The Chicago Teachers Union decided to flex their muscle and close down public schools  for the past 6 school days, with no end in sight.  This ground to a halt one of the nation’s  largest school systems, leaving almost 400,000 children to fend for themselves.

Working parents are frantic trying to make arrangements for their children’s safety and welfare during the day. Many parents are suffering financially by having to pay for expensive child care services, instead of having them in school attempting to get an education.

Of course, the children’s welfare and the parents who must pay for Chicago’s public education system are not even an incidental concern in this tug of war for money and power.  The city of Chicago has almost a billion dollar deficit and does not have the financial ability to pay more for anything.

But that does not seem to faze the union, who is demanding even higher wages and benefits, on top of the highest in the nation salaries they now receive.  Additionally, a great sticking point in the union’s demands is the ability to judge teacher’s performance by standardized evaluation testing. The union rejects this type of accountability.  They are also demanding job security at a time in the nations history where few have job security and bankrupt cities are buckling under public employee union contracts.

Perhaps if the school system was turning out scholars in high proportion and had nation leading scores in math and reading skills there could be a justification for more money for the union members, But a large proportion of Chicago’s school children are under performing and if they do  graduate, large segments of them show they are inadequately prepared to enter higher education or the workforce.  

To underscore where children are on the totem pole of importance to the National Education Association, their General Counsel Bob Chanin , pretty much summed it up: “Union Dues, Not Education, Are Our Top Priority.” See the Heritage excellent story on this.

This might be the “bridge too far” by the unions, or maybe they have finally pushed fed up parents and taxpayers around the country, who are demanding a better education for our children. 

The Friedman Foundation has been spearheading school choice around the country.  Study after study has proven when parents and children are given a choice with a voucher as to what school they can attend, they end up doing far better and their chances of going on to a 4 year college improve. 

On the whole, voucher systems save taxpayers millions of dollar where they are in effect. They also have the added benefit of getting children out of failing public schools into well run private schools.  Minority children have seen the greatest growth in their educations when school choice is offered.

Education choice for parents and children, the time has come.

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