NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Chicago teachers are on strike. Never mind that these are among the worst-performing schools in the country, and that a teacher’s median salary there is $76,000 before benefits. For kids even a day spent with a mediocre teacher is better than a day where kids’ time is simply unaccounted for.
What always bothered me about teacher-strikes is that it puts families in an impossible situation. In a two-working-parents home, what’s supposed to happen when a 3rd grade son and a kindergarten-daughter are suddenly not in school? Should mom or dad simply take a day off from work? How long is a boss supposed to tolerate that?
You have no idea how frantic it is for a family to arrange child-care-on-the-fly. My family found out last year during the Wausauteachers’ sick-out. Sometimes there aren’t a lot of good options. Call grandma? Arrange for an emergency sitter? Hope that a 6th or 7th grader is old enough to watch younger siblings, and hope nothing goes wrong?
These situations are fundamentally different than snow days, where bosses tend to give leeway because of the weather. And it’s nothing like summer, where childcare can be planned months in advance.
Teachers – our public servants – are letting thousands of families scramble. Why? In Chicago, it’s not so much about pay. The school board is already offering $400-million more in salary and benefits over the next four years. The biggest sticking-point is teacher evaluation – how we can measure how teachers, and what we can do with those who are ineffective. The closer these inconvenienced families look at the strike, the less they’ll like the reasons behind it. But that analysis will come later. They’re too busy scrambling to find someone to watch their kids.