Post this one in the “Grosser called it” column.
On Sunday at midnight, the Chicago Teachers Union declared that they were walking away from negotiations and going on strike, leaving the Chicago Public Schools holding the bag (full of uneductated children).
Classic labor versus capitalist pig bosses, right? Well, no. This isn’t the Wisconsin teachers against Gov. Scott Walker, an ideological fight between parties. Chicago is a city almost solely run by Democrats. Illinois is primarily blue. The Governor is a Democrat. Hometown of Barack Obama. Even the bums are prescreened for political affiliation (but if you’re looking for handouts, you’re probably already a democrat. Am I right, folks?)
You know things are dire in Chicago when, in a labor debate, I’m rooting for Rahm Emanuel (no, really, Rahmmy, I’m with you.)
Democrats are the friends of big labor, Democrats are the ones who talk about stripping away No Child Left Behind, paying teachers generous sums, revamping schools, pumping money into education. That’s what I thought, at least while Democrats are opposition.
And being the opposition is what Democrats do best. They have wonderful ideas for forming a eutopic society, free of guns, crime, with happy teachers in every classroom and students who can read good in some of them. Also no one is fat.
When it comes to implementation, however, we get to see the math behind the theory. (Spoil alert: it doesn’t work). But in summation, Chicago Public Schools are staring down the barrel of a 1 ba-ba-billion shortfall next year. So of course, the teachers want their cut.
Negotiations broke down over a few contention points: salary increases, school day length, number of teachers, teacher evaluations and job security. So surely Rahm spat on a piece of paper, offered it, and told them to get to work, right?
No, unfortunately, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is no Gov. Chris Christie. Here are the things that were offered when the teachers walked from the table:
1. 16% pay increase over 4 years, jumped from the original offer of 2%.
2. 477 new teachers to be hired to increase art classes and relieve some of the burden on teachers on the lengthened day.
3. Guarantee that high school teachers would only teach 5 classes in a day.
4. Guarantee that laid off teachers would get 12 months pay as well as an interview for any openings.
This atop the fact that teachers are making on average $76,000 a year. Or, more precisely, $76,000/9mos, because working year-round is not mandatory.
Folks at home, struggling to pay the bills (Recessionites, I like to call ourselves), collect your jaws. You have to understand where the teachers are coming from when they turned down such a fabulous deal.
These benefits all mean nothing without stripping principals of the power to remove failing teachers and regulate teacher evaluations. Because surely you would not fault them, having all this cake, to eat it too. They set themselves up a cushy deal where they are only expected to pass around 60%, hardly half of those students at grade level, and you can’t think they wouldn’t secure themselves in position.
Karen Lewis has claimed that the new teacher evaluation system will lead to as many as 6,000 teachers being laid off. Rahm has replied that that number is obviously exaggerated and that he apparently has more confidence in the teachers than CTU. I say, sucks to suck, teachers.
Again, we here at Republican Funk love teachers. We think its a challenging, noble profession that demands self sacrifice and eats up the rest of your life. That said, its easy to pick out the slime that clearly isn’t doing it for the challenge or for the love of the children.
So to watch CTU teachers imitating Occupy Wallstreet tactics, marching into the streets, flaunting the facts that they want more when some don’t have any is downright heartbreaking. Especially for the parents who are suddenly left with their kids, many of whom have two working parents, watching these teachers purposefully interrupt Loop trains and marching up and down streets mid-rush hour traffic.
The strike has also pitted Rahm against former boss and Chicago’s son Barack Obama, who has kept silent during the ongoings but has previously voiced support for CTU. While campaigning for his job back, it wouldn’t serve Obama well to be caught on either side, but Emanuel’s tacet ties with the administration strain Obama’s attempts to stay in the middle ground.
Rahm Emanuel has already insisted on returning students to the classrooms and negotiators to the table. (I don’t know if Karen Lewis can take any more of that marching around). Students are still out of the classrooms as of Thursday with rumors of a possible return to classes on Friday. Time will tell, but Grosser can guess.
Teacher Strike Results:
Rahm puts a forbearance on the implementation of the new teacher evaluation, classes resume mid-next week, teachers grumble enough to force negotiations again in two years, and we deal with this again. Oh, and maybe Karen Lewis gives Jimmy Hoffa a visit under Jets Stadium for having angered Rahm.
The worst result from the strike? (No, not the uneducated kids, they are already not getting taught while in school) this forced Rahm Emanuel into becoming an accidental Republican. Fighting big labor? Advocating school choice? Getting support from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for your stance? Expect your placard and edible arrangement soon, Rahmmy, and I’ll teach you the secret Republican handshake if you just meet me over the border where it’s safe.