CHICAGO, September 17, 2012— The blush is not off the rose, as some in the Chicago media are claiming. The Chicago media claim Mayor Rahm Emanuel lost his “luster” due to the teacher strike. Funny how they all used the same word, luster. They must have had a meeting ahead of time or something.
Sort of like the media does when it reports on President Obama and Mitt Romney. The media is as corrupt as ubiquitous Chicago aldermen.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is one the new breed of innovative leaders trying to reform moribund government systems. Those who see the settling of the Chicago teacher strike as a loss of “luster” for the mayor severely underestimate Rahm Emanuel and his brain trust.
The teacher strike was not unavoidable as it was planned. It was a strike of choice. Karen Lewis chose to strike. No matter what the city offered the teachers, Karen Lewis was going to strike. No ifs, ands, or buts.
This is not a teacher strike. This is a Karen Lewis strike.
Chicago is the third largest public education system in the nation. It was the next stop after Wisconsin in the education reform movement versus the entrenched antediluvian teacher unions.
The education reform movement is not just new breed technocrat politicians. It is parents, experts in education, finance, business, and concerned people all over the country. These people see broken systems. They see school systems operating in the past with no concern for the future. They see the products of public school systems ill equipped to handle the challenges of the business word. The private sector economy. The only economy that counts.
The teacher unions have been obstructionists, sabotaging, and setting up barriers and roadblocks to any meaningful education reform for decades.
The unions are threatened by education reform. It calls for measurement of teaching effectiveness, the ability to fire teachers for poor performance, and in some cases the elimination of tenure. Tenure allows teachers to have jobs for life no matter how bad they are.
Mayor Emanuel is surrounded by a brain trust of like-minded innovative business and civic leaders. People, who see different and better ways of doing things, people who believe in evolution instead of stagnation and devolution. They are futurists not members of the Way Back Machine Society.
If it were up to the teachers unions we would still have one-room schoolhouses and use switches for discipline.
Changing the way government entities doe’s things is more difficult than innovating in the private sector. Policies and bureaucracies are forever and a day. Government needs to move at the speed of business. It needs to be more innovative, flexible, and accepting of change. That includes the education system.
Emanuel faced three very real problems with the Chicago Public School System. The system has been operating in the same fashion for decades. It is based on an entrenched bureaucracy and method of operation that guarantees union teachers and bureaucrats remain entrenched in their jobs. It does not matter whether they perform or those jobs are even necessary.
The other problem is national. Emanuel, like other new breed political innovators must butt heads with public employee unions in order to modernize and stream line inefficient, broken down, and antediluvian operations. The unions are living in the past.
If Wisconsin was the national test case for public employee unions, Chicago is ground zero for their movement. Emanuel’s predecessor, Richard M. Daley, publicly scorned the unions while making sweetheart deals and creating feather bed jobs behind closed doors.
He went the easy route of win-win situations. The mayor was happy, the unions were happy; the employees, students, and the taxpayers lost each and every time.
Change is difficult. It is uncomfortable. It angers people who are used to the same old way of doing things. Chicago Teacher Union president Karen Lewis is one of those people. She wants to keep trying the same old educational programs, policies, systems, and politics that have been failing for decades. It is a system that does not work for students, teachers, or individual schools.
If the mayor did falter, it was his singular approach to the strike. Neither he, nor the Chicago Public School System adequately explained how their plans, systems, and policies would improve education. Instead Emanuel criticized while CPS remained mute.
The situation became an issue of personalities instead of a labor, management, and education issue. It was Karen Lewis versus Rahm Emanuel. Lewis had tens of thousands of teachers and parents behind her. Emanuel stood alone. He did not build a coalition of supporters, especially middle class taxpayers who will bear the onus for this contract, once again.
Mayor Emanuel’s other problem is Chicago Aldermen. Some openly supported the teachers. Some were wishy-washy. Others took the intelligent route and remained silent. The alderman need, want, and desire the bribes the Chicago Teachers Union pay them with campaign contributions. The union supports the aldermen and the aldermen support the unions.
Chicago Aldermen never support the people who elect them or pay the taxes that allow their six figure executive salaries, benefits, pensions, and perks for what is legally a part time job.
Aldermen do not care about children. They do not care about taxpayers. They only care about money. That’s the Chicago Way.
If you need evidence that this strike was planned all along consider this. All the tee shirts, signs, window posters, yard signs, and other promotional materials did not miraculously appear over night. Those had to be planned well in advance for tens of thousands of people to get them in time. There is no quick turn around in that business when dealing with huge amounts of materiel.
Karen Lewis deftly out maneuvered Mayor Emanuel. She planned a strike. She wanted a strike. She got a strike. The national teachers unions wanted this strike too. They hope that if they are successful in Chicago other cities will fall into line and just give them what they want, business as usual. Kids suffer and taxpayers suffer.
They do not care where the money comes from. Remember, last year all the public employee unions, tens of thousands of people descended upon the Illinois State capital. They chanted loudly, “Raise taxes”. The corrupt Illinois politicians did and the campaign bribe checks flowed.
In Chicago and Illinois it is all about the campaign bribe checks. Students, parents, taxpayers, and citizens be damned.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone. Mr. Bella is a member of the National Press Photographers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.
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