Editorials

Strike cost everyone but East St. Louis teachers

Striking East St. Louis teachers each got an average of $12,834 by idling students for 21 days.
Striking East St. Louis teachers each got an average of $12,834 by idling students for 21 days. csmith@bnd.com

It wasn’t good enough that East St. Louis District 189 teachers averaged $71,667.

It wasn’t good enough that one junior high teacher made $93,548.

It wasn’t good enough that teachers pay nothing for medical, dental, vision and life insurance — with no deductible.

Someone had to pay more. It was a matter of respect, they said. It was a matter of fairness.

So the 6,116 students paid with 21 school days, days that they will make up but cannot fully recover because of the school year interruption.

Taxpayers will pay an average of $12,834 more per teacher over the life of this four-year contract.

Those obvious costs are troubling, but it is the hidden costs of holding impoverished children’s educations hostage that are the greatest concerns.

The 21 days, and the effectiveness of the 330 teachers, will again be on display this spring when standardized tests are administered. Last year, the end products were high school students who averaged an ACT score of 15.4 — five points below the national average on the 36-point test.

The City of Champions saw its high school seniors denied their fall sports, and with those sports went potential scholarships.

There should be solace in the fact that the strike is over and there is a contract covering four years. The problem is that the contract covers last year and this school year, so we can expect another tango with the teachers in just more than two years.

When they said it was a question of respect and fairness, what they meant was that the answer was money. That would also explain why the strike suddenly ended just as teachers were getting their last full paycheck.

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