Harlem Community Reacts to Teacher Strike

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

The Harlem teachers strike is still on and contract negotiations are on hold, because neither side can agree when it comes to teachers' salaries.
Teachers hired after 2004 joined the district in a deficit and signed contracts to earn 2% less yearly pay than those hired before them. Now, the district is in a surplus and newer teachers want the same yearly pay raises as their colleagues.
Superintendent Pat Deluca says the teachers should never have agreed upon their initial contract, if they weren't willing to stick with that pay scale. 23 News hit the streets to find out how the community is feeling.
"My son's starting high school and it would have been great as far as having that first day. On the other hand, I respect teachers so much and feel that it's extremely important that they get paid fairly," says one Harlem mother, Melinda Thompson.
Harlem Dad Gary Anderson adds, "The teachers do deserve the money that they make and they deserve more because they support our kids education. But I also want them in school so my kids can be in school. Working parents nowadays it's hard to find babysitters and make adjustments and arrangements for the kids when they're home when we planned on them being in school."
"I'm just really mad and it's just like I love school and there's so much fun things to do even though I get a lot of homework," says elementary student Madaleine Ankele.
"What teachers really do for kids it really helps them so I think they deserve the money for what they're doing," says another elementary student, Aubrey Noto.
Finally elementary kid Amanda Thompson says, "I want to go back to school because I can learn stuff and learn about new things."
James McCalum, a junior at Harlem High School, has another take: "First term we'll have to do a bunch of cramming because of all the school work we miss and no one likes homework."
His friend Sorley Kersch is worried about extracurriculars: "I'm in band right now and we need time to work on our music and the freshmen coming in, it's a completely different level highschool wise, so they're gonna be real behind."
"There will come a point where I'm probably more into let's get school started than I am standing here right now, you know it's fairly new," adds Melinda Thompson.
Elementary student Sydney Larue gets the last work: "Hurry up with the process, just get an agreement soon, because as you can see we all miss school."
Both sides say they're working as fast as they can. Another major issue is insurance. If the strike continues after August 31st, teachers will have to start paying their own insurance premiums, which union leaders call a scare tactic. Deluca says teachers have broken their contract, making all aspects of it, including insurance coverage, null and void.
If more negotiations can be set up this weekend, school could be back on for Monday. Harlem's first football game of the season, scheduled for Friday night, is off.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Gail Location: Rockford on Aug 25, 2007 at 09:47 PM
    As a past Board Member from another district, I can not understand what the Harlem Board members are thinking. It does not take a rocket scientest to recognize Superintendent Deluca speaks with a forked tongue. He tells the teachers how wonderful they are and then stabs them in the back at contract time. He is a master at twisting what the true facts are and making it look like it's all the teachers fault. He also does not have a problem with the Board giving him nice raises while he fights against theirs. The students will suffer, not because the teachers are asking for decent wages and benefits, but because Superintendent Deluca thinks it is more important to have his way than make sure the Harlem School District has the best teachers possible. The Board needs to remember why they were elected. They have a responsibility to the students and not to Deluca! Why would you want to sit on the Board of the lowest paying district around and be proud of it?
  • by Kathy Location: Rockton on Aug 25, 2007 at 09:44 PM
    Some parents are making comments like, the teachers should be teaching because they like it, not for the money. Excuse me, they may love their job but it is a paying job after all, not volunteering. Everyone deserves to make a liveable wage. Is it fair to assume that these parents work for free?
  • by Vincent Location: Loves park on Aug 25, 2007 at 11:05 AM
    Several days ago Deluca says the teachers won't lose their health insurance. Now he states that since they broke their contract (which was over, why else bargin?) their contract is null and void to include no health insurance. Surely the loves park community deserves somebody who doesnt use double talk depending on who they are talking to. Harlem Parents- the teachers are the only ones talking as well as taking their message to the streets and holding public meetings. Wonder why??? Get informed and contact the school board. Lets end this. Beside the longer this strike goes on the worse this community looks. Think for a second if you were moving to this area. Where would you rather live? Rockford who can settle or Harlem with 3 strikes in 3 years?
  • by Linda Location: lovespark on Aug 24, 2007 at 09:31 PM
    Just think our school system has implements in place to help teacher's financially broaden their education. For example earning a master's degree and after the school system helps them achieve that goal, then the teacher's push it in our face they are now a master's degree achiever, and want more money. I guess it's a good thing for us tax payer's our school system does not help them all to earn PHD.
  • by michael Location: lovespark on Aug 24, 2007 at 09:11 PM
    In the good old days the teachers all use to say yes I could receive more money if I choose to be a doctor or lawyer, but I get more gratification and respect being an (honorable)teacher. Our dishonorable teacher's today wouldn't be demanding more money if we as a whole community didn't pay more into the tax system to give it a surplus, so if they get more money can I get a tax break. I know I agreed to the tax amount when I bought my home,but now that I know no one is demanding me to honor my contract.I now change my mind and I want a discount.Beware if I don't get my discount I will a protest with other home owner's, and also have my kid's and relatives email supportive comments to help me get sympathy to.
  • by Deb Location: MP on Aug 24, 2007 at 03:18 PM
    PAY OUR TEACHERS!!!!
  • by Sarah Location: Loves Park on Aug 24, 2007 at 03:09 PM
    I don't think that teachers should be allowed to strike but I also feel that teachers are highly underpaid considering the amount of dependency that falls on them for shaping the individuals of our future!
  • by Colleen Location: Machesney Park on Aug 24, 2007 at 01:20 PM
    I feel no sympathy for the teachers. In less than 20 minutes I had all the facts I needed. I feel more people need to know both sides of this debate. The average teacher salary is 53000. The median household income in MP is 53788 and LP 52061. These are HOUSEHOLD incomes not individual. They work about 7 months out of the year, most people work 10 1/2-11 after vacation and holidays. I also located a link and looked at every teachers salary from 2002-2006, they make very good money. The web address is www.thechampion.org. Lets you look at everything you need to know for any teacher in the state. I printed it up and placed a binder on a table for everyone to see during our garage sale, you would be amazed at people's reaction when they see all the information. Sorry teachers, your losing support !!! I hope more parents rally together to let the teachers know that we as parents really are thinking of the kids first unlike them, they are thinking of their pocketbooks. Tell it like it is !!
  • by Diane Location: Loves Park Elementary on Aug 24, 2007 at 12:15 PM
    The teachers deserve a salary increase and improved insurance benefits. Mr. DeLuca got a raise! Why can't the teachers? Maybe his pay should be reduced to teachers pay. also Mr. DeLuca's television report last Sunday evening does not coincide with what really happened - isn't that strange?
  • by Chris Location: Loves Park, Illinois on Aug 24, 2007 at 09:31 AM
    I think it's crasy that the information regarding the strike is not up to date or given out in a timely maner! Last reported, by both news and the Harlem website is that the 2 sides were recommended a "cooling off" period. We'll how long is that going to take?! Why hasn't a meeting been scheduled yet? When are they going to meet again. This is very frustrating to say the least!! Let's get this overwith folks. A Concerned and Upset Parent
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