Is There A Correlation Between Teachers in Chicago and Westford?

This week teachers in Chicago left the classrooms and hit the street to protest breakdowns over a new contract. Are these echoes of what was seen in Westford?


Earlier this week, teachers in Chicago voted to strike for the first time in 25 years following an impasse over contract negotiations.

While a strike for Westford's teachers wouldn't have been possible under Massachusetts state law, today we want to ask if there is a common thread between the situation in Chicago and the one teachers encountered here.

Is comparing a town of 22,000 people and one of the largest cities in the country an apples and oranges proposition? Or do teachers face the same challenges in education everywhere across America?

and the potential budget problems for upcoming years impact any potential comparison?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and don't forget to get our free morning newsletter if you don't already!

Mcgirk September 13, 2012 at 07:44 PM
From what I hear WEA became a great deal stronger from the actions of last year, should negotiations drag again I bet teachers move to work to rule fast
Alex Finnegan September 13, 2012 at 08:08 PM
"I'd challenge the assumption that standardized testing leads to cheating. Poor character leads to cheating, the teachers who were caught cheating in Chicago were just bad people." Your half way there. Poor character + incentive/opportunity leads to cheating. Merit based pay & standardized testing is the incentive, then you would need opportunity. There is poor character in every profession, culture & class. You'll never control that, we can control incentive. You can challenge Levitt and Dubner's math that standardized testing leads to cheating, but you have to prove it. Saying it means nothing, where in there math did they go wrong? What they did is not an assumption, they proved with sound math that cheating increases. You are challenging that with what? The character of the teachers didn't all of a sudden change when they added standardized testing (ironically their test was done in Chicago I believe) The incentive changed. Incentive comes in many forms. Social, financial, personal. It's also a synonym for penalty in the way we are using it. Speeding tickets are a penalty, but there design in the system is a financial incentive. When people used to be punished by being thrown in the stalks in the town square it was a penalty, but in the system it was a social incentive to obey the rules.
Alex Finnegan September 13, 2012 at 08:24 PM
"Ok Alex, "how should teachers be objectively evaluated and measured?" The same way many other jobs are, by a superior monitoring performance. A good experienced teacher can recognize a bad teacher, & can also help them. Most principles are former teachers, I can't find it now but there was only one state in which they weren't, it was more of an MBA position like the S.I. Test scores can be part of it if the Principle deems it appropriate & in the areas it's not give it little value (i.e. kids on an IEP who have difficulty with standardized tests) It has to be in the hands of someone who has the training & experience TO evaluate it. What better evaluation could there be? Tests reflect only certain things. A couple of the smartest, most intelligent, most brilliant minds I know never passed 8th grade. I'm not talking Einstein I mean people I personally know. Were they to take the SAT's they would probably be scored as idiots. But somewhere along the way they learned how to observe, analyze, process, weigh & measure, hypothesize & test. I guess the depression and two world wars can force the mind the learn a lot.
Alex Finnegan September 13, 2012 at 08:44 PM
If you are talking pay reward the current system is cleverly designed to make teachers affordable, & considering all the factors I have no problem with it. It forces teachers to be committed. What I have a problem with is when people throw it in their faces how much a teacher of 15 years with a master's degree makes. They were paid dirt for quite a while. They don't break even with their education costs until year 10 & now 15 years of experience, continued learning & halfway through their career people are upset about what they make. Thats is how the system was designed. We pay you little now, but it will catch up with you later. It uses to it's advantage many financial tricks. No one is complaining about the starting teacher making $38k than you shouldn't complain about the 15 year teacher making $70k Yes it's unfair that all teachers get paid the same but there are systems in place by which teachers do get evaluated & aided to improve. Bad teachers can be fired. But considering how in MA where teachers are required to get a masters degree, it's the only way to make them affordable. People will point to the vacations but I've shown you the math in previous posts that the disparity is not as large as people think. People thinking of entering the field will do some thorough research to find out how much work it truly is so for the sake of drawing future teachers the pay has to become rewarding at some point, or people won't become teachers….
Alex Finnegan September 13, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Then we would need to increase salaries to draw them back. How you pay them is a delicate balance of keeping new teachers interested. If you lose that by decreasing the financial incentive, to save money now, long term you've just done the exact opposite of what you intended & will need to pile back on the financial incentive to keep them interested. It's a system just like any other, & it wasn't invented by teachers. So if they are willing to play by the rules of that system why shouldn't the earn the pay out. Most anti-teacher rhetoric was born in places where teachers DO get a pretty sweet deal. States where they are required to get a bachelors degree only, where they town pays a percentage of their pension contributions each paycheck, where cost of living adjusts their salary even higher & where as a town, county & state the schools rate sub par. NONE of those are true here. The states mandates an extra 2 years of education (47 states don't) teachers pay the entire 11% of retirement contributions & have for quite a while, factor in cost of living teachers in MA make much less than other states & MA is regarded as being one of the best states for schools in the country. Those other states the rhetoric consists of having teachers contribute more towards pensions, improve test ranking to "earn" their paychecks, increase retirement time to at least 30 years etc. MA did all that + some long ago. That rhetoric shouldn't be carried over here, especially in Westford.


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