argue that it’s not the teachers’ jobs to “crunch the numbers” and figure out that the proposition was impossible.
    However I think it’s the teachers’ job to now deal the reality and to agree that they were in agreement that the pension pickup was intended to be a limited time thing (If I’m understanding it correctly.)

  • 126. MOM7373  |  September 19, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    125-CTU members elect the majority of the CTPF governing board. The union should have known that it was underfunded. I suspect that the union knew what Daley was doing and the impact to future years. They didn’t make it a big issue as they knew they were covered by the constitution.

  • 127. Vicki  |  September 19, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    @cpsobsessed…I am curious what information makes the pension pickup deal a limited thing?

  • 128. cpsparent-teacher  |  September 19, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    As a CPS teacher AND parent AND homeowner/taxpayer, I get peoples’ lamenting.

    First, let me acknowledge that, historically, there have been people in the teaching profession that had no business in the classroom (‘Those that can do –those that can’t teach’). I had some growing up —to the point that I didn’t have much respect for teachers for much of my life. Some of my public school teachers were truly awful on every level, but they kept their jobs, got automatic pay raises, great health care insurance, etc. –for what? Showing up 2 minutes before school started and then racing off after the last bell when all they did is hand out worksheets and sit at their desk?!!

    Things have been tough for many people, in terms of rising health care costs, stagnant incomes, increased workload, etc. Oh, and then CPS teachers feel “entitled” to a pension “pick up” that others don’t get, etc. Oh, yeah, and then we’re all supposed to pay ever higher taxes, on top of the highest sales tax in the country? C’mon!

    I get it.

    That said, people need to understand that teachers don’t pay into or receive social security. In terms of retirement, the pension’s all there is.

    Also, this is 2016. The days of crappy, clinging-to-their-tenure-can’t-get-fired-so-who-cares-I’ll-just-sit-and-read-newspapers -type of teacher is long, long gone and has been for a long time at any CPS school where I’ve ever worked. The teachers where I work truly are hard-working, continually planning, trying to improve pedagogy, and going the extra mile to help with extracurricular programs that benefit their kids (typically for no extra pay). Many do stay n CPS, despite having been offered jobs in stable, well-financed suburban schools where teachers are paid nicely, etc. (this includes me –I was offered jobs in Deerfield, Evanston and Barrington, but decided to stay in CPS). I went to a “name” college. Teaching for me was a calling, rather than something I did because I wasn’t motivated or smart enough to do something else.

    There is no “rubber room” where crappy CPS teachers go to just read and play on laptops, since they can’t get fired and nobody wants them in their school, like some people imagine. I saw something like that in a documentary once and with the horror stories out there (sometimes for good reason), I get why some people imagine some teachers really have it good, in a protected/automatic-pay-raise way that people in the private sector can only dream of, etc.

    But it’s not like that, believe me. Some principals are bullies, sometimes there little or no support. Plus, teachers have to be “on” every work day. Some kids live to get a reaction, so they live to make some teachers’ lives hell. It’s not a cushy, protected job with summers off.

    Nobody hates a lazy teacher more than another teacher that works hard and cares about their kids/students, believe me. When there has been the (very) occasional bad apple, other teachers at the schools where I’ve taught were the happiest of all to see them leave or get the boot.

    I know people sometimes look at test scores and think: Boy, the teachers at School A must be awful —look how few kids are meeting/exceeding on the NWEA, etc. Sadly, the socio-economic divide usually accounts for disparities. Those same kids would not do real well as a group in Helsinki or Naperville, either. It’s sad to say (not that most CPS teacher don’t try, believe me), but too often true. I know lots of ‘good’ teachers (really) that work in some pretty tough, relatively low-scoring CPS schools. If they taught in Lincoln Park or Wilmette, their kids would be high-scoring, too.

    But they don’t. They teach in Roseland or Garfield Park and the achievement gap is real and a seemingly intractable problem. It makes me cry (literally) at times.

    I don’t want a strike, but some of the conditions and cuts really are so bad that kids’ educations are being affected. If I do vote to strike, that’s my biggest concern. It would suck to get a pay cut, but I’d survive. For me, it’s the 37 kids in a high-risk K-8 setting (those kids need a ‘good start’ most of all), the lack of text books, etc., that are the real concern and it’s those sorts of things that may make me (reluctantly) support a strike.

  • 129. harry potter  |  September 20, 2016 at 6:22 am

    Hi 128. I’m a former CPS teacher, current teacher elsewhere. I hear you. I supported the strike 4 years ago for the same reasons you might reluctantly support a strike now. After that strike? Not one thing changed regarding conditions. Not one. All that talk from our union reps about conditions? It was all bullshit. We did get a nice raise though.
    Yes, I know, CPS teachers can’t bargain over conditions. Yes, I know the union does work on these issues but in my experience not much ever happens. I also am fully aware that the union is the only thing standing between teachers and some even worse conditions. I know about the network chief who, for a time, required his teachers to submit 50 page lesson plans each week. I know about a lot of other really shocking things as well.
    But those very real conditions you mention? It makes sense to say “The conditions are so bad that CPS has to pay more to make me put up with those conditions”. That makes sense. But please don’t believe that even ONE of those conditions is going to change by striking. The bargaining team can’t and won’t ever change any of the conditions as it is now. Parents and teachers would have to fight to get the laws changed if anyone wants that to happen.

  • 130. mom2  |  September 20, 2016 at 9:59 am

    What I don’t understand is why the teachers (with or without “the union” can’t sign something that tells CPS that they will pay their own pensions or take a large pay cut or whatever in exchange for a guarantee of no more than 30 kids in a classroom and text books on day one for every class (or something like that). I hear that CTU can’t negotiate on that, but it sounds like many teachers would be willing to make this compromise. Why not find a way to do it?

    I totally agree with 129. I remember the strike well. All the great teachers came on this forum to explain how much we need smaller class sizes, working bathrooms with TP, aids for kids with learning disabilities, etc. Then they had a strike and ended up with a better financial deal for themselves and nothing else changed. PLEASE, let’s not go through that again. It just makes me so frustrated.

  • 131. Chris  |  September 20, 2016 at 11:26 am

    “people need to understand that teachers don’t pay into or receive social security. In terms of retirement, the pension’s all there is.”

    I think everyone understands that. Here’s the issue (and, yes, the income numbers are not “accurate” but it makes calculation and comparison easier):

    Someone who makes $75k, has worked for 30 years, making that $75k, and is retiring now at 66, would get $26,808 from social security, having paid 6.2% of her income ($139,500) into social security for those 30 years.

    A CPS teacher with the same info would have paid in $45,000 (67% less) and would be getting a pension of $49,500, or 85% more. AND the COLA adjustments for CTPF are more generous that for SS, so the gap would only get bigger.

    Yes, for a teacher who only works at CPS for 10 years, it’s a lot less. BUT (1) social security for someone who only works for 10 years is *also* a lot less, and (2) if you only worked at CPS for 10 years, you probably had another job that was social security eligible and so you’d get retirement income from *both*.

    The “oh no, we don’t get social security” is largely premised on a misunderstanding of how un-generous social security really is. The *MAX* amount for social security (premised on 35 years of earning the SS-tax maximum, which is now quite a bit more than $75k) is $31,668. A CPS teacher, collecting at age 66, would get more than that ($33,000) with a $75k final salary and only *20* years of service. Again, with better COLA.

    That hypothetical 20 year teacher would have paid less than $30,000 into the CTPF; the hypothetical 35-year SS-max worker would have paid in about $160,000 (or, if self-employed, double that) to social security.

    So, I think that the CPS rank and file teachers “need to understand”*** that social security is a really poor substitute for the pension–it costs workers more, and pays a *much* lower benefit.

    ***Note: I dislike “needs to understand” as a rhetorical device.

  • 132. Chris  |  September 20, 2016 at 11:30 am

    “What I don’t understand is why the teachers (with or without “the union” can’t sign something”

    1. Collective action problem. How do they organize outside the union?
    2. Union leadership would (correctly) point out that that undermines the union, and would fight tooth and nail against any such broad-based steps taken outside the union.

    Anything like that would *have to* be run thru union channels to have any hope of getting critical mass. Were it clear to Lewis/Sharkey that the *vast* (at least 60%; probably more like 80%+) majority of teachers wanted that, that would be the union’s position–except that the stupid state laws prohibit the union from negotiating that.

  • 133. MAMACPS  |  September 20, 2016 at 11:46 am

    It should be noted, that for the past 2 years, ALL non-CTU CPS employees (which employs other union workers and non union workers) contribute 9% into their pensions now.
    THIS INCLUDES the part time parent workers who make 10 dollars an hour (which is less than minimum wage) who MUST contribute to a pension.
    So although a contract is overdue, this battle is drawn out over an issue that is evolving through the rest of the CPS branches and working out for their employees.

  • 134. mom2  |  September 20, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    @131 Chris – everyone should read this post. Thank you.

  • 135. WY2  |  September 20, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    My understanding is that for a long time the structure of the pension benefits was supposed to work like this: 1/3 from SS, 1/3 from defined benefit plan at work, 1/3 from individual savings in some shape or form. These DB plans were 100% funded by the employers, there were no worker contributions. In places with unionized workers formulas for DB plans were part of the negotiations, but in all plans I have seen (about 100 of them) the result was in the 10% range around the SS payment.

    About 25-30 years ago DB plans started to die and were substituted by defined contribution plans (401(k) in most cases) . In these plans workers do make contributions, but again, part of the cost is payed by the employer and part comes from the tax structure.

    Teacher don’t have any of these three plans – SS, DB, DC. This is why payments they receive from PP are supposed to be much more than just SS.

    The easiest way forward probably would be to put everybody back into SS structure with mandatory payments and 401(K) with voluntary payments.
    But this will work only for the youngew teachers, the older ones don’t have enough time till retirement to get a reasonable SS or save enough in a 401(k)

  • 136. Tone  |  September 20, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    WY2, again, who only contributes 2% of their income to retirement and can actually live off of it?

  • 137. WY2  |  September 20, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    And who works for a company that contributes only 7.4% to the PP? Average 401(k) match is 4.7% plus 6.2% to the SS – that’s 10.9% of employer contributions.
    You suggest that CPS increases it’s contributions by 47%? :))

  • 138. Tone  |  September 20, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Nice dodge. No one but CTU members contribute only 2% to retirement. My company contributes about 10% between SSI and matching. They have also reduced the match amount over the years.

    How about CPS and CTU?

  • 139. Tone  |  September 20, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    My retirement is not guaranteed by the taxpayers either.

  • 140. Chris  |  September 20, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    “Teacher don’t have any of these three plans – SS, DB, DC”

    Um, the pension is 100% a DB plan. That the contract has an employee share doesn’t make it not a DB plan.

    And, teachers 100% can have a DC plan–it’s an IRA. Again, just because it is not employer-sponsored, doesn’t make it not a DC plan.

    “contributes only 7.4% to the PP”

    The CPS contribution to the CTPF has been controlled by BS politics, rather than contract or sound investment principals, for 20 years.

    It was reasonable–tho not prudent–to make minimal employer contributions from 97-02, when the funded ratio was 96% or higher. If the actuarially correct contribution amounts to 7.4% at some point in the (now distant) future, so be it, but for the foreseeable future, the contribution is more like 30%.

    “Average 401(k) match is 4.7%”

    Average, where???? I don’t know anyone who gets a 4.7% or higher match, and many, many who get 0%.

  • 141. harry potter  |  September 20, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I’d also add that while I don’t think teachers should strike over conditions they cannot change I also am stunned at parents and politicians who have let the issue of poor conditions and class sizes go on so long. That piece of it is shocking to me.

