Troy Laraviere, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, writes in Crains Chicago Business that the Chicago Teachers Union is not demanding enough for the public schools.

He maintains that the Chicago schools are woefully understaffed as compared to other districts in Illinois.

He writes:

Chicago Public Schools is the most understaffed school district in Illinois. It is impossible to make a reasonable judgment about the current labor dispute between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union without considering that fact. Even though the key issue in this labor dispute is CPS’ refusal to meet the teachers’ demand for adequate staffing, it seems that no one has attempted to find out what school staffing actually looks like.

Consider the following:
•The Illinois State Board of Education tracks staffing numbers for 861 school districts in our state. Chicago is ranked 861st—dead last—in the ratio of students-to-staff.
•The 20 most adequately staffed school districts in Illinois have 100 staff members for every 500 students.
•The average Illinois school district has 50 staff for every 500 students. In Chicago, however, our district has just 29 staff for the same 500 students.

On average, each Chicago school has 71 fewer staff than the top Illinois schools, and 21 fewer staff than the average Illinois school. Think about that for a moment. We would need 21 more staff in every Chicago school just to reach average staffing levels.

Those 21 missing staff members are music and art teachers to nurture a fuller array of student talents; classroom assistants and tutors; librarians to teach students how to evaluate the legitimacy of an information source in this age of omnipresent false information; classroom teachers to reduce class size in kindergarten through third grade; counselors to help students plan for their future; social workers to help students learn skills to cope with adverse circumstances such as homelessness, mental trauma and abuse; bilingual teachers to support students who are learning English, and security personnel to keep students safe, just to name a few. Think about the curricular, behavioral and academic development that Chicago students are not getting because those 21 staff members are not there to serve them.

Well, you have to start somewhere. The facts in Chicago demonstrate that the previous mayors–Rahm Emanuel and Richard Daley (the mayors from 1989-2019)–woefully underfunded the public schools as they diverted huge sums of public funding to luxury developments. Thirty years of underfunding shortchanged the students.

The CTU has been the leading edge of the fight to restore adequate funding to the schools and the children. Troy LaRaviere demonstrates that the changes are a beginning and that much more must be done to provide funding that the children of Chicago and their public schools need and deserve.