Barack Obama is facing a dangerous trap with the Chicago teachers union strike. On one hand, Chicago is run by Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's former chief of staff. On the other hand, teachers unions are large, aggressive promoters of the Democratic Party. On one hand, Obama has given ample vocal support of teachers unions in the past. On the other hand, there are hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of angry parents who are only going to get angrier as this strike continues.
Given the Obama campaign's close relationship with unions and the continued public skepticism nationwide toward public unions following the highly vocal protests over public unions last year in Wisconsin and elsewhere, a strike by a public-sector union in Obama's hometown against his former chief of staff risks fracturing the Democratic base just as Democrats rush toward the November elections.
The Romney campaign, of course, has seized on the strike, issuing the statement:
I am disappointed by the decision of the Chicago Teachers
Union to turn its back on not only a city negotiating in good faith but
also the hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city’s public
schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education.
Teachers unions have too often made plain that their
interests conflict with those of our children, and today we are seeing
one of the clearest examples yet. President Obama has chosen his side in
this fight, sending his Vice President last year to assure the nation’s
largest teachers union that “you should have no doubt about my
affection for you and the President’s commitment to you.”
I choose to side with the parents and students depending on
public schools to give them the skills to succeed, and my plan for
education reform will do exactly that.
Meanwhile, Jay Carney today was left playing his usual dance with the White House press corps: "The president has not expressed any opinion or made any assessment about this particular incident."
Chicago teachers have rejected an offer from the city that would have given them a 16% raise over four years over objections to testing and teacher standards. Their previous contract, which covered 2007-2012, gave Chicago teachers raises between 19% and 46%, depending on experience and other factors. Chicago teachers are among the best-paid teachers in the nation, earning average salaries of $76,000, plus pension and health care benefits.
The strike has put 400,000 students out of school in the nation's third-largest school district.
Tags: barack, obama, jay, carney, white, house, press, corps, Chicago, teacher, strike, public, union, romney, campaign, election
Location: Washington, District of Columbia, United States (load item map)
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