September 10th, 2012
06:08 PM ET

Comments: Union teachers striking when other people can't even find work?

Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. Here's some comments we noticed today.

In a tight economy, the sight of striking teachers in Chicago has many readers seeing red. On CNN iReport, we're seeing photos from the picket lines. Should teachers be asking for more when people have less? Sam Chaltain writes in an education opinion piece that the issues in this situation apply well beyond the heartland.

My View: The whole world is watching Chicago, once again

Some readers who posted comments wondered if teachers see themselves as above the standards of other professions, while others wondered how performance should be measured.

Chris: " 'Teachers want job security.' – That says it all. Why should teachers get job security while the rest of the working world has to *perform* to achieve job security? And sometimes performance isnt even enough... Sometimes the way a system works is just ineffective, and it takes a dislocation of employees onb the journey to make it right, regardless of how effective those employees are individually. I've seen this happen in the business world- fantastically effective colleagues have lost their positions, and it's broken my heart to watch it happen- but then I've watched the business gets stronger and more effective as a result. 'Job security' is a figment of the past. Get over it, and work to make yourself relevent assuming you lose your job tomorrow."

Shelly: "No one debates accountability and evaluation. It is the terms of what does it mean to be an effective teacher? If we hold teachers accountable to student performance on a standardized assessment given on one day, shouldn't we also hold doctors accountable to patient wellness rate on a checkup day, regardless of if the patient took the advice to lose weight or exercise or take their medications? Shouldn't we blame farmers' poor yields in a drought on the farmers' incompetence? People hate teachers lately. If teaching is such a cake-walk job, please go to college and earn your degree so you can join in!"

daveyoung: "When you work for the taxpayers, you have no right to unionize. End of story."

This commenter applauded the efforts of teachers. CNN iReport is asking educators to share why they teach.

aflarend: "Great job, Chicago Teachers! You are standing up for what is right in the classroom. You know that tests are narrowing the curriculum and that they only measure a small part of what a child learns academically in school. As a graduate of a Chicago Public school in the 1980s and one on the far South Side, I know first hand the challenges that you face. And I know your successes since I earned advanced degrees in engineering, thanks in part to several inspiring teachers. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication. And thank you for standing up for students and teachers."

Some said the schools are poorly managed, and parents need to step up and do their jobs.

Barbra & Jack Donachy: "By and large, Chicago's public schools have been a mess for a very long time as one reform after another has ultimately gone nowhere. Like his friend President Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems to be taking a tack that puts too much emphasis on standardized test scores and places too much blame on teachers for the failure many of Chicago's schools. It is frustrating that, like Mr. Obama, the mayor has given up attempts to get to the root of the problems in our education system (horrible leadership from school and district administrators and the school boards that supposedly oversee that leadership) and is instead desperately hacking at the leaves around the fringes of meaningful school reform while pointing a wrongly accusatorial finger at teachers. No company, no team, no military unit, no group of teachers can rise above the level of their leadership for any length of time, and until we make positive changes in terms of getting better superintendents, better principals, and better school boards our public schools will continue to founder.

J: " 'The real problem' are parents, not district administrators, not school boards, and not teachers, when it comes to test scores. Parents are a child's real teacher and most are no where involved in their children's academic life. Stop making excuses that other people are responsible for educating our children. PARENTS PARENTS PARENTS. I am so tired of people making excuses on this subject – get involved with your children's education and recognize that you, the parent, are ultimately responsible and you only have yourself to blame."

The main story about the strike got thousands of comments from readers angry about the news.

Chicago teachers strike; students and parents scramble

This reader said union members need to think about the source of the money they're asking for, and referred to them as "union thugs."

hulsey76: "Teachers love to blubber about how they aren't in it for the money, it's about the kids ... until it's time to negotiate a new contract. Cities are broke, parents are broke, people are out of work and property values are in the gutter - just where do these union thugs think the money is going to come from? I guess we are all in this together, unless you're in a union; then the economy and suffering of other middle class people is of no concern to you."

madhatter91: "I made more bartending just a few nights a week then these people make educating our children full time. Oh yes, Mrs. Jensen with her fourth grade biology class is clearly a 'thug.' Christ, give them enough money to live on and think before typing."