  • 142. Tone  |  September 20, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    harry, the problem is there is simply no more money. All the new money just goes down the pension hole. I think taxpayers are getting fed up.

  • 143. WY2  |  September 20, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    is something wrong? Tried twice to post links to the 401(k) match statistics and they disappeared both times. Is there a limit of links per comment?

    I will try to post them one link at a time:
    “Companies contributed an average of 4.7% of pay to the plan in 2013 (up from 4.5% in 2012 and 4.1% five years ago). ”

  • 144. WY2  |  September 20, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    • 42 percent of companies now match dollar-for-dollar, up from 31 percent in 2013. Before 2013, a 50-cent per $1.00 match was the most common formula.

    • The majority of plans (56 percent) require workers to save 6 percent or more in order to receive the full employer-matching contribution

    Sorry, don’t have one number for an average employer match for 2015, but if, say, 30% match dollar-for-dollar at 6% employee contribution rate, 4.7% average looks rather realistic.

  • 145. Amused  |  September 20, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    This thread is brutal. Looks like the comments section of a Tribune article about CPS.

  • 146. Tone  |  September 21, 2016 at 8:07 am

    And CPS is currently paying 16% vs. 2% for CTU members. That is outrageous. In addition, if investment returns don’t work out as planned, guess who pays more?

    The taxpayers.

  • 147. MOM7373  |  September 21, 2016 at 9:23 am

    144- Are you arguing that a 4% 401K match and SS is better than the teacher pension? Really…? To get these benefits I have to contribute 12.2% of my pay, all the risk of the market is on me, and if I live longer than expected I am SOL. SS is not constitutionally protected and can be changed, and has. Teachers pay 2%, get higher monthly amounts, constitutional protected, can retire earlier with more pay, better COLA.
    Teachers have legitimate complaints but this is not one of them.
    Rahm and Claypool’s message to the voters is that CTU members had a sweet deal of contributing only 2% to pension when all city employees including CPS Admin and principals have been paying more. The CTU will lose support if the message back to the voters focuses on the private sectors “generous” 401K and SS benefits and some agreement with Jane Byrne in the 80’s.
    BTW, the report you had was very limited to big companies. When you factor in small and medium the average match is only 2.7%

  • 148. Chris  |  September 21, 2016 at 10:07 am

    ““Companies contributed an average of 4.7% of pay to the plan in 2013 (up from 4.5% in 2012 and 4.1% five years ago). ””

    From the link:

    “The 57th Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans released by PSCA contains 179 tables of information representing 613 plans with eight million participants”

    That’s out of a labor force of 160,000,000. So, 5% of workers average 4.7% matching. Whoop-dee-doo.

    Also from the link:

    “Fewer than ten percent of plans are offering a lifetime income option to participants.”

    That’s the CTU plan–a lifetime income option.

  • 149. Chris  |  September 21, 2016 at 10:11 am

    ” Looks like the comments section of a Tribune article about CPS.”

    Please. The comments section on the Trib or S-T would be full of nonsense about how city voters get what they deserve for being so stupid as to live in the city, comments about ‘feral’ children, and the rest of the state won’t bail out CPS (when Chicago taxpayers have been contributing to “bailing out” TRS for decades).

    This place is an ivory tower of discourse compared to those cesspools.

  • 150. Tone  |  September 21, 2016 at 10:39 am

    CTU is starting the strike vote today. It’s a given that they will authorize a strike. The question is, will it be worth it?

  • 151. mom2  |  September 21, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Only worth it for $ for teachers and only for the short term. Parents will be more angry and less understanding and helpful to teachers and schools won’t be any better when the strike is over. City and CPS will be more broke and no better off for next year, etc. How much better are things now after the last strike? It wasn’t that long ago. If not better, the question is answered.

  • 152. Tone  |  September 21, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Does CTU realize that CPS had 10,000 fewer students in 2015-16 than it did in 2010-11?

  • 153. Tone  |  September 21, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    And 30,000 less students than in 2005-6?

  • 154. Vicki  |  September 22, 2016 at 6:17 am

    ***” (2) if you only worked at CPS for 10 years, you probably had another job that was social security eligible and so you’d get retirement income from *both*.”

    This is NOT a true statement. If you are collecting a teacher’s pension you are not eligible to also collect social security. Even if you had a job for 40 years after school…no SS. You also get an adjusted amount if your spouse dies. I paid into SS as an employee of my own company for 15 years and I will get 0 from this contribution.

  • 155. MOM7373  |  September 22, 2016 at 6:40 am

    154-That’s not 100% true. Teachers are eligible to collect SS as long as they have enough credits. I know of one teacher who worked until 66 and collect social security while working her last year.
    Lots of bad information out there. Here are some useful sites.

  • 156. MOM7373  |  September 22, 2016 at 7:50 am

    154-Vicki you should be able to collect some social security. Its reduced but not eliminated. There a lot of bad information out there but here are some sites that will be useful. If you worked 40 Years in the private sector you would collect most of your SS.

    I also know a teacher who was able to collect full benefits in her final year of teaching since she was over 65.


  • 157. Front Row  |  September 22, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Seems to me, Tone is an agent of the board. Every post is against CTU, teachers and their pensions. Also the number of posts by Tone shows their is an agenda at work at it is not about improving schools.

  • 158. Amused  |  September 22, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    “This place is an ivory tower of discourse compared to those cesspools.” Uh, if you say so! 🙂

  • 159. mom2  |  September 22, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    @155 – a teacher strike isn’t about improving schools either.

  • 160. MOM7373  |  September 22, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    154Vicki- if you worked 15 years and contributed to SS you are eligible to collect a reduced Social Security benefit. Its complicated but the links below explain it well.
    If the unlikely event that someone worked 30 years before becoming a teacher they would collect the full SS amount.


  • 161. Vicki  |  September 22, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    @157 – In some ways, it is. Chicago must compete for great teachers. Great teachers need great pay and benefits. There is a reason that the turnover rate at schools outside of Chicago is so low. Suburban parents want to pay for strong faculty.

  • 162. Chris  |  September 22, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    ” If you are collecting a teacher’s pension you are not eligible to also collect social security”

    FALSE!! You’ve received bad information.

    The “windfall elimination provision” *reduces* the amount of social security for a person with government pensions (where the employer did not withhold fica) *IF* that person has less than 30 years of social security eligible earnings. The provision does NOT affect eligibility.

    Yes, for someone (like you) with less than 20 years of SS eligible employment, the reduction is pretty big (for most, the reduction would be 55%), but that person is still eligible for SS.

    Linky: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf

    “You also get an adjusted amount if your spouse dies”

    The reduction in survivor benefits is 2/3s of the amount of the pension. Which means that SS-survivor benefit + Pension is still more than SS alone.

  • 163. Chris  |  September 22, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    mom2: “a teacher strike isn’t about improving schools either.”

    To be fair, that’s because that’s what State Law requires. Striking to “improve schools” is illegal.

  • 164. Vicki  |  September 22, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    @159 Chris: Thank you for the information. I totally stand corrected. (I always thought this site was a great source for information). However, the windfall provision is archaic and certainly reduces the amount of money you qualify for. I don’t quite understand why someone who pays into the ss fund would qualify for less because they had additional employment. Nothing seems to make sense though anymore.
    Thanks, again.

  • 165. mom2  |  September 22, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    @Chris 160 – I agree. They can’t strike to improve schools so I’m tired of hearing that this is why they are striking. I do agree that paying well may get more teachers to stay. However, if we don’t have the money, then we don’t have the money. Every time they strike, we give them more and something else has to give which hurts the kids/schools. It doesn’t help.

  • 166. Tone  |  September 22, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    @155, sorry to ruffle your feathers. I am not an “agent” of the board, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be. I am a citizen of Chicago that had kids in CPS until this year. I was tired of seeing awful teachers being protected because of an outdated union. Teachers phoning it in, teachers that scream at kids all the time. They should be fired, but they can’t be. Plus, they are extremely well compensated. In fact, they have higher compensation than most of Chicagoans. Their benefits are better than almost any in the private sector. Again, who contributes 2% of their income and expects to retire.

    Tell me Front Row, are you an agent of CTU?

  • 167. Tone  |  September 22, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Why can they strike in the first place? It’s a freaking joke. CPS is insolvent. Taxes have been increased every year under Rahm to pay for CPS. It is never enough. It will never be enough. Time for the insanity to end.


  • 168. Tone  |  September 22, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Sorry, there are also many wonderful teachers in CPS. They deserve praise, but the union is actually a detriment to them.

  • 169. cpsobsessed  |  September 22, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Just approved some comments w links. Sorry for the delays.

  • 170. Danaidh  |  September 22, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Under state law, teachers must contribute 9% of gross pay to their pension fund. Employers must pay an additional amount to keep the funds solvent. There is no teacher in the state–including those in Chicago–who does not contribute 9% to their respective fund.

    Two-thirds of the state’s 850 school districts “pickup” a portion of that 9% as part of the teachers’ compensation, and half of those districts “pickup” the entire 9%. It is paid on behalf of the teachers because–once again–under state law all teachers must pay 9% to their pension funds.

    Since the early 1980s CPS has called the pension pickup a part of the teacher’s “compensation.” (That’s the term they use.) If CPS now wants to discontinue its “pickup,” then it has to rearrange its compensation package so that teachers do not take home less money, because taking home less money is a pay cut. Teachers will not accept a pay cut.

    CPS is calling the swapping-out of pension pickup a “raise,” but it isn’t a raise. It is taking money from one pot and putting the same amount into another. The problem is that CPS wants to eliminate the pension pickup first, and then–after teachers have seen their pay reduced–add it back in the last year of the contract. That’s problematic because: Teachers will not accept a pay cut.

  • 171. Tone  |  September 23, 2016 at 8:24 am

    @170, that’s a lot of mental gymnastics. So, we do agree that CTU members pay 2% of their salary and get a 16% employer match PLUS a taxpayer guaranteed return.

  • 172. CarolA  |  September 23, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Does anyone have any idea how far about the CTU and CPS are in negotiations? I know a comparison sheet was sent to members a while back and I didn’t get the impression it was that far apart. I’m not quite sure at this point why all this info can’t be made public so everyone can see what’s going on and have opinions based on truth rather than guesses. Of course, there’s always the possibility that CPS may stretch the “truth”. I’ve personally witnessed that!

  • 173. Chris  |  September 23, 2016 at 10:34 am

    “the windfall provision is archaic and certainly reduces the amount of money you qualify for”

    Yep, but I think that the law exists primarily to encourage state/local governments to have their employees participate in SS. Obviously hasn’t worked to that end in IL, yet.

  • 174. Chris  |  September 23, 2016 at 11:09 am

    “Employers must pay an additional amount to keep the funds solvent.”


    CPS is the only district that pays the “employer” portion. Every other teacher in the state has that amount paid by the state of Illinois, not the “employer”.

    If CPS participated in TRS, and wasn’t responsible for the deficit, or the ‘normal cost’ above the employee’s 9% (however handled), then there wouldn’t be a need to have this part of the discussion.

    The State also pays for teachers’ retiree healthcare outside of CPS, but CPS is solely responsible for CTU retirees.

    That amounts to about $750m that CPS needs to have in its budget, but any other district in Illinois gets to avoid. The pickup is puny in comparison–something like $150m. If CPS had the same deal as all the other districts, the discussion would be about whether to pickup the full 9%, and that would make some sense.

    Now, to engage in conspiracy theory for a moment–

    TRS has *never* been close to fully funded; it has always had a huge deficit. If, 15 years ago, anyone would have proposed merging CTPF into TRS, and handing off the pension obligation from CPS to the state, that would have been (rightly) objected to by CTU and Chicagoans generally, Now that both funds a close to similarly under funded (CTPF is still better off), it is at least plausible to propose that merger. It is *possible* that Richie Daley drove CTPF into the ditch purposefully in order to arrive at this point, where a proposal to merge the two funds wouldn’t be kookoo.

