Chicago Teachers’ Strike: Day 4

I had originally planned to use a somewhat more inflammatory title for this post but decided to stick with the more neutral title above. Negotiators for the administration and teachers say that they’re making progress:

Negotiators trying to settle the Chicago teachers strike say more than 350,000 students could be back in the classroom by Friday.

“We feel like we’re in a pretty good place, we’ve made a lot of progress today,” Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said as she left contract talks shortly before midnight Wednesday. “We spent a lot of time on evaluation. We still have a lot of work to do but it seems like we’re definitely coming much closer together than we were certainly this morning.”

Lewis said parents should not bank on classes Thursday but said, “Let’s hope for Friday.”

Chicago school board president David Vitale agreed significant progress had been made during talks Wednesday.

“We had really good discussions and proposals on the most difficult issues that we face,” Vitale said. “We’re hopeful we can actually come together around this.

“Unfortunately they’re not going to be back to school tomorrow, and we’ll hope for Friday.”

My off-hand guess is that the differences will not have been settled by the end of the day and that the strike will go on tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a strike by teachers in suburban Lake Forest is also making the news:

For the first time in the district’s history, teachers in Lake Forest High School District 115 went on strike today after failing to reach an agreement over salaries during negotiations that ended just before midnight.

The walkout affects about 1,700 students and about 150 teachers.

The two situations, Lake Forest and Chicago, are not at all comparable. In Chicago the median household income is around $38,000. In Lake Forest the median household income is around $150,000. It’s a wealthy community. I honestly don’t know how Chicago will afford the agreement that will eventually be agreed on. Chicago’s problem is “can’t afford it”. I can only assume that property taxes will rise substantially. Lake Forest has repeatedly rejected plans to increase taxes in order to pay teachers more. There it’s a case of “don’t wanna”.

So far Chicago has avoided urban decay of the sort that has reduced Detroit or Pittsburgh to shadows of their former selves. Detroit and Pittsburgh didn’t collapse because they didn’t pay teachers enough. They collapsed because people couldn’t afford to live there any more. No jobs is one way that can happen but it’s not the only way. Just being too darned expensive is another.

I’m guessing we’re going to see a 20%-30% increase in property taxes in Chicago even as property values continue to fall. That won’t just affect homeowners but renters as well. There’s no way that incomes will rise to cover that. As to what effect that will have on the city, we’ll just need to wait to find out.

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