Mayor Rahm puts striking teachers in a no-win position | Bleader

Friday, April 1, 2016

Mayor Rahm puts striking teachers in a no-win position

Posted By on 04.01.16 at 05:00 AM

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click to enlarge Chicago teachers protest in late February. The Chicago Teachers Union is staging a planned one-day strike Friday. - BRIAN JACKSON/ FOR THE SUN-TIMES
  • Brian Jackson/ for the Sun-Times
  • Chicago teachers protest in late February. The Chicago Teachers Union is staging a planned one-day strike Friday.

As the countdown continued toward today's one-day teachers strike, I started getting calls from the we-love-Rahm community—there are still a few members out there—teasing me about my "Jacobin friends" in the Chicago Teachers Union.

The Jacobins were the most radical elements in the French Revolution, who eventually seized control of the government and started leading people to the guillotines. 

As you can see, Rahm's pals don't have what we might call a positive view of our teachers and their union.

I get a lot of wisecracks about the Jacobins whenever CTU plans a job action—along with wisecracks about Karen Lewis, who these critics almost universally refer to as "your girl."

As though that's what her parents had named her.

I'm not sure I share my Rahm friends' disdain for the French Revolution. After all, it gave us La Marseillaise, the song sung by resistance fighter Victor Laszlo to drown out the evil Major Strasser and his Nazi cohorts in that great scene from Casablanca.

I'm pretty sure that even Mayor Rahm would have been with Laszlo over Major Strasser. Governor Rauner, on the other hand? Just kidding, Bruce.

And, as much as I respect Karen Lewis for having the guts to stand up to the man, I must concede my Rahm friends may actually have a point about this current dispute. Hey, even a broken watch is right twice a day.

The point is—I'm not a big fan of this walkout. 

In fact, many of CTU's recent actions leave me scratching my head. Like its inability to just bury the hatchet already in its endless fight with state rep Christian Mitchell.

In the case of this strike, I'm not sure how it helps the union achieve its objective of winning a just and fair contract for its members.

Of course, this is a good time to mention that Mayor Emanuel has not exactly been an innocent bystander in all of this.

This is his second strike in less than four years—and the city hadn't had one in 19 years before that.

Over the past five years, he's done more to denigrate and demean the job of being a Chicago public school teacher than any mayor in my lifetime.

And I go back to the days of Daddy Daley—as in Richard J.

Emanuel's cut teachers' pay, lengthened their hours, increased harassment with petty work rules, and battered everyone with silly tests.

All the while trying to weaken the union by farming out contracts to nonunion charters.

We wouldn't even be having this strike if he hadn't walked away from a one-year deal last summer because he didn't want to change his teacher evaluation system.

Which is utterly reviled by just about everyone, especially principals who have to fill out mountains of paperwork.

Unfortunately for teachers, as bad as Rahm is, Rauner's even worse—what with his talk of bankrupting CPS.

The two of them have apparently concluded that the way to improve public education is to turn teachers into at-will employees who need a second job to pay the basic bills. 

So, yes, if teachers want to express their anger and frustration with a one-day walkout, I can understand why some people would want to put on their red T-shirts and join the march.

No matter how much that may upset the Marie Antoinettes of our city.

I also realize this strike inconveniences parents, many of whom are not too happy, to put it mildly, with "your girl" Lewis.

A lot of these parents aren't even to be blamed, 'cause they voted for Jesus Garcia in the last mayoral election.

But the rest of you? WTF—you voted for Rahm! You knew what the guy was up to. What did you expect would happen?

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