The average firefighter salary in Chicago is $49,489. Registered nurses in the Windy City make an average of $66,322 a year, and a policeman will earn an average salary of $73,130.
But Teachers in Chicago are asking for a base salary of nearly $100,000.
The Chicago Public Schools cancelled classes for nearly 300,000 students beginning on Thursday, Oct. 17, and joined the District Service Employees International Union Local 37 in a strike.
Around 25,000 Chicago teachers and 7,000 support staff are negotiating deals regarding salaries, class sizes, and the number of support staff in schools, such as librarians and nurses.
Chicago teachers should stop being selfish and go back to work for the sake of their students, while the Chicago Teachers Union fights for improving class sizes and increasing support staff. The union should abandon the fight for a six-figure base salary and go back to work for the sake of their students.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has asked the teachers to return to work for the students’ benefit and for practical reasons.
“CPS is not flush with cash,” the mayor told CNN. “The fact is there is no more money. Period.”
The Chicago School District is the third-largest district in the country. Although all of the school buildings are open for students to go to during the day, students are not being taught anything. They can go to their school buildings for a government-provided breakfast, lunch, and supper to take home.
Adequate nutrition is necessary to a healthy lifestyle, but it’s not the same thing as enriching children’s lives through quality education. The teachers refusing to go back to their classrooms undermine everything they claim to be fighting for.
About 75 percent of students in the district qualify for a free or reduced lunch. The teachers claim they are fighting for these students and not their salaries.
If teachers cared about the well-being of their students, they would ditch marching around the streets and go back to their classrooms. The Teachers Union is more than capable of working out a deal for the teachers.
Chicago does need to address the issue that nine out of every 10 majority-black schools do not have librarians, and many schools don’t have a full-time nurse. Again, the union can settle these issues, and the teachers should go back to work and provide an education for those students.
Of the 15 issues the Chicago Teachers Union are fighting for, they have reached tentative agreements with the CPS as of Oct. 22 on seven talking points: homeless students, pre-kindergarten classes, charters, counselors, support staff pipeline, sanctuary cities, and bathrooms.
The two parties are still discussing the terms of the remaining eight issues: length of contract, pay, health benefits, preparation time, staffing, class size, special education, and sports.
As talks continue to drag on, CPS has offered 3 percent raises for each of the first three years of the contract and 3.5 percent raises for each of the last two years. But CTU has asked for 5 percent raises in each of the three years.
If teachers continue to wear their red and waste their time holding up homemade signs, athletes will be denied the possibility of competing in state tournaments.
Alejandro Sanchez, a senior soccer player at Solorio Academy High School told Chicago MSNBC the teachers’ strike has prevented his team’s chances to play for a state title.
“I was looking forward to this,” Sanchez told MSNBC. “It’s actually pretty sad because I didn’t expect my season (to end this way).”
At least three schools, including Solorio, have petitioned the Illinois High School Association, asking them to use their strike policy so students who started playing in state competition can play during the strike.
Unfortunately, The IHSA did not hear the appeal, and issued a statement saying that the CPS has taken a position not to allow students to compete during the strike.
“Because the CPS have taken a position to not allow students and teams to continue participating when our policy would have allowed them to, the board will not be considering the appeal hearing request unless the CTU strike is settled,” the organization said in a statement.
In addition to preventing students from competing in state competitions, the strike has largely been politicized by the Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Members of the Chicago DSA have taken an active role in assisting Chicago teachers and the union, making the strike more about a political message rather than improving conditions for Chicago schools.
Will Bloom, a Chicago DSA member who is coordinating with the CTU, told the Chicago Sun Times a few of his “comrades” are also in the teachers union, adding many of them are “very active” in Chicago DSA’s labor-organizing branch.
After gaining support from presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I‑Vt., in 2016, the organization increased its influence in American politics with the elections of DSA members U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D‑N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D‑Mich. The DSA and its various chapters now have more than 50,000 members.
Chicago DSA used its organizing efforts to help elect five members to the City Council in a series of elections that have expanded its power in Chicago and moved the body further left. DSA members make up more than one-tenth of the council.
Even as the DSA uses this strike to gain more national attention, teachers need to return to classrooms and let the union hash it out with Lightfoot.
Julia Mullins is a junior studying politics and is the city news editor for The Collegian.