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Letter to the Editor: Teacher Strike

Reader questions timing of strike.

The pending strike by LF District 115 teachers union, LFEA, with direct affiliation to the Illinois (IEA) and the National union (NEA) is ironic in that the Chicago Teachers Union is similarly affiliated. The timing of the Chicago and the Lake Forest unions is more than likely coincidental, or perhaps not.  

Strategically, the timing is perfect for both School Districts; new school year complete with parent and student apprehension, the midst of a football season, and new academics in which to orient and master. Falling behind early in the year is disruptive for the students and will drive the parent’s nuts. All of forgoing is designed to bring extraordinary pressure on the Board of Education (BOE) to cave, irrespective of cost and loss of leverage.

What is at work here are the opposing forces critical advantages. The BOE has the economic advantage because the strikers will be without income, and for many, devastating and each new strike day increases discomfort and raises striker anxiety. Furthermore, the BOE has the option of replacing the striking teachers and encouraging those who are the professional educators and not so sympathetic, to return to work, regardless of the union position.

For the BOE, pressure from vocal parents elevates to hysterical proportions raising doubts of the firm position they have collectively taken. And, there must be some BOE members who are not as committed to the tough stance.

Let’s get some facts straight, the over wrought parents represent a small percentage of the tax payer community of District 115 and are not a serious threat to the BOE, other than some verbal abuse. The LFEA has been unreasonable and unrealistic in their demands as to wages and resistance when asked to make small contributions to some health benefits. The offer from the BOE is not only reasonable in the alternate universe of the education world; it is generous in the real world in which the rest of us live.

My son in law with a masters, is a teacher of 19 years in a Minneapolis area public school district, now earns just slightly more than a beginning teacher in D 115. He contributes more than 50% of his health care premiums and 100% of the cost of the same benefits for his family. The increase for 2012 school year is 1.6% and his class load is 30 students. While comparisons are odious, they may be instructive.

I appeal to the BOE, hold your ground, you are on the right side of the disagreement; fiscally, ethically and morally. The vast majority of the tax payers support your position and plead that parental pressure does not overwhelm you.

Al Boese    

Lake Bluff, IL

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David September 13, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Wages certainly haven't been stagnant for LFHS teachers. Using Gary's numbers above, on average, the top 25 teachers earned a nice increase in pay in both 2010 (+4.77%) and 2011 (+4.62%). On average, the top 25 paid teachers earn $12K more per year today than they did two years ago. So much for a claimed freeze in pay. Please also keep in mind that our LFHS Dist covers LF, LB, Knollwood etc. Not every taxpayer lives on Lake Road. Some live in very modest homes and are paid by the hour. We've got seniors on fixed incomes who are being crushed by the weight of property taxes. We've got young families in $120K townhomes who struggle to pay the bills (and property taxes which have been rising faster than their incomes). We've got a fair number of families living in 2 bed homes in our Dist. Many families have seen their property tax bill increase 15%+ in just the last two years. Don't tell these folks that yet another property tax increase is no big deal. It very well might be the straw which breaks the back.
Patrick September 13, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Most of you argue that LFHS teachers make too much money. So if you were king, how much should a LFHS teacher make? Consider a math teacher with 20 years of experience. How much should he or she make? Answers that are not acceptable: (1) Less than what he or she is making today. Show some courage. Give us an actual number. You may need to do a little research instead of just looking up the salaries of LFHS teachers (which include coaching stipends, by the way). (2) Less than what I'm making. You may laugh, but someone has actually made this argument in one of these threads. How arrogant! Please keep in mind that LFHS must compete with other North Shore schools, many of which already pay more than LFHS. Look at the pay scales. I have. In fact, I actually work in one of these schools, and I make 12% more than the equivalent teacher at LFHS. Most of you are staunch capitalists, right? Have you considered that teachers' salaries are a result of capitalism? These are affluent communities with high expectations. LFHS must compete with the other top-flight schools in the area. For Pete's sake, many of you pay $80-$100 per hour for your kid's tutors. Why don't you demand lower rates from your tutors? The answer: capitalism!
Burt September 13, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Is it true that district 115 teachers averaged over 5% increases anually for the 5 yr Period preceeding last years "freeze".???
David September 13, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Teachers salaries are not a result of capitalism. Give me a break. In what reality do Drivers Ed teachers make more than an AP Calc teacher just because the Drivers Ed teacher has been at a school longer than the AP Calc teacher? In what reality do Drivers Ed teachers make $120K per year, get free healthcare & collect a $70K a yr life pension at age 55? The pension alone might $2.1 mil, a 3% annual increase might mean $3.2 mil in total pension benefits. I'm sure the LFHS Drivers Ed teachers are nice people, nothing against them. Just don't tell me they are paid a wage set by supply and demand. In what capitalist reality does most everyone get a 4.7% raise without regard to student results, economy, expenses, enrollment, etc. In what reality does an employee get 100% free healthcare & reject a proposal to pay 10%? To answer your question -- I might pay $100 an hr for a Calc tutor but not drivers ed. $500 gets a kid 30 hrs of drivers ed class & 6 hrs on the road training. The capitalist system says that drivers ed is worth $13.89 an hr with $0 pension or helthcare, with $0 for a car or a classroom or parkig lot. You work in a school, you should be able to do the math. Are you telling me that if LFHS advertised open drivers Ed positions for $75K plus healthcare, a pension, a winter break, spring break, holiday breaks, summers off etc that LFHS wouldn't receive any applications?
Burt September 14, 2012 at 03:02 AM
What These teachers are demanding is an outrage. Dont they realize we are in the midst of what their president obama calls the worst recession since 1929. Glad they were big enough to "take one for the team" with no raise last year .raises in 5 of the last 6 years. Highest salaries in the state,ridiculos pensions,,9 month work year.health care we all dream of...seems like a perfect scenario to strike..get real or leave

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