In a popular Peanuts comic, Charlie Brown wonders how much their teacher, Miss Othmar, gets paid. Linus, indignant, shouts: “PAID? and utters the idea of her accepting money to teach as outrageous. His favorite teacher approaches teaching as a “pure art form”.
Purist. Innocent. Romantic, like many of us who believe, partly rightly, that our favorite teachers worked out of love and wanted to create a profound impact on our lives.
Compare that with the sentiment of the Chicago Teachers Union. The love of the students seems to fade as the thirst for power and activism rises.
Kiss a Venezuelan despot. Boost socialist candidates. Using children as pawns and keeping them out of school without warning while pretending to know more about COVID-19 mitigation measures than public health experts. Rent reduction. Redistribution of wealth. Defund the police.
All while CTU fights to keep half-empty Chicago public schools open and accepts still in decline school success. Only 21% of students in grades three to eight achieved a proficiency score in reading and 16% in math in the 2020-2021 school year.
Parents want no less for their children, which is why 63,000 students left ten years ago. Not to mention, CTU also helped scare away students by raising costs by nearly $2 billion in the district.
Paying more for less seems to be too acceptable in Illinois. Statewide student population has shrunk by 180,000 while teacher ranks increased by 4,500.
Now the CTU and other Illinois government unions are pushing for more power and more ability to tax less services for more money from Illinois taxpayers. At the top of the Nov. 8 ballot is an item innocently described by its labor supporters as “the workers’ rights amendment” and a way to boost jobs and wages in Illinois.
Accepting this representation would make you about as innocent as Linus.
The proposed change to the Illinois Constitution, known as Amendment 1, would make government unions untouchable in Illinois. Its costs and implications are largely unknown, as no other state has written into its constitution such broad language protecting this particular interest.
While TV commercials claim that private sector workers would benefit, this is simply untrue and even illegal. A state constitution cannot regulate collective bargaining in the private sector, as this is a power that the federal government reserves to itself. All Amendment 1 can do is strengthen the power of state and local government unions, which represent less than 7% of working adults in Illinois.
What Amendment 1 can do is raise property taxes for everyone. Once government union bosses have permanent strike powers and the proposal’s guarantee that they can bargain on virtually anything – like the CTU’s favorite social agenda items – then taxpayers will be obliged to pay for these claims.
According to a conservative estimate by the Illinois Policy Institute, Amendment 1 would virtually guarantee higher property taxes of over $2,100 over the next four years simply by maintaining the Illinois status quo. If government union bosses wield new powers granted by Amendment 1, raising taxes on Illinois could prove far more costly.
If you think government unions are weak in Illinois, take a look at our largest pension debt in the nation. Government unions negotiated with their co-conspirators in the Statehouse benefits so generous that we spent more than 25% of the ever-growing state budget on pension payments, while continuing to accumulate a gap of $130 billion between the money we have and what we’ve got to keep those promises. Illinois property taxes are double the average and the second highest in the United States, but we still owe local government retirees $75 billion.
At first glance, the first choice voters will make on November 8 concerns the power of government unions. In reality, it is about property taxes and handing over control of those taxes to unelected government union bosses.
Miss Othmar would expect you to study the details and ask yourself, “Is this how democracy is supposed to work?”
Brad Weisenstein is editor of the Illinois Policy Institute