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!

A New Prognostication Contest

A request from a dedicated reader named “Rock’inthashoe:”

Hello The Harold guy!

I was anxiously expecting the Summer/Fall 2011 schedule to see how many mistakes were there (departing from the previous attempt to a common catalog . . .).  The site was reading yesterday night:

“Go to for real-time course information on April 1st”

In the morning today, it read: “Go to for real-time course information on April 1st, after 4 pm.”

[Sigh and some rolling eyes!]

After opening the site again around 4:20 pm., it read:   “Go to for real-time course information on April 1st, after 5 pm.”

[Cynical smile and sigh!]

Now, I tried again around 5:30 pm. and . . . guess what?!, it reads:  “Go to for real-time course information on April 4th”

Suggestion for The Harold:  Can we do a contest on

Do you think the famous 300+ pages Su/Fall 2011 will finally come up on April 4th OR do you think it will be postponed again?

VOTE:  Yes / No   with ideas about why yes or no!

And I would add in a date and a time, too. Closest to the mark of when it goes live, wins.

Oscar Predictions

Ok, so the Grammys Prediction post was a woeful failure, drawing exactly two entries.

Surely, this one will do better.

Post your predictions for who will win the Oscar for: 1) Best Picture, 2) Actor in a Lead, 3) Actress in a Lead, 4) Best Director, 5) Actor in a Supporting Role, 6) Actress in a Supporting Role.

You can click on “the Oscar” above for a link to the nominees (and a ballot if you’re playing along at home with friends).

Lounge Winner gets a firm handshake and some hand sanitizer. Go!


Take an academic guess…

Since this is February and we’ve already heard from “the prognosticators of prognosticators” (that famous groundhog from Puxa-can’t remember-how-you-spells-it-tawny Phil), I thought it’d be a good time to ask the following question:

Can you predict what will happen to the printed book and book stores during the next year?

What’s the rationale for this post? I just received a message from Borders CEO stating they were reorganizing through the Chapter 11 process (not protection). I wasn’t THAT surprised to read the email, but it made me wonder what would happen to book stores in our lifetime. (Think Kindle and all those digital devices out there now, and our publishers slowly moving to electronic textbooks.)

Instead of long-term prognosticating, I went the way of short-term guessin’ like those “inquiring minds” like to do in late December. Couple that with PhiloDave’s magical post from last Saturday and thus this Lounge-iversary post.

Go on, take a guess and check back from time to time.

Pick the Grammys!

The Grammy Awards will be broadcast tonight at 7 p.m. on CBS-TV, which means it’s time for some prognostication, people!

Post your picks in the comments:

#1 Album of the Year–Nominees:
A) “The Suburbs,” Arcade Fire
B) “Recovery,” Eminem
C) “Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum
D) “The Fame Monster,” Lady Gaga
E) “Teenage Dream,” Katy Perry

#2 Record of the Year–Nominees:
A) “Nothin’ On You,” B.o.B Featuring Bruno Mars
B) “Love the Way You Lie,” Eminem Featuring Rihanna “Forget You,” Cee Lo Green
C) “Empire State Of Mind,” Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
D) “Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum

#3 Song of the Year–Nominees:
A) “Beg Steal or Borrow,” Ray LaMontagne
B) “Forget You,” Cee Lo Green
C) “The House That Built Me,” Miranda Lambert
D) “Love the Way You Lie,” Eminem featuring Rihanna
E) “Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum

#4 Best New Artist–Nominees:
A) Justin Bieber
B) Drake
C) Florence and The Machine
D) Mumford and Sons
E) Esperanza Spalding

#5 Best Pop Vocal Album–Nominees:
A) “My World 2.0,” Justin Bieber
B) “I Dreamed a Dream,” Susan Boyle
C) “The Fame Monster,” Lady Gaga
D) “Battle Studies,” John Mayer
E) “Teenage Dream,” Katy Perry

#6 Best Rock Album–Nominees:
A) “Emotion and Commotion,” Jeff Beck
B) “The Resistance,” Muse
C) “Backspacer,” Pearl Jam
D) “Mojo,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
E) “Le Noise,” Neil Young

#7 Best R and B Album–Nominees:
A) “The Love and War Masterpeace,” Raheem DeVaughn
B) “Back to Me,” Fantasia
C) “Another Round,” Jaheim
D) “Wake Up!” John Legend and the Roots
E) “Still Standing,” Monica

#8 Best Rap Album–Nominees:
A) “The Adventures of Bobby Ray,” B.o.B.
B) “Thank Me Later,” Drake
C) “Recovery,” Eminem
D) “The Blueprint 3,” Jay-Z
E) “How I Got Over,” the Roots

#9 Best Country Album–Nominees:
A) “Up on the Ridge,” Dierks Bentley
B) “You Get What You Give,” Zac Brown Band
C) “The Guitar Song,” Jamey Johnson
D) “Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum
E) “Revolution,” Miranda Lambert

#10 Best Alternative Music Album–Nominees:
A) “The Suburbs,” Arcade Fire
B) “Infinite Arms,” Band of Horses
C) “Brothers,” the Black Keys
D) “Broken Bells,” Broken Bells
E) “Contra,” Vampire Weekend