By Kyle Olson
CHICAGO – The Chicago Teachers Union, and school employee unions in general, are pulling out all the stops to slow down a school choice and education reform movement that is bowling them over in numerous states and cities.
Bold reform efforts are being pushed by the likes of Republicans like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Democrats like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It’s a bipartisan effort that has Big Labor on its heels.
In Chicago in particular, the teachers union is flailing to stop any meaningful reform it possibly can. In response to the move for a slightly longer school day, the union has demanded an astonishing 30% raise. For weeks, union leaders have been beating the war drums for a teachers’ strike, which could cripple the city.
When Juan Williams and I were invited to appear at an Illinois Policy Institute event featuring our film, “A Tale of Two Missions,” the union attempted to enter the room to confront us. Given that the event was sold out, not to mention the union’s well-documented penchant for grandstanding at school board meetings and with Occupy Chicago, they weren’t let in.
One activist who tried to enter pointed out that the 40-story building where the event took place was owned by “Bain and company.” You know, that evil Mitt Romney’s company.
She also called Juan Williams “a known Republican.”
But perhaps the most remarkable accusation came when she said, “If charter schools were so good, why didn’t the white folks keep them for themselves?”
I couldn’t make this kind of nonsense up. It’s all here on video.
It’s breathtaking to watch such ignorance masquerade as professionalism. We can only hope this person is not a teacher and not responsible for educating children in any way.
If she is, Chicago’s public school system might be in even worse shape than we realized.
Of course charter schools have long been the boogeyman for Big Labor because the vast majority are not unionized, and they’ve become more popular with families because they generally outperform traditional government schools.
One might expect truly dedicated educators to be concerned about their city’s failing schools and ineffective colleagues who give them all a bad name. Instead they blabber on about Mitt Romney, charter schools and that noted “Republican” Juan Williams (who will be very surprised to hear about his new party label).
In other words, the teachers unions are focused on partisan politics and defeating competition from non-union sources. The improvement of education in the city of Chicago is the farthest thing from their minds.