ChicagoTeachers Union Demands$50B Contract Amid Crime Surge

The Chicago Teachers Union is seeking a $50 billion contract with 9% annual cost of living adjustments and social issue provisions. The demand comes as violent crime in Chicago Public Schools surged 26% in 2023, with only 8% of incidents resulting in arrests.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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ChicagoTeachers Union Demands$50B Contract Amid Crime Surge

ChicagoTeachers Union Demands$50B Contract Amid Crime Surge

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is seeking a staggering $50 billion contract, including 9% annual cost of living adjustments, workload reduction initiatives, and a range of social issue provisions. The demands come as violent crime in Chicago Public Schools surged by 26% in 2023, with 224 incidents reported across 163 schools.

The outcome of these contract negotiations will have significant implications for the allocation of resources in the Chicago public school system, potentially affecting the quality of education and student safety. Furthermore, the union's demands and the city's response will set a precedent for future labor negotiations and education policy decisions in Chicago and beyond.

Under the proposed contract, the average teacher salary would rise from $67,718 to around $95,000 by 2028, a 36% increase above the national average. The union is also pushing for initiatives to convert unused school facilities into housing for migrant families, allocate $2,000 per migrant student for support services, hire "newcomer liaisons," mandate "queer competent" training, install gender-neutral bathrooms, and cover gender-affirming healthcare and abortion for staff and dependents.

The demands have sparked concerns over the allocation of funds and the impact on academic results. Despite Chicago Public Schools spending over $21,000 per student, far above the national average, only 21% of eighth-grade students are proficient in reading. CTU President Stacy Davis Gates, who has faced criticism for sending her own son to a private Catholic school, stated, "That's audacity. That's Chicago," in response to the $50 billion contract demand.

Why this matters: The contract negotiations come as the city grapples with a surge in school violence. Last year, only 8% of the 224 violent crimes in schools, including murder, robbery, human trafficking, aggravated assault and battery, and sexual assault, resulted in arrests. Research from the Brookings Institute shows that the presence of school resource officers can decrease violent offenses by 30%.

However, the Chicago Board of Education, pushed by the CTU and Mayor Brandon Johnson, voted in February to remove police from city schools beginning next school year. The move stripped local school councils of their power to decide on keeping resource officers. Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot had argued this decision should be left to the councils, as they are more attuned to the needs of their schools.

As the current teachers' contract expires in June, negotiations between the CTU and the school board are set to begin. The union's $50 billion demand, coupled with the removal of police from schools amid rising violence, has intensified the debate over education priorities and student safety in Chicago. With academic proficiency rates remaining low despite high per-student spending, the outcome of these negotiations could have far-reaching implications for the city'spublic school systemand its students.

Key Takeaways

  • Chicago Teachers Union demands $50 billion contract with 9% annual raises.
  • Contract includes social issue provisions, such as migrant housing and queer competent training.
  • Violent crime in Chicago Public Schools surged 26% in 2023, with only 8% resulting in arrests.
  • Police will be removed from city schools next year, despite research showing their presence reduces violence.
  • Outcome of negotiations will impact education priorities, student safety, and academic proficiency in Chicago.