More on the Strike

So, when will it end? What’s your guess? I pick Wednesday the 19th at 3pm. Price is right rules (closest to the actual date and time of the official announcement or official press release; but if you’re over, you’re out). Post your guess in the comments. You may receive some mints and a highlighter if I remember to deliver them.

Now, on to some of the news (I’m assuming that people are watching the Mainstream media coverage and don’t need to link to it here):


Notice that no one is pushing charter schools in wealthy communities because public schools there are thriving. In other words, the school district I grew up in is still a good school district — not because of unions or vouchers or high-stakes testing but because of taxes.

But in poor neighborhoods and inner cities across the United States, students are struggling because their communities are struggling — conditions only made worse by the recent recession. The teachers and teachers’ unions who work in these districts to try to help are part of the solution. Poverty, homelessness and the dramatic funding cuts to social services that help needy families, as well as the cuts to public education, are the problem. And we can’t expect teachers to do more and more when conservative austerity measures are giving poor kids and their schools less and less.

Teachers are advocates for their students. Teachers’ unions are advocates for teachers. And teachers know what makes schools work, but those who oppose teachers’ unions are plainly trying to undermine what has worked for generations in our education system and are using teachers as a scapegoat to do it.  The teachers on strike in Chicago are fighting for their students to get a quality education. I know my teachers would have been fighting, too, and I would have been right there with them, with admiration and gratitude.

Another Teacher’s Voice on Gaper’s Block (via Mike Klonsky’s blog):

Teachers in no way shape or form want to strike, we want to be working with and educating your children. The CTU, which represents and is elected by 26,000 educators across this city has had over 50 negotiation meetings with CPS since November 2011. In all of that time “CEO” Brizard has attended zero of those meetings, which means there was no one from CPS at the bargaining table with any educational experience.

So I ask, how do you bargain on what is best for students with people who have never taught students?

On Negotiating and negotiations, in general (in The New Republic):

But the more I think about what’s required to get to a serious negotiation, let alone to reach an agreement, the less enamored I am with the sort of approach to which Fisher devoted his life, the theory, jargon and modeling—let alone the whole academic programs that purport to teach conflict resolution or how to negotiate. Based on my experience, which I concede is limited to Arab-Israeli negotiations, I just don’t think they answer the mail about how and when negotiations can actually work.

That’s largely because real negotiations are often the very antithesis of thoughtful, systematic, rational and intellectually honest exercises. In fact, they’re driven and shaped by factors, such as luck, politics and personality, that are hard to quantify and more experiential than analytical.

A Philosopher’s View (from Hyde Park, vis a vis his blog, The Leiter Reports, with lots of good links):

There is only one problem confronting urban public schools, and it has nothing to do with the schools or the teachers, contrary to all the blather by idle-rich busybodies and the intellectually feeble politicans who do their bidding.  The primary problem with urban public schools is that they largely serve a population that lives under conditions of economic hardship, sometimes grotesque economic hardship, with all the attendant problems of poor nutrition, physical safety, availability of adult supervision after school, and suitable environments and incentives for school work.  That, of course, is why suburban public schools in affluent communities–with unionized teachers who are no different than those in the urban schools–always do better on measures of academic performance and outcomes.  If you don’t have to worry whether there will be food for dinner, or whether you will be mugged, or if anyone will be available to take care of you, or whether you’ll have a quiet place to work, it turns out to be easier to do well in school.  It’s got nothing to do with the teachers, and everything to do with the environment.  (Here and there, fabulous teaching makes a difference, but you can’t make policy around atypical cases.)

Another philosophical view in Dissent Magazine:

When Emanuel ran for mayor of Chicago, one of his announced political goals was to “reform” Chicago public schools. The system is the third largest in the country and has a high percentage of children from low-income families (80 percent of Chicago’s public school attendees qualify for free lunches). To understand what “reform” means to Emanuel, we should take the advice of Deep Throat regarding Watergate: “Follow the money.” It is a good guide to what Chicago is and is not doing for its school children.

On CPS CEO J.C. Brizard (last week before the strike):

ll the spin and votes of confidence aside, please don’t forget the reality of this thing: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is famous for saying that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

And he won’t waste this one, either. He will get rid of Brizard. It is written. But it will be done on the Rahmfather’s timetable, and only after he’s used him for whatever utility value remains.