  • 175. Chris  |  September 23, 2016 at 11:12 am

    “Of course, there’s always the possibility that CPS may stretch the “truth”. I’ve personally witnessed that!”

    And CTU, too.

    As noted above, the assertion that the last strike or this possible strike is “because of” classroom conditions is definitely a “stretch” for PR purposes.

  • 176. Patricia  |  September 23, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    The HUGE pension payments by CPS into the CTU pension fund come directly out of the operating budget—–THE PENSION PAYMENTS IMPACT THE CLASSROOM. CPS tries to minimize this point and the CTU pretends that the pension payments have nothing to do with the operating budget and do not impact the classroom. No matter how you slice it, the pension payments impact the classroom.

    Imagine what CPS could do with the extra $500+ million this year, $350 million last year, and isn’t there an $800 million killer payment coming soon, etc. (I can’t remember the exact figures and am sure someone can correct them, but in short, big dollars taken out of the operating budget every year to meet pension obligations to make up for the Daley/Madigan pension holiday cluster “rhymes with duck”.)

    Can CPS and CTU negotiate from this perspective? How about the pensions get funded over time and we keep status quo on everything else? So the working conditions for teachers will continue to suck, no raises until pensions funded–but the pensions will be funded and students will suffer until the pensions are fully funded……….but then some day, there won’t be extra pension payments and we can actually all focus on improving education for the students and letting teachers who are passionate about the profession thrive.

    Not sure any students or teachers would be left by the time it is funded, but the taxpayers have done their share compounded every single year, time for the state, the CTU and CPS to figure out the rest.

    On a state level, why doesn’t CPS and CTU work together to get the pension disparity of chicago/suburbs resolved? AND how about getting rid of the 3% COLA guarantee for retirees and index it to inflation? This would be fair to retirees AND help with the numbers.
    (yeah there is that stupid constitution protection thing, but really the 3% COLA is beyond outrageous)

    I know it is a pipe dream that anyone can negotiate in reality. In the meantime, taxpayers are tapped out and leaving. I am really sad that I am being forced to probably have to move out of the city I used to love. I also will not be able to retire in Illinois. And very sad that I would not encourage my kids to move here after college. The state and Chicago are falling apart. I do not understand the “need” to strike.

  • 178. CarolA  |  September 24, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    Love that article Mom3!!!!! It really puts things into perspective. Hard to argue with the info there! Again…perspective. I think one of the big things to notice is the lack of CPS paying into the pension for years! The teachers HAVE given in…..missed promised raises, forced days off, lack of CPS funding the pension, working harder with less, etc. No one seems to talk about that as a problem. How much more do you want teachers to give back? Class sizes are larger than ever. Student behavior is difficult in many schools. Admin has their hands tied and often doesn’t impose disciplinary actions as dictated by the CPS guidelines putting the problems right back at the teacher. Besides all that, teachers need to show at least one year of educational growth per student regardless of where they begin. Thanks for the insight!

  • 179. Chris  |  September 26, 2016 at 11:11 am

    “no raises until pensions funded–but the pensions will be funded and students will suffer until the pensions are fully funded”

    That’s like 40 years, unless we start having inflation consistently exceeding the COLA amount, and eroding the value of the pension benefits (which isn’t actually a good thing). 40 years of zero raises would be bad (and would lose *all* the good teachers), and 40 years of classroom pain would be worse.

    “why doesn’t CPS and CTU work together to get the pension disparity of chicago/suburbs resolved”

    Because (1) there is NO (zero) trust and (2) there are multiple layers of competing interests layered over the trust deficit.

  • 180. Chris  |  September 26, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Here’s the question I have based on Laraviere’s article:

    Where does the money come from?

    I am (seriously) all for a CTU contract that is consistent in general terms with the teacher contracts of the better suburban districts.

    BUT: that costs more money than CPS currently has. AND: the state is not helping anytime soon, being *more* of a mess than CPS.

    SO: What is the revenue source?

    Troy’s article does not mention the words “tax” or “revenue” even once. Fair enough (it’s an advocacy piece, not a real, full, proposal), but what IS the proposal for revenue/cuts?

    Here are things that get mentioned:

    1. TIFs:

    first, it’s not as big a pot of money as most imply that it is, so even with immediate termination, it’s not enough to fix the current structural deficit problem, nevermind the larger one that looms. Second, there are a lot of the dollars committed already, so those obligations need to be retired before the full termination (YES, I agree, the “depaul arena” was a stoopid use, but it’s still there as an actual obligation that can’t be reneged on, any more that the CTU pensions can be). Third, overall, a lot of the $$ has gone into CPS capital projects–Jones was mostly funded with TIF, to the tune of $115m, which is being paid out over time to service the bonds (in normal, best practice, public infrastructure spending).

    2. More $$ from the state, particularly in the form of pension parity with non-CPS districts.

    Sure, that’s great, but it ain’t happening soon. And it would (likely) require CTU agreeing to merge CTPF into TRS, which seems an unlikely give by CTU.

    3. Eliminate wasteful spending/fraud/abuse:

    This one is a total Tea Party talking point, most of the time, so I find it odd to hear from “progressives”. It’s certainly *true* that all that should be ended, but this, like TIF, is a number that is exaggerated, and isn’t curing anything on its own. Yes, undoubtedly, it *MUST* happen, but it ain’t going to pay for significant increases elsewhere.

    4. Stop spending on capital projects:

    I am always gobsmacked by this one. CTU (with *solid* basis) complains about the classroom environment all the time. When capital projects stop, buildings get worse, fast, and then it costs even more to catch up. Arguing about allocation (why a Payton expansion, instead of a new elementary school in, say, Austin??) is totally fair, but suggesting that CPS shouldn’t have capital spending unless teachers get a COLA in the salary schedules is, frankly, kookoo. It’s the same sort of kookoo that created the pension problem, in that it’s the same ‘kick the can’ approach.

    5. Raise property tax–PTELL caps it; requires referendum. Don’t see CTU chomping at the bit to support that, I think for very good reason.

    Without an actual suggestion of where more money should come from, or what can be cut, everyone sounds, (to me) a heckuva lot like our current Governor, who seemingly asserts that there is plenty of money for everyone, if it was just being spent the right way. So, they have that going for them.

  • 181. cpsobsessed  |  September 26, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    I don’t understand the 1981 agreement. Instead of a raise *that year?* CPS offered to pick up the pension *forever?*

    Can someone clarify those components a bit for me?

    What was the intended/agreed on time frame for each?

  • 182. Learning CPS  |  September 26, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Looking pretty likely we will have a strike unless something miraculous happens in the next week.

    Anyone on here have a good prediction of what would bring an end to the strike? What is the end result that will satisfy CTU and be doable for CPS?

  • 183. Tone  |  September 26, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    CarolA, the teachers have been contributing 2% of their salary. That is not a rational share of the cost of the pension.

  • 184. R Canji  |  September 26, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    Tone, Why not? It’s part of the overall negotiated salary compensation. That ship sailed decades ago. Can you please stop repeating the same thing over and over?

  • 185. Voice of Reason  |  September 26, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I agree with the last poster!! You are like a freshman writing a bad essay, where they keep repeating their point to pad their paper and meet the length requirement. Come on. And my question is this– how many of the posters on this site have taught in a CPS school?? Walk a mile in our well-worn shoes. Walk over ten years, in fact. Then weigh in. When you’re in the trenches, I think you see the issues in a different light and in a deeper way.

  • 186. CPS Teachermom  |  September 26, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Yes. The job is demanding, difficult, and rewarding by turns. The pay is what it is. You can argue it’s too much, too little, etc. But when teachers have a difficult job (and you don’t get how difficult until you work in one of the many tough neighborhood schools), and when they do it well, it feels like just too much to have entitled parents complaining about being on the hook for the pension. The big classes, the social-emotional struggles of the students, the endless regime changes, the overtesting, the tiresome REACH evaluations…the hours are long, the work is endless, and the criticism is too. I always wonder how parents can say they love their child’s teacher, and yet don’t understand that THEIR child’s teacher is in the same boat as the CTU. Agrees with the CTU. Is the CTU. Wants a contract, wants to be compensated fairly, wants to do the best job possible for the kids and for themselves. Does not want a pay cut.

  • 187. Tone  |  September 27, 2016 at 6:07 am

    I think you just demonstrated why many feel teachers live in a vacuum. There is virtually no one working in the private sector that contributes 2% of their income and expects to retire. It’s absolute insanity that this has gone on for so long .

    Anyone see the 10 day enrollment figures for CPS? Enrollment is down by almost 14,000.

  • 188. luveurope  |  September 27, 2016 at 8:21 am

    186 “entitled parents” what? You mean the folks who pay taxes to support the mediocrity that is CPS? Those folks?

  • 189. Learning CPS  |  September 27, 2016 at 8:37 am

    The point is that there is nothing about a strike that is going to make the teacher’s jobs in CPS easier. Nothing. The issues CTU puts front and center – school conditions, classroom sizes, lack of resources – are all valid points of discussion and every school deserves better BUT that is not what they can strike about nor will a strike magically change any of that. Things they are asking for – elected school board, TIF money, tax increases – are not under CPS control and in some cases need state approval. The CTU is negotiating a work contract with CPS, not the voice piece driving all policy. They are over stepping and if they insist on keeping the outdated pension pick up, that is just more money that CPS could be putting into the schools that it is instead covering what the teachers themselves should be putting into their pension.

    It is why I really don’t know what would end a strike if it happens. There is no way CTU will get all it wants, CPS can’t give it. So what is the legitimate end game?

  • 190. CPSmom  |  September 27, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    @184, 185 Perhaps Tone keeps repeating some of the same points, because the teachers on this board are not addressing his arguments. The pension pickup was a benefit granted during past contract negotiations. Does that mean it needs to be continued even if there is no money to pay for it? That’s ludicrous. I work in the private sector, and difficult decisions and changes to benefit plans are made all the time to address financial realities. And I have no doubt that it is extremely difficult work to teach in a CPS school, especially one in a disadvantaged area. But again that does not address the financial argument at all.

  • 191. MOM7373  |  September 27, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    190-I completely agree. Also worth noting that since 1981 the Social Security tax rate and cap significantly increased and the retirement age went up two years.

  • 192. Vicki  |  September 28, 2016 at 6:06 am

    The taxes paid by citizens of chicago to CPS are no where near where they should be.

  • 193. Patricia  |  September 28, 2016 at 7:26 am

    @192 The fact is that the pension payments are being taken OUT of the operating budget. So there would be hundreds of millions of dollars MORE in the budget if not for the pension payment. $350million, $500+million and an $800 million hit to the CLASSROOM. So IF that money did not have to be diverted, there would be enough money and the taxes would cover it. Expecting the taxpayers to pick up the tab when we are already hit time and time again for all the pension messes that were not the taxpayers fult, it not the answer!

  • 194. Tone  |  September 28, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Vicki, where should taxes be?

  • 195. mom2  |  September 28, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    I work for a government agency – not Chicago – and we contribute 12% of our salary and I would contribute more if required. But also, as a CPS parent, I would like to hear where the CTU expects the money to come from? Most people that work in private sector work 50 – 60 or more hours for the same salary and no pensions for them. I understand the hardships that teachers endure but what about everyone else in these hard times, everyone is on the same boat…

  • 196. Vetteacher  |  September 28, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    1. Step 1- Secure childcare.
    2. Step 2 – Get a box of Kleenex
    3. Step 3 – Whine and moan on this board 24/7
    4. Step 4 – Dig deep to subsidize my pension pick -up
    5. Only then, will I vote to come back to work! I will, however, be willing to work for a salary with no raise. (Steps and lanes remain for my younger brethren)

    6. If you see me on the street, flip me off; I will be the one in the red shirt! LOL

  • 197. Mom  |  September 28, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Hahahahaha! That was funny.

