When the average teachers in Chicago are making ~75k / yr with incredible benefits
Citation to a credible source needed. The only place I see figures of $75K are news articles quoting a biased source. Unbiased sources (e.g. the various salary surveys) are reporting $55K or thereabouts.
Let's face it --- this wouldn't be the first time an employer has inflated claims about how much he's paying in an attempt to discredit unions negotiating for a better deal.
Whether I can be considered credible or not is another question, but seeing as my wife is a teacher in the Chicago suburbs...
$75k outside of Chicago proper is insanely high - it's possible for a 20+ year veteran teacher with extra certifications and a couple of masters degrees, but aside from that, most teachers will never see that much. There are a few expensive districts where the prices vary, of course, but once you get out of Chicago itself, the pay rate traditionally plummets.
IN Chicago, 75k is much closer to reality. I don't know if that's that's the AVERAGE, but I do know starting salaries in CPS (chicago public schools) are over 50k, and in some cases pushing 60. There's a few of reasons for this.
1) The Chicago teacher's union is absurdly powerful.
2) To teach in Chicago, you have to live in Chicago (same is true for almost all government jobs in the city) Unless you want to live in the ghetto, the cost of living there is extremely high.
3) Speaking of ghettos, a very high percentage of Chicago schools are, to put it mildly, hellholes. It's hard as hell to keep teachers because of just how bad conditions are in some of those schools. Nobody wants to work there, so the salaries have to be higher than the 'burbs.