The Chicago teachers’ strike is turning into an all-round debacle – for school children and their families, for President Obama and his party, and quite likely for the teachers themselves. Only Republicans are smiling, as the strike supplies fresh fodder to their campaign to vilify and weaken public sector unions.
By shutting down the city’s public schools over a contract dispute, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has left about 350,000 students in the lurch, not to mention their parents, who’ve had to scramble to find safe places to park them during the day. Even if you think the teachers have valid grievances, it’s hard to justify using Chicago’s public school students as pawns in a political test of will with city leaders.
Now in its fourth day, the strike also threatens to throw a monkey wrench into President Obama’s finely tuned campaign machine.
Chicago, after all, is the President’s home town. Its mayor, the sharp-tongued Rahm Emanuel, is Obama’s former Chief of Staff and a key political ally. The CTU, 25,000 members strong, is furious at Emanuel for pushing accountability measures it claims are unfair to teachers. And teachers’ unions are a potent source of votes and money for Democrats.
The stage is thus set for a family feud among Democrats at the worst possible moment – just as Obama seems to be pulling away from Mitt Romney.
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