  • 198. Vetteacher  |  September 28, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Taxpayers don’t understand the negative compounding economic impact of the dissolution of the pension pick-up on a CPS teacher’s career earnings.

    Rahm and Forrest do!

    Otherwise, they would leave the pension pick-up in place and simply freeze salaries.

    Teachers, including me, would vote NO to a strike!

    Lewis even intimated as much (as long as the job security provisions and working conditions were fairly negotiated and guaranteed)

    Rahm likes to play hardball.

    Well, guess what? Teachers aren’t stupid. We can add. We are educated; we understand compounding!

    See ya all on the streets!

  • 199. Parent and Taxpayer  |  September 28, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    The following link should prove illustrative to the city’s fiscal status. Most attention should be paid to the last graph. The strike will be a long one…..my guess is eight weeks before an agreement is reached…without a pension pick up


  • 200. Vetteacher  |  September 28, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    It is possible IF Rahm has no aspirations of re-election. I worry about teenagers roaming the war-zone streets of Chiraq for that long with nothing to do but getting “caught -up.” National media will pounce on the first shooting of a CPS student.

    Hillary will also be in his ear to settle; her ties to Rahmbo are strong. She has an election to win.

    I predict 3 weeks and Rahm caves.

    Remember, I will accept a salary freeze with job security provisions, improved working conditions, and steps and lanes for my younger brethren.

    I am close to retirement, so my concern is mainly for my fellow teachers for the long run.

    In fact, none of the aforementioned demands even affect me one iota. However, I am a big believer in public education for the future of this country.

  • 201. WY2  |  September 28, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    Does anybody care about AP students, not just Chiraq? Exams will not be moved just because Chicago teachers are not teaching. Does anybody know what happened last time? Did AP teachers post assignments during the strike that kids could do on their own and not fall too far behind? Or nobody really cared and passing rates that year went way down?

  • 202. Vetteacher  |  September 28, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Congratulations on your AP student. There are many negative tertiary consequences because of a strike. However, the safety of the students is the greatest worry. Your legitimate concern just accentuates the value that teachers bring to society. I can assure you that we care about your kids more than anybody but you. This struggle is paramount to the future of public education. Did anybody read in the Trib about the impending teacher shortage in the US?

    Millenials aren’t stupid. If I were 18, I would NEVER enter the profession. And I have had an award-winning career. The US educational system is a clusterf*ck!

    I warned this thread about the impending shortage, and guess what? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! This shortage is just in its embryonic stage.

  • 203. WY2  |  September 29, 2016 at 1:57 am

    Great answer, Vetteacher!
    I am asking what happened with AP classes during the last long strike and you are giving me nine yards of nothing :))

    As for the teacher’s value… Sorry to disappoint you, but no, going to school is not the only way to prepare to the exams. But it helps to decide what exactly we are doing before starting the process, not in the middle of it.

    Plus teachers are not the only (and in my book not even the main) reason to go to school to begin with. At least to a good school.

  • 204. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 5:32 am

    You should just home school your kid; you have it all figured out!

  • 205. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 5:39 am

    That is why the 5-year attrition rate of charter school teachers is 90% – Every 5 years only 1 of 10 stay.

    Bridge job = Like a teenager working at Mc D’s.

    So Public, you want fries with that?

  • 206. WY2  |  September 29, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Wow! I I didn’t know it was that obvious – I did homeschoole my kids for 9 years and still doing it with the youngest :)))
    As for the HS – this is our plan B.

  • 207. karet  |  September 29, 2016 at 9:06 am

    I apologize if someone has already posted a link to this, but I thought it was really helpful.

    So why does CPS call it a raise, and CTU call it a pay cut?:


  • 208. CPSmom  |  September 29, 2016 at 9:53 am

    @201, 202, and 203 This exchange is very representative of the conversations between teachers and parents on this board. It seems to me that the teachers are deflecting and not addressing the actual issues and concerns that parents are bringing up. I don’t trust the emotional rhetoric that I’m hearing from the teachers anymore. If a parent has a question or brings up an issue, why are the teachers on this board not actually responding directly but instead attempting to distract everyone from the main point with an emotionally charged lecture about school conditions. Parents want to know things like, How does the CTU expect the city to continue funding the pension pick-up? How will a strike affect students’ lives, those who are in dangerous and disadvantaged areas and also the honor and AP students? These are legitimate questions.

  • 209. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 10:00 am

    1. Take care of your kids during the strike; your problem. Pay for a responsible adult.

    2. Home school your AP student during the strike. Buy a AP prep guide.

    3. The pension pick up will keep me on the streets for as long as it takes; however, I can’t speak for my brethren.

    Is that direct enough for you?

  • 210. CPSmom  |  September 29, 2016 at 10:08 am

    @209 I don’t know if you realize this, but you are not winning the parents’ support. You also have not directly answered the question about the funding for the pension pick-up. And I certainly hope that you don’t treat your students with the same sarcasm and disrespect that you are displaying to the parents on this board.

  • 211. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 10:17 am

    I don’t want or need the parents’ support.

    Especially the whiny parents on this board. You are simply taxpayers to me.

    Pony up or pay for childcare. Either way, I don’t care.

    I am not going to give u a tutorial on the negative effects (not dollar for dollar) of the dissolution of the pension pick-up.

    Just know that, if it remains, I would accept a pay freeze and vote to return to work.

  • 212. ys  |  September 29, 2016 at 10:19 am

    This strike will be the tipping point in public opinion against the CTU. I welcome it! Already my formerly left leaning / CTU supporting friends are turning on the CTU and are realizing their failure to face reality (that this city’s fiscal situation is a giant sh!t sandwich and we all have to take a bite).
    1. More and more childless people are living in the city and fewer children are in CPS. The demographics are shifting against the CTU.
    2. Defined benefit pensions are a thing of the past. Future returns to meet the obligations are going to be much lower meaning they are even more under funded. The finances are shifting against the CTU.
    3. Taxpayers have seen their taxes spike across the board to finally pay for the overly generous pay / pensions of public employees and have seen no improvement in services for those extra tax dollars. The public sentiment is shifting against the CTU.

    This strike will be the tipping point in public perception of the CTU. Bring it on!

    And vetteacher – I really appreciate your candor about what you want. I think it is very informative for all on this board to see what the opinions of the strikers are.

  • 213. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Who cares about a tipping point?

    When your next contract is up, how about you invite me to mediate it for you?

    Just pony up for childcare. If you want to give me your address: I will send you all boxes of Kleenex.

  • 214. CPSmom  |  September 29, 2016 at 11:01 am

    @207 Thanks for posting that link. I found it very helpful, and I thought the article did a good job of clearly explaining the situation in a balanced way.

  • 215. ys  |  September 29, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Vetteacher – I’m not going to get into personal attacks or anything – this board is very civil even on touchy subjects like this.

    I know teachers are smart. They understand there is no $$ for their current pension obligations and certainly no $$ for any additional promises. That is why any questions regarding where the money is supposed to come from are ignored or deflected. They want their $$. Some care about their students and enjoy their job and for some its just a paycheck. That is fine and to be expected. And I have no problem with people attempting to get as much as they can – its capitalism. I just hope rational thought will prevail although it rarely does.

    I disagree this will be a short strike. HRC doesn’t care about Chicago – she has IL locked up. Rahm has shown he is serious about this issue and its not like he’s going to win any votes from CTU sympathetic parties if he caves. They will still hate him. So his strategy will be to appeal to everyone else who pays taxes and isn’t in a union which is a demographic that is getting larger and larger (hence the tipping point comment). I think the CTU’s strategy of ignoring logic and showing indifference to parents will backfire but only time will tell.

    Good luck with your strike and remember to dress warmly!

  • 216. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 11:45 am

    No problem. Make sure your teen has some supervision. It is dangerous in many areas of Chiraq.

  • 217. luveurope  |  September 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    215. Thanks for your calm post which makes a lot of sense to us taxpayers. .

    216. Hope you look good in red.

  • 218. ys  |  September 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    My kids aren’t in grade school yet fyi. It was another poster who had kids in AP classes.

  • 219. Learning CPS  |  September 29, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    @ 212 I agree. The longer a strike goes on, I think the fingers will point at CTU vs CPS. CPS isn’t calling the strike, CTU is.

    As a CPS parent, I will hate every day my child is not in school and we, and so many others, are juggling childcare, but this is kind of like the final battle in a trilogy and I hope CPS holds on dropping the pension pick up. If CPS doesn’t hold on that now, it will come up over and over because the finances will demand that it does and we’ll be doing this dance again in a few years.

    My husband pays 8.5% into his Cook County pension. His salary has been less than what teachers make for much of his time in his job and now, 10 years in, is just barely more than what the average CPS salary is. He also doesn’t pay SS, also lives in the city and we pay all the city and county taxes that are supporting county/city pensions. We have a back up plan for retirement savings on top of that b/c we suspect by the time he retires there will have been some type of adjustment to his pension promise. He has had years without any COLA or any type of raise at all. He has seen clerks and colleagues lose their jobs to balance the County budget.

    I can’t get behind a strike that when boiled down is really about teachers expecting the pension pick up to continue.

  • 220. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    I look great in red. Rahm will be done. That alone will be worth: As long as it takes…

  • 221. tacocat  |  September 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Just remember this….Karen Lewis’s job is NOT to get a fair contract.
    Her job is to squeeze Chicago for as much money as possible for the CTU members.

  • 222. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Yawn… Time will tell. Enjoy paying far more than $2.50 per hour for childcare.

    That’s what I get per pupil for edumacating your kid.

    See ya all on the streets. If you want to flip me off, I will be the one in red.

  • 223. Village Idiot  |  September 29, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    I strongly urge all Chicago gang members to go on strike as well. Do not shoot anyone until you get better health benefits and a fully funded pension.

  • 224. mo  |  September 29, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    I think Vetteacher is Karen Lewis in the flesh. Btw, vetteacher, are you blogging during class time?

  • 225. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Nope. I arrive at school at 6:30 everyday. I am awesome. Top 1% at CPS.

    The other poster: You had better hope the gang members strike simultaneously because the first CPS student that gets shot will be a national news story.

    It will be on yours and Rahm’s plate.

  • 226. WY2  |  September 29, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    A question to everybody EXCEPT Vetteacher :))

    Are there people here that lived through the 2012 strike?
    Did school buildings stay open that time? School administration and support staff are not members of the CTU, so they still come to work, right? Elementary school students can’t stay in school unsupervised, but HS students can. Does this mean that they can use their regular classrooms for study groups? I am contemplating an idea of doing parent-run study groups for the AP classes and trying to figure out if we can do it at school or will have to find another place for it.

  • 227. mom2  |  September 29, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Vetteacher, you are such a troll (I remember you from the last strike that turned out so well for all the kids – ha ha), but we parents here on this site know that if something horrible like that happens during the strike, it will be the fault of CTU for being so greedy and not willing to finally admit that what was promised, no matter that it was promised, is something crazy in a broke city and state.

  • 228. mom2  |  September 29, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    WY2 – I remember my high school kid never went to school but they planned outside meetings to practice sports on their own so they wouldn’t fall behind other non-cps teams. Elementary schools – some were open for kids that had no other place to go and were staffed by non-teachers, but many kids didn’t go there. Nothing much happened there as far as I know. I think they just made sure the kids were safe. Park districts opened up for kids to come, too. We didn’t use them, so I don’t know what that was like.

