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  • Raising Protestors… A Stalking Horse

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on May 9th, 2010 (All posts by )


    On May 5th I was walking through the Loop when I saw a long line of kids chanting and holding signs. Per this article it was an organized walk-out of about 700 Chicago Public School students to protest education cuts needed to close Illinois’ massive budget deficit. The “no 37” signs are referencing the fact that class sizes may go up to 37 students as a result of these cuts.

    I read the article and the “journalist” who is covering the protests talks to students and they mention how their after-school programs are getting cut and that more students in a classroom means that the teachers will have less time to spend with each of the students.

    What was interesting to me is that the article DID NOT mention that there were many teachers and non-students among the protesters. I could see them in the crowd, although the majority of the protesters were students. Obviously the teachers have their own motives for pushing back on financial cuts, including their own pay and job security. It does look much more convenient to have the students out front rather than the unionized teachers demanding that, although the state is broke, and their pensions are a significant cause of what is wrecking the state financially, that they shouldn’t bear any of the fiscal belt-tightening that is inevitable for Illinois in the future.

    I also want to know if this message of teaching the students to agitate for more taxpayer funds is really a lesson that we should be imparting; the governor is proposing a 33% tax hike and he puts education on the block first because he knows that it is the part of the budget that will rile up the largest part of his political base (a variant of the “Washington Monument” strategy), rather than actually trying to tackle the core issues that are driving our state into financial insolvency. The students are pawns in this game, and demanding that taxes be raised on other people rather than sharing in the communal pain after our fiscal profligacy is a sad lesson to be teaching.

    Cross posted at LITGM

     

    7 Responses to “Raising Protestors… A Stalking Horse”

    1. shannon Love Says:

      I really have to wonder at the morality of teachers using their students in the way. I can only image the howls of protest that would erupt if rightwing teachers dragged a bunch of their students out to a protest.

      I think this is part of institutional hijack wherein leftist infiltrate institutions and then prestige and power of those institutions to advance their personal political beliefs. This really crosses the line, using minor children as political stalking horses.

    2. Marty Says:

      Other than college I’ve lived in or near Chicago my entire 60 years, mostly in. And in all the threatened teacher strikes or school shutdowns or threatened budget crises, there are only two responses from the students and the parents, the clients or customers, if you will, of the school system:

      1. rising seniors worry about their college applications, and

      2. parents worry asbout losing the free baby-sitting.

      No one, and I mean NO ONE, worries that anyone will atually lose educational quality.

      Tells you all you need to know, doesn’t it?

    3. Bill Waddell Says:

      Lighten up, Carl. Your student days are the time when you are supposed to experiment with alchohol and the opposite sex, TP houses, cut class, drive cars irresponsibly and be a liberal – then when you have worked all of the stupidity out of your system you graduate, grow up, join society and become a conservative.

    4. elambend Says:

      If I were the parents of those children, I would be livid. They do not come to school to be used as pawns in the service of over-paid public servants.

    5. Ginny Says:

      What is the percentage of administrators, people on “sick” leave, etc. to teachers paid by the Chicago school system? How many people are employed by the teachers’ union to represent the teachers – and paid from the teachers’ salaries? How much is paid out to the administrators of the retirement accounts? I think that minimum class stuff has some validity – but not as much as is claimed for it. And I’m damn sure that the 37 number is also the result of layers and layers of administration.

      Unlike small businesses, these systems have little incentive to keep the overhead low.

      In our state and university systems, if we opt out, we help support private enterprise. Not that the schools don’t want to mess with that some: two years ago they narrowed the groups from which we could choose. My husband could no longer go with a private guy vetted thirty years ago and I could no longer go with Edward Jones. The reasons given were that some people wouldn’t like it if there was a large discrepancy at retirement between plans. The fact that one would think college faculty would like to take some responsibility for their retirement was apparently not a factor – only that some of us might be covetous and so none of us should be responsible. Still and all, I suspect there is a hell of a lot less featherbedding in either of our systems than in the Chicago school pension system.

    6. Marty Says:

      Ginny,

      IIRC, instructional employees, meaning teachers and teacher’s aides, are a bit less than half the total headcount. I don’t know about people on LT disability. The overall budget, excluding capital, is somewhere north of $12K/student.

      I have been told, but have not seen published stats, that the single largest source of teachers is Chicago State University’s ed school. As scary as that sounds for the quality of the teachers and educational administrators who come from that pool, the reality is worse.

      I think Daley really does want to improve the schools, and has tried within the limits of what practical politics allows, but the dysfunction is so deep and longstanding that there is probably no answer except surgery so radical as to be politically impossible.

    7. Jersey Jim Says:

      …and when they graduate high school, these CHILDREN will be at university, where they will sit by the hundreds in an huge auditorium, as some underpaid teacher’s assistant drones on at them about some P.C. nonsense. While the student loans pile up and accrue interest. At USD 40 k annually.