How to Win the Teacher Union War on Students

In most large cities it is clear the teacher union have a huge effect on how their school districts operate. This dynamic was on full display during the Chicago Teacher Union (CTU) strike last year.  One of the most contentious items during the strike was the expansion of charter schools and the closure of more Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  After the strike was resolved, CPS announced the closure of 50 schools.  In the closure agreement, CPS agreed to the Chicago Teacher Union (CTU) that none of the shuttered schools could become a charter school.

Why would the CTU want to prevent charter school expansion?  The answer is simple, the top 11 schools in Chicago are non-selective charter schools and they are making the CTU and CPS look bad by outperforming them.  CTU is working to prevent more charter schools for this reason and because they lose money when the CPS funds go to a charter school instead of to a unionized traditional public school.

The CPS results below are the from the Illinois School report card.
As you can see only 49% of students meet or exceed state standards on the ISAT which is 10% below the state average.

The PSAE scores show even worse scores are 18% below state standards.  The question that continues to go unanswered here is since the PSAE tests are given in the 11thgrade and only 35% meet or exceed standards, how are 70% graduating? The answer is obvious, CPS is graduating far too many students that do not meet standards.

It is also very clear why only 1 in 4 students are prepared for college. CPS is failing to prepare the students in the elementary grades and this unpreparedness is being compounded in high school.

Since education is supposed to be all about the students and their education, CPS and the CTU should be wanting more help with charter schools instead of denying students more access to different types of schools.

Do teacher unions really have a negative effect on schools?  Absolutely.  We see this not only in Chicago and their protection of subpar and even bad teachers via tenure.  This was readily highlighted in the recent court case in California where teacher tenure was ruled unconstitutional.

Testimony from Los Angeles School Superintendent John Deasy showed that firing a bad teacher takes form 2 – 10 years and costs $250,000 – $450,000.  Illinois is not much different where it averages around $219,000.

Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu wrote in his decision:

“shocks the conscience”
“a disproportionate burden on poor and minority students”

The testimony of Harvard economist Raj Chetty’s study showing “a bad teacher costs a student $1.4 million in lifetime earnings” was some of the most damaging for the teacher unions. This decision “acknowledged the worst teachers get assigned to the worst schools depriving students in poverty the right to an equal education.” This decision harkens back to Brown v Board of Education and segregation where schools district segregated solely by race.

Today school districts, with the aid of teacher unions, trap the poor and minorities into bad schools with bad teachers. This is costly to the student and to the taxpayers.  Trapping poor students in bad schools should be unacceptable to everyone.

All children deserve access to a quality education and the only way to get that is to empower parents with the choice to select the school their child attends. Allowing parents to choose the school that best fits their child’s education style is the first step in winning the teacher unions war on the students. This step ends the monopoly of public schools and the control of zip code based education.

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About Lennie Jarratt

Small Business Owner, Education Watchdog, FOIA expert, Founder of For Our Children's Future


  1. The way to address the massive fraud and corruption in the Public Education System is very difficult today because the criminals here have captured the control of entry to their castle here. The interim approach to citizens is the enroll their children in the Virtual K12 Public School System that provides an outstanding operation which is paid from the Public Education Revenue (“Free”). This system is excellent for any student junior high level and above. It can also be used for supplemental learning of grades below Junior High. The long term solution is to get a Universal Voucher System that provides for a maximum Public Sector total spending of $7K annually per K12 student and allows the parents to choose from any K12 Parochial, Public, Private and Virtual Education System.

    • LennieJarratt says:

      It’s going to be virtually impossible in Illinois. From research Education Savings accounts seem to be the preferred method in many states. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but a lot more advantages. The state would also put a fixed amount into the account each year as well similar to how vouchers work.

      You would have to get away from the property tax system though to make this work properly.

      • The problem in the Public Sector today is that there is no representation of the taxpayers, and there are no management and operation skills. The corruption we see throughout the entire Public Sector operations including the Public Education System is not solved by allowing these “criminals” to keep our checkbook or the ability to increase taxes whether it be Property or Use Taxes. There is an urgent need if we are to avoid total default by the municipalities, states and/or nation to provide an opportunity to the taxpayers at the ballot box to approve funding and operation budgets where possible like the Public Sector Labor Agreements and taxation levels. It is clear today that these exorbitant levels of taxation (Property, Income, Fees, etc.) are destroying the Private Economic Engine that provides growth and progress to the nation as a whole. The Democratic System has gone off its tracks as demonstrated by numerous outright violations of the Constitution. The taxpayers need a mechanism to stop all this generational theft by these Public Sector members (“criminals”).

  2. John Boyd says:

    End all teacher strikes; End forced unionization; Fire all the Administrators.

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