“We want more”

By Tom Quiner

The Chicago teachers union is honest: they’re greedy.

Today’s Associated Press story quotes union president Karen Lewis about her members:

“They want to know if there is anything more they can get.”

The teacher’s median pay is $71,000 plus lavish benefits, not exactly chump change. The mayor offered them a 15% pay raise, about 8 times the inflation rate.

No way, said the union. We want a 35% raise.

These teachers have a high opinion of their abilities. Are they producing superior outcomes? No. Seventy-nine percent of eighth grade Chicago students are not reading at grade level. Eighty percent are not performing at grade level in math.

With these results as their bargaining chip, the union strikes, leaving 400,000 kids without educators and parents scrambling on what to do with their kids with the school year on hold.

You can quickly see a problem with this picture. Whose interests does the teachers union represent? Teachers.

Whose interests does the mayor represent? The city’s economic interests and budget.

Who represents the kids?

Clearly, the teachers do not have to deliver a quality product in order to get paid well. There’s no accountability. I have no problem with mutual self-interest (known as “greed” to liberals). But what makes it work is accountability.

Private businesses have to be accountable to their customers. If labor costs get so high that their customers can’t afford the product, they seek new efficiencies, or else everyone loses.

Accountability could be easily introduced into the marketplace of education with school choice and voucher programs. These free market ideas are adamantly opposed by the same teachers’ unions producing mixed results around the country.

There are good teachers. Lots of them. However, without accountability, unions force their members to lose site of the goal of educating our posterity. The focus gets skewed.

School choice and voucher systems would get us refocused.


  1. Shawn Pavlik on September 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    35%?? That is ridiculous! I am a teacher, and the MOST I have ever recd as a pay raise is about 4-5%. I refuse to belong to the NEA because they are not concerned with what education should truly be about, student achievement. They only exist to pad the wallets of their members, and push the next liberal cause. On their “suggested reading list” is the book “Rules for Radicals” written by Saul Alinsky. No thanks to the NEA.

    • quinersdiner on September 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      What are your thoughts on vouchers or school choice?