Comparing Chicago teachers strike to Los Angeles teachers strike

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CHICAGO — People who have grown up in Chicago have become accustomed to the threat of a teachers strike every few years. However, some may be wondering: Do Chicago teachers have it better or worse than their peers in other cities?

Teachers strikes are becoming more common. There were 24 of them across the country in 2018, which was the most walkouts on record in a single year.

As Chicago teachers are poised to strike on Thursday, WGN took a look at what they are asking for in comparison to other districts.

In Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the nation, teachers went on strike for six days in January.

Members of the United Teachers Los Angeles union were asking for many of the same things Chicago teachers want: more pay, smaller class sizes and more staffing.

In Chicago, another sticking point of the teachers union is affordable housing. The CTU wants access to low income housing for new teachers and its estimated 16,450 homeless students.

While the issue appears not to have been at the crux of a potential teacher’s strike elsewhere, it has been at the forefront in the State of California.

In the San Francisco area, the Santa Clara Unified School District provides below-market housing located on district property to new employees for up to seven years.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a Teacher Housing Act in 2016 to make it easier for school districts to get into the landlord business.

In Los Angeles, where class sizes were estimated at 45 to 50 students per classroom before their recent strike, they were able to negotiate that in half for lower grades. Three hundred school nurses were added over two years, 77 new counselors, and 82 librarians.

As far as pay, the district agreed to a 6% raise over two years, far less than offered in the latest contract rejected by teachers in Chicago.

A Chicago Tribune analysis of state and national salary data shows that the district’s teachers already out-earn most of their public school colleagues.

When adjusted for cost of living, the starting salary at CPS is also higher than those at the country’s other large public school districts in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami, according to data compiled by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Those changes in Los Angeles cost more than $400 million over the next three years. District officials used assigned reserves, and an estimated increase in state revenue.

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