  • 229. tacocat  |  September 29, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    I think the sad truth is that the city will ultimately give more than it can afford to CTU. We will borrow money to make this happen. As a result, we will be in a fiscally worse place next year. This cycle will continue as long as lenders are willing to loan to the city.

    One day the well WILL run dry.

  • 230. Music mom  |  September 29, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    To all the parents of HS student-musicians:

    ILMEA auditions are scheduled for the first day of strike, October 11.
    So make sure that your kid’s instrument is at home, not at school – they might not be able to get it out of the band lockers.

    Good thing that auditions are in Orland Park, not in Chicago.
    Oh, just realized – need to check with the band director about the buses…

  • 231. CPSmom  |  September 29, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    @227 WY2 – It seems that facilities will be available for students during the strike, if it happens. See the quotation below from the news article.

    “The Chicago Board of Education earlier Wednesday acknowledged the potential for a strike and authorized a $15 million emergency plan to shelter and feed students if teachers walk off the job. As it did during the 2012 strike, Chicago Public Schools would work with the city, the Chicago Park District and other agencies to provide facilities.”


  • 232. CPSmom  |  September 29, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    The response above is for 226.

  • 233. NthPk  |  September 29, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    WY2 – I think some schools in 2012 did accept kids in the buildings if parents had no child care but not too sure if they had any organized activities. For older kids, this may work if they can work on their own or with their classmates, for younger ones, probably not (?). The local Park Districts back in April 2016 during the 1 day “strike” took kids in you just had to ‘reserve’ a spot (it was done online). Again, I dont know what activities they offered but like someone said above, at least they are have a place to go. I also remember that in 2012, some parochial schools offered CPS kids to sit in their grade levels for a fee of course.

  • 234. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Whiny little mommy…

    Boo hoo…

    Mommy is inconvenienced.

    Poor wittle mommy!


    Hope it costs you $75 a day to take care of your poor wittle baby!

  • 235. WY2  |  September 29, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    NthPk, CPSmom, mom2,

    Thank you!

    Back to setting up something similar to homeschool co-ops then. And I thought I was done with that :)) Smart kids + involved parents usually equals pretty good results. With teachers or without.

  • 236. Vetteacher  |  September 29, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    You should just homeschool your kids. Just make sure you pay your taxes.

    You have MY pension to fund.

    Work harder!

  • 237. Tone  |  September 29, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    The teacher layoffs will be catastrophic with the CTU demands. The system lost 14,000 this year alone. Time to close schools, increase classroom sizes and eliminate teaching positions. Pensions are very expensive.

  • 238. Chris  |  September 29, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    “Parents want to know things like, How does the CTU expect the city to continue funding the pension pick-up? How will a strike affect students’ lives, those who are in dangerous and disadvantaged areas and also the honor and AP students? These are legitimate questions.”

    Unfortunately, the “legitimate” answer from CTU is “we aren’t the mayor, and we didn’t even *run* for mayor, so it ain’t our problem. Put those questions to the Boss.”

    The revenue side of the equation is an issue for the Board, and the Board answers to the Mayor. Unlike an elected school board, the Mayor *could* scare up a bit more cash by surplussing out more TIF funds, and a few other tricks, but it is in NO WAY enough $$ for everything that CTU was asking for last strike.

    Student safety is another issue that totally falls on the Mayor–CTU isn’t the police, and teachers aren’t responsible for what goes on in the neighborhoods–although most of them do care, a lot.

    The AP test question is substantially fair, but the vast majority of CTU members don’t have AP-testing students in their classes, so it simply isn’t going to be a focus for that many members.

    The questions asked of the CTU should be:

    If the contract specified the “full staffing” that you have requested, would you accept a pay cut?

    If the contract specified the funding for [everything else on your wishlist] would you accept a paycut, and a modification to the pensions?

    We all know the answers from CTU would be “no” (it pretty much *has to* be, given the purpose of the union, and the limits placed on them by state law), even if a lot of individual teachers might say “yes”.

    THAT SAID: I’d like to see CTU pushing for the School Board to call a referendum to increase the CPS Levy. I don’t expect they will, but I’d like to see it; it *is* something that they could do that could lead to more $$ for CPS. I don’t think more property tax is the “answer” (nevermind the one true answer), but it is the one thing that CPS really “controls”.

  • 239. CLB  |  September 29, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    @181 don’t understand the 1981 agreement. Instead of a raise *that year?* CPS offered to pick up the pension *forever?*

    No. CPS offered to pick-up the 7% teacher share just for that year. SFA was skeptical as were contemporaneous observers. As anticipated, CPS offered to pick it up again in 1982 because otherwise they would be imposing a 7% cut (there were several one-year contracts back then), and because inflation was well over 5% between 1981 and 1982, just keeping salaries flat in real terms between 1981 and 1982 would have required a >12% salary hike if the pension pick-up were then abandoned.

    This time the SFA said “no dice” and refused to approve the budget. It looked like school would not open. Mayor Byrne intervened, knocked heads, and the SFA folded. Ever since then the 7% pick-up stayed.

  • 240. CLB  |  September 29, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    THAT SAID: I’d like to see CTU pushing for the School Board to call a referendum to increase the CPS Levy. I don’t expect they will, but I’d like to see it; it *is* something that they could do that could lead to more $$ for CPS. I don’t think more property tax is the “answer” (nevermind the one true answer), but it is the one thing that CPS really “controls”.

    Well put. No one — CPS, mayor, CTU, aldermen — want to put a levy referendum. I’ve been in meetings when someone proposed it and the silence was deafening.

  • 241. Chris  |  September 30, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    “No one — CPS, mayor, CTU, aldermen — want to put a levy referendum”

    The “leadership” of this state–at basically every level–is simply hoping for a miracle, rather than taking a reality-based approach to our fiscal disaster, and risking their political careers over it.

    Because the baseline for having any hope of “fixing” Illinois, Chicago and CPS’s budget problems is a paraphrase of Mondale:

    “By the end of my first term, I will reduce the [] budget deficit by two‑thirds. Let’s tell the truth. It must be done, it must be done. [The other guy] will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”

    Now, that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be cuts and restructurings, and, and, and, TOO, but there is no reasonable way forward that doesn’t involve tax increases–and we’ve all already seen that in out property tax bills, and the garbage bills, and the coming water tax.

  • 242. WY2  |  September 30, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    What is the difference between levy and tax increase?

  • 243. Tone  |  September 30, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    WY2, no difference really. Just increased taxes and tax rates to further coddle a public workforce that refuses to budge.

  • 244. Chris  |  September 30, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    “What is the difference between levy and tax increase?”

    The following is a long way of saying “they’re basically the same thing, but…”:

    Cook County has a weird property tax system–the governments set a levy (a total amount of tax to be collected) and then that is divided by the aggregate (equalized**) assessed value to calculate a rate.

    So, an increase in the levy *is* certainly a ‘tax increase’, but it doesn’t mean that a given property will get hit with a bigger bill. For example, if CPS increases it’s levy by 5%, but the aggregate assessed value of property in Chicago goes up 15%, and your house’s assessed value was flat, then your tax bill will go *down*.

    This is why some folks get upset about the assessment appeal system–when someone gets their assessment reduced, it doesn’t reduce the tax revenue, it just spreads the obligation for that reduction around to everyone else. Thus, the commercial tax appeal firms (two big ones run by Mike Madigan and Ed Burke) make their money by shifting the property tax burden from certain commercial property owners to other commercial property owners AND individuals.

    Most places have a system that is basically rate * value = tax, so that rising values automatically equals more tax revenue, and higher tax bills for everyone. And I think that most people in Chicago think that way about property tax here, but it just isn’t.

    **It’s “equalized” bc Cook County assesses property at percentages that do not equal the statutory assessment percentages (eg residential is assessed at “10%” (about), but is supposed to be 33 1/3%), so there is a multiple to ‘equalize’ the assessment. Why not just assess at 33 1/3%?? Best guess: patronage jobs.

  • 245. WY2  |  September 30, 2016 at 4:41 pm


    OK… I guess I’ll go with the first part of your answer ““they’re basically the same thing” :))

    Both are in one way or another increase property taxes, right? And since the extra amount of dollars that needs to be collected is the same no matter what we call it, the $$ increase (or rather $$$) will be about the same, maybe with a bit different distribution between individual properties.

    Then why the last few posts here describe levy as a possible solution to the problem that evil government (CPS, CTU, mayor, etc.) will not even consider, when we know that tax increase is considered and most likely will happen?

    What I don’t get is how one of them may solve the problem and other can’t, if these two are almost the same thing?

  • 246. AP tests  |  September 30, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    During the last strike some teachers posted work online to keep the students on schedule. They were made to take it down by the union. You can work with the AP books yourself but the teacher can’t assume everyone kept up during the strike so is going to have to cram the missed work into the rest of the year. Not all AP students have access to people who can help them if they don’t understand something. If you have kids in AP classes I’d ask the teachers now what they are planning and what they recommend you do.

  • 247. CPSmom  |  September 30, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Chris or anyone else who might know, I have a question, and forgive me if it seems very basic, but I am still trying to wrap my head around all this.

    From what I have read, teachers are being offered a raise of 8.75% over 4 years, but are being asked to increase their contribution to their pensions from 2% to 9%. This would put an end to the pension pick-up benefit, in which CPS pays 7% of the employees’ contribution to the pension fund–a benefit that was offered in 1981 in lieu of raises that year. But the CTU does not want its members to lose the 7% pension pick-up.

    Is the need for increased property taxes to cover the 7% pension pick-up?

  • 248. WY2  |  September 30, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    From what I understand, not only these 7% need to be covered, but also this PP was not funded properly for years, which means that as of now it has very big unfunded liability. Usually whoever is funding the pension plan is supposed to make annual contributions that are calculated in such a way that together with the earned interest the fund will be able to pay all the retirees. For quite a few years the City of Chicago was not making any such contributions or was paying much less than it should have. So now the pension plan is hugely underfunded, to the tune of about $10 billion. This number has to come down, which means that the city has to make regular contributions PLUS additional ones to get out of this debt. Teachers had nothing to do with the reasons why these contributions were not made on time, but this is where we all are now.

  • 249. WY2  |  October 1, 2016 at 12:23 am

    Thank you!

    I understand that not everybody can study on their own or has adequate help at home, this is why I am working on setting up study groups and trying to coordinate the involved parents. For the AP classes that I need, there are 2 sections in each, so we are looking at about 60 kids. That’s a pool of about 100 parents, grandparents, and older siblings. As of now we are good to go with both main person to lead the study groups and a back-up. Three times a week plus a closed FB group to ask questions. Can’t do real labs, but there are simulations available online, so will have to use those.

    We already figured out that the regular class webpage will be a no go, so assignments for the first two weeks will be e-mailed on October 10th. And if the strike goes on longer then that, we have contacted couple out of town teachers that use the same textbooks and agreed to share their materials. If it gets to the point of strike going on for a really long time, we will have to pay these teachers to grade the tests – this is the only thing that parents can’t do. Multiple choice is not a problem, but one needs to be familiar with the AP grading style to be able to grade written answer portions.

  • 250. CPSmom  |  October 1, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    @248 Thanks for the information. I had no idea that the teachers’ pension plan was underfunded by $10 billion! This is so much worse than I had previously thought. I researched more about the teachers’ pension and came across this source, which I thought was helpful, so I thought I would share it with the other parents on this board:


    By the way, I appreciate your straightforward approach. I am always wary of emotional rhetoric and convoluted explanations with jargon-filled language. Both tactics are usually a sign that the person is trying to push a particular agenda instead of offering clear, concise, and balanced information.

