Blog: The Educated Reporter

Chicago Strike News and Opinion

Local and National News About the Chicago Teachers Strike (Day 1)

Continuous coverage of the strike from the Chicago Tribune, with brief reports from the picket lines and respective party leadership teams.

Blast from the relative past: May poll conducted by the Tribune finds that the public supports longer school year backed by Emanuel, but favors the union more than Chicago Public Schools.

Tribune breaks down the scene from the mayor’s perspective.

Chicago Sun-Times with its local coverage of the strike and  how it affects parents.

Regardless, the Sun-Times reports that while city aldermen back Emanuel, parents seem to support the teachers

The Huffington Post explains the political fallout of this strike.

HP’s Joy Resmovits and Emmeline Zhao with a detailed look at the deal CTU rejected.

Catalyst Chicago, an education news outlet in the Windy City, also reports on the broken down contract negotiations. The publication also posted a copy of the teacher evaluation plan that the union is opposing. 

Tribune Fact Sheet: State law links one-fifth of a teacher’s performance review to student test scores, though Emanuel wants the value-added component to weigh more. 

CNN tracks the pivot within the Democratic party to embrace the so-called reform approach to public education. Is Rahm Emanuel marching to his own beat or a senior official advocating the reformers’ approach to school management? And how does No Child Left Behind fit into the impasse in Chicago? 

An analysis in the Sun-Times posits the union is striking against Emanuel, not any particular policy grievance, after a year of strongarm tactics from the mayor. 

Video Break: Live stream of the protesting teachers marching

Still, in other cities, value-added scores count toward one half of a teacher’s performance evaluation. 

Politico learns Emanuel cancelled an appearance at a Democratic Party super PAC fundraiser. 

An aggressive new mayor and a more zealous group named CORE that took over the union: Gotham Schools explains why things have come to a head

Even if Michigan teachers feel inspired by CTU’s nearly 30,000-person strike, plenty of Lansing laws stand in their way, reports Dave Murray of MLive. 

Stephen Sawchuk, reporter for the Teacher Beat blog at Education Week, is on the scene filing in-depth reports and policy analysis

The New York Times connects with parents affected by the strikes and notes the major teachers’ union in New York City has its own dissident minority group that could continue what CORE started. 

A powerful Democratic mayor at odds with a union is emblematic of the changing political landscape for Big Labor and the Democratic party. As NPR explains, unions can no longer count on the party’s support and the latter would be remiss if it continued to rely on labor largesse. 

The Associated Press: “Critics note there is little if any evidence basing evaluations on test scores will improve student achievement and argue it is being implemented at a large scale too quickly. Those in support of the revamped evaluations argue that far too many teachers are retained and given above-average reviews without any real assessment.”

What the Partisans and Opinion Makers Say: 

This labor-supported document outlines the chief grievances of the Chicago Teachers Union. Notice only one mention of salaries, at item six.

Meanwhile, here’s a list of what Chicago Public Schools put on the table. Highlights include 16 percent pay increase over four years, a slight reduction in the school hours mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed for, paid maternity leave, priority rehire window for previously laid-off teachers, and more.

Dissent, a quarterly magazine sympathetic to labor unions, has a collection of perspectives from key players and left-leaning publications. 

Chicago Sun-Times editorial calls CTU’s actions an “unwise ‘strike of choice.’”

President Barack Obama is taking no sides in the labor disagreement between CTU and his former White House Chief of Staff. That the president is most closely associated with Chicago means his communications team is working overtime to offend no one. 

 ” & those who do not condemn their selfish actions are choosing to put personal politics above the kids. 

Strong words from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (but overlook the key foil to CTU, former White House Chief of Staff and current mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel):

 President Obama has chosen his side in this fight, sending his Vice President last year to assure the nation’s largest teachers union that ‘you should have no doubt about my affection for you and the President’s commitment to you.’ I choose to side with the parents and students

Tweet break: : On teachers strike in Chicago  says:

“we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel”

 Mike Petrilli of Education Next and Fordham Institute fame looks at the political ramifications of a drawn-out labor dispute. After noting the average Chicago teacher earns roughly $76,000, he writes:

Already, the press accounts in nearby Midwestern swing states (think: Wisconsin and Ohio) are hostile to the actions of the teachers, which can’t be good for Democrats in an election year. This drama is playing out in Chicago but how it’s reported in Milwaukee,Cleveland, and Columbus could very well impact the election.

Relevant tweet from a left-leaning news personality and comedian: RT @MattFilipowicz: Dems, you were all up in arms when Walker attacked unions, now that Rahm’s doing it, which side are you on?#CTUstrike

Influential New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse plays some inside baseball: ‏@greenhousenyt: “Wondering whether 1 reason Rahm quit as co-chair of Obama campaign was he expected ugly #teacher strike & feared it’d hurt Obama #CTUstrike”

The related article, here.

Washington Post blogger/writer Dylan Matthews relies on previous studies to make the case the labor dispute is bad for kids. “Strikes, in other words, accounted for one third of why some students did better than others” Dylan writes in summarizing one report that compared the achievement levels of students affected by teacher strikes and those who were not.

Xian Barrett, a Chicago social studies teacher and one-time guest speaker at an EWA School Improvement Grant event, writes an open letter to CPS’ CEO Jean-Claude Brizard that responds to the school leader’s claim the strike is hurting students:

When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.

When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.

When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.


When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a “full school day” and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.

Twitter photo break  

Andrew Rotherham argues in Time magazine that contract negotiations should be conducted in full view of the public. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, he notes, but labor leaders and city officials have reason to fear a privy public:

In Chicago, for instance, city officials aren’t eager to broadcast some of the provisions in the teachers’ contract that are designed to control costs because they could make it harder to attract seasoned teachers from other school districts. That’s a hard one to explain to parents, who want the best teachers for their kids but don’t understand the ins and outs of personnel rules.

Demos, a left-wing think-tank, argues the middle class can benefit from more labor disputes.

The National Review’s John Fund excoriates the union for making $30,000 more than the average worker in Chicago. It also picks on the city’s NAEP scores, even though the city has shown a decade of growth. CPS’ eighth graders in mathematics trail slightly the rest of the country’s large city students according to the Nation’s Report Card. Fourth graders have some catching up to do. It’s the same story for both grades in reading. 

Two left-wing reporters, one of whom who is also a labor organizer, believe the headlines are dwelling on superficial differences between the city and the union. The privatization of education, through charter schools and cozy city-business relations, are gutting spending for traditional schools and making the teachers look bad. 

“RE: that last RT – talk of “failing” schools exists for 1 reason & 1 reason only – to pave the way for the privatization of public ed.”

Photo credits: Flickr/ peoplesworld