View Full Version : Emanuel defends his school tactics

06-16-2012, 02:02 PM
Mayor says focus should stay on students after union strike vote

By John Byrne, Chicago Tribune reporter

8:57 p.m. CDT, June 12, 2012

Following a vote by the Chicago Teachers Union that showed overwhelming support for a strike, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday defended his aggressive push to make changes at the Chicago Public Schools.

Emanuel acknowledged the nearly 90 percent vote by teachers to authorize a strike, announced this week, is "a huge number." But he countered by saying the low number of hours that Chicago public school students spend in class each day is an important number too.

The mayor's successful attempt to lengthen the school day starting this fall is one of the sore points in his relationship with the union, which wants raises to reflect teachers' added time at work.

"I do believe in being strong about a full day and full school year," Emanuel said when asked about his tactics on schools since taking office.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called the strike vote by her members "an indictment" of teachers' relationship with the Emanuel administration.

Emanuel said the strike authorization does not mean the two sides are at loggerheads in ongoing contract talks. "We're basically in a negotiation process, which I want all the parties to continue to focus on," he said.

Emanuel pushed for the change in state law that now requires the Chicago Teachers Union to get the support of 75 percent of its members in order to strike. After the union easily surpassed that higher benchmark, the mayor said he still believes supporting the tougher standard was the right move.

"Did it backfire at all? I don't consider anything, as long as we're achieving what we're supposed to be achieving for our kids," Emanuel said.

As he often does, Emanuel sought to frame the ongoing negotiations with the union as a discussion about what's best for students. "I want the focus to be on our children," he said.

Speaking at Cesar E. Chavez elementary school in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, the mayor repeatedly mentioned a statistic he prefers to the union strike authorization vote total: the projected 60 percent graduation rate from Chicago's public high schools his administration announced last week. That would be the highest percentage of five-year graduates since at least 1999.

Let's see here, we have Chicago teachers union versus Chicago organized crime (aka Rahm Emanuel) who will win?
Would this be considered a gang war?