Wednesday, February 08, 2006

End Teacher Strikes

End teacher strikes

In his recent letter to Crain's, Arnold Aprill claimed it was "no secret" that Illinois "ranks at the bottom of the country in funding education." Of course it's "no secret" because even the latest rankings reported by the National Education Assn. (NEA), the union representing most teachers outside Chicago, show that it's patently false.

According to the NEA rankings for 2005, Illinois spends the ninth-highest amount per pupil among the states. The report also showed that our spending is about 20% higher than the national average.

The NEA report identified why our children are shortchanged in programs such as art and other educational enrichments: disproportionately high staff salaries and raises.

The study reported that instructional staff in Illinois have the third-highest salaries among the states. Perhaps more troubling is the revelation that average Illinois instructional staff salaries grew at the highest rate of any state last year at 5.5%. This level of salary increase is unsustainable from any state or local revenue stream.

The solution to this problem is technically simple, but politically difficult. The General Assembly needs to prohibit teacher strikes in suburban and Downstate schools as they are in Chicago and 41 other states. It also needs to prohibit school boards from approving labor contracts for which they do not have a secured funding source and eliminate tenure protection for poorly performing senior staff.

Bob Shelstrom
Southland Education Watch
Palos Park

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