This person suggested having school board members try being teachers.

bestamerican: "I agree with the teachers when it comes to those evaluations ... So the kids in wealthy areas have family support, people who care about them and teach them along the road of life, while in the worst neighborhoods the children are not taught anything from the parents. that's a big question on the plural there. Most often the child lives with his or her mother who is a total loser and doesn't care about anyone except themselves. No way would I want my job to be on the spot because I end up teaching the worst of the worst and the school system wants to hold me accountable for this child who has no chance at all. Get a grip Chicago school system. How about we do it this way, for every teacher you let go, let a school board member take over the class room, and if they can't change it then the teacher is reinstated with full pay ... How about that Chicago?"

This person claims to have a teacher for a wife, and says he opposes the teachers' strike.

PhilTheDrill: "As a husband of a teacher, I know full well that it is my responsibility to be the breadwinner in our household. My wife's income alone, on top of her student loan debt, would be just enough to support her on her own. It would be tough, but it isn't exactly minimum wage, and she gets better benefits that most workers in this country. Together, however, we do more than well enough. My wife is a brilliant teacher. She knew that a career in education is not a high-paying career without the prospect of moving up the ladder to higher-paying positions. She could have pursued any other career, but she chose to be a teacher. She is making a sacrifice because she cares about the future of the children that she teaches. Being a teacher is a noble profession. It isn't a career to pursue for material reasons. These Chicago teachers should be ashamed. To strike over pay raises and benefits not being sufficient when millions are unemployed or live on minimum wage is abhorrent."

Several readers mentioned the 1981 strike by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association, which led to a confrontation with then-President Ronald Reagan.

deb0155: "Rahm Emanuel should do with the teachers as Reagan did with the air traffic controllers in the '80s. If you don't show up for work - you're fired! Believe me, there would be thousands of people in line just licking their chops for teaching jobs. The City of Chicago is broke - you can't get money out of a stone. They are fortunate they have jobs, pensions, health care and holidays and the summers off. Many people have student loans - and they are not out there picketing - they are out working or looking for jobs!"

Dolph: "The Chicago school district should pull a Reagan and fire all the teachers that don't come back to work and replace them with the scores of teachers still looking for jobs."

One reader, who claims to be a teacher, wrote a lengthy description of challenges they face.

FishOnLegs: "The cries coming from people in society who complain about how greedy we are as teachers, makes me cringe. I've read hundreds of comments on various websites telling us to change careers if we don't like it. I've often yelled back at the screen in support of people who say, 'If you think teaching is easy then you do it.' It's so true."

Private school was the answer for this reader.

bfkohl: "This morning I watched an interview with a Chicago teacher's union representative and she stated that they didn't foresee any problems for parents in securing daycare for their children. She further said that a city the size of Chicago was full of resources and kids she spoke with this morning were outside school 'for something to do,' not because they had no place to go or anyone to care for them. This exemplifies that they haven't a clue, and furthermore, don't care. They claim it is all about the children, but everyone knows they have a sense of entitlement regardless of how the rest of the population is faring. If you're lucky enough to have a job, you would jump at a 4% raise. As far as contributing more to their benefits, welcome to the world. The rest of us have been doing it for years, and many have gone without them altogether. Myself, I sent my kids to private school and it was worth every dime. Not only were they better educated, but there were no strikes to contend with. Maybe that's why most Chicago public school teachers also send their kids to private schools."

What do you think about the Chicago teacher strike? What can be done about education? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on Or share your photos and video commentary via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Comments • Economy • Education • Illinois • Taxes • U.S.
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Portland tony

    Perhaps those who cannot find work and are complaining about the teacher's strike should have paid attention when they were in school. There are jobs out there, but no one knows how to do them.

    September 10, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    I'm really sorry J.j. Got to get back to what I'm doing. Later.

    September 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ancient Texan

    What caught my attention...the average income of Chicago teachers was something like $ 74,000 per year and the average income of the population of taxpayers was $47,000 per year. $13,000 per student per year ? Wow!

    September 10, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Well then.....Let's pay them $47K and see what happens to the quality of teachers Chicago attracts!

      September 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • hasholes

      You may have heard one side of the twisted fact.....Teachers make $71,200 after close to 14 years of service!!!!!! 13.7 to be exact..........

