(Guest post by James Shuls)
It wasn’t long ago that Jay and Marcus Winters asked the question, “How much are public school teachers paid?” Rather than compare the annual salary of teachers and workers in other professions, Jay and Marcus compared salary based on how many hours and weeks the workers actually put in on the job. Not surprisingly, public school teachers fared well when their relatively short work year was factored into the equation.
Of course, Jay and Marcus’ analysis was roundly criticized. You simply cannot claim that teachers are decently paid. The audacity!
Now it seems, an unlikely ally has taken up the Jay and Marcus mantle on teacher pay – Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Recently, it was announced that Lewis is considering a run for Mayor of Chicago. As with any political race, this led to a closer examination of Lewis’ finances. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Lewis makes more than $200,000 in combined compensation from the Chicago Teachers Union and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, where she serves as executive vice president. Here’s the good part:
When she first ran for CTU president four years ago, Lewis promised not to make more than the highest-paid teacher.
“How can you criticize [the CPS CEO] for making $230,000 a year during these hard times if you’re making so much more than your members?” she told the Chicago Reader then.
Chicago Public Schools’ payroll records show no teacher makes as much as Lewis’ $136,890 CTU base salary.
In an interview Tuesday, Lewis said she didn’t break her promise not to make more as union president than Chicago’s highest-paid teacher makes, saying her CTU salary is for working the full year, rather than a 39-week school year. (emphasis mine)
What Lewis is saying, is that teachers in Chicago are making the equivalent of $136,890 or more. They just work fewer weeks. Now, where have I heard that before?
It’s almost as if Karen Lewis is saying…
James V. Shuls is an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and a Distinguished Fellow of Education Policy at the Show-Me Institute. Follow on Twitter @Shulsie