Eleven years ago, we refused to be held hostage by the threats of terrorists.  Today, a far different threat holds us hostage.  This threat is far less violent, but no less dangerous.  I am speaking of the teacher’s union, which is bankrupting our cities and failing our children.  This week, we saw the union hold the children of our country hostage as they walked out on their responsibilities.  Nearly 400,000 children in Chicago were told that adults dedicated to educating them had in fact abandoned them. 

What caused this?  Low wages?  Unsafe conditions?  In Chicago, teachers earn an average salary of $76,000, while the median family income is $47,000.  The proposed contract offered the average teacher a raise of 16% over 4 years, while median household incomes nationwide continue to fall.  These teachers pay just 3% of their health care costs, while the rest of us struggle to pay bills. 

So, what caused this?  The lavish union contracts have bled Chicago dry.  In a city where only 15% of 4th graders are proficient in reading, and just 56% of students entering high school graduate, the school board had the audacity to suggest cutting bad teachers first.  This is heresy to the union bosses, for whom seniority in king.  In their mind, the newest hire must be the first to go, regardless of merit.

Good teachers change lives.  Reward good teachers with high pay.  Cut those that can’t do the job.  And tell the unions we won’t be held hostage.