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.
Lake Bluff, IL