One possible scenario: The teachers actually do go on strike, Brizard becomes the focus of all the bad news, parents who can’t find day care begin to get furious and he soaks up all the negativity.

Then the Rahmfather relieves him and steps in and makes a deal.

School chiefs, like police chiefs, are not mere administrators. In political terms they are human shields, buffers of skin and bone standing between the mayor and bad news. They’re grown-ups, so they know they are hired to be fired.

From Tribune Editors (on Brizard) last week before the strike:

The Tribune on Friday reported a stunner: Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has gotten sharply critical reviews from the Board of Education and could be fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Within hours, Emanuel denied he was about to push his schools CEO out the door.

Fred Klonsky’s Blog (featuring a response to a letter from a disgruntled parent):

Teachers in Chicago don’t make $76,000 dollars. Most make far less than that. You are confusing everyone making with averages. Sleeping during your math class was probably a mistake.

The union didn’t turn down a 16% pay raise. The offer was 3% the first year and 2% the second and third year. You add those up and get 16%? See? Sleeping during math? Not good. The reason the teachers are out is not because of the pay offer. Both sides agree that they are close on that point.

One issue that remains unresolved is this: If you are a teacher with a good evaluation and job performance review and your school closes through no fault of your own, you now have no right to a job in another Chicago school. Makes your “job-secure teacher” argument sound kind of stupid, doesn’t it?

The New York Times Editors are against it (but check out the comments–the readers seem to be in support):

Teachers’ strikes, because they hurt children and their families, are never a good idea. The strike that has roiled the civic climate in Chicago — and left 350,000 children without classes — seems particularly senseless because it is partly a product of a personality clash between the blunt mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and the tough Chicago Teachers Union president, Karen Lewis. Beyond that, the strike is based on union discontent with sensible policy changes — including the teacher evaluation system required by Illinois law — that are increasingly popular across the country and are unlikely to be rolled back, no matter how long the union stays out.

The Solidarity Campaign (Ways to Help):

Visibly and audibly support CTU by: 1) Talking with your friends, family and co-workers,

2) Downloading materials or picking them up from strike HQ and distributing them,

3) Wearing our t-shirt or other red clothing in solidarity. You can also use a red ribbon to tie around your neighborhood or clothing. (Our shirts can be bought at strike HQ, our events, or you can place a minimum order of 24 at $11.50 each union-made, union-printed CTSC shirts by contacting American Campaigns Co. at  (773) 261-6800  or email Gigi

4) Put a CTU support sign in your window/yard. Distribute signs to coffee shops, work places, other public spots.

5) Host a meeting at your home or school to help your friends, family and neighbors understand what’s really at stake and brainstorm ways we can all make a difference at this critical time. Contact and Parents4Teachers will help facilitate the meeting and make a presentation.

6) Get creative and get the word out!

Add links to interesting stuff you’ve read (for either side) in the comments!

2 thoughts on “More on the Strike

  1. Good stuff, phD.

    On charter schools, the reason politicos like these schools is ’cause they control the institution right down to who they want to bring in to teach. They get what they want. That means they get non-union teachers. They are becoming popular, not because they are better, but because they hire and fire at will and teachers can’t say a thing. They’re good? Maybe. They’re great for killing the teacher’s union? You bet.

    Teachers don’t want to strike. All this talk of how they are hurting the children is BS. CPS teacher have children that attend CPS schools. They know what’s at stake. To say they have no clue is just untrue.

    Negotiations. Haven’t been a part of a negotiating team so I can’t speak to that. However, I do believe we should have cameras in the negotiating room and we should be allowed to see and hear what goes on. Public schools = public knowledge. These are my tax dollars, so show me how they’re being spent. This would also take the media out of the middle and level the playing field of who-said-what-when-and-where.

    The Klonsky Blog has good stuff too. I was going to comment on one of the postings but found myself reading as many as I could. Boy, I sure would like to hear Kozol speak in Chicago again.

  2. Oops, forgot to place my guess: Tuesday the 18th of September at 11:34pm.

    Can we get a Price Is Right going on when Brizard will be fired?

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