September 10, 2012

Behind the Chicago Teachers’ Strike: Why Talks Must Be Made Public

By By Andrew J. Rotherham

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At issue in the Chicago strike — the first by the city’s teachers in 25 years — are clashes between the union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel on how to handle teacher pay, evaluations, benefits and layoffs. In public, the Chicago Teachers Union uses generalities to describe its demands, with the union president, Karen Lewis, saying the teachers want a “fair contract.” But according to one senior Chicago official with direct knowledge of the negotiations with the union reps, “Their public rhetoric has almost nothing to do with what’s happening at the table.”

[N]egotiating in public shouldn’t be about tilting the field one way or the other. It should be about moving important education issues into the light of day. At least then, citizens could get a full understanding of what’s behind the drama.

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