Chicago teachers nearly triple private-sector salary growth

Chicago teachers nearly triple private-sector salary growth

Today’s average CPS teacher has seen a salary increase of 86% since the 2011-2012 school year. That’s over 2.5 times faster than inflation or the private sector.

If your salary has not increased 2.5 times faster than inflation, chances are you are not a Chicago Teachers Union member.

The average Chicago teacher’s salary increased by $43,000 since 2012, compared to $15,217 for the private sector.

Now the Chicago Teachers Union is preparing to negotiate its next contract with the Chicago Board of Education and Mayor Brandon Johnson. Documents obtained by the Illinois Policy Institute show the union will be demanding “cost of living adjustments that meet or exceed inflation” as well as changes to the district’s salary schedule to bolster “step” raises for experience and education, plus have teachers progress on those steps every year rather than every few years.

The 2012 contract was the first negotiated under CTU’s current leadership, the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, which is known for its radical, aggressive stances and tactics. Teacher pay has increased by more than $15,600 for cost-of-living adjustments negotiated in the previous contracts, in addition to more than $27,400 in pay raises thanks to step increases for a total of $43,000.

Average private-sector wages in the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division increased by just over $15,200, or 33% during the same time. Inflation increased by 35.5%, mostly because of rampant post-pandemic price increases. The average private-sector worker in the Chicagoland area now earns just over $61,000, while the average CPS teacher is scheduled to earn more than $93,000 this year.

When factoring in annual cost-of-living increases and step increases, CTU salaries far outpace growth in private-sector salaries and inflation, growing 2.6 times faster than taxpayers’ incomes and 2.5 times faster than inflation.

Rapid growth in CTU members’ salaries and benefits have been one of the primary drivers in increases in Chicago Public Schools spending since 2012. Total state and local revenue spending at CPS has nearly doubled since 2012, rising by $3.76 billion from $3.89 billion to $7.65 billion in 2024. Most of this increase – $2.17 billion – can be attributed to growth in teacher salaries and employee benefits.

In addition to state and local tax revenue, roughly 17% of operating budget revenues come from federal sources. Most of the federal funds are non-discretionary and dedicated to specific purposes.

Unfortunately, massive increases in spending at Chicago Public Schools has not translated into better outcomes for students. Since 2012, spending has increased by 97%, but student proficiency in reading has declined by 63% and by 78% in math for grades 3-8.

Today, only 26% of third through eighth graders are proficient in reading. Less than 18% are proficient in math.

As student outcomes deteriorate and spending dramatically increases because of rising salaries and benefits, enrollment within CPS continues to decline. The militant bargaining tactics used too often by CTU leaders to get their demands met have not been in the best interests of CPS students and families – or taxpayers.

CTU has gone on strike twice – both during contract negotiations – and walked out on students three times since CORE took over union leadership in 2010.  In 2022, the union illegally walked out on students over COVID-19 protocols, giving parents just hours to scramble for a back-up plan after the union decided not to show up for in-person classes.

Now, as contract negotiations ramp up, CTU is poised to make large, radical demands for their next contract. Mayor Johnson, a former CTU lobbyist that the Chicago Teachers Union spent millions helping get elected, will be on the other side of the bargaining table along with a school board that he picked.

Guess where Chicago taxpayers will be at the end of that equation?

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