      September 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • hasholes

      Let's look at the cost of living in Chicago, highest property taxes, highest gas prices. I must be missing a hundred more things

      September 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • hasholes

      ?????????????? 13000 per kid????????????????? Our kids don't have enough desks to sit in and our books came in 2 weeks late!!!!!! oh forgot, not enough books for everyone......dang

      September 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rascal Rabble Local Union Steward're a closet union buster...barnes and noble are soooo paranoid you can't find a book anywhere on their shelves about unionizing...worker rights...cnn is notso liberal...heh? think likah republican dress likah democrat...

    September 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay jay

      call a union guy to fix something and you'll be waiting. A 1 hour job turns into eight. It takes 3 different people to do one simple job.

      September 10, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Jay jay:
      Yeah, okay.

      Glad to see you.

      September 10, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rascal Rabble Local Union Steward

      unions are regulated too...bad unions can be held accountable for their under representing and misrepresenting their members... employers, owners of businesses, and corporations DO NOT have excellent record of being faitoon wages or benefits to their employees or see labor issues and wages issues exist today...remember basketball players and owners...even though the worker generate billions of dollars for an organization you'll be lucky if they 1% of their operating budget and receieve much less of the profits...

      September 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason D

      I'm not a fan of overreaching abusive unions any more then overreaching abusive corporations..its down to the leadership..if a unionis abusive to its members or acting to benefit itself at the expense of its members or other workers in the same sector then change out the leadership.

      They do tend to be voted in by their members and can be replaced just as easily....if the members dont believe in democracy then they shouldnt bother saying anything when their leaders make deals with bsses for personal gain that robs their own members and believe me some unions do that every day.

      Let some employees get fired or forced out of work because they get some back scratching....this doesnt mean the companies arnt satans spawn but the people there to souly defend you turning their back on you are an even bigger insult..after they took your money then let you blow in the wind

      September 11, 2012 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      @Jay jay,you're just a union wanne be ain't yah,you couldn't be union because you'd have to be democrate,yah know the intelligent ones...And no it doesn't take an hour,most of your union workers are craftsman,take pride in their crafts,more I can say about some of the " rat"work Ive had to repair as a union worker.Jay ,you couldn't hold my welders pouch,stinger buddy,but if ya don't mind getting dirty or hanging in dangerous places like reactor containment buildings I'd teach ya!!Until then big boy ya better zip it and that's the truth!!

      September 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay jay

      Pete you didn't deny that a one hour job turns into an eight hour job because I'm right. Now as far as gettin dirty on a job. I've worked around reactors too. I currently get dirtier than dirty gets at my second job and then come home to clean up and go get some sweet tail. All without makin the union bosses rich off of my hard work...

      September 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • wyl5326

      it takes 3 Union electricians to replace a busted light bulb – 2 would be holding up 1 and turn him around in circle as he holds bulb into socket ! that's the reputation that Unions have earned and this strike only exacerbates that joke !

      September 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    Teach your kids at home. What is wrong with that concept?

    September 11, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Good idea ....If your parents aren't high school dropouts or both have to work to make ends meet!

      September 11, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      The same people who depend on the schools to be their daycare are not going to quit their job and stay home to teach their kid...
      Their is nothing wrong with home schooling your kid, but it isn't the answer for the majority of folks...even if they could afford it.

      September 11, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • hasholes

      I like that idea. I will guarantee crying after a week or a month. You will probably throw money at the teachers!!!!

      September 12, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • max3333444555

      so if parents do more teaching at home the teachers can be paid less?

      September 13, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • I met all my kids teachers

      To the "teacher" who was waiting 2 weeks for books .. WHY aren't you on strike for books? No- it's about guaranteed money for work you/your associates are not doing. 85% of the 4th graders can't read. There is SOME fault in your teaching. An E5 sgt with a house & wife gets a collective 47k a year and they have to walk across mine fields.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jason D

    It's sick that on CNBC they are being critical of the teachers striking to get better conditions and yet they defend CEO's and goldman sachs people who devise ways to rob people again and again when they bring down $50k a year as mid level.

