Chicago Teacher Strike
What exactly is going on with the teacher strike in Chicago and what implications does it have for the rest of the country as far as education reform goes?
For starters, Chicago is the nation's third-largest school district with approximately 350,000 students who have been sidelined for the past five school days while the teachers have been on strike.
If this were a boxing match, the bout might be summarized like this:
Chicago Teachers' Union vs. Chicago Public Schools
Karen Lewis (president of the teachers' union) vs. Rahm Emanuel (Mayor of Chicago)
Big-pictures issues at play:
- What role will unions continue to play in this country? See, e.g., Wisconsin.
- What political influence will *union support* have on the presidential campaign.
This strike has been described by some as "a symbol of hope for public teachers and other unions that have been losing ground around the nation." (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/negotiators-reach-framework-to-end-chicago-teachers-strike-classes-could-resume-monday/2012/09/14/bb3fa52c-fed3-11e1-98c6-ec0a0a93f8eb_story.html).
Issues to be resolved during these negotiations include:
The rights of laid-off teachers and the benefits to which they are entitled
New York City has been grappling with many of these issues as well. At least in New York, it seems that the public's view of the teachers' unions have been waning. I had the opportunity to catch Randi Weingarten in conversation with Steven Brill at the 92nd Street Y two nights ago and their interplay typified that tension. (Note: Snickering, hissing, and booing filled the audience...at a venue where good behavior is the norm.)
Although deal proposals have been made and meetings have been held, with the hope that Chicago students will return to school on Monday, it appears that no deal has yet been reached. But we will be watching this one closely.
P.S. (September 27, 2012) - Although the strike is over, questions abound regarding how Chicago will deal with the financial implications of the agreement reached with the Teachers' Union: