What does the country think of Chicago's teachers' strike?

September 12, 2012

Chicagoans absolutely love it when people in other cities pass judgment on our politics (see the comments on this article in The Atlantic about Mayor Rahm Emanuel). Here's a smattering of what national publications are saying about our teachers' strike.

Thesis: "Teachers’ strikes, because they hurt children and their families, are never a good idea."

Facts they rely on: Teachers are already well-paid; the proposed evaluation system is sound.

If they had to, who would they side with?: The Mayor and CPS.

Most accusatory phrase: "holding the city hostage."

Key quote: "Moreover, Ms. Lewis, who seems to be basking in the power of having shut down the school system, seems more inclined toward damaging the mayor politically than in getting this matter resolved. If the strike goes on for much longer, the union could pay a dear price in terms of public opinion."

 

Thesis: Everyone in Chicago is really annoyed at these dumb teachers.

Facts they rely on: An interview in the Huffington Post with parent and activist Wendy Katten of Raise Your Hand for IL Public Ed.

If they had to, who would they side with?: The Mayor and CPS.

Most accusatory phrase: "Will the city give in?"

Key quote: "Air conditioning, apparently, is not a primary concern."

 

Thesis: If Rahm Emanuel gets his way, school reform will have a new king.

Facts they rely on: Wage increase percentages and teacher retention rules.

If they had to, who would they side with?: The Mayor, all the way.

Most accusatory phrase:  "Ultimately, this imminent strike represents a challenge to the wave of school reforms imposed first by President Bush's No Child Left Behind and then - even more aggressively - by President Obama's Race to the Top."

Key quote: "Of course at that point, we'll hear that this new ultra-confrontational Democratic flag-bearer is a sad decline from the inclusive, conciliatory style of Barack Obama, by then promoted almost to an honorary Republican."

 

Thesis: Unions are weaker than they used to be, but Emanuel has a tough fight ahead of him.

Facts they rely on: References to Karen Lewis' infamous imitation of Arne Duncan.

If they had to, who would they side with?: CTU.

Most accusatory phrase: "It was all self-absorbed, shabby and suggestive of a leader about to take her troops over a cliff."

Key quote: "The mayor is triathlon fit, famously disciplined and generally as serious as a heart attack. Lewis is overweight, scattered in her ways and a wisecracking former chemistry teacher and failed stand-up comic."

 

Thesis: These kids need to be in school because they can't spell.

Facts they rely on: Tweets.

If they had to, who would they side with?: The children! Think of them!

Most accusatory phrase: "The Chicago Teachers Union called a strike Sunday night. The kids will learn to spell whenever they get back."

Key quote: "Yay/noooo THERES NO SKOOL...NOW GRADUATION GONE GIT PUSHED BACK ..!!!! :("

 

Thesis: You name it, teachers are doing it wrong.

Facts they rely on: Chicago's school day is/was too short, teachers get paid enough, principals should hire who they want.

If they had to, who would they side with?: The Mayor and CPS.

Most accusatory phrase: "Who, other than union leaders, think it’s a good idea to force principals to hire from a pool of people whose only qualification is previous service and who in many cases were deemed to have been ineffective?"

Key quote: "A scandalously low 56 percent of Chicago students graduate from high school. That is the status quo the union is fighting to preserve."

 

Thesis: Unions are the best.

Facts they rely on: A lot of numbers.

If they had to, who would they side with?: CTU all the way.

Most accusatory phrase: "[Teachers] don’t trust the mayor — who the union’s feisty president, Karen Lewis, claims told her at a social outing at the ballet shortly after his election 'that 25 percent of the students in this city are never going to be anything, never going to amount to anything and he was never going to throw money at them.'"

Key quote: "So though this may change if the strike turns lengthy and disruptive, Chicago isn’t seeing its teachers as greedy. They’re seeing them as a vanguard in the struggle against what might happen to the rest of the middle class next if they don’t speak up."

 

Thesis: A teacher suggests that Mayor Rahm Emanuel likes Nickelback.

Facts they rely on: Sign said teacher used in a rally.

If they had to, who would they side with?: Maybe Nickelback.

Most accusatory phrase: "In an urgent email to the Chicago Tribune, a spokeswoman for Rahm Emanuel sought to assure constituents that the mayor is most definitely not a fan of Nickelback."

Key quote: "...as this photo clearly shows, the protests have already taken a turn for the dirty."

 

Thesis: Why does everyone hate teachers all of a sudden?

Facts they rely on: 80 percent of CPS students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch; only 60 percent graduated from high school this year.

If they had to, who would they side with?: CTU.

Most accusatory phrase: "She said this with the same kind of social enthusiasm with which she might have recommended a new Zumba class, or passed on the name of a place to get really great birthday cakes."

Key quote: "A certain casual demonization of teachers has become sufficiently culturally prevalent that it passes for uncontroversial."

 

 

Thesis: "Nobody disputes the notion that Chicago's schools need help."

Facts they rely on: Numbers, which "indicate that this is not a small labor dispute."

If they had to, who would they side with?: CTU.

Most accusatory phrase: "Blame for the strike will inevitably fall on Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emmanuel [sic], who was not present at the negotiations on Sunday."

Key quote: "But just because he's got an epic labor struggle on his hands doesn't mean Rahm should stop being Rahm, now, does it?"

 

Did we miss any good ones? Leave them in the comments and we'll add them.