The Chicago Teacher Strike is NOT About Teacher Salaries

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About Jamie Utt

Jamie Utt is a diversity and inclusion consultant and sexual violence prevention educator based in Minneapolis, MN. He lives with his loving partner and his funtastic dog, Chloe. He blogs weekly at Change From Within. Learn more about his work at


  1. Im sure the teachers want to provide a space where they can actually do their job. I don’t believe that the strike is motivated purely by those reasons. I hope the positive changes come about as a result of this strike.

  2. In a system with a <50% yield its pretty difficult to identify 1 group (striking teachers) as the heroes while the other group (administrators and local govt.) as the goats.

  3. I’ve already seen a few Twitter posts trying to allude to the idea that the resistance to the strike is because most of the striking teachers are women and suppressing the strike is a matter of controlling women and keeping them down.

    I guess EVERYTHING is a front on the war on women.

  4. Well, if all they care about are making sure that the students get the best education they possibly can, then the Teacher’s Union must be in favor of pay-for-performance!

    Oh wait…they’re not?

    I guess it’s actually all about the kids until it’s your salary on the line, huh?

    • I think that if the research supported that pay for performance would actually lead to student gains, more teachers would support it, but the research isn’t there! It has worked in certain districts implemented in certain ways, but unfortunately most efforts to standardize things in education across the country fail miserably. Why? Because kids and environments aren’t the same all over the place. Different districts require different approaches, and there has yet to be an approach to pay for performance that actually leads to student gains in achievement.

      But you know . . . Go on ahead and bash teachers some more.

      • The entire heirarchy deserves bashing. The current approach certainly has failed miserably. You just stated that pay for performance works when implemented in ways that fit a particular district’s circumstances. Standardization is the problem, not pay for performance as a concept. Failing to consider the concept leads makes me skeptical as well.

        Very few attend Chicago schools unless forced to. People spend thousands of dollars through taxes every year to support an edifice that they won’t let their kids attend. Thats the sign of a failing institution.

    • The pay-for-performance routine is another attempt to cast education as a marketplace rather than a social responsibility. Education is too important to be left up to the free market.

      • That’s where the left loses the argument. Educating children IS a social responsibility. Employing teachers is NOT.

        • I just checked, and we don’t seem to have knowledge-transfer brain implants yet. If you know of a way to properly and effectively educate all the children in America without employing teachers, please share the secret.

          • Well, since we do NOT have a social responsibility to employ teachers, that means we can hire and fire them at will. Just like most private sector employees! Who’d a thunk it?!
            Obviously not Copyleft.

    • Pay for performance has not been proven to increase grades. And on top of that, there are SO many other factors that go into a students success. So you might want to get your facts straight before bashing teachers.

      • Emily,

        Believe me, I have my facts straight, and I have a post that’s been “in moderation” for over 12 hours now with relevant citations.

        The reality is that the other side can only win this argument through censorship, which they’re not hesitating to use.

  5. wellokaythen says:

    I’m a member of a teacher’s union (in a different state, at a different level). Sometimes that’s a source of pride for me, and sometimes I’m a little embarrassed by it. What most often embarrasses me is some of the overblown rhetoric that my union leaders engage in, like it’s _The Grapes of Wrath_ all over again.

    The pro-union side of me actually wonders what the big deal is about striking over bread-and-butter issues. Would it really be so bad if it WERE all about increasing salaries and/or benefits? I can tell you from the inside that for some of my fellow members (and not just me) a union action is usually not an idealistic crusade to improve the lives of our students. The party line is not always a sincere statement of motivation.

    I see nothing shameful about a union taking steps to insure that salaries keep up with the increase of the cost of living. It’s certainly romantic and inspiring to suggest that “it’s all about our children,” and many teachers really do strike because of that, but it’s not necessary, to my mind.

    For those who feel like it’s unfair that unionized workers get to strike for higher wages and you don’t: maybe you should think about unionizing….


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