Thursday, May 5, 2016


Revenue is the Problem Teachers Union Needs Resolved

By Jim Vail
Special to

Rumors are flying high these days that the city is ready to cancel classes and end the school year to save money.

The Chicago Teachers Union told the delegates at the monthly meeting Wednesday night that they do not plan to go on strike in May.

“A strike is unlikely if the board doesn’t impose one,” CTU VP Jesse Sharkey told the delegates.

However, Sharkey said the district can cancel up to ten school days in June and cut the school year short.

The financial crisis is severe enough that the union says if it isn’t solved, massive layoffs and school closings could be just around the corner.

The mainstream media is reporting the mayor’s line that the funding crisis lies solely in Springfield where a budget battle between the governor and speaker is holding up almost $400 million that should go to the Chicago Public Schools.

However, the union says that the district is looking at a $1 billion deficit, and this is not being addressed.

The bulk of the funding the union is proposing would force businesses and the wealthy to pay via taxes.

This is opposed by the businessmen and rich who do not want to pay.

“It’s a financial crisis by design,” Sharkey told the delegates. “They use this to justify cutting our pensions.”

In 1995 when Mayor Richard Daley took over the schools via mayoral control, he did not pay into the teachers’ pension fund for 10 years when it was 100% funded. Instead he funded his pet projects through debt, and now those payments are due.

In the focus on the state, the following serious revenue proposals are not getting any attention in the mainstream media: 1)   Implementing a financial transaction tax that could raise a few billion dollars as was done in New York  2)    Suing the banks that are costing the city $50 to $100 million in toxic swap penalties (other cities have successfully sued  3)    Passing a millionaires tax and a progressive tax in Springfield that would raise a few billion dollars (both did not pass)

Instead, CPS is demanding that the teachers and school children pay for the crisis.

This is a class war.

One teacher asked the union leadership what is the bottom line for the union when it comes to deciding whether or not to walk off the job come next fall.
Sharkey said 1) No increased class sizes that would result in laying off or downsizing the teaching force for next year, 2) No pay cut and 3) Keep good on earlier promises for protections such as no more charter schools or school closures.

“We know that they always seem to find money when they need it,” Sharkey said.

He mentioned multi-millionaire projects such as the corrupt $20 million principal training no-bid contract that will send former CPS chief to prison and the proposed Star Wars museum that the mayor is pushing (the museum proposal was just recently defeated).

I am a delegate and I publish an education news blog. 

An Education Week reporter contacted me and said isn’t the revenue issue too complex.

I said the revenue issue is the heart of the matter. It is a question of whether or not the public school system will continue to function, with a unionized teaching force and programs to support the children.

This fight is not just about a contract. It is about forcing the city and state to fund its public institutions, and who will bear the cost- the 1% or the rest of us.

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