  • 251. CPSMommyTeacher  |  October 2, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    I saw this post this morning. I really thought it was worth sharing. Many will not agree with this. We are all entitled to our opinions. These are very disturbing times….in our city…in our country. I truly believe teaching is my “ministry”. I give 110% times triple this everyday to my students. I chose to put my son in public schooling because I pay taxes in this city and I work to serve the children of others who also pay taxes who live in and love this city. I am truly hurt and sadden by the disrespect and criticism of teachers…not only here in Chicago but nation wide. People say we have a choice to get out….yes….and sometimes I really consider it. But for many this is their “ministry” too and we genuinely love what we do. I don’t want to strike. Many of us don’t. We are unhappy with the treatment from CPS and we are not totally satisfied with the CTU. What are we to do? For me….I just keep praying and being the best I can be for those students I serve everyday. Here is the post I saw earlier….maybe it will shed some light. Thanks for reading and sorry for the long post. Happy Sunday and enjoy your week!

    Posted on FB by Greg Henkin

    I have a lot of friends across the country, and something is about to happen in Chicago that will get national attention: a strike in our public school system. This likely will be brought up by Trump or Clinton at some point. The circumstances that got us to another teachers strike are complex. Before someone highjacks the issue on the national stage, I thought it’d be worth a relatively short explanation. So, if you like to be informed, read on:

    — One part of the break between the teachers and the city is about pension payments. About 25 years ago, the city made a deal with the teachers to pay a much larger chunk of their shared pension costs in lieu of a raise. The pension is a critical part of the pay package for a teacher in Chicago, since the city doesn’t pay into Social Security — so the teachers don’t get that — and there is no 401k savings through the city, like you’d have at most large companies. The pension is what the teachers will have to retire on, unless they’ve been able to save in an IRA out of their own pocket. Teachers in Chicago aren’t rich…I make more at my truck driving job, even after a huge decrease in hours the last 18 months, than about 90% of the teachers. Teaching is a solid middle-class living. So the teachers’ union isn’t soaking the city in some kind of unfair deal.

    The city, being Chicago, skipped so many payments into the pension for so many years, and it’s required by law to have a certain level of funding for the pension, that now the city can’t catch up without massive cuts or taxes. So they want to make the teachers pay much more into their pension, essentially taking away the one way teachers can retire safely. The city’s financial mismanagement is now the teachers’ problem, and the city wants to guilt them into giving more to their pension, without any additional benefit. It’s not the teachers’ fault the city blew this, and it’s not the teachers’ problem to fix. Especially because…

    — Chicago is broke on purpose. We have the money to fund pretty much whatever we want, but we hide it. The main scheme? The Tax Increment Financing fund, or TIF. This plan hatched way back in 1977 works like this: the city sets up a zone, a TIF district, in a “blighted” neighborhood, and within those boundaries any property tax increase for 23 YEARS IN THAT ZONE goes into a fund controlled by the mayor. Example: your property taxes are $5000 this year. In two years, they go up to $5700. The $700 increase goes into the TIF fund. And in 23 years, if you’re paying $15,000 in taxes, $10,000 goes into the TIF fund. The money in the TIF fund is supposed to be used to help poor neighborhoods in the city, and TIF zones are supposed to only be in poor neighborhoods.

    But you know what happens? The city creates TIF zones all over the place, like freaking DOWNTOWN. There is no precise law saying that the money taken out of a poor neighborhood has to be used in that neighborhood. So, neighborhoods like Englewood, a very poor black neighborhood, get about $0.15 on the dollar back TIF investment in their neighborhoods. The rest is spent however the mayor wants. The money in the TIF fund is not in the city’s general budget, it’s reported in a very complicated way, so that it takes a local private citizen who is motivated (God bless him) some months to add up how much is really in this fund.

    It’s a little over $1 billion.

    Also realize that when you’re taking property tax increases and shifting the surplus into a fund, instead of where it usually goes, all those other governmental services suffer. So, the schools get almost exactly 50% of our property taxes, and that’s how we fund our schools. The parks get a share, and so on. When there are over 100 TIF districts (!!!) in the city, that means all the property tax increases for DECADES are not going to where they need to go, like schools and parks and anything else a city pays for. It goes into the TIF slush fund.

    So we have in Chicago more than $1 billion, off the books, to use however the mayor wants. But this money — if the schools get 50%, at least $500 million — should have gone to paying for things we need. Chicago is broke on purpose. It’s like having a huge secret savings account, but not using it to pay your bills when you run out of money in checking. So you declare bankruptcy and stiff your creditors, but you still have all this secret money.

    — The last point is crime and schools, and where they intersect. The violent crime rate in Chicago started going up when Rahm closed 50 public schools four years ago. Though declining enrollment was the stated reason, the real reason was the city wanted to replace the union public schools with charter schools. Rahm’s campaign manager for his first run in 2010 was the president of of a huge local charter school chain.

    Charter schools can keep up to 25% of their funding as profit, i.e. “overhead.” They can also pay teachers much less money for longer hours, hide their finances because they’re “privately run public entities,” and kick out all the bad kids to the public schools. Look up John Oliver for his takedown of charters, but for our purposes, the city closed all these schools, almost all in poor black neighborhoods, then almost immediately announced we need a whole bunch of charter schools. In fact, on the day they announced the school closings, our alderman (O’Connor!) scheduled a neighborhood meeting (which everyone found out about by accident, they “forgot” to tell us in time, even though it’s the law) about a charter school he wanted to open in our neighborhood where he just announced the local public school was closing! This didn’t go well with the neighborhood, he backed off.

    But that’s what Chicago is like with schools.

    All those jobs lost, and all those safe spaces in bad neighborhoods we lost, when the schools were closed, is why we have out of control crime here. Want more in-depth reporting of this? pm me.

    — Finally, the backdrop of the election: Both candidates would do the same thing Rahm tried, closing public schools in favor of “choice,” which is code for breaking the union. But Rahm is a Democrat, and a long time Clinton friend and political ally. A bad strike here will make Clinton look worse, and also ruin Rahm’s chances to be a senior advisor in the White House, his getaway plan. So the stakes are high.

    I’m not even getting into how the city wants to tie teachers’ pay to test results, which would be fine for the few schools that have happy healthy kids from good families with good income as the main student body, not so good for 90% of the rest of the public school teachers.

    Cindy and I are with the teachers on this one. We can solve many of our money problems in Chicago by using our secret TIF money. We have to pay the teachers what was promised them, our word shouldn’t just be good to other countries.

    Chicago friends, correct me where I’ve missed something or got it wrong. And if you want to share this, go for it.

  • 252. Vetteacher  |  October 2, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Way to “school” them. I belong to your ministry. Very well -written!

    The only thing you left out is that Rahm is lying when he equates the pension-pick ups with his raise(dollar for dollar). The rescinding of the pension pick up is much more deleterious to the lifetime earnings of a CPS teacher. In other words, the teachers lose way more than 7%.

  • 253. harry potter  |  October 2, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    I think it should be clear that it is not the city of Chicago tying student growth (different than student test scores) to teacher ratings. It is the state mandating this. And we are measuring student growth here, not achievement. There is no tying pay to those test scores but there is a lite tie between growth and keeping one’s job. Since student growth only accounts for a small percentage (somewhere between 15-30% depending on district) of one’s rating, and the other 70-85% is observational, you’d have to both screw up student growth AND your observations for job loss to be possible. And yes, I know there are screwy principals out there who can be “out to get” people but that’s any job.
    For me student growth at my school this means my students are measured on writing and on a nationally normed math test. I don’t fear the kids who come in very low because those kids are not required to end the year on grade level. They are only required to make the amount of growth me and my grade level team, along with my principal and district say they must make which is typically somewhere between 1-2 years worth of growth. I find this to be a very achievable goal. Though to be fair, I’m working in a district that supports it’s student population and teacher population so if there’s any sense of inequity or unfairness in CPS in this process, it all comes back to conditions. It is much easier to ensure student growth when a district provides reasonable class sizes and a lot of support through resource teachers, aides, etc. For example, I only have 18 students and 4 of them see the reading specialist for a double dose of reading instruction daily. That same reading specialist and an ESL aide push into my classroom for 1 hour each day during the combination writing/content area block. The support is phenomenal and I have yet to see any child who falls through the cracks. We are literally talking about every single child in the entire school, by name, once a month as a school team.
    At some point, parents, teachers, city leaders, government leaders and the union are going to have to figure out a way to band together to create better conditions. Without that, one can never really expect students to grow at accelerated rates in order to catch up from impoverished upbringings. I know some people will be pissed here about one more teacher talking about conditions. And I get the point in not tying “strike” issues to conditions. I agree with not tying a strike to conditions since it is currently against the law (a stupid law) to do so. But when else does anyone talk about conditions? These are your children’s learning conditions people. Maybe you think teachers are stealing good conditions from your children by asking for what they are asking for in this contract. You have that right to have that opinion. But if you want anything to change, you have to change it. For better or for worse, its up to you to get the ball rolling.

  • 254. CPSmom  |  October 2, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    CPSMommyTeacher and harrypotter, I appreciate your posts, and I do agree that it is extremely important to talk about improving school conditions. I think it would be a good idea if there was a separate board to discuss the topic of school conditions and what can be done to improve them through a collective effort of teachers, parents, the union, and city leaders.

    However, I don’t think it’s helpful when we are discussing the upcoming possible strike, because improving school conditions is not one of the reasons for the strike. As I understand it (but please correct me if I’m wrong), one of the main reasons for this possible strike is the 7 percent pension pick-up. I believe completely that teachers should be paid a pension. However, I don’t think the 7 percent pick-up is a reasonable demand given today’s financial realities.

    I also don’t know of any worker, either in the public or private sector, that can pay only 2 percent of their salary and in return have a healthy retirement fund. Chicago police officers pay about 9 percent of their salary into their pension fund and then even more on top of that into their Deferred Compensation account. I can’t be sure, but I have read that Chicago firefighters contribute 8-16 percent of their salary towards retirement savings. In the private sector, most workers pay about 6 percent into Social Security, but because they can’t completely rely on SS, they also pay into a 401K or similar account. I contribute 12 percent of my salary to my retirement fund.

    This is just my opinion. I’m very interested in understanding other perspectives, but so far, I haven’t read anything on this board that directly addresses this particular issue. I’m open to hearing other arguments, and I am willing to change my mind if presented with a convincing argument.

  • 255. Vetteacher  |  October 2, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Teachers are on the low end of lifetime earnings when compared with other professions of similar educational attainment (apples-to-apples). The pension closes the gap.

    Do a little research and you will find this to be true. Let us know what you find; we are all anxiously waiting for your findings.

    See you public-service welfare recipients on the street in about a week!

  • 256. Budlong3  |  October 3, 2016 at 9:19 am

    @251, thanks for that. Your quoted post makes some good points, but the premise that teachers should somehow have enough of a pension to retire from seems faulty in this economic climate where virtually nobody in the middle-class “ordinary Joe” sector has any kind of retirement guarantee unless he or she has made that a savings goal for themselves in some other personal capacity.

    “The pension is what the teachers will have to retire on, unless they’ve been able to save in an IRA out of their own pocket.” Most people don’t have that luxury. SS doesn’t pay out nearly what the pension would, despite people paying MUCH more into SS over the course of their careers.

    I support teachers, I used to be one, I get that it’s hard and you’re doing good work in crazy circumstances. But this pension pick-up is just pie-in-the-sky thinking. It’s not realistic given the circumstances.

    I also agree that the working conditions are deplorable, they are unfair to teachers, students, and families. But agree w/ CPSmom that those need to be considered apart from the strike since they’re not a variable in terms of negotiations or outcome.

  • 257. Budlong3  |  October 3, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Wanted to add: Comment 131 by Chris really explains the math and situation nicely.

