Last Updated:August 23 @ 07:55 am

Rahm Emanuel seeks to force teachers back in classrooms

By Sophia Tareen and Tammy Webber

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is turning to the courts to try to put an end to a teachers strike that's entering its second week and has left parents scrambling to make alternative child care arrangements for at least two more days.

The union and school leaders seemed headed toward a resolution at the end of last week, saying they were optimistic students in the nation's third-largest school district would be back in class by Monday. But teachers uncomfortable with a tentative contract offer decided Sunday to remain on strike, saying they needed more time to review a complicated proposal.

Emanuel fired back, saying he told city attorneys to seek a court order forcing Chicago Teachers Union members back into the classroom.

The strike is the first for the city's teachers in 25 years and has kept 350,000 students out of class, leaving parents to make other plans.

Working mom Dequita Wade said that when the strike started, she sent her son 15 miles away to a cousin's house so he wouldn't be left unsupervised in a neighborhood known for violent crime and gangs. She was hoping the union and district would work things out quickly.

"You had a whole week. This is beginning to be ridiculous," Wade said. "Are they going to keep prolonging things?"

Months of contract negotiations have come down to two main issues central to the debate over the future of education across the United States: teacher evaluations and job security.

Union delegates said they felt uncomfortable approving the contract because they had seen it only in bits. The union will meet again Tuesday, after the end of the Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.

"There's no trust for our members of the board," Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis told reporters Sunday night. "They're not happy with the agreement. They'd like it to actually be a lot better."

Emanuel said the strike was illegal because it endangers the health and safety of students and concerned issues — evaluations, layoffs and recall rights — that state law says cannot be grounds for a work stoppage.

"This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice that is wrong for our children," Emanuel said in a written statement.

The strike has shined a spotlight on Emanuel's leadership more than ever, and some experts have suggested the new contract — which features annual pay raises and other benefits — is a win for union.

"I'm hard-pressed to imagine how they could have done much better," said Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "This is a very impressive outcome for the teachers."

With an average salary of $76,000, Chicago teachers are among the highest-paid in the nation, and the contract outline calls for annual raises. But some teachers are upset it did not restore a 4 percent raise Emanuel rescinded last year.

Emanuel pushed for a contract that includes ratcheting up the percentage of evaluations based on student performance, to 35 percent within four years. The union contends that does not take into account outside factors that affect student performance such as poverty and violence.

The union pushed for a policy to give laid-off teachers first dibs on open jobs anywhere in the district, but the city said that would keep principals from hiring the teachers they think are most qualified.

The union has engaged in something of a publicity campaign, telling parents about problems that include a lack of important books and basic supplies.

Some parents said they remain sympathetic to teachers.

"I don't think they're wrong. The things they're asking for are within reason," said Pamela Edwards, who has sent her 16-year-old daughter to one of about 140 schools the district has kept open during the strike to provide meals and supervision.

Others said they understand why teachers are taking their time.

"As much as we want our kids back in school, teachers need to make sure they have dotted all their i's and crossed their t's," said Becky Malone, mother of a second grader and fourth grader, who've been studying at home and going to museums over the last week. "What's the point of going on strike if you don't get everything you need out of it? For parents, it'll be no more of a challenge than it's been in the past week."


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10 Comments

  1. mrsgunnut10Comment by mrsgunnut10
    September 17, 2012 @ 10:38 am

    Would anybody want to bet that “Fishhead” Emanual is waiting for 2016 so he can run for the Presidency?? Playing Mayor of one of the biggest cities in the United States may qualify him as having A ” Foriegn Policy Plan “. If he does run, OBAMASS and his CZAR’s would be his Vice President and Cabinet Officers. Makes one shudder at the thought but with so many Americans so Complacent and Lackadaisical about their families lifestyle,it is possible. Thank you for your time. TSgt., USAF Retired.

