Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thankfully, the CTU didn't take Zorn's advice

You may remember, it was just a little over two weeks ago that Tribune columnist Eric Zorn was urging the Chicago Teachers Union to throw in the towel in its fight with the mayor over the 90-minute-longer school day.

Zorn advised CTU leaders on Sept. 16 to "graciously surrender."
I couldn't begin to guess which side has the stronger case — labor law is pretty dense — but I can helpfully imagine for the teachers union what the headlines will be if they happen to prevail:
Teachers win: School day shortened
Union turns back clock on school reform
Students lose learning time as teachers get back shorter schedules

Well it's a damn good thing that Zorn's warnings went unheeded. None of his doomsday predictions materialized. None of those headlines appeared in print. In fact, here's the actual headline on today's column:

Brizard failed to sway the rank and file to a longer school day this year 

He writes:
If you’re keeping score at home, which I happen to be, the tally looks to be stuck: 
Chicago Public Schools –13 Chicago Teachers Union – 470 
Well Eric, I was also keeping score and that sounds like somewhat of a a defeat for our autocratic mayor. In other words, even with all of Rahm's threats; even with his bribing of teachers to break with their own union and abandon their own collective bargaining agreement; even with all that, Rahm could only get 13 schools to bite.

In fact, according to Zorn himself, it's Rahm and Brizard who have thrown in the towel --at least for now. They were out-maneuvered when the union put forth its own play for a "better" restructured school day -- one that included academic enrichment, more arts and teacher planning time as opposed to Rahm's call for more seat time. In other words, they changed the whole narrative away from longer vs. shorter school day.

More Zorn:
Whether you think a 2.7 percent acceptance rate is good news --- most teachers have put the brakes on a hastily implemented plan that asks them to set aside a key portion of their collective bargaining agreement    --- or bad news --- most students will not this year get the extra classroom time some of them badly need --- it certainly reflects the failure of new Chicago schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard to make his case to the rank and file. And it's almost certainly why, Friday, Brizard sent a letter to union leader Karen Lewis saying "the time is right to turn the Pioneer Project into a collaboration between the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union leadership..."
There's an important lesson in all this. Next time a Tribune columnist offers your union tactical advice, do just the opposite and victory is practically assured.

1 comment:

  1. The other lesson we can draw --

    after months of the new mayor beating up the CTU in the media, his sending Brizard to make nice is futile.


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