CPS Strike

Jack McDermott

Executive Online Managing Editor|

350,000 students will enjoy a surprise week off due to the Chicago Public School (CPS) teacher’s strike. Teachers are asking for all CPS to be invested in equally, reduced class sizes, an increase in social workers and better salary and benefits.

“Prospect is like night and day compared to Chicago public schools,” said previous CPS teacher Elizabeth Joiner.

    Joiner often had classes starting with 45 students or more even though her contract stated no more than 28 students for each classroom.  The only reason classes would get smaller as the year went on was because students would stop showing up.
As for an increase in social workers, Benito Juarez High School, a school on the South West side of Chicago, did not have any.
Joiner, who taught at Benito Juarez, said that the three counselors at the school of over 2,000 filled in as social workers when needed.
Joiner also agrees with the desire for all CPS to be invested in equally.
“If  you look at a high school like Northside College Prep and then you look at Juarez, I honestly taught in an art supply closet once,” said Joiner.
The art closet had no chairs or ventilation but these were just the conditions that some unlucky CPS teachers had to deal with.
However, the pay and benefits are relatively good compared to the rest of the country.  According to ABC news, the average CPS teacher’s salary is $71,236.  The average salary of an Illinois teacher is $64,978, according to the Illinois Interactive Report Card of Northern Illinois University.
Still, CPS is asking for a 16% increase in money costing an additional 400 million dollars of taxpayer money.
Joiner says that she agrees with the strike because it will help students in the end.  Studies by the Center for Public Education in class size have shown that student achievement rises linearly as class size drops.  With the increase in funding teachers will also have better access to needed supplies like whiteboards.
“I think the CPS is way too big, it’s like a huge animal and they’re trying to service all these demographics of income, races and cultures,” said Joiner. “You can’t treat the whole beast with one medicine.”
Splitting up the district would take longer than teachers are willing to wait and lead to other issues, so for now, the decision to strike looks like the right choice for CPS teachers.