    This is what happens when right wingers (which CNBC is infected with right now) become commentators..they are so rabid now that i have to mute the program most of the day and just watch the tickers unless its an actual business story and not their right wing slant..even if one stands up for teachers they shout them down or talk over them.

    Why do people who think its fine for a board member to work one day a month and get hundreds of thousands a year and sit on a dozen boards, explaining you get what you deserve then the people who mould the minds of the future CEO's and garage inventors are not work anything.

    The right hate public workers, until they come to the military, they want rid of firemen, police, tachers, road workers, etc yet want to give the military two trillion more then the millitary even ask for, CNBC is becoming the unsanitary extremists that fox has become..and this is about 6 presenters and their ganging up extremism...defend the 1% and attack the most important of the they can give even more tax breaks to the 1%

    September 11, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I would imagine Fox is even worse, but I'm not going to check because I don't want my ears to bleed.

      September 11, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    Your right banasy, it's a radical concept, too late. Yet Chicago doesn't or never has had the power of introspect to actually clean and rid the inner city of drugs and gangs. The first place a child goes, after he drops out of school, is the social family of the gang. Parents act concerned. Teachers are shocked. But does the city care? Does Obama care?

    September 11, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Why are you bringing up Obama, Jeff?
      Do you think that all of these problems magically appeared when he was elected?
      Do you think that prior to that, inner cities were poverty and drug-free?
      Do you think Chicago is the only city to HAVE an "inner city"?
      Cleveland disagrees.
      Columbus disagrees.
      Chicago is trying to clean up the inner cities, as evidenced by the razing of the worst public housing...but that just drove many to Indiana, and with it, the problems related to poverty.
      I have my strong doubts this is the reall JF; but I answered anyway.

      September 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      @ Frank,this a concern that started before this president and it'll go on long after till more stringent laws and guidelines are imposed on kids,especially ones that don't go to school.Right now there's bigger fish to fry and yes as banasy said what does Pres.Obama always have something to do with it,wasn't it Bush with his "no child left behind a failure",please enlighten me!!

      September 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Portland tony

    Speaking of home schooling, lack of teachers, overcrowded schools, lack of funds for new buildings etc..has the OREGON Department of Education offering FREE internet based home schooling from K thru 12 grade levels. Where's all that lotto money going that was supposed to finance our schools?

    September 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    Forget Obama, he has nothing in this. No all these problems didn't magiclly appear. They were never poverty and drug free.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    Now what is an unemployed iron worker going to teach?

    September 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • wyl5326

      teach kids real jobs of iron workers !

      September 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RayinKuwait

    Bad timing. All the government should do is make and offer and say "take it or leave it". Then fill the empty positions with those who are willing to take the job for less.

    September 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • wyl5326

      agree and fully support idea ! Do another Reagan-era wholesale firing of Unionists who are so grubby !

      September 13, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Del

    Chicago Public School teachers are arguably the highest paid teachers out of all the major cities in the United States, yet they still want more money. They also want job security without being held accountable to their student's test scores. Ridiculous. No one should be able to keep their job without satisfactorily completing their duties.

    They also want adequate staff at their schools. This would actually really help the struggling CPS school system and students. Unfortunately, the reality is that there is no room in the budget for a larger staff when the average salary for a CPS teacher is around 70k-75k.

    September 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Adam Fogal

    Should people be giving food to the kids who can't afford to eat,but have free lunch at school?

    September 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bill Lynch

    Higher teachers salaries will result in more money being pumped back into the local economy. Higher Mitt Romney tax deductions means more money moved to the Cayman Islands, more French vacations, and more foreign sports cares being purchased. The Math is pretty easy for me.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • wyl5326

      higher spending means higher waste of taxes and nothing to do with helping economy as waste is always a waste by any means. watch uneaten canteen food thrown away in schools !

      September 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    We can lead a horse to water but we can't make him drink. Teacher's can't force parents to care about education. Teacher's can't make a child grow up in a good two-parent home with decent income and food on the table. Yet we blame teachers for these problems. I was a republican until my wife became a teacher and I saw how much time and energy she put towards her students yet others criticized her as a selfish greedy person.

    Why is there no talk of limiting social benefits to parents whose children don't show up at school.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Limit social beneifts....YEAH. Its called welfare, by the way.

      September 17, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
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