Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rahm and Mitt try damage control

I turned on the TV this morning to see the new ad with Rahm doing damage control. He's claiming he won the contract battle that led to the 7-day teachers strike by getting his longer school day in place along with evaluating teachers based on student standardized test scores. The ads are being paid for by DFER hedge-funders and school voucher advocates, Whitney Tilson and Ravenel Boykin Curry IV.

Rahm's attempt to clean up his mess parallels and sounds remarkably similar to Mitt Romney's pathetic attempt at damage control over his "off the cuff" remarks to funders claiming that half of us are parasites who pay no taxes. The problem for both Rahm and Mitt is that the more they talk the worse it gets.

Newstips Curtis Black has a great column, "Strike Notes", in which he quotes veteran Chicago political analyst Don Rose:
“The bottom line,” he argues at the Chicago Daily Observer, “is that Emanuel is out of the running as a presidential or vice-presidential candidate in 2016.” Maybe you can run without labor support, but running against active labor opposition is something else.
Black writes:
Mayor Emanuel has his own public relations conundrum at this point, and it’s not just a matter of rhetoric: he (and the business leaders and newspapers) are claiming that in order to pay for the new contract, they’re going to have to close down schools. In the meantime they’re planning to open up 60 new charter schools. In fact, this year’s budget has an additional $76 million for charters, which cost the district well over $500 million a year.

“We’re kind of confused about that,” said Wendy Katten of the Raise Your Hand Coalition. “If they’re claiming they have 130,000 unfilled seats in the district, why are they opening 60 new schools? That’s crazy. That’s just absurd.”

How to make the case? Always ready to help, the Tribune offers this line of argument:: charter schools are the best tool for busting the teachers union. Bruce Rauner, private equity mogul and major charter sponsor, chimes in that the goal is “separating teachers from the union.”
Black nails it.


  1. Hi Mike,
    I am a CTU supporter, and I am concerned and confused about this WBEZ article: When you get a chance, would you please confirm whether this is the case, and explain how it will Chicago effect teachers? Thanks again!

  2. Linda,

    Yes, as far as I can tell, despite a heroic battle by the CTU, students' standardized test scores will still be the main factor is evaluating Chicago teachers. The reason? It's dictated by state law -- a bi-product of No Child Left Behind and Arne Duncan's Race to the Top. The strike was able to reduce the degree of test influence slightly and the new contract calls for more union input on evaluation issues. But the WBEZ article is essentially correct.

    This shows that the contract can only do so much. The struggle continues.

  3. You're welcome, Linda. I hope I haven't oversimplified. There were some important changes won by the union around evaluation. At least so I've heard. For example, I've heard that evaluation will not be based on ACT scores, but rather on teacher-made tests. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong on this. But that can make a big difference.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.