Early this morning, 26,000 Chicago teachers walked out on 400,000 Chicago kids, abandoning the classroom for the picket lines. Anytime, teachers abandon school kids, it is the children and their parents who suffer the greatest--and Chicago Teachers Union knows this. As the union had been negotiating for months with the offcials in Chicago Public School system, the union could have struck anytime during the summer. Instead, the union's strike was deliberately chosen to have the most impact--on the children and their parents.
To be clear, this is Karen Lewis' strike. Any leader (whether leading a mob of Visigoths, or striking union members) bears the responsibility of choosing to where and when to lead his or her troops into battle. In Karen Lewis case, by her own admission, negotiations were "intense, but productive."
Lewis had the choice to recommend to continue negotiations. Instead of ramping up the rhetoric and riling up her membership to the point they were ready for war, she could have been a calming voice and continued to work out a deal that didn't stick Illinois taxpayers with a higher price tag for a failing system. Instead she pulled the trigger and put, not only her 26,000 highly-paid members out on the streets, but 400,000 kids as well.
Moreover, by placing children in the middle of loud and angry striking teachers, puts kids (and their parents) squarely in danger of incurring their teachers' wrath should they use one of the schools the city set up to babysit while teachers are on the sideewalk:
Vicente Perez, the parent of 4th and 6th grade boys, had planned to drop them off at one of the contingency locations CPS is keeping open half days during the strike.
But they stopped short when they arrived at William Ray Elementary this morning and saw they'd have to walk through a line of picketing teachers. His children were afraid.
"I don't want to go there," his youngest son, Kahlil, 9, said.
Perez called his wife on his cell phone and decided to either take the kids to a church or just keep them home....
John Harvey said he was nervous dropping off his 7-year-old son, Aiden, at Disney Magnet School.
"I don't know how they feel about us bringing our children," said Harvey. "We're a little at odds now. I didn't know if we were hurting the situation or not. I didn't know what they were going to do. So I came with my shield up."
Aiden's mother, Sarah Vanderstow, said she had concerns dropping the second grader off at an unfamiliar place, but since their usual school, Nettelhorst, was closed, they had no choice.
Oddly enough, Chicago's mayor Rahm Emanuel, like Lewis, is a Democrat, in a Democrat-controlled city. So, this time, Lefties cannot blame the "evil" GOP for their causing the problems (though they'll probably try).
As Emanuel said this morning, the Chicago teacher strike is a strike "of choice."
Regardless of how long the Chicago teachers continue leaving school kids on the streets (whether a day, a week, a month or longer), when union bosses like Karen Lewis wonder why unions are vilified today, all they need to do is look in the mirror.
"Truth isn't mean. It's truth."
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com