Fanatically Supporting Education

by Dave Schuler on June 28, 2014

The Chicago Board of Education is laying off more than 1,000 teachers and school staff:

Chicago Public Schools officials told 550 teachers and 600 more school staff Thursday that they’re out of a job.

The number of dreaded phone calls being made by principals is based on how many kids CPS officials project will show up on the first day next fall.

“The staffing changes are driven most directly by declining student enrollment,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a conference call with reporters.

This follows on the heels of thousands being fired last year with thousands more the year before. To some extent this is an annual ritual—they lay off 1,000, 600 are hired back.

But it’s part of a pattern that’s been going on for a decade. As I’ve documented before, education spending in Chicago continues to increase even as the number of students being educated shrinks. If the extra money were being spent on more teachers and schools, it would be one thing but it’s not. It’s being spent on former teachers and more staff being paid higher wages.

I think it was George Santayana who defined fanatacism as redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim. Using that gauge I think it’s fair to say that here in Chicago we support the schools fanatically.

On a related topic, Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union is being reported to be seriously considering running for mayor:

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said Thursday she is “seriously thinking” about mounting a formal challenge to Rahm Emanuel.

“I’m a little sick of the mayor and I don’t see anyone stepping up,” Lewis told the Chicago Sun-Times by telephone Thursday evening. “I am seriously thinking about it.”

She denied a WMAQ-Channel 5 report that she has met with election lawyers about her own campaign possibilities, saying she has spoken with attorneys about CTU members who are running for office.

Lewis has made no bones about wanting to oust Emanuel, with whom she’s sparred since he took office in 2011 and who supposedly shouted, “F – - – you, Lewis” in an early meeting with her.

The mayor doesn’t really need to worry about losing the campaign contributions the CTU represents—much of his election funding comes from outside Chicago. However, opposition from a serious opponent might well present a problem. It might cut into the time he’d otherwise be devoting to getting whatever Democratic candidate is running in 2016 elected.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Modulo Myself June 28, 2014 at 10:18 am

Education is overall such a financial bubble, public or private. Here in New York, we pay 500K to the person in charge of charter schools, who just happens to be a former politician. A couple months ago, I sat down for a lunchtime seminar on grant-writing for non-profit. The likeable person doing the sad Powerpoint handed out a real budget for a program that would have senior citizens teach low-performing literacy skills. The budget was 40K. 10K of it was for paying someone 250 an hour to instruct the senior citizens. I’m assuming that this 10K went right into the hands of some academic who had paid the proper dues. What a scam.

I had a girlfriend who was a teacher at a NYC school and she was getting her masters at Columbia, because you have to get a masters to be teacher. One day, for a class, she had to attend some sort of education meeting near City Hall. She dragged me along with her. The first hour and a half of the meeting was spent viciously arguing about the notes from the last meeting. It was absolutely insane. I have never witnessed adults behave like that. There were a few audience members, who seemed to be there because they wished to deal with some issue. At a certain point, someone in the audience just yelled “Jesus Fucking Christ,” and someone else started laughing uncontrollably. We fled. It might still be going.

jan June 28, 2014 at 10:48 am

That was a frustrating story to read Modulo. However, it seems a reality everywhere that money in public education starts rolling out at the top — administrative costs. What’s left dribbles to the bottom — classroom supplies etc. That’s why so much has to be provided by parent donations, volunteers in order to close the gaps of day-to-day educational needs.

CStanley June 28, 2014 at 10:59 am

money in public education starts rolling out at the top — administrative costs

Trickle down education reform!

... June 28, 2014 at 2:09 pm

If they’re running out of students in Chicago schools, they can always import some from all those illegals flooding over the border.

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