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  2. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    September 17, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    Now it boils down to which Liberal Progressive Judicial bribe is bigger,,,,Rahm Emanuel’s or the Unions, who went to school on Rahm and will never again let a crisis go to waste. Chickens coming home to roost, no just socialist self-destructive ideology bearing the fruits of its bankrupt tenets as one Union parasite arm of government tries to suck dry another Democrat Party run government parasite who has already sucked dry the host people of production called the average taxpaying citizen. Yes Folks sooner or later you DO run out of other people’s money.

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  3. cgretiredComment by cgretired
    September 17, 2012 @ 11:18 am

    “Union delegates said they felt uncomfortable approving the contract because they had seen it only in bits. ”

    I wonder if these loyal democrats recall something that happened three years ago when Obamacare came to a vote in the House? Remember when Pelosi said “You can read it once it’s signed”. Remember that?

    Well, I wonder how they feel now. Hey – Union… you can read the damned thing once it’s signed! Take it or leave it!

    How does it feel, you union liberals jerks! And, what’s appropriate is that it’s coming from one of their own! Yeah! Ya gotta love it.

    Remember… what goes around comes around! And in November, it will come around!

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  4. pistol packing mamaComment by txgoatlady
    September 17, 2012 @ 11:38 am

    Is Rahm growing a pair? Fire them all and start over. There are plenty of new graduates with teaching degrees that can’t find a job. $76,000/year is pretty generous for a job with summers off. Heck, back when there was a teaching shortage, people with degrees in other fields and real-world work experience were allowed to teach while they went to night classes for the education classes.

    Also, does anyone get the impression that Becky Malone is probably not a poor, working-class mom? Her kids are studying at home and going to museums during the strike. I bet they aren’t living in a dangerous neighborhood where kids are murdered daily. She may have the luxury of sympathizing with the teachers. The parents working minimum wage jobs to make ends meet probably aren’t as sympathetic.

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    • sexysadieComment by sexysadie
      September 17, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

      Absolutely! Why bother with these overpaid, under achieving, excuses for teachers?? The NEA and all the teachers’ unions and federations are one of the biggest super PAC/lobbyists in Washington. The striking Chicago teachers should be fired and instead of hiring young, brainwashed graduates of departments of education, start over with teachers who are classically trained. Let the new graduates be trained by classically trained teachers. A teacher cannot give what he/she does not have. Classically trained teachers are not hard to find. But you do have to look for them. They CHOOSE not to teach in public schools and for very good reasons. I am classically trained and have taught for over 25 years. I was a principal for 7. It does not take millions of dollars to education children. I know that for a fact.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      September 17, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

      Unforntunately for Chicago Taxpayers, Rahm Emanuel is no Scott Walker. Look to the North Illinois for your economic salvation. The land of sky Blue Waters.

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    • sexysadieComment by sexysadie
      September 17, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

      Inluminatuo: Hey, I remember that jingle! The rest of it goes, “Hammmmm’s!” I think I just aged myself!

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  5. IrishComment by Irish
    September 17, 2012 @ 11:54 am

    I would hope that he has to go through what Gov. Scott Walker went through and gets recalled. He is a jerk. He needs a good old fashioned butt-whipping. Gov. Walker, on the other hand, should not have been put through that mess.

    Rham, I hope this makes everyone of your in-place-hairs on your head fall out. I heard you were a bully, probably got the little-man syndrome.

    Unions stink!

    Vote in Right-to-Work in your state, and let us weaken these public unions.

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  6. bna42Comment by bna42
    September 17, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

    “Emanuel said the strike was illegal because it endangers the health and safety of students and concerned issues — evaluations, layoffs and recall rights — that state law says cannot be grounds for a work stoppage.”

    That being the case, the teachers should have been warned that IF they went on strike they would be subject to prosecution and dismissal.

    However, I find it laughable that Rahm who just came out of the most illegal, corrupt administration in history would now be concerned about law violations.

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  7. will1970Comment by will1970
    September 17, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

    how could emanuel break from his former boss OBAMA he said if he did’nt turn the country around he deseved to be a ONE TERM PRESIDENT teachers don’t want to be evaluated? who does but if you are’nt effective you should be fired

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