  • 258. Chris  |  October 3, 2016 at 10:27 am

    “I make more at my truck driving job, even after a huge decrease in hours the last 18 months, than about 90% of the teachers”

    Counting ONLY the “regular teachers” (ie, no SPED, no bilingual, etc), the annual salary for the top 10% of CPS teachers is $90,658. Excluding some Alternative School teachers, that is very close to the top, which is about $97k.

    I’m *very* interested in what trucking company pays well over $50/hour to its drivers, and that allows a lot of overtime, too. Obviously, it’s a union job (which isn’t a bad thing).

  • 259. Chris  |  October 3, 2016 at 10:36 am

    regarding the pension pick up:

    IF CTPF were merged into TRS, and thus CPS were to be treated by the state the same as every other school district, the pick up would be ‘no big deal’.

    Someone might say “but CPS gets a bigger piece of other state aid”–there is *no way* that the ‘bigger piece’ is bigger than the pension obligation (going forward). CPS comes out ahead in that trade, big time.

  • 260. Tone  |  October 3, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Some really bad information about TIF posted above. Even if TIF is eliminated, going forward, it would not solve CPS financial problems.

  • 261. Tone  |  October 3, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    “The violent crime rate in Chicago started going up when Rahm closed 50 public schools four years ago.”

    No it didn’t that is a complete lie. Chicago had it’s lowest crime rate in the last 40 years in 2014. 2015 was basically the same as 2014.

    There is definitely an increase this year, but that is the fault of the ACLU and BLM.

  • 263. Tone  |  October 3, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    “We can solve many of our money problems in Chicago by using our secret TIF money.”

    No we can’t.

  • 264. Vetteacher  |  October 3, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    That is laughable. (I did a research report on the topic:

    1. The TRS wanted to merge the two pension funds;the CTPF rejected that outright: The CTPF is significantly better funded than the TRS, due to atrocious performance by the TRS money managers during the internet crash in 2000.

    2. 66% of suburban teachers don’t pay ONE dime towards their pension.

    State picks up district portion
    District picks up teachers’ portion

    Nice try, but do a little research before spewing garbage.

  • 265. And...  |  October 3, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Well given what we know of Chicago district finances and tax base, it seems obvious that Chicago will have to fall into the 33% that do not fund the pension.
    It would be great if a large urban school disctrict could support that. But we can’t. Same as 1/3 of other schools districts in the state.
    I’d be curious how the salary compares as well (ie total compensation.)

  • 266. Learning CPS  |  October 3, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    “66% of suburban teachers don’t pay ONE dime towards their pension.

    State picks up district portion
    District picks up teachers’ portion”

    This is not an argument for why CPS should pay the teacher’s portion. Quite frankly, no school district should be paying the teacher’s portion. That is why it is called the “teacher’s” portion. This whole practice of city and state government funds paying for contribution that isn’t theirs needs to stop. Just because it has been done that way, for whatever reason, in the past is not an argument for it to be that way for eternity.

  • 267. harry potter  |  October 3, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    @254, I agree with you about the pension. I think all teachers in IL should be paying their 9% portion entirely. I think it is inevitable that this will happen as the state sinks deeper and deeper into financial ruin.

    @256, I really do hope teachers are saving a significant portion of their earnings. Maybe the pension will be there when we retire, maybe it won’t. But my family has forgone a 2nd car, most vacations, and other similar luxuries in order to live on 75% of our income. The rest goes into savings. I don’t trust that the constitution won’t eventually be changed to save the state financially.

  • 268. Chris  |  October 3, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    “This is not an argument for why CPS should pay the teacher’s portion.”

    It’s only an argument for why the STATE should pick up the CPS “employer’s” portion.

    CTPF Funded Ratio (2015 report) = 51.96%
    TRS Funded Ratio (2015 report) = 42%

    “Most of the TRS unfunded liability is due to insufficient
    State contributions accumulated since 1939. “

  • 269. Vetteacher  |  October 3, 2016 at 4:29 pm


    You public-sector welfare recipients are too funny.

    I get it now!

  • 270. Tone  |  October 3, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    CPS layoffs were announced today as the system lost 14000 students. With more certain to come.

  • 271. And...  |  October 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    We are chumps in the private sector – this is somewhat true, Vet Teacher. Yet somehow all the Trump fans seem to think that running the country like a business will somehow save them financially. Not sure how that logic works.

  • 273. Vetteacher  |  October 3, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    In the early 2000s TRS was in the 20%’s, the state has been infusing billions over the past decade while not giving CTPF a pittance. Prior to the internet crash, it wasn’t that way.

  • 274. Vetteacher  |  October 3, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    If I were you, I’d stop whining and wringing your hands on this thread, then!

  • 275. Chris  |  October 3, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    You can find the funded ratios for TRS back to 2005 on page 41 (numbered page 35) of this pdf (it’s big, don’t open while mobile):


  • 276. Chris  |  October 3, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Scroll down here:


    for a colorful bar chart that shows the TRS funded ratios back to 2001.

  • 277. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    @CPSMom – that is one to bookmark!

  • 278. cpsobsessed  |  October 4, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Interesting – I see UNO teachers are taking a strike vote as well:

    Key sticking points in negotiations include salaries, especially for support staff, health care costs, pension contributions and the length of the school day and school year.


  • 279. Tone  |  October 4, 2016 at 9:01 am

    All the strike will do is push more families out of CPS, causing further pressure to close schools and reduce staff. I guess that’s a great way to save money.

  • 280. Vetteacher  |  October 4, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Tax climate report: The way some business interests describe Illinois’ tax climate, one might think it’s about the worst in the nation.

    Not so, according to the Tax Foundation, a tax policy research organization. The group’s annual State Business Tax Climate Index ranked Illinois 23rd.

    That’s well above California, New York and New Jersey, deemed the nation’s three worst. All of our neighboring states also fared worse, with the exception of Indiana, which was ranked eighth in the nation.

    Wah, wah, wah… I am leaving the state; I can’t afford it… blah, blah, blah.

    What say you public sector welfare recipients about the above FACT!

  • 281. cpsobsessed  |  October 4, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    What does 23rd in business tax mean? We need more context.

  • 282. Vetteacher  |  October 4, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Covers all taxes; all encompassing


    Why don’t you all move to Indiana? They are #8. You can all go to the casinos; that is all there is to do in Indiana.

    Wah, wah, wah, we can’t afford it.


  • 283. WY2  |  October 4, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    @ cpsobsessed

    Vetteacher is a veteran, so let her be :)) She has no idea that if one is citing a publication it is considered a bad taste not to include the link.

    So here it is:

    She can’t properly read her own sources either. Yes, IL is ranked 23rd by the Tax Climate Index, which is rather subjective. But it is ranked 46th by the Property Tax Rank – nothing subjective here, just one number per state.

  • 284. Vetteacher  |  October 4, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Yes, the overall number is subjective because it covers ALL taxes (the aggregate), according to you. NOT! Then you try to get everyone to focus ONLY on regressive property taxes.

    Tooooo funny! 23 rd is the only number that matters!

    When you public-sector welfare recipients are begging on the street, do you really care if you get 4 quarters or a dollar bill?

    Just like when the pswr’s on this board. compare firemen and policemen ( with their two year degrees with teachers – many of whom have advanced degrees)

    It is not that police and fire aren’t important; they are! They are just apples in an apples to oranges (teachers) comparison.

    This thread never compares apples to apples. Educational attainment is an investment, and the lifetime earnings of a teacher are on the low-end of the spectrum without a solid pension.

  • 285. cpsobsessed  |  October 4, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks for the link.
    I still can’t tell what relevance it has that IL is right in the middle of the pack for Business Tax Climate.
    What funds CPS? Bus Tax or Property Tax? Or both?

  • 286. CPSMom  |  October 4, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    @285 Property taxes fund the teacher pensions. Illinois is already one of the highest property tax states. It ranks as the #2 worst state in America for property taxes. See:


    And here are two statements to consider from a recent Sun Times article:

    “Taxpayers are understandably shocked by the first round of tax hikes appearing on their property tax bills this summer. Unfortunately, those bills will grow exponentially worse if no action is taken. Taxpayers must demand accountability from CPS, the Chicago Teachers Union, the Chicago City Council and Mayor Emanuel. If we do not act now, taxpayers risk being taxed out of their homes to prop up the city’s insolvent teachers pension fund.”

    “These pensions are unsustainable. To fully fund these pensions, the Chicago City Council would have to drastically raise property taxes far beyond the historic increases they have already approved. However, bankrupting taxpayers and driving property owners out of Chicago is no solution to this financial mess.”


  • 287. Vetteacher  |  October 4, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    What does it matter? Michigan funds schools with a sales tax? Their total tax rate is higher than IL.

    Over and over again, people on this thread threaten to leave IL.

    You have an option, go to Indiana. None of the other states will give you a better deal in the midwest.

    You public-sector welfare recipients aren’t even paying the avg amount of taxes. If you were, IL would be #25.

    So, whine and moan and wring your hands, but it is time to support your teachers; your kids’ futures depend on it.

  • 288. CPSmom  |  October 4, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    @285 Property taxes fund teacher pensions. And Illinois is the second worst state in the nation when it comes to property taxes. See: http://taxfoundation.org/blog/how-high-are-property-taxes-your-state.

    Here is a quotation from a recent Sun-Times article to consider:

    “These pensions are unsustainable. To fully fund these pensions, the Chicago City Council would have to drastically raise property taxes far beyond the historic increases they have already approved. However, bankrupting taxpayers and driving property owners out of Chicago is no solution to this financial mess.”


    P.S. The best thing to do with Internet trolls is to ignore them because they derive pleasure from offending others. They are truly sick people. And I feel very bad for the students who are likely bullied on a daily basis by this person’s anger, rudeness, and sarcasm. What a grand show of unprofessional behavior.

  • 289. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 6:57 am

    So what! Your total tax isn’t even average in the US.

    If I charge you 300 dollars for a printer and give you the ink for free for 3 years

    You are still only paying $300

    If I charge you $50 for a printer and $100 for a cartridge of ink and you buy 1 cartidge a year, you are spending $325.

    You only focus on one tax! Total tax is what matters!

  • 290. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Illinois has the 5th highest state and local tax burden in the nation.


  • 291. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 9:42 am

    No, what is unprofessional is ignoring the FACT that Illinoisans pay fewer total taxes than 27 states, and then only focusing on one tax to support your moaning and whining.

    There is NO getting around that fact. All the counter-arguments are just gibberish being spewed by public-sector welfare recipients on this thread.

  • 292. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 9:42 am

    No, Illinois has the 5th highest state and local tax burden in the nation.


  • 293. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Total taxes are all that matter. There is NO getting around that fact!.

  • 294. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Total taxes are meaningless without income coming into the equation. If I make $1,000,000/year and pay $300 in tax no biggie, but what if I make $35,000?

    Total tax is pretty meaningless.

  • 295. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Illinois is one of the highest taxed states in the country. No wonder is losing population faster than almost every other state.

  • 296. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Don’t try to give hypothethicals to the thread to make your argument.

    No matter how you slice them up by taxing agencies, total taxes is ALL that matters. All the rest is just BS!

  • 297. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:04 am

    What are you talking about? Illinois has the 5th highest tax burden in the nation.

  • 298. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Obviously, you haven’t read the previous posts on this thread the last few days.

    Do some reading. Then you can spew your BS.

  • 299. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:09 am


    No BS from me, just the facts. Illinois has the 5th highest state and local tax burden in the nation. It’s quite simple.

  • 300. Chris  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:11 am

    “Property taxes fund the teacher pensions.”

    ONLY in Chicago. The rest of the state–teacher pensions are funded (primarily) by state income tax. Including taxes paid by Chicagoans.

  • 301. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:12 am

    I put out 2017 data; you put out 2012 data.

