For the first time in 25 years, the Chicago Teachers Union has decided to strike. Over 400,000 students are on the streets of Chicago while the unions, who initially wanted a 30% raise over the next two years, try to hash out a new collective bargaining agreement with the district under the control of former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel countered with a 16% raise over the next four years. While there seems to be some promise of compromise on teacher pay, teachers still reject Emanuel’s proposal for a more rigorous evaluation system. This strike is a flashpoint in a broader ideological battle between the old guard of teachers unions and the new generation of hard charging education reformers.
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Education policy advisers from the Obama and Romney campaigns will join AEI’s Rick Hess to discuss the best ways to allocate limited resources, improve teacher quality, increase accountability and maximize student achievement during the next presidential term.
When the CTU opted in early September to strike rather than continue negotiating, it seemed a golden opportunity for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to prove that reform-minded Democrats can face down their union allies. Yet, despite a strong opening hand, Emanuel wound up with precious little.
Click here to listen to an interview with AEI's Andrew Kelly on the Chicago teachers' strike and education reform
Rahm Emanuel isn't the only one facing a test in Chicago this week. In reality, the Chicago Teachers Union is fighting back against a slate of reforms advanced by a new generation of Democratic leaders, including President Obama.
The CTU has opted to strike. In doing so, it has larded its list of grievances with a slew of petty concerns (including complaints about air conditioning and an insistence that teachers from shuttered schools be hired back without regard to job performance). The stakes in all this couldn't be higher: for teacher unions, for Democratic education reformers and for President Obama.
The Chicago teachers strike is no ordinary labor dispute. It's a part of a larger war between the teachers unions and a growing coalition of education reformers who have pushed for rigorous teacher evaluation and tenure reform across the country.