From staff reports
CHICAGO – War involves two hostile parties quietly plotting against each other, with little thought about collateral damage that might be inflicted on innocent bystanders.
Education involves teachers and administrators communicating and working together for the benefit of children.
So is the Chicago school district a war zone or education zone? The following tale provides a hint.
The radical Chicago Teachers Union recently announced that it found a “traitor” within its ranks.
Marc Wigler resigned from the union last month after it was discovered he had shared inside information with Chicago Public Schools labor relations chief Rachel Resnick, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Wigler was part of an August 24, 2011 meeting in which CTU members discussed possible responses to the district’s claim that it could not afford a scheduled four percent pay increase for teachers.
Wigler reportedly took careful notes and emailed them to Resnick the following night. CTU officials inadvertently discovered the breach while scouring email records regarding an unrelated matter, according to the Daily Kos. The CTU was set to expel Wigler at an April 24 union trial, but he chose to resign instead.
Adding to the intrigue, it’s reported that Wigler had been affiliated with the United Progressive Caucus, a subgroup within the Chicago Teachers Union that openly feuds with CTU President Karen Lewis.
What fascinating political intrigue. But is anyone being taught to read or write?
We suspect the CTU of running Wigler up the flagpole as an example for other members who might consider cooperating with “the enemy.” There’s probably a good reason for that approach, at least from the union point of view.
More and more teachers around the nation have been announcing their discontent with their unions’ self-serving agendas. The CTU obviously wants to keep these types from talking, and they hope Wigler’s fate will scare them back into the closet.
For the rest of us, the Wigler drama underscores the ugliness of the labor situation in the Chicago school district, and the adversarial nature of teachers unions in general.
Union leaders frequently talk in soothing tones about “collaborating” with administrators to improve the nation’s public schools, then spend their time plotting against school officials behind closed doors.
And they get really angry when their anti-administration agenda is exposed.
If students were the central focus , there would be no secret plotting on either side. But that’s hardly the case in Chicago.
The CTU recently threatened to strike sometime near the start of the fall semester if its contract demands are not met. There’s little chance of that happening, since the union has reportedly asked for a bizarre 30 percent raise, despite the district’s astronomical $700 million budget deficit.
This has all evolved into a silly war game, financed on the taxpayers’ dime. The union is out to get every penny it can siphon from the school district. The school board (under the watchful eye of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel) is determined to keep the union from obstructing school reform efforts.
The bombs will keep flying between the two sides, and by September there may be nobody teaching the kids. That’s not promising for a district that already suffers from a dismal 56 percent graduation rate.
This is what public education looks like when collective bargaining replaces children as the primary focus. Something clearly has to change.