    Who is the big liar now?

  • 302. Chris  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:14 am

    It’s funny to see someone complaining about others not reading, when that someone posted nonsense about TRS’s early 2000’s funding ratios which are easily and clearly debunked *in this thread*.

  • 303. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:14 am

    These are the latest numbers from the non partisan tax foundation. This report is from January 20, 2016.


  • 304. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Illinois is losing population at a rate faster than almost any state.


  • 305. WY2  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:16 am

    So the goal of this strike is to change STATE laws? Given that there is no state budget for what is it now? 18 months? It is going to be a looong strike. My kids probably will graduate before it is over :)))

  • 306. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:19 am

    The strike is simply greed crazed union workers refusing to pay their portion of their pension. CTU members pay 2% and the taxpayers pay 16% of the pension contributions.

    That is one sweet matching program.

  • 307. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 10:23 am

    My data came out in the last few days by the tax foundation.

    And as far as the TRS, there is no denying that the state made multi-billion contributions in single years right after the internet crash to shore it up, while giving CPS almost nothing for a decade. Intra-year it was down to 29%. At the end of the year they had replenished it with a 2.5 billion lumps sum, if I remember correctly. It was down that low; I am sure of it.

  • 308. Chris  |  October 5, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Scroll down to Chart 12, and you can see the investment return for TRS from 2000 to 2009:


    In the wake of the internet bubble, TRS had a return on investment of down 4.2% (FY-01) and down 3.2% (FY-02).

  • 309. tacocat  |  October 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    What risk do CTU members take on by striking? Why wouldn’t they strike? The potential upside is more money; the potential downside is what?

    When a workers at an auto plant strike, he loses wages for each day of the strike. So I take him seriously. He sacrifices pay and risks going weeks without earnings.

    For teachers, the strike will eventually be resolved and the school year will be extended to compensate for the strike days.

  • 310. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Great question tacocat. Nothing is lost. They won’t get paid during the strike, but almost always get paid for the strike later. They simply don’t want to pay their portion of their pension. Would you want to give up a 16% employer match to your retirement? Can you strike over it though?

  • 311. WY2  |  October 5, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    In theory they do have something to loose – their jobs. The longer this craziness goes on, the more families leave the city or stay, but leave the CPS schools. Plus less people with kids are inclined to accept job transfer here. Less students means more cuts. The problem is, many teachers don’t really believe that this is happening, or they think that this is happening somewhere else, not at their schools, so they will not be affected.

    Plus the problem with seniority – they have to cut younger teachers, so the average age of teachers goes up, which increases PP liability. This is similar to the baby boomers problem with SS. But I guess this is way to complicated for an average veteran teacher 🙂

    I can talk only about my kids – either there is a signed 3-year contract at the end of this strike, or WY will have two extra seats next years. I am sure this school will fill them in a second, but the effect will trickle down to regular schools as well – transfer kids will have to come from somewhere.

  • 312. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    WY2, we pulled our kids this year in anticipating the shit show.

  • 313. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    It is only a 7% pension pick-up , NOT 16%!

    Starting living in a factual world!

  • 314. parent  |  October 5, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    @311 — Exactly right. If teachers refuse to agree to the pension pick up, there is less money. Then CPS is likely to cut more jobs. It’s pretty simple.

    CTU thinks they are sticking it to Rahm — the strike will make him look bad, and he won’t get re elected. I don’t think he would have gotten elected again anyway (because of the Laquan McDonald coverup). BUT a strike is likely to make CTU look bad, and the mayor look reasonable. If CTU strikes, they might just turn public opinion around enough that he CAN get re elected.

  • 315. Chris  |  October 5, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    ” I don’t think he would have gotten elected again anyway ”

    Rumor has it that Pat Quinn is working on a mayoral campaign.

    If there is anyone in Illinois who can make a damaged candidate look pretty swell in comparison, it’s Pat Quinn.

    Anyway, there isn’t any likely outcome from a CTU strike that makes Rahm look good, to the Chicago electorate. “Reasonable in comparison”, maybe. “Good”, slim to no chance.

  • 316. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    CPS pays 16% toward CTU pensions and CTU members pay 2%.

  • 317. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Sweet union deal. While all us peons taxpayers have to cover the 16% and guarantee the pensions make the actuarially required 7.5% annual return.

  • 318. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Who in the private sector expects to retire while contributing 2% of their income?

  • 319. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Gimme a break! Tone, the little disingenuous public-sector welfare recipient piggy, is trying to say that CPS is paying the 7 percent social security that teachers DO NOT get and adding it to the total.

    Tooo funny!

    I will tell you what little Tone; we will strike and Rahm a Dumb will cave.

    I will be coming back after the strike to shove it in your face.

    Dig deep public-welfare recipients; work an extra couple of hours flipping burgers to cover MY pension pick up!

    See ya on the streets. You are just angry because you didn’t have the brains to become a teacher!

  • 320. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    It is not funny. It’s grotesque that CTU expects its members to contribute only 2% to their retirement.

  • 321. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Teachers should get SSI and get a 401k like the rest of the professional working world. Taxpayers should not be in the business of providing guaranteed retirement returns to public workers.

  • 322. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Yeah sure.


    Teachers are on the low end in lifetime earnings when comparing lifetime earnings vs. other careers with the same educational attainment. The pension narrows the gap.

    Massive teacher shortage on the way.

    Why don’t you whiny little public sector welfare recipients homeschool your little angels yourself? You are all sooooo smart.

    ROTFLMAO. They can all flip burgers just like mommy and daddy.

  • 323. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Please explain further. Most people with a BA do not expect to earn $100K+ annually and pay 2% to retire.

    There will be no teacher shortage as CPS is forced to reduce the number of teachers each year for the dwindling enrollment. More layoffs to come for certain.

    I’ll be fine, we left the system. I just like to remind those that are still in it how outrageous CTU is.

  • 324. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    The median household income in the City of Chicago is about $50K.

  • 325. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Good riddance. Adios…

  • 326. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    So what? Teachers have advanced degrees. Quit trying to lump burger flippers like the public-sector welfare recipients on this thread to teachers.

    Too funny! A lying little Tone…


  • 327. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Median household income of BA holders in the City of Chicago is $54,500. I wonder how many only contribute 2% of their salary to their retirement and expect to live?

  • 328. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Teachers don’t need advanced degrees in elementary school. That is a crock of BS pushed by CTU goons like yourself.

    Median household income of BA holders in Chicago is $54,500.

  • 329. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    For clarity that median household income of $54,500 is for all Bachelors degree holders, not just BAs. My mistake.

  • 330. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Lying little Tone deaf Tone:

    Sixty-three percent of CPS teachers have graduate degrees, according to this Chicago Magazine piece — something only 13 percent of the general population 25 and over can claim.

    Tone is just a lying little whiny public -sector welfare recipient!


  • 331. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    I didn’t lie about anything. The fact’s are there for all to see. CTU members are pigs at public money trough. I very much look forward to watching them strike from a distance. The coddled teachers will not stand for anything less than guaranteed raises each and every year, a 2% retirement contribution and salaries that are higher than those in the private sector.

    City of Chicago median household income of a Bachelors degree holder is $54,500. How many in the private sector contribute 2% of their salary to retirement that is guaranteed by the taxpayer and get better pay than average?

  • 332. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    63% of us have advanced degrees ( I have two).

    Lying little Tone is trying to lump us in with his co -workers in the fast-food industry.

    He tried to add our replacement social security into a CPS contribution toward our pension

    You’ll have to forgive Tone; he got off the short yellow bus when he went to school.

    It ‘s ok Tone; not everyone can be given the brains to become a teacher. I know you are doing the best that you can.


  • 333. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    The vast majority of teachers don’t need an advanced degree. Especially from useless colleges like Chicago State!

    The median income in the City of Chicago for those with advanced degrees is $70,800. I wonder how many of those advanced degree holders contribute 2% of their salary to retirement?

  • 334. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    I am going to love watching the strike. How many will need to be laid off as enrollment tanks at CPS?

    20,000 fewer students in the last 2 years!

    Pigs at the trough waiting for slaughter, good times for sure!

  • 335. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    The median salary for a CPS teacher is $56,720.

    Lying little Tone

  • 336. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Let’s add the 7% to the salary for the pension -pick up and the median CPS salary is only $60,500.

    That is an avg of more than $10,000 less than Tone’s $71,000 average.

    Over the 44 years’ that is $450,000 less than the avg. worker with like educational attainment.

    Tone is a whiny little welfare pig who wants to get his kids’ schoolin’ on the cheap!

  • 337. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:07 pm


    We have clearly established that CTU are hogs at trough. $76,000 average salary.

  • 338. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    CTU is filled with greed crazed liars.


    Luckily they will be striking soon, which will likely lead to more layoffs.

  • 339. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    $76,000 for 9 months of work AND 2% contribution to retirement.

    I have a lot of popcorn ready for the nightly news of red shirted goons demanding more and more from the taxpayers.

    My kids will be in school and not subjected to the greed.

  • 340. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Did I mention, the taxpayers guarantee the investment returns on those 2% pensions?

  • 341. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Click through on this link and you will get the real numbers put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


    Don’t believe Tone’s and the media’s lies.

    No way is $76,000 close to correct.


    The Occupational Outlook Handbook is accurate and is put out by the U.S. Dept. of Labor,

  • 342. WY2  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    This is not even funny 😦
    All the salary data is posted on the CPS website:

    As of June 30, 2016 there were 13,995 people with the job title “regular teacher”
    Out of them 12,708 worked full time. For these 12,708 mean salary is $73,621 and the median is $77,454.

    Right, just 20K above stated median of $56,720.

  • 343. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Vetteacher is clearly clueless. That link talks about Chicago metropolitan area teachers!

    The vast majority of which are not CTU teachers!

    $76,000 average salary vs. $54,500 of the general population.

    Can’t wait to watch the red shirted goons on TV.

  • 344. Tone  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    CTU gonna lie, the greeeed is too powerful!

  • 345. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:35 pm


    CPS is so honest. They are including health care expenses and pension contributions in those figures.

    Apples to oranges comparisons are Tone’s specialty. 401K matches is not included in his advanced degree avg. salary on private workers, but he puts out CPS propoganda.

    Today, CPS just put out a propoganda sheet where they included steps INTO the raises. This has NEVER been included in previous raises until Rahm took office.

    The teacher’s will lose over 3% of their pay if they accept CPS horsecrap offer.

    That is the truth!

    See you on the streets welfare pigs.

  • 346. ChicagoDad  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    @332. The fact that 63 percent of teachers have advanced degrees doesn’t mean much, unless we know how many are real advanced degrees in a real subject (i.e., Masters in Physics, English, Math, Economics, etc) from a real university, and how many are simply “Masters of Education” or some other touchy–feely subject from some low level diploma mill.

    I suspect the latter far outweighs the former.

    Also I’d like a teacher on this blog to have the guts to comment on the inevitable corruption in the public sector union contract negotiating process (post 28)

  • 347. Vetteacher  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Tone is a lying private-sector pig who wants his kids’ schooloin’ on the cheap.

    Rahm is full of shit; he thinks teachers are going to fall for his horseshit offer, but he is sadly mistaken.

    Get your childcare ready for a protracted strike.

    See you whiny little welfare pigs on the street!

  • 348. WY2  |  October 5, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Nope, benefits are listed in a separate column. An annual salary is an annual salary, it has nothing to do with benefits.

  • 349. cpsobsessed  |  October 5, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Ok, on that note I think it’s time to close up this thread. I think we’ve gone over the main points multiple times:
    1. there’s not enough money
    2. teachers deserve/were promised the pension

    If things heat up with the strike next week, we can start a strike-related thread.

    Thanks for all the discussion and information-sharing.




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