At long last, Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have come to terms with the Chicago Teachers’ Union and ended the seven-day strike. But, alas, they are not terms that should be applauded. Our friends at the Illinois Policy Institute today released a statement from their CEO, John Tillman, giving the reaction. I’ll just paste it here, because I couldn’t say it much better myself:
The Chicago Teachers Union may have decided to end its strike, but kids once again are the loser.
For seven days, Chicago kids have not been able to go to class because the Chicago Teachers Union would rather pursue its own interests at the bargaining table than teach. Now, kids will return tomorrow to the same failing system that benefits adults more than it does children.
While some facets of the contract between Chicago Public Schools and the CTU are still being worked out, here is what we know:
Teacher evaluations: On Wednesday, Chicago students will walk into a classroom where mediocrity, if not outright failure, not only is acceptable – it is protected. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s willingness to back down from stricter teacher evaluation standards will continue to hurt students.
Merit pay: In taking merit pay off the table, Mayor Rahm Emanuel will allow Chicago to be a place where bad teachers are protected at the expense of excellent teachers. Fiscal reality: Over the next four years, CPS will act irresponsibly by handing out raises in excess of 16 percent. This is despite the fact that Chicago Public Schools already is draining its reserve funds and plans to operate $1 billion in the red next year even before added expenses. Where will the money come from? Taxpayers all across Illinois: Watch your wallets.
Parents are relieved that their students will return to school, and rightfully so. But it is important that we not consider the return to school a victory in itself. It should give us all serious pause that one of the most radicalized government unions in the country was just able to bring public education to a screeching standstill – at least until Mayor Emanuel put taxpayers on the hook for the union’s demands.
CPS is a monopoly provider of educational services to the 350,000 kids who were locked out of the schools. Further, the CTU is the monopoly provider of teaching labor, and has been able to hold students hostage while they strong-arm the school system for less accountability and higher wages.
The Mayor and Karen Lewis put their political power interests ahead of the children’s best interest. What could have been a shining moment of leadership has turned into a dull, numbing disappointment.