Rahm: Enough’s Enough, Get the kids back in school

Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago and erstwhile right-hand man to President Obama, is flexing his muscles over this teacher’s strike — what say you?

The irony, of course: a big time Democrat fighting the union.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he will file a court injunction to force an end to the Chicago teacher’s strike which is heading into its second week.

In a statement, Emanuelblasted the teachers union for failing to end the strike and said he plans to file an injunction to force the strike to end and get kids back to school.

“I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union. This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice that is wrong for our children. Every day our kids are kept out of school is one more day we fail in our mission: to ensure that every child in every community has an education that matches their potential,” Emanuel said.

“I have instructed the City’s Corporation Counsel to work with the General Counsel of Chicago Public Schools to file an injunction in circuit court to immediately end this strike and get our children back in the classroom.” the mayor said.

“This continued action by union leadership is illegal on two grounds – it is over issues that are deemed by state law to be non-strikable, and it endangers the health and safety of our children…While the union works through its remaining issues, there is no reason why the children of Chicago should not be back in the classroom as they had been for weeks while negotiators worked through these same issues.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Kathy

    I’m tired of politicans who say they support teachers, but never want to pay them.

  • Tom

    So Rahm thinks its all the teachers fault and he has nothing to do with it? What an imcompent person. Sounds like we need to go back to an elected school board because he doesn’t seem to be in charge.

  • Deets

    I have little pity for teacher’s unions. They have used the double whammy for too long. They unionize to ague for higher wages and hide behind tenure to avoid accountability. There was a time that teachers were underpaid, but I could just wish for a job that paid the average teacher’s salary in my area, $99K plus great benefits, plus summers off. (I understand Chicago teachers are paid on average $78K. A respectable wage in my opinion.)

    I understand teaching is a difficult job, especially in urban schools like Chicago, but I can also understand the need for a democrat like Emanuel to challenge the union. Education is a high value and the welfare of the city are at stake. I’m sure it is quite conflicting to him, none the less.

  • Scott Gay

    It is the timing of this entire pushback that calls the leadership of the Chicago teachers into question. Politicians have kicked the can down the road on multiple decisions that have to be made, because it depends on the election and the current global and US recession. We’re all sitting on money, decisions about healthcare, our homes, etc. It would help the economy if we didn’t sit, but how many really smart people are sitting. I’m not saying Chicago doesn’t have to make changes( and even increase benefits). I’m saying to accomplish their goals, there is timing involved. There is a time to stand up- there is a time to sit down.

  • James

    Kathy, they are being paid. In fact, they were offered a 16%(!!!) pay raise and have refused it. Do you get that at your job? Most USAmericans can’t even dream of such in a normal economy, much less this current one in shambles. Further, the average teacher in this strike already makes a median salary of $67,974/year (source: CNN).

    Whatever the spin by both sides of this fight, the problem is not that no one wants to pay teachers. That’s a political straw man.

    (And lest anyone think my post sounds anti-teacher, nothing could be further from the truth. I come from a family with dozens of family members in every level of public education including bus drivers, teachers, principles, school board members, and superintendents. This is kitchen table fodder in our homes.)

  • Kristin

    There is more to this on both sides. The strike really isn’t about money but since the union is legally only allowed to strike about compensation they are using their ability to strike (over money) to ‘stick it’ to Rahm and his reform efforts. So when he says that the strike is illegal this is what he’s getting at. Technically true, in some regard.

    However, when he initiated the longer school day, he made promises to the union that he reneged on, then proceeded to circumvent the union and offer financial incentive to schools who would opt in early. Many of his reform efforts are disproportionally burdensome on teachers (like more work with no pay), without even lifting a finger to address concerns of poor facilities, overcrowding, etc that are equally weighing on success of CPS teachers. This is why the union is calling Rahm a bully – he really has been a jerk to teachers in my opinion – and this has actually been going on for several MONTHS, but Rahm has been dragging his feet in addressing the union’s concerns.

    In the end, most CPS teachers will tell you they don’t care about money, they care about being given decent opportunity and resources to do their job well. They need things like textbooks to arrive on time, classrooms that are reasonably comfortable and not falling apart, and other things that they are “not allowed to strike about.” From the teacher perspective, Rahm is primarily stacking the odds against their success, and simultaneously raising evaluation standards and lessening job security. That’s why this thing is a horrible mess.

  • PJ Anderson

    Chicago teachers are among the highest paid teachers in the US. I’m okay with that. Frankly, I can barely fathom how a society which deems it appropriate to pay a man millions of dollars for catching a ball yet relegates its educators to second-hand kitchen scraps can exist. We should be paying teachers well.

    However, this Chicago business is an example of hubris and the political decay in unions which are becoming increasingly marginalized in America. They are using children as their human shields and holding an entire city hostage. If the Mayor wanted to handled this well he’d stick to the current offer (which is amazing btw) and fire anyone who didn’t show up to teach tomorrow. After reading the details of the offer made to the union I can’t believe they’d try to do this, going back on their word, and ultimately harming children and their city.

    I appreciate the perspective on how the offers are received and other issues not being discussed in the media. (obviously we as a people cannot sustain an intelligent conversation in the media) I just dont see how using children as a bargaining tool helps your position.

  • Rob Henderson

    Could you imagine how a bunch of us preachers would act if we were unionized?

  • bobgood1

    Teachers need to have a comfortable classroom , not crowded, for an atmosphere to be able to teach subjects and keep the attention of students. They can teach well, if they have the knowledge, supplies and order in the class. It is hard to teach if there are distractions. The test scores are affected by class size. The city might need to work on their budget. Many schools in this Country, have too many executives, overpaid and eating up the Budget.

  • http://intothehills.org Kullervo

    Not all Democrats are reflexively pro-union.

  • Patrick

    Cuomo in New York also is having a row with Teacher’s and other public unions. Walker in Wisconsin and Ohio is starting to have a debate. Illinois and California are in fiscal armaggedon and Willie Brown, another routine liberal, has berated the public unions in California. States can no longer afford these deals they’ve made, this ain’t the last word on governance and public union clashes.

    Rahm acting this way says the situation is terrible. No way he’d choose to make his own constituency mad. Remember, states can’t “create money” like the US fed can. They really have to pay their bills and revenue is not good since 08.

  • http://intothehills.org Kullervo

    I’m just glad my kids are back in school today.

  • Lord Valiant

    Siding with the teachers on this one. Teachers are already unusually selfless but no one should make them sacrifice their entire selves on the altar of neoliberal reform and privatization. It always strikes me as interesting that these so-called ‘reformers’ always pull the FOR THE CHILDREN card and blame the educators who want less testing, smaller classes, better conditions, poverty ameliration, etc.

    At the end of the day it isn’t entirely about the benjamins but even if it were- what’s so wrong with that? What sane professional would choose poor conditions for ever poorer pay solely for the sake of other people’s children? Teachers have families and children of their own- they deserve pay and respect for their work. Tax some rich folk to do it properly.

  • http://intothehills.org Kullervo

    At the end of the day it isn’t entirely about the benjamins but even if it were- what’s so wrong with that?

    Because, by law, CPS teachers are only allowed to strike about the Benjamins.


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