By Victor Skinner
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Teachers in a suburban Chicago school district followed the lead of the Chicago Teachers Union and walked out on strike today.
Their contract fight, of course, is all about raises for teachers .
Teachers in Lake Forest, the posh lakeside school district north of Chicago, currently average $106,500 in salary per year, the Chicago Tribune reports – $40,000 more than the average Illinois taxpayer.
Officials are not discussing the specifics of the talks, but it’s clear the local teachers union is asking for a bigger raise than the district can afford.
“The union’s final proposal continued to request compensation increases of more than double the Consumer Price Index,” the school board said in a statement, according to LakeForest.patch.com. “The board remains committed to offering highly competitive salary and benefit packages to attract and retain employees, while remaining fiscally responsible to the community it serves.”
School board president Sharon Golan said the district is receiving positive feedback from the community for holding firm against the big raises, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“I am getting a lot of support from the public,” Golan told the newspaper. “ … They support our teachers, but there is an economic reality that we all have to live by and (they say), ‘I applaud you for being financially responsible toward the taxpayers.”
A federal mediator was brought in to help jump start contract negotiations, but the school board and Lake Forest Education Association failed to reach an agreement Tuesday and teachers turned their backs on the community this morning, according to media reports.
Teachers picketed the high school with signs that read “Lake Forest Teachers for a Fair Contract,” mirroring the slogans that Chicago currently shouting at taxpayers from picket lines in the Windy City.
But some Lake Forest parents are shouting back.
“You make three times more than the average citizen in Chicagoland,” one woman yelled at picketers outside the high school, according to the Tribune. “What is the lesson for all the students today?”
Another man carried a picket sign with the protesters, telling them to get back to work.
The bottom line is students should never lose one second of class time due to financial disagreements between adults. When unions walk out on students and hold the educational process hostage, it only weakens their cause and exposes their blatant self-interest.
We believe teacher strikes should be illegal in Illinois, with strict and harsh penalties for breaking the law.
But until lawmakers address the reprehensible strikes, union bosses will continue to use students as political tools.
In fact, teachers unions in two other Chicago-area districts – Argo and Evergreen Park – are on schedule to bail on students later this month, according to the Tribune.