CHICAGO – The troubles continue for the financially distressed Chicago Public Schools.
About a month after Chicago school officials announced the closing of 48 schools and 850 employee layoffs, they “announced late Thursday that 2,113 teachers and other employees would be laid off Friday,” reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
The 1,036 affected teachers represent “about 4 percent of the last year’s total faculty of 23,290,” the Sun-Times reports.
Out-of-control employee pension costs are the culprit for CPS’ latest round of downsizing.
“In fiscal year ‘14 we’re facing a historic deficit of $1 billion that is driven primarily by a $400 million increase in our annual teacher pension payments,” CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said, according to the Sun-Times.
“Absent pension reform in Springfield, we have very few options available to us to close that gap, and that has resulted in bringing this crisis to the doorsteps of our schools,” Carroll added.
In an attempt to deflect the blame from her union’s role in creating an unsustainable pension system, Chicago Teachers Union President blamed the layoffs on Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“There’s just absolutely no interest on the part of the mayor of this city to appropriately fund schools or work with us to get funding from Springfield,” Lewis said.
That’s ironic coming from Lewis, the very person who led a teachers’ strike last fall, demanding that union members be given an absurd and unaffordable 30 percent pay raise. CTU members eventually ended their strike after receiving a 17.6 percent pay raise, to be spread out over four years.
Most of the freshly laid off teachers are “probationary teachers who have worked for CPS for less than three years,” the Associated Press reports.
There’s that “last in, first out” provision again, common to so many union collective bargaining agreements. It means the youngest teachers will the first to go, even if some of them are the best teachers in their schools.
The union looks out for the best interests of its oldest members, not the best interests of students.
“All laid-off teachers will be able to reapply for district teaching positions,” and some of them will probably be rehired, the AP reports.
A CPS official told the news group that, historically, more the 60 percent of district teachers who have been laid off eventually get rehired.
By Ben Velderman at EAGnews.org